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Don’t have tomato puree, or realized you’re all out while you’re cooking? Here’s the best tomato puree substitute to use in recipes.

Tomato puree substitute

Making a recipe that calls for tomato puree and don’t have it? Or not sure what it is? It’s no wonder, because it’s easily confused with tomato paste and tomato sauce. What is tomato puree?

  • Tomato puree is a canned sauce made of cooked, strained tomatoes. It is slightly thicker than tomato sauce, and has a more developed flavor. It’s thinner than tomato paste. In fact, in many cases it’s made with tomato paste and water! It’s usually sold in 10 to 15-ounce cans.
  • Tomato paste is a very thick paste of tomatoes with a sweet flavor. It’s sold in small 6-ounce cans, since you usually only use small amounts. It’s also sold in tubes, which is very handy!
  • Tomato sauce is a canned sauce made of cooked and strained tomatoes: it’s unseasoned and has a thinner consistency than tomato puree.

Making a recipe and don’t have time to shop for it? Here are some of the best tomato puree substitute ideas.

Best tomato puree substitute

1. Tomato paste + water.

The best tomato puree substitute? Equal parts tomato paste and water! This makes a flavor and texture almost exactly like tomato puree. In fact, that’s what’s in most cans of tomato puree anyway. For ½ cup tomato puree, substitute ¼ cup tomato paste + ¼ cup water.

2. Tomato sauce

Another good tomato puree substitute? Tomato sauce! The flavor is less developed than tomato puree, but in many recipes you might not notice a difference. You can use it as a 1:1 replacement, keeping in mind the texture is slightly looser than puree.

3. Marinara sauce or pizza sauce (in a pinch)

Need a tomato puree substitute in a pinch? Try marinara sauce or pizza sauce. It’s important to note that these sauces are flavored, often with garlic or herbs, whereas tomato puree is unflavored. These sauces will add a distinctly Italian flavor to your recipe, so make sure that you’re okay with that before proceeding. This works with pasta, but less with something like a homemade ketchup.

Here are some recipes where you could use this tomato puree substitution:

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Tomato puree

Tomato Puree Substitute

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 1 minute
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 minute
  • Yield: ½ cup 1x


Don’t have tomato puree, or realized you’re all out while you’re cooking? Here’s the best tomato puree substitute to use in recipes.


  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • ¼ cup water


  1. Mix the tomato paste together with water. Use immediately. 
  • Category: Essentials
  • Method: Stirred
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan

Keywords: Tomato puree substitute

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you’ll want to make again and again.

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  1. Hi I have read your write up on Tomato Puree and I find it very useful.
    You also mentioned that Tomato sauce can be used instead of Tomato Puree. And the ratio is 1 cup of Puree is the same as 1 cup of Tomato sauce. Is this correct?

  2. Thank you for this information. In the past I was able to get 15 oz cans of tomato puree which was the perfect amount to add to my spaghetti sauce, now I can only get giant cans and have to freeze what I don’t use. Prefer puree to sauce because of the lower sodium content. I got to thinking today about doing exactly what you suggest, but thought I should see if I could find more info, bingo! Here is the perfect solution!