Can I Substitute Ketchup for Tomato Sauce? | With 5 Alternatives


Ketchup Bottle Laying on Side Spilled

Tomato sauce seems to be one of those things I am either running out of or don’t have enough. Usually, I find this out after I have gathered all the other ingredients and set them neatly on the counter. Luckily, there are viable alternatives.

Ketchup can be used as a substitute for tomato sauce but only when it’s not the main ingredient. This is because ketchup will alter the taste of the recipe since it is made using sugar and vinegar, two things largely lacking in tomato sauce. Replace tomato sauce with ketchup at a 1 to 1 ratio.

Even though the flavor profile can be significantly altered if too much ketchup is used, you can add some extra spices to help achieve a desirable flavor. Even so, you may be better off going with a different substitute, as listed below.

5 Other Substitutes for Tomato Sauce

1. Tomato Paste

Tomato paste is much thicker than tomato sauce but can be thinned to a similar consistency.

To use this substitution, use 1/2 to 3/4 cup of tomato paste mixed with 1/2 to 1/4 cup of water for every 1 cup of sauce that would be used in the recipe. This works best if the tomato paste and water are blended together over low heat.

Just keep in mind that tomato paste is not flavored with spices as is tomato sauce. Heating the replacement mixture is an excellent opportunity to add any spices or herbs that will work well with a recipe.

Pro Tip: Italian spices, garlic, and onion are traditionally found in tomato sauce. Add these to your paste, and even the most sophisticated palates won’t be likely able to tell the difference.

2. Canned Tomatoes

Canned tomatoes are another really good substitute for tomato sauce. The good news is that any type can be used, including stewed or diced canned tomatoes.

It is important to drain the canned tomatoes before doing anything else, then follow these 3 easy steps:

  1. After the canned tomatoes are drained, put them in a blender or food processor, and puree into a smooth consistency.
  2. If the blended tomatoes are too watery, drain the excess off.
  3. Cook down on low heat until a texture similar to tomato sauce is achieved.

As with any substitution for tomato sauce, spices will need to be added to achieve the desired flavor. Add the mixture to the recipe on a 1 to 1 ratio for a substitution for tomato sauce.

3. Raw Tomatoes

While it takes a bit more processing, raw tomatoes can be turned into a simple puree if no canned tomatoes or tomato products are available. This will work as a tomato sauce substitute. Here’s how you do it:

For about 4 servings, you will need to use about 56oz of tomatoes.

  1. Peel the tomatoes and put them in boiling water for about 2 or 3 minutes. The skins will slide off easily after being boiled.
  2. After skinning, the fresh tomatoes, cut them in half to scoop out the seeds.
  3. Put the tomatoes in a food processer or blender and puree until a smooth consistency is reached.
  4. As with canned tomatoes, the puree can be cooked down over low heat until the desired thickness is reached.
  5. Season as desired.

Substitute the puree for tomato sauce at a 1 to 1 ratio.

4. Tomato Soup

If you need something really quick, tomato soup will work as a substitute for tomato sauce in a pinch. However, it may not work as well as the other substitutions.

To use this instead of tomato sauce:

  1. Put in 1 can (10.75 oz) of soup for a cup of tomato sauce.
  2. Since soup does not cook down like other substitutions on this list, reduce some or all of the other wet ingredients in the recipe. This will help make sure that the consistency of the overall dish is correct.
  3. Spices will need to be added to give the dish a more savory flavor.

5. Tamarind Concentrate

Tamarind concentrate is an excellent replacement for tomato sauce if the reason for the substitution is an intolerance to tomatoes. The consistency is much like that of tomato paste and can be used as a replacement for tomato sauce in the same way. It has a tangy taste that is similar to a tomato.

Tamarind concentrate is rendered from the fruit of the tamarind tree and is often used in Indian and Latin American cooking. It can usually be found in specialty stores, on the internet, or in the ethnic food sections of some grocery stores.

Cool Tip: When a little sweetener is added with the tamarind concentrate, it tastes much like ketchup. When mixing the tamarind concentrate with water over low heat to create your tomato sauce substitute, it is a good idea to taste and spice the combination as desired.

Final Thoughts

Tomato sauce is one of the common ingredients found in many dishes. Unfortunately, there comes a time when we will run out and not feel like making a trip to the store. Luckily, several things can be used as a tomato sauce substitute. Hopefully, the ones on my list have saved you some hassle.

I hope the dish turns out wonderfully! Thanks for stoppin’ by.

Jelly Grandma

Anne James

Hi, I'm Anne but my grandchildren call me Jelly Grandma. I have over 50 years of experience as a Southern cook and am a retired librarian. I love sharing what I have learned. You can find me on YouTube as well! Just click the link at the bottom of your page. I hope your visit here has been a sweet one.

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