I’ve personally taste-tested a variety of San Marzano tomatoes substitutes to find the best one for every cooking or baking 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 I’ve got you covered.
Here’s the quick answer.
The best substitutes for San Marzano tomatoes are other canned tomatoes and passata. If you’re looking for a fresh alternative, go with Roma tomatoes. Other convenient alternatives you can try are stewed tomatoes or tomato paste. If you don’t like tomatoes, consider using roasted red peppers instead.
Ready? Let’s jump right in.
I whipped up a simple marinara sauce to put loads of San Marzano substitutes to the test.
San Marzano tomatoes are cultivated in a specific region of Italy with volcanic soils. These soils are said to give the tomatoes a sweeter, less acidic flavor. They’re also meatier and have fewer seeds than regular tomatoes.
They’re mostly available in canned form.
I was looking for a substitute that could rival the luxurious nature of these tomatoes.
Here are the substitutes I tested and my verdicts:
|Substitutes||How to Substitute||Verdict|
|Other canned tomatoes||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||10/10|
|Roma tomatoes||2 cups fresh tomatoes = 1 can||9/10|
|Passata||1 can = 1/2 jar||7/10|
|Stewed tomatoes||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||7/10|
|Tomato paste mixture||Replace in a 1:1 volume ratio||6/10|
|Roasted red peppers||Replace in a 1:1 volume ratio||8/10|
|Sun-dried tomatoes||Mix sundried tomatoes with canned tomatoes||9/10|
Common uses for San Marzano tomatoes
Here are some common use cases for San Marzano tomatoes and the best substitutes for those situations:
- Soups and stews: Try using other canned tomatoes, passata, stewed tomatoes, or tomato paste.
- Pasta and casseroles: Try using other canned tomatoes, passata, stewed tomatoes, or tomato paste.
- Salads and bruschettas: Try using Roma tomatoes, roasted peppers, or sun dried tomatoes
Other canned tomatoes
There’s a whole world of other canned tomatoes ready to step up to the plate if San Marzanos aren’t available.
Mutti, Muir Glen, Bianco DiNapoli, and Cento Italian Style peeled tomatoes are other brands that can you can use instead.
Bianco DiNapoli and Mutti are my personal favorites, and they’ve been features on several ‘taste tests’ to find the best canned tomatoes!
Bianco DiNapoli have a strong tomato flavor and a good balance of sweet-but-tart. Mutti tomatoes taste fresh and simple.
How to substitute: Replace San Marzano tomatoes in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with any canned tomato alternatives.
Looking for a a fresh substitute for San Marzano tomatoes? Say hello to Roma tomatoes!
These lovely tomatoes belong to the plum variety, just like San Marzanos, so they’re meaty and solid with less moisture compared to other tomato varieties.
The catch is they’re a tad less sweet, but it’s an easy fix.
Simply add a pinch of sugar to you recipe to make up for that extra sweetness San Marzano tomatoes bring.
Psst… other plum tomato varieties you can try include Amish Paste and Big Mama tomatoes.
How to substitute: replace 1 can of San Marzano tomatoes with 2 cups of fresh Roma tomatoes
Although not as sweet as San Marzano tomatoes, passata packs a bright, tomatoey punch that made for a delicious marinara sauce.
Want to take the flavor to new heights? Add a spoonful of tomato paste for a more robust flavor.
Another great thing about this substitute? Passata is already in sauce form, so it’s great if you’re in a rush and don’t have time to cook down a can of San Marzano tomatoes.
I got my marinara sauce done in just 20 minutes when it usually needs an hour to simmer.
How to substitute: replace 1 can San Marzano tomatoes in your recipe with 1/2 a jar passata
Roasted red peppers
If you don’t like tomatoes, roasted red peppers are a perfect replacement.
They have a delightful sweetness reminiscent of San Marzano tomatoes, as well as a delicious smokiness from the roasting.
You can toss the peppers straight into your dish, but I blended them into a silky paste first with stock and garlic for my ‘marinara’ sauce.
Psst… missing San Marzano tomatoes’ subtle tang? Add a bit of lemon juice or vinegar to recreate this flavor.
You might also need to add slightly more stock or water to your dish to make up for the missing liquid from the tomatoes.
How to substitute: Replace San Marzano tomatoes in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with roasted red peppers, adjusting the tanginess with lemon juice or vinegar as desired.
Stewed tomatoes come pre-cooked and seasoned, making them an easy-to-use substitute for San Marzano tomatoes.
They’re generally stewed with other vegetables like celery and pepper, giving them a sweeter flavour then regular canned tomatoes.
And because they’re already seasoned, you’ll want to cut down on any salt, herbs, and spices in your recipe.
The one downside is they have a very soft texture, so they’re missing the bite and meatiness of San Marzano tomatoes.
How to substitute: Replace San Marzano tomatoes in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with stewed tomatoes.
Sun-dried tomatoes may not be an exact flavor match for San Marzano tomatoes, but they’re just as luxurious.
They’ll bring an intensely sweet-tangy kick, plus a generous dose of umami goodness to any dish.
I love using them in pasta sauces, salads, and even as a pizza topping.
To use sun-dried tomatoes as a San Marzano substitute in my marinara sauce, I had to blend them with a can of standard whole tomatoes.
They gave the sauce a deep, rich flavor that everyone loved.
How to substitute: replace San Marzano tomatoes in your recipe mix some sun dried tomatoes into regular canned tomatoes
Tomato paste is an affordable and convenient way to bring tomato goodness to your dishes.
To use it as a San Marzano substitute, you’ll need to perform a little kitchen wizardry.
Mix the tomato paste with flour, sugar, and water to create a thick, rich sauce (I got this nifty hack from RecipeTin Eats’).
It’s a simple mixture, but it did wonders for my marinara sauce – no one even noticed I didn’t use San Marzano tomatoes!
How to substitute: replace San Marzano tomatoes in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with a mixture of tomato paste, water, flour, and sugar.
Other substitutes to consider
The options I mentioned above are my top picks as alternatives to San Marzano tomatoes, but they’re not the only option.
Here are some more!
- Ready-made tomato sauce – this a quick and convenient substitute for San Marzano tomatoes. It tastes more one-dimensional, but you can jazz it up with a bit of sugar and some spices.
- Cherry tomatoes – these have a similar sweet flavor profile to San Marzanos, so adding a few to your dish can help mimic the flavor make you dish seem more luxurious than it really is!
- Diced squash– this is another substitute you can use to bulk up your dish if you don’t like tomatoes. Squash softens and breaks down just like tomatoes. And it has a sweet flavor. You’ll need a splash of vinegar to replicate the tang of tomatoes though.
Avoid using ketchup
Ketchup may be made of tomatoes, but NEVER use it as substitute for San Marzano tomatoes.
It’s sweet, but has none of the richness of San Marzano tomatoes. It will ruin your dish.
Best San Marzano Tomatoes Substitutes + 1 To Avoid
- 1 cup other canned tomatoes
- 1 cup roma tomatoes
- 1 cup passata
- 1 cup stewed tomatoes
- 1 cup tomato paste mixture
- 1 cup roasted red peppers
- 1 cup sun dried tomatoes, rehydrated
- Cook your meal according to the recipe.
- Add your chosen San Marzano tomatoes substitute at the appropriate cooking time.
- Mix until thoroughly combined and continue with the recipe