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The 10 Best Substitutes for Crushed Tomatoes in a Recipe

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As a canner, I make it a habit to either grow enough tomatoes to home can or find a field of u-pick tomatoes to make sure I can enough during the spring and early summer to last for the entire year. If all else fails, I watch for canned crushed tomatoes to go on sale at my local supermarket just to be sure I don’t run short. But, sometimes we just miscalculate and run out.

The 10 best substitutes for crushed tomatoes in a recipe are items that we normally keep on hand. They include: (1) Fresh Tomatoes, (2) Canned Diced Tomatoes, (3) Canned Stewed Tomatoes, (4) Canned Whole Tomatoes, (5) Canned Ground Tomatoes, (6) Catsup, (7)  Pasta Sauce, (8) Salsa, (9) Tomato Paste, and (10) Tomato Sauce.

1. Fresh Tomatoes

Fresh tomatoes are by far the best substitute for crushed tomatoes in a recipe. If you have a supply of fresh tomatoes on hand, simply peel them, chop them into large chunks, and mash them with a potato masher to add them to any recipe calling for crushed tomatoes.

An alternate method of turning fresh tomatoes into crushed tomatoes is to peel them and run them through a food processor or blender.

The number of fresh tomatoes you will need depends on how large the tomatoes are. All you have to do is to prepare enough homemade crushed tomatoes to substitute in your recipe on a 1:1 basis.

Fresh Tomatoes from Anne James Garden
These beauties came from my garden

2. Canned Diced Tomatoes

Canned diced tomatoes can be substituted for crushed tomatoes on a 1:1 basis. Simply cook them for a few minutes to turn them into the consistency of crushed tomatoes or process them for a few seconds in a food processor or blender.

3. Canned Stewed Tomatoes

Canned stewed tomatoes can be substituted for crushed tomatoes. However, while crushed tomatoes consist only of tomatoes and possibly a little salt, stewed tomatoes often have added ingredients such as sugar, spices, bell pepper, onions, and celery.

Canned stewed tomatoes can be substituted for crushed tomatoes on a 1:1 basis as long as the additional ingredients in stewed tomatoes will work well in the recipe you are making and will not change the flavor of your dish.

4. Canned whole tomatoes

It is quite easy to turn a can of whole tomatoes into crushed tomatoes by simply using one of these methods:

  1. Chop the tomatoes into quarters or at least large chunks, mash them with a potato masher, and cook them for a short time to finish breaking them down into crushed tomatoes. 
  2. Or, another method involves just pouring a can of whole tomatoes into a food processor or blender and in seconds, they will be crushed tomatoes that can be substituted into your recipe on a 1:1 basis.

5. Canned Ground Tomatoes 

Ground tomatoes are crushed tomatoes that have been enriched with a small amount of tomato puree.

Canned ground tomatoes can be substituted on a 1:1 basis for crushed tomatoes in your recipe and will not alter the taste of your dish at all nor will they alter the texture or consistency significantly.

6. Ketchup

Ketchup, or catsup if you prefer, is one of the substitutes for crushed tomatoes that should be used if you have no other options. While it will give your recipe the color and flavor of tomatoes, ketchup has such a strong taste that I would go very lightly when adding it to the other ingredients.

I recommend adding a tablespoon at the time to the recipe until you get the tomato taste and color that you are looking for. Adding too much will drastically change the flavor of your dish.

Ketchup Bottle Laying on Side Spilled
Don’t let this overpower your dish

7. Pasta Sauce

Pasta sauce is another substitute for crushed tomatoes that should be used as a last resort. If you have no other options on hand, add just a small amount of pasta sauce to your recipe at the time until you achieve the color and taste of tomato in your recipe. Add too much, and your recipe will take on the taste of the spices and other ingredients besides tomatoes that are in the paste sauce that you are using.

8. Salsa

Salsa can be substituted in your recipe for crushed tomatoes. But, as with stewed tomatoes, catsup, and pasta sauce, salsa contains spices and other vegetables including bell pepper, celery, and onions that may change the taste of the dish you are making. Use a very light hand when adding salsa as a substitute for crushed tomatoes.

9. Tomato Paste

To use tomato paste as a substitute for crushed tomatoes in your recipe, simply combine equal parts tomato paste and water in a bowl and mix until you have a thick liquid that can be substituted on a 1:1 basis for the crushed tomatoes your recipe calls for. The taste of the dish you are making should not be affected, but the texture will be slightly different.

10. Tomato Sauce

To use tomato sauce as a substitute for crushed tomatoes in your recipe, dilute the tomato sauce by adding ½ cup of water for every 1 cup of tomato sauce until you get the consistency of crushed tomatoes and add the mixture into your recipe as a substitute for crushed tomatoes at a 1:1 ratio. 

As with substituting tomato paste, the dish you are making should taste the same as when using tomatoes, but the texture will be slightly different.

Various Cans and Jars of Assorted Products in a Pantry Including Tomato Sauce Soup and Paste
There are usually lots of options to replace tomatoes

How Can I Make Crushed Tomatoes?

It is a simple process to make crushed tomatoes from fresh, raw tomatoes.

  1. Choose very ripe and unblemished fresh tomatoes and wash them thoroughly.
  2. Peel the tomatoes by dropping them first into boiling water for approximately 1 minute, then transferring them into a bowl of ice water. When they have cooled enough to handle, the skin should pull off easily.
  3. Place the peeled tomatoes into either a blender or food processor and process them until they are crushed.

How To Prepare Crushed Tomatoes For Freezing?

  1. Choose very ripe, unblemished tomatoes.
  2. Wash the tomatoes thoroughly.
  3. Drop the tomatoes into boiling water and let them cook for 1 minute.
  4. Remove them from the boiling water and quickly drop them into a bowl of ice water.
  5. At this point, the skins should slide right off.
  6. Trim away any green areas and blemishes and cut out the core.
  7. Cut tomatoes into quarters or crush them by hand, if desired.
  8. Transfer the tomatoes to a large stainless steel saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. (Do not add water.)
  9. Using a potato masher, crush the tomatoes to release juices.
  10. Boil gently for 3-5 minutes.
  11. Transfer the hot tomatoes to a large pan and set the pan in the sink in cold water. Stir often.
  12. Change the water often to cool down the tomatoes as quickly as possible.
  13. When the tomatoes are completely cool, pour them into freezer bags or boxes.
  14. Label bags or boxes with the contents and the date.
  15. Place the containers into the freezer.

How To Home Can Crushed Tomatoes?

  1. Choose very ripe, unblemished tomatoes
  2. Gather all supplies, utensils, and equipment including: canning jars, new lids and rings, boiling water bath canner, and canning tools
  3. Check and wash jars, lids, and rings.
  4. Add water to the canner and bring to a boil.
  5. Sterilize jars and lids.
  6. Peel the tomatoes.
  7. Trim away any green areas and blemishes and cut out the core.
  8. Cut tomatoes into quarters or crush them by hand, if desired.
  9. Transfer tomatoes to a large stainless steel saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. (It isn’t necessary to add water.)
  10. Using a potato masher, crush tomatoes to release the juices.
  11. Boil gently for 5 minutes.
  12. Add salt (½ tsp/pint; 1 tsp/quart) and lemon juice (1 tablespoon/pint; 2 tablespoons/quart) to the jars.
  13. Fill the jars and add lids and rings.
  14. Add jars of tomatoes to the boiling water bath.
  15. Bring the water back to a full rolling boil.
  16. Process pints for 35 minutes, quarts for 45 minutes.
  17. Remove jars of tomatoes from the canner and place in a prepared area to sit undisturbed for 24 hours.
  18. Check lids for a good seal, wash and dry jars, label, and store in a cool, dry place.
  19. If any jars have not sealed, refrigerate them immediately and use as soon as possible.
Canned Crushed Tomatoes From Anne James Pantry
Canning foods that you grew yourself is very satisfying

Be sure to check out my detailed article called How to Can Tomatoes Using the Water Bath Method | 10 Steps.

This video, I explain how to prepare jars and lids for canning:

How Long Can Crushed Tomatoes Be Stored?

Home-prepared crushed tomatoes can be stored as follows:

  • Refrigerator: For up to 1 week in the refrigerator.
  • Freezer: Although home-prepared crushed tomatoes will last indefinitely in the freezer if stored properly, they will maintain their best flavor and texture for between 4 and 6 months.
  • Pantry: Home-canned crushed tomatoes will last between 2 and 5 years when approved canning procedures have been followed, and the jars of tomatoes are stored under ideal conditions. However, most sources agree that for maximum flavor, home canned tomatoes should be used within 18 months.

Final Thoughts

Some of my fondest memories are of helping my mother can tomatoes so that she and my sister and I all had at least a dozen quarts of home-canned tomatoes each year. That, plus many pints of tomatoes put into the freezer, usually got us at least through most of the year.

But, at least when the home-canned and frozen tomatoes ran out, we always has some of the substitutes listed in this article to get us through until the next tomato harvest.

Thanks for stoppin’ by!

Jelly Grandma

For more, don’t miss What Can I Substitute for Tomato Paste in Sloppy Joes?

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