I’ve personally taste-tested a variety of stewed tomatoes 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 I’ve got you covered.
The best substitutes for stewed tomatoes are the homemade version, fresh chopped tomatoes or canned tomatoes. For a quick and easy substitute, try chunky pasta sauce. And for a deep tomato flavor, go for tomato puree, or diluted tomato paste.
Ready? Let’s jump right in.
I whipped up a simple pasta dish to try out several different stewed tomato substitutes.
Unlike most canned tomato products, stewed tomatoes are seasoned and flavored with other vegetables and herbs. This gives them a sweeter flavor profile and lots of depth.
I was looking for a substitute that could replicate the flavors or texture of stewed tomatoes.
Here’s the substitutes I tested and my verdicts:
|Substitutes||How to Substitute||Verdict|
|Homemade Stewed Tomatoes||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||10/10|
|Fresh Tomatoes||1 can = 2 cups||9/10|
|Canned Tomatoes||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||9/10|
|Fire-Roasted Tomatoes||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||8/10|
|Chunky Pasta Sauce||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||8/10|
|Tomato Puree||Use 1/2 the amount of tomato puree||7/10|
|Tomato Paste||Mix tomato paste with flour, water, sugar||7/10|
Common uses for stewed tomatoes and the best substitutes
Here are some common use cases for stewed tomatoes and the best substitutes for those situations:
- Soups, stews, and sauces: Try using homemade stewed tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes, or chunky pasta sauce.
- Pasta and casseroles: Try using homemade stewed tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes, or fire-roasted tomatoes.
- As an accompaniment to bread: Try using homemade stewed tomatoes. Or for a fresh alternative simply slice some tomatoes up.
Homemade stewed tomatoes
Whipping up homemade stewed tomatoes has never been easier.
My all-time favorite recipe comes from Brooklyn Farm Girl. The process is super simple and you only need five ingredients.
Blanching and peeling the tomatoes might sound tedious, but believe me – it’s worth the effort!
And the best part about making stewed tomatoes from scratch is you can tailor them to your liking. I often add a splash of hot sauce for a fiery zing.
You can enjoy your stewed tomatoes immediately…
Or you can can then to make them last even longer.
Pro-tip: For best results, use for beef or Roma plum tomatoes.
How to substitute: Replace stewed tomatoes in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with homemade stewed tomatoes
No time to make your own batch of stewed tomatoes?
Just add freshly chopped tomatoes straight into your dish!
Roma tomatoes are a fantastic choice because of their meaty texture and balanced taste. They hit the sweet spot between tart and sweet.
I also added some extra green pepper, salt, and Italian seasoning to my pasta to make it more similar to traditional stewed tomatoes.
Pssst… add the fresh tomatoes to your dish pretty early so they have time to soften cook down like stewed tomatoes.
How to substitute: Replace 1 can stewed tomatoes in your recipe with 2 cups fresh tomatoes
I’m sure most of you have a lonely can of diced tomatoes hanging around in your kitchen.
Diced or crushed tomatoes have a very similar consistency to stewed tomatoes, making them a handy substitute.
And it’s easy to chop up whole canned tomatoes if that’s all you have!
Like with fresh tomatoes, you’ll need to use extra seasoning if you use canned tomatoes in your dish.
I threw in some fresh parsley and sugar because I found the canned tomatoes to be quite a bit more acidic than the stewed tomatoes.
How to substitute: Replace stewed tomatoes in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with canned tomatoes
For a unique take on stewed tomatoes, look no further than fire-roasted tomatoes.
These charred gems boast a distinct smokiness, which I LOVED in my pasta dish. I was sad I didn’t have enough for seconds.
Some brands even incorporate onion and garlic powder, providing that extra flavor you’d typically find in stewed tomatoes.
You can buy a can of fire-roasted tomatoes in your local grocery store, but did you know you can make a DIY version too?
Kevin is Cooking has a great recipe that gives you the option of two methods – grilling or oven roasting!
How to substitute: Replace stewed tomatoes in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with fire-roasted tomatoes.
Chunky pasta sauce
Chunky pasta sauce is a convenient and flavorful alternative to stewed tomatoes.
It’s packed with rich tomato flavors, and the added vegetables and herbs make it a replica.
Just a heads up, though – pasta sauce tends to be saltier than stewed tomatoes, so you may need to reduce the salt content in your recipe to keep the flavors balanced.
This was obviously a perfect substitute for my use case (making pasta) – I didn’t have to do anything!
How to substitute: Replace stewed tomatoes in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with chunky pasta sauce.
Tomato puree has a smooth consistency, and it will provide a concentrated tomato flavor that’s perfect for adding depth to your dish.
Because it’s more concentrated, I diluted the puree with a bit of chicken stock which also brought an extra flavor.
And I added diced fresh tomatoes to replicate the chunkiness you’d get with stewed tomatoes.
Oh, and don’t forget your favorite herbs and a pinch of sugar.
How to substitute: Replace stewed tomatoes in your recipe with 1/2 the amount of tomato puree.
Tomato paste is another concentrated tomato product that will adds a potent sweet-acidic punch to your dish.
It’s even more concentrated that tomato puree, and it’s in paste form. But you can easily make it more saucy but mixing it with water, flour, and sugar (as suggested by RecipeTinEats)
This will result in a rich, tomatoe-y sauce similar to tomato puree.
How to substitute: Replace stewed tomatoes in your recipe with a 1:1 ratio of tomato paste mixture.
Other substitutes to consider
The alternatives above are my top picks for stewed tomatoes substitutes, but here are other options you can consider if you already have them on hand:
- Sun-dried tomatoes – If you don’t mind not having a sauce, you can use sun dried tomatoes in your dish. They’re full of umami flavors and tasted great in my pasta.
- Tomato soup – if you’re in a real bind, you can use tomato soup to add some tomato flavor to your dish. I used cream of tomato soup because it’s all I had, and my pasta was okay but not something I’d make again in a hurry.
- Salsa – salsa seemed like a great idea at first, because it’s chunky and make with extra ingredients like onions. But I found it was quite watery. Next time I would try and find a thicker brand.
- Sweet paprika + sauerkraut juice + sugar – this is a funky substitute that will add sweet-sour flavor notes reminiscent of stewed tomatoes, but without using any tomatoes! great if you absolutely can’t stand tomatoes.
Avoid using ketchup
Ketchup may be a tomato product, but I don’t recommend it as a substitute for stewed tomatoes (unlike some other blogs!).
It’s far sweeter than stewed tomatoes, because it has so much added sugar. And the flavor is very one dimensional.
Psst… if you’re one of those people who like ketchup and pasta… we can’t be friends!
11 BEST Stewed Tomatoes Substitutes + 1 To Avoid
- 10 tomatoes
- 2 tsp salt
- ½ tsp sugar
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- ¼ cup chopped green pepper
- In a pot, let water come up to a boil. Quickly soak the tomatoes in the boiling water (about 30 seconds), then immediately put in an ice bath.
- Peel the tomatoes and discard the skins. Dice the tomatoes to your desired size.
- In another large pot over medium heat, combine all the ingredients. Leave it to simmer for 30 minutes.
- Serve immediately or process in a pressure canner.