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Don’t have ketchup and need it…stat? Here’s a quick homemade ketchup substitute to use for burgers, fries and more.

Ketchup substitute

Making a recipe that calls for ketchup and don’t have it? Or need a dip for fries and realized you’re all out? Don’t worry: there are a few quick pantry tricks to make up for this iconic sauce! Ketchup is a red condiment made with tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, and a load of secret spices that vary based on manufacturer. You know it best as a dip for your fries and sauce for a burger, but it’s also used in recipes to add a tangy, sweet or complex nuance.

Don’t have time to shop for it? Or cooking and just realized you don’t have it? (It happens often, over here!) Here are some ketchup substitute ideas.

Best ketchup substitute

1. Homemade ketchup substitute (recipe below)

The best substitute for ketchup? Try this quick and easy homemade ketchup substitute! All you need are a few pantry ingredients and you can mix up this replacement in just a few minutes. Here’s what to mix together:

  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • ½ tablespoon honey
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika (or sweet paprika)
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder

For the best texture, pass it through a fine mesh strainer or sieve using a spatula. This helps it to become smoother and glossier. Or, you can skip this step and just dig in! You can also make our Homemade Ketchup Recipe.

2. Tomato paste (in a cooked dish)

Using ketchup in a cooked dish, like chili? The next best ketchup substitute is tomato paste. Add vinegar and/or honey or maple syrup using the quantities above if you have them on hand. You could also mix in a little Worcestershire sauce. Straight tomato paste is pretty bland, but it works in a pinch.

3. Tomato puree or tomato sauce (in a cooked dish)

Another decent ketchup substitute? Tomato puree or tomato sauce. These products have a looser consistency than tomato paste, and it tastes more bitter. We recommend adding vinegar and/or honey or maple syrup using the quantities above if you have them on hand. Like tomato paste, tomato sauce is bland compared to ketchup, but it works in a pinch.

Here are some recipes where you could use this ketchup substitution:

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Ketchup substitute

Best Ketchup Substitute (in 2 minutes!)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 minutes
  • Yield: About ¼ cup 1x


  • ¼ cup (4 tablespoons) tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • ½ tablespoon honey (or maple syrup)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder


  1. Stir together all ingredients in a small bowl. Press through a fine mesh sieve / strainer using a spatula: this makes for a glossier texture. 
  • Category: Condiment
  • Method: Stirred
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Keywords: Ketchup substitute

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Used this recipe to whip up some ketchup after running out yesterday! The ketchup substitute turned out great and was perfect on my hash browns! I used agave nectar for the sweetener and just eyeballed the spices. Thanks for the recipe🙌🏼

  2. This was a great last minute substitute for me! Knocked one star because I felt like tomatoes are already fairly acidic, and the vinegar added to that and overpowered it a bit. However it was still a solid substitute with easy things most people have on hand!
    Thanks for the recipe!