I’ve personally taste-tested a variety of crushed tomato substitutes to find the best one for every cooking occasion.
Whether you’re on the hunt for the closest flavor match, in need of a last-minute pantry substitute, or seeking an alternative tailored to your specific dietary requirements, rest assured that I’ve got you covered.
The best substitutes for crushed tomatoes are whole canned tomatoes, diced tomatoes, and passata. You can also go with tomato paste, stewed tomatoes, or fresh tomatoes. And if you’re really in a pinch, tomato sauce works great too. Other options are condensed tomato soup or fire-roasted tomatoes.
I made a basic pizza sauce to try out several crushed tomato substitutes.
Crushed tomatoes are smaller diced tomatoes packed in tomato puree. They’re a pantry staple that brings a bold sweet-acidic flavor to your dish.
I was looking for a substitute that could add a similar twist.
Here’s what I tested and the verdicts:
|Substitutes||How to Substitute||Verdict|
|Whole Canned tomatoes||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||10/10|
|Diced tomatoes||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||10/10|
|Passata||1 can = 1/2 jar||10/10|
|Tomato paste||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||9/10|
|Stewed tomatoes||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||8/10|
|Fresh tomatoes||1 can = 2 cups||8/10|
|Tomato sauce||Replace in a 1:1 ratio with tomato sauce||8/10|
Common uses for crushed tomatoes and their best substitutes
Here are some common use cases for crushed tomatoes and the best substitutes for those situations:
- Stews and curries: Try using whole canned tomatoes, diced tomatoes, passata, tomato paste, or tomato sauce.
- Pasta and casseroles: Try using whole canned tomatoes, diced tomatoes, passata, stewed tomatoes, or tomato sauce.
- Soups and sauces – Try using whole canned tomatoes, diced tomatoes, passata, or tomato paste.
Whole canned tomatoes
Whole canned tomatoes are a breeze to substitute for crushed tomatoes – all you need to do is break them down to replicate the texture.
The trick is to crush the tomatoes by hand – throwing everything in your food processor is easier, but doing so can give them an odd orange color.
I highly recommend trying Food 52’s simple technique called the submergence method.
You transfer the whole tomatoes to a bowl and gently mash them under their juices to avoid splatters.
Another technique from Bon Appetit features placing the tomatoes in a resealable bag before crushing to prevent tomato juices from splashing.
How to substitute: Replace crushed tomatoes in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with crushed whole canned tomatoes.
Diced tomatoes are slightly larger than crushed tomatoes, but they’re an excellent substitute in a pinch.
Just be sure to drain them first and reserve the juice for later to prevent adding too much liquid when cooking. You can always add a splash of the juice back in if your sauce or dish thickens too much.
You may also need a longer cooking time with these because most brands have added calcium chloride that helps the tomatoes retain their shape.
But if you’re planning to blend the tomatoes, rest easy – you’re good to go!
How to substitute: Replace crushed tomatoes in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with drained diced tomatoes.
Here are even more diced tomato substitutes!
Passata is an uncooked, strained tomato puree that brings a more intense, sweet-acidic flavor to your dish than crushed tomatoes.
The best part? It has a thicker consistency than crushed tomatoes, which means less cooking time!
Passata has been winning hearts and gaining popularity, so you’ll likely find a bottle at your local grocery store.
But you can also use regular old tomato puree if that’s all you can find.
How to substitute: Replace 1 can crushed tomatoes in your recipe with 1/2 a jar of passata.
For even more ideas, check out my passata substitutes article.
Say hello to tomato paste – the trusty sidekick that has your back when crushed tomatoes are nowhere to be found.
It boasts a bold sweet-acidic flavor reminiscent of crushed tomatoes, making it a good alternative.
But you can’t just dilute tomato paste with water and call it a day – you might end up with a runny or bland dish.
Follow RecipeTinEats’ lead and combine tomato paste with sugar, water, and flour.
This simple mixture gives you the perfect sweet-acidic blend you can use in your recipe effortlessly– no one will even notice the difference!
How to substitute: Replace crushed tomatoes in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with the prepared tomato paste mixture.
Fresh tomatoes are a no-brainer substitute for crushed tomatoes, but you must ensure you use the ripest ones!
They’ll have a more balanced sweet-tangy taste reminiscent of crushed tomatoes.
To prep them, give the tomatoes a gentle blitz – but not too much, as you still want to savor those luscious tomato chunks.
And if you’re blessed with many ripe tomatoes, why try making crushed tomatoes from scratch?
Sure, peeling and seeding can be time-consuming, but you’ll get so much use out of them.
Check out Caitlyn’s Canning Kitchen’s video below for a complete guide on making crushed tomatoes and canning them.
How to substitute: Replace 1 can crushed tomatoes in your recipe with 2 cups fresh tomatoes.
Stewed tomatoes are cooked with a medley of herbs, spices, and other aromatics before being canned, giving them a more savory flavor than crushed tomatoes.
Much like whole canned tomatoes, you’ll have to mash these with your hands to replicate crushed tomatoes’ chunky consistency.
Just ensure the added flavors in the stewed tomatoes harmonize with your recipe, and you’ve got a winner.
Although you may still need to tweak your recipe’s herbs and seasoning to ensure a balanced dish.
How to substitute: Replace crushed tomatoes in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with blitzed stewed tomatoes.
When you’re short on time, and crushed tomatoes are nowhere in sight, tomato sauce swoops in to save your culinary creation.
While it may not have the same texture as crushed tomatoes – it’s more of a silky smooth operator – it still does the job.
And if you’re feeling adventurous, ready-made marinara or pasta sauce can also step in as substitutes.
Just keep in mind that these sauces are already seasoned, so you might need to dial back the salt and herbs in your recipe to strike that perfect balance.
How to substitute: Replace crushed tomatoes in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with tomato sauce.
Other substitutes to consider
The list above features my top picks for crushed tomatoes substitutes, but here are other options you can go with if you already have them:
- Fire-roasted tomatoes – they’re not an exact flavor match for crushed tomatoes, but they’re a great option if you want to switch it up. The extra step of roasting brings a subtle but tasty charred flavor that’ll elevate your dishes.
- Condensed tomato soup – this is not the same as regular old canned tomato soup because it has been cooked down to remove most of the water. You can use this as a base for your pasta sauces like crushed tomatoes, but you may need to scale back on the herbs and spices because it’s already seasoned.
Substitutes to avoid
These suggestions often came up during my research, so I had to try them. But I wasn’t too impressed with them, so I can’t recommend them:
- Ketchup – this would’ve been a convenient substitute, but it tends to be far too sweet. And if you dilute it with water, it can end up making your dish runny.
- Sun-dried tomatoes – you can reconstitute these and turn these and turn them into a paste or sauce, but there are easier substitutes you can try. Plus, these are pricier — I’d rather enjoy them mixed with pasta or as a pizza topping!
9 Best Crushed Tomatoes Substitutes
- 2.74 lbs tomatoes, per quart jar
- ½ tsp citric acid, or 2 tbsp lemon juice
- dried seasoning, optional
- 1 tsp salt, per quart jar
- Warm your jar/s in your water bath canner.
- Place your tomatoes in boiling water for 30-60 seconds. This will make it easier to peel them. After peeling your tomatoes, quarter and core ⅙ of your tomatoes. Place the cored tomatoes in your pot.
- Mash the cored tomatoes until boiling. Peel and core the rest of the tomatoes and add them to your pot. Bring everything a boil. This will take about five minutes. Retrieve your quart jars from your water bath canner. They should be warm.
- Place ½ tsp of citric acid per quart jar and add your preferred spices. Then fill the jar with your crushed tomatoes. Make sure your filled jars have a half-inch headspace. Seal and place the filled jars back in your canner. Wait for it to come to a boil and set the timer for 35 minutes.
- Let the jars cool down for about five minutes before removing the jars from your canner. Leave it to rest for 24 hours before testing the seal.