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10 Best Tomato Sauce Substitutes to Try

If you’re looking for tomato sauce substitutes, I have you covered. Whether you’re out of tomato sauce or just tired of it, there are alternatives.

Some of these substitutes work better for certain recipes than others. 

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Homemade Marinara Sauce with Basil

For example, you could turn fresh tomatoes or marinara sauce into yummy pizza sauce.

However, you probably won’t want to use ketchup for the same purpose. 

Additionally, some may need a little tweaking. For example, if you water it down and add herbs, ketchup does make a surprisingly lovely pasta sauce. 

So try these tomato sauce substitutes the next time you run out of the real stuff.

Tomato Soup in a White Ceramic Bowl

1. Tomato Soup

Other than marinara, my favorite tomato sauce substitute is creamy tomato soup.

You can use traditional instead of creamy if you prefer. However, I like the texture of creamy soup better.

Unlike many options on this list, soup won’t change consistency if you heat it.

Therefore, you may have to lessen other wet ingredients in your recipe. Otherwise, it’ll be too runny.

I generally substitute one can of soup for a cup of tomato sauce. You can also jazz it up with garlic, oregano, etc., to give it the correct taste.

Ketchup In a Round Ceramic Bowl

2. Ketchup

Believe it or not, ketchup doesn’t make the worst tomato sauce substitute. If you know how to “doctor” it up, it’s actually pretty good. 

It works best in recipes where tomato sauce isn’t a primary ingredient. However, if you add water and plenty of herbs, it’s also a good pasta sauce. 

Try adding seasonings that’ll balance out the sugar content. Otherwise, it’s both too thick and too sweet. 

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Freshly Canned Potatoes

3. Canned Tomatoes

When substituting canned tomatoes, you can use diced or stewed varieties. Either way, they make an excellent substitute for tomato sauce. 

Of course, you have to drain them first. Otherwise, anything you try to make with them will be too soggy. 

After draining them, simply dump them in a food processor and puree them.

Once they’re smooth, cook them on low heat until they become less tomatoey and more saucy.

Add your desired herbs and spices, and you’re all set. 

*Note: Sometimes, the tomatoes are still too watery after pureeing them. In that case, drain them again before cooking.

Dewy Fresh Red Potatoes

4. Fresh Tomatoes 

Fresh tomatoes make an excellent tomato sauce substitute if they’re in season. It’s an insanely easy substitution, as well. 

Simply dice them up and toss them in a food processor. It’ll do the rest of the work for you.

The result is a juicy, 100% tomato-flavored delight that you can add to anything. 

If you want to toss in garlic salt, onion powder, etc., you can. You could even slice up some fresh veggies to make it a thicker, more robust sauce alternative. 

It tastes pretty amazing as-is, though. 

If tomatoes aren’t in season, you might have to tweak the recipe some.

Try adding salt and sugar in small increments to get the taste how you want it. 

Tomato Paste in a White Dish

5. Tomato Paste

Tomato paste isn’t my favorite replacement for tomato sauce, but it’s high on the list.

The taste is already pretty close to perfect. The only problem is the consistency. 

To remedy that, you’ll mix it with water. I combine 3/4 cups of tomato paste with 1/4 cup of water in a saucepan on low heat.

If I need any extra seasonings, I add them at this time, too.

Once your tomato paste/water mixture is ready, substitute one-to-one for tomato sauce.

As with tomato soup, most people won’t know the difference when you use this mixture.

Marinara Sauce in a White Round Dish

6. Marinara Sauce

Marinara is my favorite tomato sauce substitute. After all, marinara is a type of tomato sauce, so the two are pretty interchangeable.

Tomato sauce is a little thicker and may have more flavorful ingredients.

However, in a pinch, you can easily use one for the other without much trouble. 

Just remember that marinara doesn’t need as much cooking time as tomato sauce. So be careful not to overcook it.

Tomato Juice in a Glass Pitcher

7. Tomato Juice 

Tomato juice is a good replacement for tomato sauce in terms of flavor. You can use store-bought or homemade juice from garden tomatoes. 

As with fresh tomatoes, you might want to add salt and sugar to tweak the recipe. (Other spices and seasonings may further enhance the flavor, as well.) 

The main thing to remember with tomato juice is not to overdo it on the liquids.

Because tomato juice is so thin, you have to cut back on other liquids in the recipe. 

Most professional chefs recommend the following measurements:

  • Use one cup of tomato juice for every 1/2 cup of tomato sauce + 1/2 cup of other liquids.
Pureed Bell Peppers in a Dish

8. Pureed Bell Peppers

This one is probably the strangest one on the list. However, it works pretty well. 

Start by roasting your red bell peppers. Then, blend them into a smooth paste and add water to thin it as much as needed.

Finally, substitute it at a one-to-one ratio. 

It couldn’t be simpler!

The taste isn’t 100% spot-on, but it’s much closer than you’d think. 

Sun Dried Potatoes in a Bowl

9. Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Sun-dried tomatoes are another easy substitute for tomato sauce. You follow the same basic instructions as you would with canned tomatoes.

You won’t need to drain them first, though.

Pop open the container and toss them in a food processor. You might need to add water or olive oil to rehydrate them.

Then, cook the paste on low heat, adding your spices as it cooks. 

I recommend sugar, garlic, and salt. However, you might want to add olive oil, oregano, and other ingredients. It really depends on the specific recipe. 

Meaty Spaghettie Sauce

10. Spaghetti Sauce

Substitute spaghetti sauce at a one-to-one ratio for tomato sauce. The texture and consistency are pretty much the same in both. 

However, be aware that using spaghetti sauce may change the flavor of your dish.

As you know, most spaghetti sauces aren’t plain. There are several varieties, including: 

  • Spaghetti sauce with meat
  • Green peppers and onions
  • Parmesan and Romano
  • Roasted garlic
  • Mushrooms and green peppers
  • Etc.

Opt for traditional spaghetti sauce if you don’t want to alter your flavor too much.

Of course, if you don’t have any on hand, you may be stuck using what you have.

The good news is that the extra flavors usually don’t taste bad in most dishes.

10 Best Tomato Sauce Substitutes to Try

Try these tomato sauce substitutes when you don’t happen to have any! From ketchup to marinara to tomato soup, these alternatives are worth a shot.


  • Tomato Soup

  • Ketchup

  • Canned Tomatoes

  • Fresh Tomatoes

  • Tomato Paste

  • Marinara Sauce

  • Tomato Juice

  • Pureed Bell Peppers

  • Sun-Dried Tomatoes

  • Spaghetti Sauce


  • Choose your favorite tomato sauce substitute.
  • Use in all your favorite recipes.
Tomato Sauce Substitutes

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Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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