I’ve personally tried and tested a range of different diced tomato substitutes to find the best one.
Whatever your reason for avoiding canned diced tomatoes is and whatever dish you’re cooking.
Here’s the quick answer.
The best diced canned tomato substitutes are whole canned tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, or tomato passata. Stewed tomatoes or tomato paste are also decent options. You can also dice up fresh tomatoes in a pinch. If want to avoid tomatoes completely, use diced zucchini or roasted red peppers.
Ready? Let’s jump right in.
I made chili and put 14 different diced tomato substitutes to the test.
Canned diced tomatoes are tomato chunks packed in tomato juice. They add a bright, sweet flavor and a chunky texture to your dish. I was looking to replicate the flavor, and if the substitute had some texture that was a bonus.
Here’s what I tested and the verdicts:
|Whole canned tomatoes||Replace in a 1:1 ratio, dicing them before||10/10|
|Crushed tomatoes||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||10/10|
|Tomato passata||Use 2/3 the amount of tomato passata||10/10|
|Stewed tomatoes||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||9/10|
|Tomato paste mixture||Make a sauce, then replace in a 1:1 ratio||9/10|
|Tomato sauce||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||8/10|
|Tomato juice||Use 2/3 the amount of tomato juice||8/10|
|Fresh diced tomatoes||Replace in a 1:1 ratio, adjusting seasoning as needed||8/10|
|Canned roasted red peppers||Replace in a 1:1 ratio, adding liquid as needed||7/10|
|Diced zucchini||Replace in a 1:1 ratio, mixing in stock if needed||7/10|
|Diced sweet potatoes||Replace in a 1:1 ratio, mixed with stock and vinegar||6/10|
Common dishes that use canned diced tomatoes
Here are some common use cases for tomatoes and the best substitutes for those situations:
- Soups and stews – crushes tomatoes, stewed tomatoes, roasted red peppers
- Pasta sauces – whole canned tomatoes, tomato passata, fresh tomatoes
- Curries – whole canned tomatoes, tomato paste
Whole canned tomatoes
You’ve probably already thought of this substitute option, but I thought I’d include it just incase.
If you have a can of whole tomatoes in your cupboard these are the same as diced tomatoes, they’ve just not been diced yet!
Any can of whole tomatoes will work, but if you want your tomatoes to fully disintegrate, go with an Italian import brand.
According to The Kitchn, most American-grown whole canned tomatoes are also processed with calcium chloride, so you may have difficulty cooking them down.
How to substitute: replace canned diced tomatoes in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with whole canned tomatoes, either chopped or pureed
Another type of canned tomatoes you can swap for diced tomatoes are crushed tomatoes.
They’re thicker and less watery than diced tomatoes (because they have some tomato paste mixed in), but you can easily add more stock of water to your dish if this is an issue.
The main thing is the taste will be very similar!
How to substitute: replace canned diced tomatoes in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with crushed tomatoes. Thin the sauce if needed.
Passata isn’t chunky like diced tomatoes since it’s been pureed and strained, and it offers a fresher, more intense tomato flavor because it’s more concentrated.
Another great thing about this substitute? The sauce is already thickened, so it’s great if you’re in a rush and don’t have time to cook down a can of diced tomatoes.
Imagine getting a batch of delicious marinara sauce (which usually needs an hour to simmer) done in just 20 minutes, prep time included. What a time-saver!
Most grocery stores carry tomato passata, but regular tomato puree works just as well if you can’t find it.
How to substitute: replace canned diced tomatoes in your recipe with 2/3 of the amount of tomato passata (to account for the more concentrated flavor).
Up next on our list of diced tomato substitutes are stewed tomatoes.
Unlike other canned tomato products, this substitute features tomatoes cooked with other ingredients like celery, onions, and various herbs.
Just remember to check the stewed tomatoes’ ingredient list to make sure the additional flavors will complement your dish.
The brand I got worked perfectly with my chili!
How to substitute: replace canned diced tomatoes in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with stewed tomatoes.
Tomato paste is a pantry staple made by reducing tomatoes, which leaves it with a concentrated sweet-acidic flavor.
You can’t use it alone as a substitute for canned diced tomatoes, because it has such an intense flavor.
But you can turn it into a sauce like in RecipeTinEat’s guide, which mixes flour, water, and sugar to create a pretty close alternative to a can of diced tomatoes.
How to substitute: replace canned diced tomatoes in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with a mixture of tomato paste, water, sugar, and flour.
Tomato sauce’s silky smooth consistency is the exact opposite of diced tomatoes.
But its sweet-acidic flavor (although not as intense as the puree or paste) makes it a solid alternative.
And it will blend seamlessly with other ingredients, creating a rich and satisfying dish.
Pssst… I’m not talking about ketchup here! Just regular tomato sauce (you can get plain or pre-seasoned versions).
How to substitute: replace canned diced tomatoes in your recipe with tomato sauce, using a 1:1 ratio for a similar consistency.
Fresh diced tomatoes
While fresh diced tomatoes might not offer the same rich flavor as their canned counterparts, they can still work as a substitute in a pinch.
The key is to use in-season tomatoes for the best possible flavor!
Using fresh tomatoes also requires additional prep work, like skinning, seeding, and chopping, before you can add it to whatever you’re cooking.
Pro-tip: To make peeling the skins easier, score an “X” on one end of each tomato and drop them into boiling water for a few moments. Let the tomatoes cool down, and you should be able to peel the skins effortlessly for better texture.
Or just add the skins into your dish (that’s what I’d do!).
How to substitute: replace canned diced tomatoes in your recipe with an equal amount of fresh diced tomatoes, adjusting seasonings as needed to achieve your desired flavor.
If you have some tomato juice handy you can use this to replace diced tomatoes in your recipe.
It won’t add any texture to your dish, but it will add the tomato taste you’re after and liquid.
The taste can be quite concentrated, and there’s sometimes added salt or other ingredients (check the labels) so I would add less than the recipe calls for at first.
Mix it in and then adjust to taste.
How to substitute: replace canned diced tomatoes in your recipe with 2/3 of the amount of tomato juice (to account for the more concentrated flavor).
Roasted red peppers
We’re slightly veering away from tomatoes with this substitute, but roasted peppers are a delicious alternative.
They’re not tangy like canned tomatoes, but they have a smoky, sweet flavor that will elevate your dish.
You can chop the peppers up so they look more like diced tomatoes…
Or give them a blitz in your processor with some stoc if you prefer your dish to have a smoother consistency.
Pro-tip: add a splash of vinegar or lemon juice to balance the peppers’ sweetness.
How to substitute: replace canned diced tomatoes in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with canned roasted red peppers (adding liquid to the dish as needed)
Diced zucchini (or other vegetables)
If you’re using the tomatoes to add bulk, zucchinis are a great veggie to replace them.
Once cooked, zucchinis develop a tender bite similar to diced tomatoes.
And they’re chock-full of water, so they’ll release lots of moisture to help create a sauce.
You can add stock if you need more liquid and a splash of vinegar or lemon juice will help replicate the tangy kick diced tomatoes have.
Psst… sweet potatoes are another great options for adding bulk to the dish but you will definitely need to mix them with stock to get the extra liquid. You can also consider
How to substitute: replace canned diced tomatoes in your recipe with an equal amount of diced zucchini mixed with stock and vinegar.
Diced sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are another excellent option if you’re looking for a heartier way to beef up your dish without using diced tomatoes.
They may not taste like tomatoes, but they offer an earthy sweetness that complements a lot of dishes, and their robust texture means they won’t completely disintegrate during the cooking process.
You’ll need to add stock to replace the liquid element of diced tomatoes, and vinegar is a must to balance out the sweet potatoes sweetness.
Psst… the starch in sweet potatoes will thicken your dish slightly.
How to substitute: replace diced canned tomatoes in your recipe with an equal amount of diced sweet potatoes mixed with stock and vinegar.
Three substitutes to avoid
While I was looking for different substitutes to test, I came across a few that I wasn’t so impressed with! Here are some substitutes for diced tomatoes I’d skip:
- Ketchup – you might think that diluting ketchup with water would be a good substitute for dice tomatoes, but I found that if you didn’t dilute it enough the resulting dish was way too sweet. Or too watery when you diluted it some more.
- Canned tomato soup – shop bought soup is thick, creamy and pre-seasoned. The main issue I had with this substitute was the creaminess – it just wont work in a lot of dishes that call for diced tomatoes. But that doesn’t mean you have to write it off completely. Diluted with a touch of water I can see it working for a pasta sauce where a touch of creaminess won’t be a problem.
- Sundried tomatoes – sun dried tomatoes have had all the moisture taken out of them so they won’t add any liquid into your dish, and they have and really tart flavor. You could reconstitute them by mixing them with water and then blitz them into a paste but this sounds like a lot of work for a substitute when you have so many other easier options!
11 BEST Diced Tomatoes Substitutes [And 3 To Avoid]
- 1 cup whole canned tomatoes
- 2/3 cup tomato passata
- 1 cup stewed tomatoes
- 1 cup tomato paste mixed with water, four, sugar
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 1 cup fresh diced tomatoes
- 1 cup canned roasted red peppers add stock and vinegar/lemon
- 1 cup diced zucchini add stock and vinegar/lemon
- 1 cup diced sweet potatoes add stock and vinegar/lemon
- 2/3 cup tomato juice
- 1 cup crushed tomatoes
- Cook your meal according to the recipe.
- Add your chosen canned diced tomatoes substitute at the appropriate cooking time.
- Mix until thoroughly combined and continue with the recipe.