Whether you’re preparing a soup, chili, or stew, crushed tomatoes can be the perfect ingredient that brings everything together. Crushed tomatoes are made of a mixture of diced tomatoes in a purée or paste, so they add a nice texture and aroma to your recipe.
However, in some cases, you might run out of crushed tomatoes and have no time to run to the grocery store. If that’s the case, in this article you will find more than one crushed tomatoes substitute that will work for you.
The best substitutes for crushed tomatoes
Whether you’re preparing lasagna, vegetable stew, or a pizza sauce, crushed tomatoes will be a crucial ingredient that adds texture and acidity to your dish. Crushed tomatoes contain small pieces of diced tomatoes, and the paste or purée adds moisture to your recipe.
There’s nothing more versatile than crushed tomatoes that can be kept moist or reduced if this is what your recipe calls for. Typically, anything that calls for tomato paste can become a lot richer if you add crushed tomatoes instead.
Crushed tomatoes are usually made of Roma tomatoes, which have a tangy garden flavor. The tomatoes are peeled and seeded, and then they’re crushed or cut into tiny pieces then mixed with tomato purée to add a fresh tasty flavor to your recipe.
Tomato paste is added to crushed tomatoes to make it the perfect ingredient for recipes that call for a smooth or a rough texture. You can even make your crushed tomatoes at home if you have some extra tomatoes in your garden that you want to save for later.
Crushed tomatoes are usually used in recipes that require more texture than what you can achieve from tomato paste. You can use crushed tomatoes to prepare marinara sauce, pizza sauce, ravioli, chicken dishes, meat dishes, and even masala.
However, if your local grocery store is low on crushed tomatoes, there are other terrific options that you can try. Each crushed tomatoes substitute will work depending on the nature of your recipe and how you want it to taste or feel.
So, if you can’t get your hands on crushed tomatoes, all you have to go through our list of crushed tomatoes substitutes.
1. Fresh Tomatoes
If you want to substitute crushed tomatoes, fresh tomatoes will work just fine. Crushed tomatoes are made of fresh tomatoes that have been peeled and seeded and then mixed with some tomato paste while being cooked for a brief period.
So, if you’re looking for a natural substitute for crushed tomatoes with no additives or spices, you can use fresh tomatoes. Just peel your tomatoes, quarter them, and seed them as desired, then toss them into the food processor or a blender.
You don’t have to pulverize them completely, as you want your tomatoes to have some texture. Sometimes adding a little bit of tomato paste can also work. You don’t have to add any seasoning, as you can add the right seasoning depending on your recipe.
2. Diced Tomatoes
Diced tomatoes are made of chunks of tomato kept in juice, so you can use them in recipes that call for some texture.
The main difference between diced and crushed tomatoes is that they contain citric acid to help the tomato pieces retain their shape. This is why diced tomatoes will work for you if you’re preparing a slow-cooking stew or a casserole.
You can make crushed tomatoes from diced tomatoes by puréeing them in the food processor. However, you need to make sure not to use the food processor for too long to retain the texture. After that, you can add some tomato purée or paste to add more flavor to your dish.
When you’re replacing crushed tomatoes with diced tomatoes, you need to be careful about adding salt to the recipe. If you want to have these crushed tomatoes substitute in a stew or a soup, you need to extend the cooking time considerably to help the tomato pieces soften.
There are different types of diced tomatoes on the market, so you might have a blend that contains spices or garlic. This can actually be a good thing because you can enjoy more flavors in your dish.
3. Fire-Roasted Tomatoes
Do you feel that your dishes need a little kick? Fire-roasted tomatoes will work for you if you want to play a little with the flavor of your recipes.
Fire-roasted tomatoes add a char smoked flavor to your dishes, so you can try these crushed tomatoes substitute in your pasta sauce, stew, vegetable dish, or any other recipe that calls for an intense flavor.
They deliver a taste that resembles the taste of fresh tomatoes when they’re mixed with smoked paprika.
Even in a soup, fire-roasted tomatoes will add a unique taste and aroma. They usually contain pepper, onion juice, salt, and garlic powder, so they deliver a different taste than regular crushed tomatoes.
When you’re using fire-roasted tomatoes, you need to be careful about adding salt and pepper to your recipe. They also look a lot darker, so they will add more color to your dish.
4. Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Sun-dried tomatoes go through a drying process that preserves their taste and color. Whether they’re dry or kept in oil, the drying process makes them lose their water content, so they appear wrinkly.
Thanks to the food preserving process, sun-dried tomatoes can last for a very long time. So, they will come in handy if you suddenly run out of crushed tomatoes.
They have a taste that is very close to fire-roasted tomatoes, but they lack a smoky flavor. They also appear chunky, so you can add them to dishes that require a little bit of texture.
Sun-dried tomatoes are usually salty, so you need to consider that while using them to replace crushed tomatoes. There are several types, and you can easily get one that contains herbs or seasonings that go well with your dish.
If you feel that your sun-dried tomatoes don’t help to reach the desired color for your dish, you can add a tablespoon of tomato paste. You will have a delicious recipe with a little kick and a change in flavor.
5. Tomato Paste
The thick texture of tomato paste makes it the perfect concentrated crushed tomatoes substitute. It’s richer and denser than crushed tomatoes, but it lacks the texture that crushed tomatoes have. Tomato paste is made of long-cooked tomatoes, and the cooking process helps intensify their flavor.
This is why if you’re preparing chili, stew, or soup, tomato paste might be the perfect crushed tomatoes substitute. If you’re preparing a sauce, you can add fresh or diced tomatoes to add more body and texture to the paste.
With this specific crushed tomatoes alternative, a little goes a long way. Make sure that you don’t add too much tomato paste to your dish. You can add a tablespoon or two and see if you need to add more for the desired flavor.
If your tomato paste feels too thick, you can add a little bit of water to thin the consistency. After adding the tomato paste, you can season it with any spices, but be careful with the amount of salt you add because tomato paste already contains salt.
6. Tomato Purée
Tomato purée lies right in the middle of the consistency spectrum between crushed tomatoes and tomato paste. It’s not as smooth as the paste and doesn’t have a rough texture like crushed tomatoes.
Since some brands of crushed tomatoes have a smooth texture, you can replace this kind with tomato purée. The flavor is mild and not as concentrated as that of tomato paste. However, it has a quite deeper flavor than crushed tomatoes.
Tomato purée will work as the perfect crushed tomatoes substitute in a stew or a soup that doesn’t need a lot of texture. It can intensify the flavor if you feel that you need to enhance your recipe a little. Replace one part of crushed tomatoes with one part of tomato purée for an intense flavor.
7. Tomato Sauce
Although tomato sauce has a thinner texture than tomato paste, it contains thickeners that change its texture when heated. Tomato sauce is made of tomatoes with high water content, so it works for multiple meats, vegetables, stew, and pasta dishes.
The best kind of tomato sauce is made of tomato purée that is mixed with some water. You can substitute crushed tomatoes for tomato sauce in recipes that don’t call for a lot of crushed tomatoes because the sauce doesn’t add an intense flavor.
If your recipe needs some texture, you can mix diced or fresh tomatoes with your tomato sauce. There are different kinds of tomato sauces on the market, but most of them are unseasoned, so you can add your own condiments and herbs.
How to choose a crushed tomatoes substitute
There are two factors that you need to consider when you’re looking for a crushed tomato substitute: flavor and texture.
Fresh tomatoes offer the same texture when tossed in the food processor, but they haven’t been cooked. This means that you might need to extend the cooking time to achieve the desired consistency.
Diced tomatoes will also work, especially if you’re cooking a stew or chili. You might need to add a little bit of tomato paste to enhance the flavor.
Fire-roasted tomatoes and sun-dried tomatoes will deliver the right texture, but they change the flavor. They will work for your pizza, pasta, stew, or any other dish that you want to manipulate a little.
When adding these options, you need to decrease the amount of salt and other seasonings in your recipe.
If you’re preparing soup or another recipe where you need a smooth texture, tomato paste, tomato purée, or tomato sauce can work. The only difference between them is in the concentration, where tomato paste is too concentrated, and tomato sauce is the least concentrated.
You can also mix different options together, depending on your recipe. For example, a few sun-dried tomatoes with some tomato paste will make your dishes pop with flavors and colors.
All these options work to substitute crushed tomatoes, so why don’t you try each one of them to see which one works best for your recipe? You might be surprised by the results.