Crushed tomatoes are made with a combination of finely diced tomatoes and tomato paste or puree. They are used to infuse your meals with a wonderfully rich, sweet, and bright tomato flavor and a chunky texture. You can use them in everything from pasta sauces and lasagna to stews and curries. They’re also easily available in most grocery stores and supermarkets.
Crushed tomatoes are a versatile ingredient to have on hand. But if you’ve run out of it, you can use these easy substitutes for crushed tomatoes to recreate a similar flavor and texture in your dish.
1. Fresh Tomatoes
Crushed tomatoes are made with fresh tomatoes, which makes fresh tomatoes the best possible substitute for them. The only difference between the two is that crushed tomatoes are peeled and deseeded before they’re crushed, cooked, and packed. So, if you don’t have any crushed tomatoes on hand, you can make it at home using fresh tomatoes and without worrying about any additives or flavorings.
Simply peel, de-seed, and dice fresh tomatoes and toss them into your food processor. Just don’t blend them thoroughly, as you want your tomatoes to have a chunky consistency that’s similar to crushed tomatoes. You can also add in a small amount of tomato paste to get the perfect texture and finish. You can then add the seasonings as required by your recipe.
2-3 pounds of fresh tomatoes for every 28 oz. of crushed tomatoes.
2. Diced Tomatoes
Diced tomatoes are basically chunks of tomatoes that are packed in tomato juice. Compared to crushed tomatoes that are cooked until smooth, diced tomatoes retain their original flavor and shape and are much chunkier. However, since both ingredients have the same base, you can use one to substitute the other in a pinch with minor changes in the recipe’s prep.
As diced tomatoes have a chunkier consistency, it would be a good idea to blend or puree them in a food processor or with a potato masher until they are a little smoother. Make sure to add in some tomato paste or puree as it will greatly improve its flavor and consistency. You can add diced tomatoes to soups and stews for a fresh, bright flavor or even use them as a pizza topping.
There are multiple types of diced tomatoes on the market, so pick a blend that will add wonderful flavors to your dish. Alternatively, you can make your own at home.
3. Tomato Paste
Tomato paste is a thick paste with a more concentrated flavor and a thicker consistency than crushed tomatoes. Regardless of these differences, however, tomato paste offers a quick and easy way to inject tomato flavor into any dish.
Because tomato paste has a thicker consistency, you should either add in some fresh or diced tomatoes while blending to get a better texture and a deeper, richer flavor similar to crushed tomatoes. Alternatively, you can add some water for a slightly thinner consistency. Keep in mind that the paste contains salt, so you will need to alter the amount of salt used in your recipe to avoid making it overly salty.
Tomato paste has a concentrated flavor, so use less than a 1:1 substitute to avoid overpowering your dish.
4. Tomato Puree
Tomato puree is made with cooked tomatoes and has a thicker consistency and deeper flavor than tomato sauce. But, it is smoother and milder compared to crushed tomatoes.
Since many brands make their crushed tomatoes a little less chunky than others, you can easily substitute it with tomato puree. You can use this replacement in many recipes like soups and stews that don’t require a specific texture. Tomato puree is slightly deeper in flavor than crushed tomatoes, but the difference is not noticeable.
Use as a 1:1 substitute.
5. Pasta/Pizza/Marinara Sauce
Pasta, pizza, and marinara sauces have tomato as their base ingredient. They have a smooth and thick consistency that works as an alternative to crushed tomatoes in a pinch. The only problem is that these sauces typically come seasoned with spices, so they might not work well for all dishes.
You can use pasta, pizza, or marinara sauce to make a variety of dishes. However, bear in mind that these sauces usually contain ingredients like garlic, onions, herbs, and spices, so you will need to adjust the amount of spices and flavorings used in the recipe to avoid overpowering the delicate flavors of the dish.
Use as a 1:1 substitute. (Adjust the amount as needed.)
6. Tomato Sauce
Tomato sauce is primarily made with tomatoes, although it can include other ingredients as well. It has a thin, runny consistency that’s in stark contrast to the chunkier crushed tomatoes. But, you can heat tomato sauce to change its consistency, so it could work well as a crushed tomato substitute in certain recipes.
Since tomato sauce has a thin consistency, you can mix in some tomato paste to thicken it up and get the desired texture in your dish. You can use this substitute in stews, pasta dishes, and meat dishes, and even use seasonings for added flavor. Even this won’t work for certain recipes, so we’ll advise that you only use this substitute when other options aren’t available.
Use as a 1:1 substitute. (Add tomato paste to thicken the consistency if needed.)
7. Canned Tomatoes
Fresh tomatoes should be your first choice to replace crushed tomatoes, but if they’re missing from the pantry as well, your second best option is canned tomatoes. Canned tomatoes are tomatoes that are peeled, then sealed in a can after being processed by heat. Their consistency lies somewhere between diced tomatoes and tomato sauce, so they will work really well as a substitute.
Canned tomatoes go through a long cooking time, giving them a wonderful flavor and texture. To use them as a crushed tomato substitute, simply chop the tomatoes until you get the desired texture, bring them to a boil to soften them, and then use a blender or masher to give them a chunkier consistency. You’ll find that it lends itself beautifully to a range of dishes that call for the original ingredient.
Use as a 1:1 substitute. (Add more if needed.)