I’ve personally taste-tested a variety of passata 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 passata are tomato puree or canned tomatoes. Tomato paste also works, but you’ll have to mix it with water, flour, and sugar. If you have the time and ripe tomatoes, try making passata from scratch. And if you’re not a tomato fan, go with roasted red peppers instead.
Ready? Let’s jump right in.
I made spaghetti bolognese to put 11 passata substitutes to the test.
Passata is made from pureed tomatoes that have been strained to remove the seeds.
This Italian staple has no other additives, so you’ll get a rich tomato flavor and a thick consistency.
I was looking for an accessible substitute that I could easily swap for passata.
Here’s what I tested and the verdicts:
|Substitutes||How to Substitute||Verdict|
|Tomato puree||Replace passata in a 1:1 ratio||10/10|
|Canned tomatoes||Replace passata in a 1:1 ratio with blended canned tomatoes||10/10|
|Tomato paste||Replace passata in a 1:1 ratio with the tomato paste mixture||9/10|
|Homemade passata||Replace passata in a 1:1 ratio with homemade passata||9/10|
|Tomato sauce||Replace passata in a 1:1 ratio with tomato sauce||8/10|
|Stewed tomatoes||Replace passata in a 1:1 ratio with blended stewed tomatoes||8/10|
|Canned roasted Red Peppers||Replace passata in a 1:1 ratio with blended canned roasted red peppers||8/10|
Common uses for passata and the best substitutes
Here are some common use cases for passata and the best substitutes for those situations:
- Soups and casseroles: Try using tomato puree, canned tomatoes, or tomato paste. You’ll need to mix the tomato paste with flour and water before using it.
- Stews, braises, and curries: Try using tomato puree, canned tomatoes, tomato paste, or homemade passata.
- Sauces (pasta, pizza, and more): Try using stewed tomatoes, canned tomatoes, or pureed red peppers. Pureed red peppers make a delicious alternative pasta sauce.
Tomato puree is strikingly similar to passata (if you’re from the US), with the only difference being that tomato puree is sometimes cooked before being jarred to thicken and sweeten it.
I didn’t notice any difference in my bolognese sauce with this substitute, so you can 1000% use it as a replacement for passata!
Psst… if you’re in the UK, then what you know as tomato puree I’ve called tomato paste.
How to substitute: Replace passata in a 1:1 ratio with tomato puree.
Canned tomatoes are a versatile and handy substitute for passata.
Whether you choose whole or crushed tomatoes, simply blitz them in a food processor to give them a smooth texture, and you’re ready to go.
The sauce might be thinner than the usual passata, but this is an easy fix. You can either simmer the dish for longer (which is what I did with my bolognese).
Or run the pureed tomatoes through a food mill or sieve. This will give the mixture a smoother, thicker consistency.
Pro tip: for extra flavor, use canned fire-roasted tomatoes. They have a delicious smokey twist.
How to substitute: Replace passata in a 1:1 ratio with blended canned tomatoes.
Tomato paste (or tomato puree if you’re from the UK) is another convenient alternative to passata you might already have in your pantry.
It boasts a sweet-but-sour flavor that’s super concentrated, so you only need to use small amount.
You can dilute it with water to make it saucy like passata, but I found this made my bolognese too thin.
So then I tried RecipeTin Eats’ ingenious hack of mixing tomato paste with flour, sugar, and water to create a thick cooking liquid that mimics passata’s texture.
How to substitute: Replace passata in a 1:1 ratio with the tomato paste mixture.
If you grow your own tomatoes, then I HIGHLY recommend making your own passata.
For an authentic and easy-to-follow recipe, check out Vicenzo’s Plate, which guides you through the process and offers helpful tips on bottling your homemade passata.
Remember, patience is key with making passata. You’ll need to prepare the tomatoes and then carefully pass them through a sieve to achieve that signature passata consistency.
And if you want to make your batch last longer, transfer the passata to a freeze-safe container. You can freeze homemade passata for up to 6 months!
Pro-tip: you can turn any ripe tomato into passata, but try using Roma tomatoes for best results.
How to substitute: Replace passata in a 1:1 ratio with homemade passata.
Tomato sauce offers a tasty alternative to passata.
I’m not talking about ketchup here (again sorry for all my UK readers, I know the different names are confusing!).
But a pasta sauce-esque product that typically has added flavors like garlic, onions, or herbs.
These extra seasonings mean the sauce tends to be on the sweeter side, and will also mean you wont need to flavor your dish as much.
For example, I added less grated carrot and herbs to my bolognese (psst… if you’ve never used grated carrot in your spag bol sauce, you’re missing out.)
How to substitute: Replace passata in a 1:1 ratio with tomato sauce.
Stewed tomatoes are pre-cooked with other veggies (like peppers and onions) and different herbs, which means they’re already full of flavor.
Simply blitz them in a food processor to give them a sauce-y texture, and you’re ready to start cooking.
Like tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes tend to be on the sweeter side. But you can always add a splash of vinegar or a dollop of tomato paste to balance and deepen the flavor.
And remember to tweak your recipe to accommodate the extra ingredients!
How to substitute: Replace passata in a 1:1 ratio with blended stewed tomatoes.
Canned roasted red peppers
Don’t want to cook with tomatoes but still want that vibrant red color in your dishes?
Try using roasted red peppers instead!
Aside from their vibrant appearance, they have a delightfully sweet, smoky flavor that made my bolognese super moreish.
And if you’re missing the tangy twist passata brings, add a spritz of lemon juice.
You can buy cans of roasted red peppers in supermarkets, but you can also roast them on your own.
How to substitute: Replace passata in a 1:1 ratio with blended canned roasted red peppers.
Other substitutes to consider
The substitutes in the list above are my top picks as alternatives for passata, but here are other options you can use:
- Marinara sauce – this won’t be an all-around substitute for passata, but it’s a great option if you’re making an Italian dish. It already comes seasoned, so you may need to cut back on your recipes’ salt, herbs, and spices or skip them altogether – remember to taste as you go!
- Tomato juice – this is a good option if you only want to add a subtle tomato flavor to your food. But always read the label to check there isn’t too much added sugar.
- Tomato soup – this ism’t the best substitute, but it’ll work if it’s all you have. Go for a non-creamy version for best results, and hold back on adding salt to your recipe because canned soups tend to be salt-heavy.
- Pumpkin puree – This is another option if you don’t like tomatoes. It’s sweeter, so you’ll need to add lemon or balsamic vinegar to mimic the sourness of tomatoes. Check out Cottercrunch’s no-mato marinara recipe to see pumpkin puree in action!
Ketchup – avoid
Ketchup may be a tomato product like passata, but I don’t recommend it as a substitute for passata.
It’s way too sweet!
You can try diluting it with water or adding a splash of vinegar to tone down the sweetness, but I found to get an acceptable flavor I had to add too much water and my bolognese ended up really thin.
Homemade Passata [+ 9 other substitutes]
- tomato strainer
- 5 kg very ripe red tomatoes
- Wash the tomatoes well and put them into a mixing bowl filled with water.
- Cut out the green parts and any bruising or stains. Chop them in half and add to a large pot. Add water to your chopped tomatoes.
- Cut the bell pepper in half, remove the stems and seeds. Slice into strips and add to your chopped tomatoes.
- Boil the tomatoes over medium heat for 20-25 minutes. After this, the tomatoes should have broken down and created a thick consistency.
- With a large colander, strain the tomatoes and let the liquid pour. Place the drained tomatoes and peppers in another bowl. You might need to do this in batches.
- In batches, add your tomatoes and pepper strips into your food mill with a bowl underneath. This will separate the skin from the flesh. Repeat until you've gone through all your tomatoes. Remember to scrape down at the bottom of the mill to include the pulp.
- Transfer the passata to a bottle and process them.