I’ve personally taste-tested a variety of tomato powder 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 tomato powder substitutes are homemade tomato powder, instant tomato soup powder, or tomato bouillon. You can also use tomato paste or sun dried tomatoes. If you’re looking to avoid tomatoes completely, try a mixture of sweet paprika and lemon.
Ready? Let’s jump right in.
I made a batch of chili to test out many tomato powder substitutes.
Tomato powder is dried tomatoes that have been ground into a fine powder. It has an intensely bright, complex flavor that’ll bring a delicious tomato flavor to your dish without adding loads of extra liquid.
Here’s are the substitute I tested and my verdicts:
|Substitutes||How to Substitute||Verdict|
|Homemade Tomato Powder||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||10/10|
|Instant Tomato Soup Powder||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||10/10|
|Tomato Bouillon||Replace with half the amount at first||10/10|
|Tomato Paste||1 tbsp tomato powder = ⅛ cup tomato paste||9/10|
|Sweet Paprika + Lemon||Replace in a 1:1 ratio with a mix of sweet paprika and lemon||8/10|
|Sun dried tomatoes||1 tbsp tomato powder = 3-4 sun dried tomatoes||8/10|
|Tomato sauce or canned tomatoes||1 tbsp tomato powder = 1/4 cup reduced tomato sauce||5/10|
Common uses for tomato powder and the best substitutes
Here are some common use cases for tomato powder and the best substitutes for those situations:
- Seasoning blends and spice rubs: Try using homemade tomato powder, instant tomato soup powder, tomato bouillon (granules), or sweet paprika + lemon. Tomato paste can work in a rub too.
- Sauces, soups, stews: Try using homemade tomato powder, tomato paste, or tomato sauce. You will need to reduce the tomato sauce so you don’t add too much liquid.
- Baked goods: Try using homemade tomato powder, instant tomato soup powder or sun dried tomatoes.
- Dressing and marinades: Try using homemade tomato powder, tomato bouillon, or tomato paste. Tomato paste is also good for thickening.
Homemade tomato powder
Creating your very own tomato powder at home is easier than you think.
The simplest method is to buy dried tomatoes and grind them into a fine powder.
But don’t worry if you only have fresh tomatoes on hand! You can dry them yourself.
Check out the video below from That 1870’s Homestead, which offers an ingenious recipe that utilizes tomato scraps. That’s right, no food waste here!
Or you head on to Sustain My Cooking Habit for a recipe that doesn’t require a dehydrator.
Once you’ve made the tomato powder it will last a while in the pantry, so make a big batch!
How to substitute: Replace in a 1:1 ratio with homemade tomato powder.
Instant tomato soup powder
Can’t find tomato powder in your store? Stick with good old instant tomato soup instead.
This substitute captures the intense flavor of tomato powder to a tee, but also comes with an extra layer of flavor because of the additional herbs.
This isn’t a bad thing though – a few extra herbs in my chili didn’t hurt.
Psst… one thing to watch out for is that salt content of the soup powder – it can be surprisingly high.
If you find powdered spaghetti sauce, you can use this too!
How to substitute: Replace tomato powder in a 1:1 ratio with instant tomato soup.
Tomato bouillon is a Latin American staple delivers a vibrant tomato flavor just like tomato powder. But it also normally includes chicken flavoring which gives it a more savory taste.
It’s available in cubes, but I always go with the granules – I find them easier to use and you can even sprinkle some granules over your dishes just before serving.
I added an extra dash to my bowl of chili before digging in and it was amazing!
Pro tip: start with 1/2 the amount because tomato bouillon can be very salty.
How to substitute: replace tomato powder with 1/2 the amount of tomato bouillon.
Tomato paste is a tried-and-tested substitute for pretty much any tomato product.
It tomatoes that have been cooked down into a thick mixture, giving it a super concentrated flavor just like tomato powder.
It’s wet, but you can still use it in most situations that would call for tomato powder. For example, you can use tomato paste in baking or for making rubs.
Pro tip: a hack I’ve learned when you’re using tomato paste is to saute it in olive oil before using it. This helps caramelize the natural sugars and amp up its natural umami goodness.
And remember – a little goes a long way. Don’t overdo it or you might end up with a bitter aftertaste.
How to substitute: 1 tbsp tomato powder = ⅛ cup tomato paste
Sweet paprika + lemon
For those who want to break free from the tomato norm or simply don’t have any tomato-based products on hand, this quick substitute is a real game-changer.
Don’t worry, it’s not spicy – sweet paprika has a fruity taste with a subtle tart twist that’ll remind you of tomatoes.
And to amp the tang further, add a bit of lemon zest or a spritz of lemon juice.
Psst… if you have smoked paprika, you can use that too. The results will be delicious, they just won’t taste much like tomatoes!
How to substitute: Replace tomato powder in a 1:1 ratio with a mix of sweet paprika and lemon.
Sun dried tomatoes
In a pinch, that jar of sun dried tomatoes in your fridge can save the day (and they last forever, so don’t worry about then being out of date!).
They have tons of umami, and a really deep tomato flavor.
You can either chop the tomatoes up really small and stir them into your dish. Or blend them in a food processor to make a paste.
Either way, you won’t be disappointed.
How to substitute: Replace tomato powder with 3-4 sun dried tomatoes.
Tomato sauce or canned tomatoes
These aren’t ideal substitutes for tomato powder because they have lots of extra liquid.
But most people will have them to hand.
And you can cook them down slowly on the stove to reduce the liquid and concentrate the flavor – kind of like making your own tomato paste.
Any kind of tomato sauce will work, but an unseasoned one is best. Passata is also an option.
How to substitute: 1 tbsp tomato powder = ¼ cup of reduced tomato sauce.
Avoid using ketchup
It may be convenient, but ketchup has a much sweeter flavor profile then tomato powder and its tang isn’t as intense.
Save it for your fries and go with tomato paste or bouillon instead!
Homemade Tomato Powder + 9 other substitutes
- 10 tomatoes
- Wash the tomatoes and cut an "x" at the bottom. Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for 1 minute.
- Transfer the blanched tomatoes in a bowl and peel the skins. Set the tomatoes aside and use them to make salsa or marinara sauce. Preheat the oven to 190 F.
- Roast the tomato skins for 3 to 4 hours. You can use the convection setting if you have it, but make sure to regularly check the tomato skins as they bake.
- After every hour, turn the tomato skins and keep baking until they're dry but not burnt.
- Once cooled, grind the dried tomato skins into a fine powder. Place in an airtight jar and store properly.