I’ve personally tried and tested a range of different tomato juice substitutes to find the best one.
Whatever your reason for avoiding tomato juice is and whatever dish you’re cooking.
Here’s the quick answer.
The best substitutes for tomato juice are homemade tomato juice and diluted tomato paste. You can also use tomato sauce, passata, canned tomatoes, or Clamato. If you want to avoid tomato completely, juice another vegetable like red pepper or beetroot.
Ready? Let’s jump right in.
I whipped up a batch of Bloody Mary’s to test various tomato juice substitutes.
You can enjoy tomato juice as a healthy beverage on its own, and it’s often used as a base for cocktails.
It boasts a sweet-sour flavor with a savory kick that’s pretty easy to replicate with other tomato-based products.
Here’s what I tested and the verdicts:
|Homemade tomato juice||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||10/10|
|Tomato paste||Replace in a 1:1 ratio with diluted paste||10/10|
|Tomato sauce||Replace in a 1:1 ratio with sauce and water||9/10|
|Passata||Replace in a 1:1 ratio with passata and roasted tomatoes blend||9/10|
|Canned tomatoes||Replace in a 1:1 ratio with blended tomatoes||9/10|
|Other vegetable juice||Replace in a 1:1 ratio with your chosen veg juice||8/10|
|Clamato||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||8/10|
Common uses for tomato juice and the best substitutes
Here are some common use cases for tomato juice and the best substitutes for those situations:
- As a beverage: try using homemade tomato juice, tomato paste, or Clamato.
- In cocktails: try homemade tomato juice, tomato paste, tomato sauce, or passata.
- In soups, stews, and braises:tTry homemade tomato juice, tomato paste, passata, or canned tomatoes.
Homemade tomato juice
Whipping up a batch of homemade tomato juice is a breeze if you’ve got some tomatoes on hand.
Start by simmering tomatoes to help them release their flavorful juices, then strain, and voila – you have a delicious, all-natural tomato juice alternative!
For best result use the ripest tomatoes you can find, this will ensure your juice has the perfect balance of acidity and sweetness.
But don’t worry if your tomato juice ends up on the tangier side – just add a bit more sugar until you reach your desired sweetness.
And for an extra kick, Simply Recipes recommends adding a dash of Tabasco sauce.
How to substitute: Replace tomato juice in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with homemade tomato juice.
Did you know some commercial tomato juices actually use tomato paste as their base? So you’re practically going back to the source with this substitute!
It has tomato juice’s sweet-acidic flavor down to a tee, but you’ll need to mix it with water to thin it out.
I usually start with ¼ tbsp of tomato paste dissolved in a cup of water, but you can definitely add more if you want a bolder flavor.
You can even take a cue from All Recipes and make this zesty version.
How to substitute: Replace tomato juice in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with diluted tomato paste.
Like tomato paste, you can easily transform tomato sauce into makeshift tomato juice by diluting it with an equal amount water.
Most tomato sauces aren’t seasoned so they taste pretty similar to tomato juice.
But some brands will contain extras like garlic or onions, which will add an extra layer of savory-ness you may or may not want.
My sauce happened to be flavored, and I still loved my Bloody Mary.
Psst… I’m not talking about ketchup here, that’s something different!
How to substitute: Replace tomato juice in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with a mixture of tomato sauce and water.
Passata is uncooked tomato puree strained to remove the seeds and pulp.
This Italian ingredient is usually used as a pizza sauce but it also works fabulously as a tomato juice substitute.
I followed Kate Jackson’s lead and blended my passata with roasted tomatoes to create a tasty tomato juice that’s lighter and fresher than the stuff you get from the stores.
How to substitute: Replace tomato juice in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with a blend of passata and roasted tomatoes.
I always have cans of tomatoes sitting in my pantry. And luckily they’re a solid substitute for tomato juice if you’re in need.
Blend the tomatoes until they’re smooth and you’ve got a quick and easy tomato juice.
You might need to strain the mixture to remove the skin if you want a super smooth liquid.
Psst… if you don’t have a blender you can use a potato masher to ‘blend’ the tomatoes instead.
How to substitute: Replace tomato juice in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with blended and strained canned tomatoes.
Other vegetable juice
Get ready to think outside the box! Juicing other vegetables can create a delightful and unique substitute for tomato juice.
Carrots and red peppers are great for replicating tomato juice’s color.
Or why not give beets a try? They boast a vibrant purple color that resulted in a fun twist on the usual Bloody Mary.
And to better mimic the tangy flavor of tomato juice, add a splash of lemon juice.
How to substitute: Replace tomato juice in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with your choice of vegetable juice.
Clamato is tomato juice mixed with clam juice, which brings a slightly briny taste to the table.
But don’t worry, it’s not overly fishy (at first I was disgusted at the thought of mixing clam juice with tomato juice, but I was pleasantly surprised when I tasted it).
You can drink Clamato on its own, but it’s even better if you transform it into a tasty cocktail.
And if you’re in an adventurous mood, why not try incorporating it into your tomato soup?
How to substitute: Replace tomato juice in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with Clamato.
Other substitutes to consider
The substitutes above are my top picks as alternatives for tomato juice, but here are other options you can use if you have them on hand:
- Tomato soup – this isn’t an ideal substitute because it’s seasoned, but you can make it work by diluting it with water and adding lemon juice or vinegar to tone down its sweetness.
- Ketchup – this is an emergency substitute for tomato juice. Mix in a bit in water and you’re good to go! And like with tomato soup, consider adding an acidic ingredient to tame the sweet notes of ketchup.
- Marinara sauce – this is another substitute that has a more savory flavor than tomato juice but can work if it’s all you have. Add a dash of sugar to offset the saltiness. Psst… I also tested loads of marinara sauce replacements.
- Vegetable broth, lemon juice, and a pinch of sugar – this is a good option if you’re not a fan of tomatoes. The lemon juice and sugar bring a sweet-tart combo similar to tomatoes to balance the savory vegetable broth.
Tamarind – substitute to avoid
I frequently came across this suggestion during my research, but I can’t recommend it as a substitute.
Tamarind is a lot more acidic than tomato juice, and I thought it overpowered my Bloody Mary.
Homemade Tomato Juice + 10 other substitutes
- 3 lbs extra ripe tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped
- 1¼ cups chopped celery
- ⅓ cup chopped onion
- 2 tbsp sugar, adjust to taste
- 1 tsp salt
- pinch of black pepper
- 6 to 8 drops of Tabasco sauce, adjust to taste
- Combine all the ingredients in a stainless steal pot. Cook until the mixture is soupy. This should take about 25 minutes.
- Strain the tomato juice of the pulp and skin. Serve immediately or store in a lidded jar.