Prepared by cooking peeled tomatoes with herbs and a bunch of seasonings, stewed tomatoes are great as a side dish or to add in curries, chili, or soups. They offer deliciously sweet, sour, and umami flavors and are generally a big hit with the family. Safe to say, they run out faster than you’d imagine.
What do you do then? Consider using substitutes for stewed tomatoes instead of running to the supermarket. These alternatives can mimic the unique texture, consistency, and flavor profile of stewed tomatoes as closely as possible, depending on the recipe.
#1. Canned Whole Tomatoes
Canned whole tomatoes are whole peeled tomatoes (mostly, plum tomatoes) that are canned with their juice. They offer more flexibility in the preparation process; you can chop or crush canned tomatoes to achieve the desired texture of stewed tomatoes and pair them with different spices and seasonings. This stewed tomato substitute can be quite versatile and works really well in a variety of dishes ranging from stews and soups to pizza.
When substituting for stewed tomatoes, canned whole tomatoes can not only elevate the flavor profile with fresh succulent flavors of peeled tomatoes, but you can also add its juices to recipes to boost the quantity and flavor.
To mimic the flavor profile of stewed tomatoes, crush or cut the canned whole tomatoes to the consistency you like. And because it comes unseasoned, you can add your desired seasonings for a fresher, fuller flavor.
1 cup of stewed tomatoes = 1 cup of canned whole tomatoes.
Or, for a better flavor profile:
1 cup of stewed tomatoes = 1 cup of canned whole tomatoes + ¼ cup of chopped bell pepper + ¼ cup of chopped onion.
#2. Crushed Tomatoes
Crushed tomatoes are made by combining smashed fresh tomatoes and a small amount of tomato puree. They’re very versatile, bright, and flavorful and have a texture that lies somewhere between tomato sauce and diced tomatoes. Crushed tomatoes are typically smooth and easy to pour, but some crushed tomato varieties have a thicker texture with small tomato chunks. If you have preferences, look at the description on the packaging.
Compared to stewed tomatoes, crushed tomatoes have a slight difference in texture and consistency, but they still work as a good stand-in. You can use them in creamy stews, soups, and spaghetti/pasta sauces; just add small amounts gradually to ensure it doesn’t overpower the overall flavor. You can also season them as per your preferences.
1 cup of stewed tomatoes = 1 cup of crushed tomatoes.
#3. Diced Tomatoes
Another fantastic stewed tomato substitute, diced tomatoes are essentially small, solid chunks of tomatoes canned with their juice. Diced tomatoes may have smaller chunks than stewed tomatoes as they’re sometimes cooked, unlike stewed tomatoes which are simmered. They’re available plain, salted and seasoned, as well as in a fire-roasted variant to deliver a smokey flavor.
When using diced tomatoes as a substitute for stewed tomatoes, remember to cook them longer to achieve the desired texture as they tend to have firmer chunks compared to stewed tomatoes. We would recommend adding onion, garlic, spices, and herbs to elevate the recipe’s flavor profile.
1 cup of stewed tomatoes = 1 cup of diced tomatoes.
#4. Fresh Tomatoes
If you happen to have fresh tomatoes in your refrigerator, consider using them to make stewed tomatoes at home. Granted, it will take longer to prepare compared to other alternatives on the list, but you also get to curate fresh flavors while skipping all the unnecessary preservatives — it’s definitely worth the effort. Here is a recipe you can use to get started. It will yield a flavorful dish with fresh ingredients in just 30 minutes.
When using fresh tomatoes to make stewed tomatoes, you can easily customize the ingredient list to your liking and use it to flavor dishes that call for stewed tomatoes or can it for later use. Please note that the flavor profile of fresh tomatoes, even in a homemade stewed tomato dish, will be quite intense. So, use it sparingly.
1 24-ounce can of stewed tomatoes = 10-12 whole tomatoes.
#5. Tomato Paste
Tomato paste is a thick, concentrated tomato sauce that has no tomato seeds or skins. It can enhance the flavor and color of your dish while also improving its consistency to make it thicker and denser. In addition to improving the consistency of recipes, tomato paste also brings vibrant color to the dish.
While it is not chunky, tomato paste can still perform the same function as stewed tomatoes, making it a very good alternative. It can be used to replace stewed tomatoes in meat-based dishes as well as in creamy soups and stews to achieve the same strong tomato flavor. Start with a small amount and then build to taste. You can also add some veggies like bell pepper, celery, and onion to achieve a similar flavor to stewed tomatoes.
1 cup of stewed tomatoes = ⅓ cup of tomato paste.
#6. Tomato Puree
Tomato puree is made by cooking tomatoes and straining the mix to remove the skins and seeds to achieve a thick liquid with a consistency that lies somewhere between tomato paste and tomato sauce. It has a flavor profile that is similar to tomato paste.
Tomato puree can work as a great substitute for stewed tomato in tomato-based recipes like soups, sauces, and pizza toppings. Usually, tomato puree does not contain any seasonings. So, if you’re looking to enhance the flavor of the dish, add some bell pepper, onion, and spices.
1 cup of stewed tomatoes = ⅔ cup of tomato puree.
#7. Tomato Sauce
Tomato sauce has a thinner texture and consistency than tomato paste, but it is still thicker than stewed tomatoes. It lends itself beautifully to a variety of dishes to deliver a flavor punch. As it lacks tomato chunks, you can use tomato sauce as a stewed tomato substitute in creamy stews, pasta, meatballs, and pizza toppings.
Some tomato sauces may contain additional ingredients like onion, cheese, basil, and sugar, so if you’re looking to authentically replicate stewed tomatoes, consider purchasing unseasoned tomato sauce and then adding your choice of seasonings and spices to achieve the desired flavor profile.
1 cup of stewed tomatoes = ¾ cup of tomato sauce.