Looking for an easy substitute for crushed tomatoes? Crushed tomatoes are a versatile ingredient that adds texture and depth to countless dishes, from sauces to stews. But what do you do when your pantry lacks this staple?
The good news is there are many tomato products you can use as a substitute for crushed tomatoes. If you have fresh or a canned tomato product on hand, you’re good!
Don’t worry, here’s a handy list of crushed tomato substitutes that will keep your recipes vibrant and delicious. Whether it’s due to dietary restrictions, flavor preferences, or a shortage of ingredients, these alternatives have got you covered.
When you are in the middle of cooking and need a great option, the best alternative is what you have handy!
I like to use canned crushed tomatoes often in my Indian cooking as it provides the right consistency and a consistent, and a more concentrated flavor with convenience. I use Whole Foods Organic Crushed tomatoes across my recipes.
Consistency of Crushed Tomatoes
Crushed canned tomatoes typically have a consistency that falls between chunks of tomatoes and tomato purée. They are made by crushing whole tomatoes into smaller pieces, but they still retain some texture and small chunks.
The texture of crushed canned tomatoes is somewhat chunky, with visible pieces of tomato flesh. The best part of this texture is it is perfect for dishes where a slightly more rustic or chunky tomato component is desired
Keep in mind that the exact consistency and texture can vary between different brands and varieties of crushed canned tomatoes. Some may be a thicker consistency with larger tomato chunks, while others might be a smooth consistency with smaller pieces.
What Makes A Good Crushed Tomato Substitute
When considering a substitute for crushed tomatoes, three main factors to keep in mind are:
➜Consistency and Texture: Choose a substitute with a similar consistency and texture to crushed tomatoes to ensure that the desired thickness and mouthfeel of the dish are maintained. This is particularly important in recipes where crushed tomatoes provide a base or body to the dish.
I think this is most important in Indian cooking. Crushed tomatoes provide a base for spices and flavor, adds tang, and also acts as a thickening agent.
➜Flavor Profile: Opt for a substitute that closely matches the flavor profile of crushed tomatoes. The substitute should contribute the desired level of acidity, sweetness, and overall taste to the dish without overpowering other ingredients.
➜Cooking Application: Consider the cooking method and duration of the recipe. Some substitutes may work better for long-cooked dishes, while others might be suitable for quick-cooking recipes.
Best Substitutes For Crushed Tomatoes
These are the best substitutes I have found for crushed tomatoes:
➜Crushed fresh tomatoes + 1 -2 spoons of tomato paste
➜Canned whole tomatoes
➜Fresh tomatoes (cooked down)
There are many varieties of canned tomatoes and you can easily make many options work. Read through the following substitutes to find what you have in your pantry.
1. Canned Whole Tomatoes
If you have canned whole tomatoes, simply crush them by hand or use a fork to achieve the desired texture. Use a deep bowl as the juices will splash out otherwise.
These are perfect substitutes. the only difference is you have to crush them yourselves but it is an easy way to get the consistency you need.
This canned option is a great substitute.
2. Canned Tomato Puree
Smooth and rich, tomato puree can be thinned down with a bit of water to mimic the texture of crushed tomatoes while delivering an intense tomato flavor.
3. Tomato Sauce
Slightly thinner than crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce is a suitable substitute that will add a concentrated tomato taste to your dishes.
The main difference is the texture, it will be smooth.
4. Fresh Tomatoes
Chop or dice fresh tomatoes to the desired size and consistency, using them as a substitute for canned crushed tomatoes. This makes an excellent substitute.
Remember to adjust the cooking time to account for the higher water content. You will need a longer cooking time to reduce the tomatoes. Fresh tomatoes sometimes don’t have the concentrated flavor or tang. You may want to taste and add a little squeeze of lemon too.
Crushed tomatoes are often made with Roma tomatoes. You can use plum tomatoes or whatever you have on hand.
You just have to peel, deseed, and crush them. Place in a food processor or blender but pulse, don’t turn into a puree as you want some chunks.
5. Canned Diced Tomatoes
These tomatoes are pre-cut and cooked, offering a convenient alternative with a slightly different texture.
6. Tomato Paste
Dilute tomato paste with water to achieve the desired consistency. It imparts a concentrated tomato flavor and can work as a crushed tomato replacement in recipes.
It will have a much smoother texture than crushed tomatoes,
So, you can also optionally add in some chopped fresh chunks of tomatoes to get even closer to a crushed tomato consistency.
8. Roasted Red Peppers
These are a good option for those who cannot eat tomatoes. It does alter the flavor profile though while maintaining a desirable texture.
9. Red Bell Pepper Puree
Similar to roasted red peppers, pureed red bell peppers can deliver a touch of sweetness and vibrant color as an alternative.
10. Pasta sauce or pizza sauce
can work too. Just be mindful of any added flavors and how that may impact your dish.
Also known as strained tomatoes, passata is a smooth, uncooked tomato sauce that can serve as a crushed tomato alternative with a slightly thinner consistency.
Your best option is to work what you have.
How to Make Crushed Tomatoes at Home
Making crushed tomatoes at home is a simple process that allows you to enjoy the essence of fresh tomatoes in your recipes.
Choose Ripe Tomatoes: Select ripe, red tomatoes for the best flavor. Varieties like Roma or San Marzano work well due to their meaty texture and sweetness.
Step 1: Prep and Skin Removal
- Wash tomatoes and blanch in boiling water (30-60 seconds).
- Immediately transfer to cold water to remove skins.
- Remove any green parts and the core.
Step 2: Dicing Tomatoes
- Dice tomatoes in quarters or halves, depending on their size.
Step 3: Initial Cooking and Crushing
- In a large stainless steel saucepan, bring diced tomatoes to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Use a potato masher to crush tomatoes and release juices.
- Stir occasionally and add more tomatoes gradually to prevent scorching.
Step 4: Final Cooking
- Let the mixture gently boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- The remaining tomatoes will soften as they cook.
11 Best Substitutes For Crushed Tomatoes + Easy Recipe
- 1 knife
- 1 cutting board
- 1 Bowl
- 1 saucepan
- 1 pound tomatoes Roma tomatoes are a popular choice
- Wash and Prepare: Wash the tomatoes thoroughly to remove any dirt. Remove the stems and any blemishes.
- Blanch: blanch tomatoes in boiling water (30-60 seconds), then transfer to cold water to remove skins. Remove any green parts and the core.
- Dice tomatoes: Cut the tomatoes into halves or quarters, depending on their size. You can remove the seeds and excess juice if desired, but they can also be included for added flavor.
- Cook: In a large stainless steel saucepan, bring diced tomatoes to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Crush: Crush tomatoes using a potato masher to release juices, stirring occasionally. no need to crush them all.
- Cook: Let the mixture gently boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. The remaining tomatoes will soften as they cook.
- Adjust Consistency: Aim for a textured mixture with small to medium-sized pieces.If you prefer a smoother texture, crush the tomatoes more thoroughly. For a chunkier texture, crush them more lightly.