The 5 Best Substitutes For Crushed Tomatoes

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There is just nothing like the simplicity of canned tomatoes to help complete a recipe. There are so many things that you can do with crushed tomatoes – from homemade salsa to lasagna dishes and everything in between. 

We would be curious to know your favorite ways to use crushed tomatoes and how you mix them up in the kitchen. Basically, anything that needs a tomato sauce could easily use crushed tomatoes as a base for that sauce. 

We always try to keep crushed tomatoes on hand but it doesn’t always happen. When you’re in a bind for crushed tomatoes, what is the best substitute? Crushing fresh tomatoes yourself is the best option to replace canned crushed tomatoes, but there are several options you can try, including canned tomato paste, sauce, or a combination of the two, depending on what you’re making.

In this guide, we will talk about crushed tomatoes, including a detailed discussion of the best substitutes for crushed tomatoes. We have a lot of great information in store for you. By the time we’re finished, you’ll be able to make the best of any crushed tomato emergency. 

Keep reading to learn the best substitute for crushed tomatoes and more. 

A Guide to The Best Substitute for Crushed Tomatoes

If you like to make things with tomatoes but you really don’t want to mess with dicing and crushing or cutting or mixing fresh tomatoes, a reliable can of crushed tomatoes will certainly serve the purpose. 

Crushed tomatoes are made with Roma tomatoes (typically) that are first peeled and seeded. The tomatoes are then crushed and mixed with tomato puree to give the mixture a full texture.

The added tomato paste makes the mixture the perfect combination of coarse and smooth for a number of sauces and recipe variations. 

You can make your own crushed tomatoes at home if you’re looking for a way to use or preserve some home-grown tomatoes. It’s really very simple to do, much like what we described above. You don’t have to do much else, aside from maybe adding some salt for preservation purposes. 

You can then can your own crushed tomatoes and put them away in your pantry for when the need arises. Ideally, crushed tomatoes work the best when you need to make something with this particular mixture but you can make do with other options as well! 

Using Crushed Tomatoes

Crushed tomatoes can be used for a lot of different things. A lot of people use crushed tomatoes to make homemade tomato-based sauces or salsas but they can be used for a lot of different things. 

You name it, if tomatoes are needed you can probably use crushed tomatoes and make it happen! The only exception is when you specifically need sliced tomatoes instead. 

Here are some great options for ways to use crushed tomatoes:

  • Pizza sauce
  • Ravioli
  • Lasagna
  • Tomato soup
  • Tomato pie
  • Chili
  • Salsa
  • Masala
  • Meat sauce
  • Marinara sauce
  • Meatball dishes
  • Chicken Parmigiana
  • Spaghetti sauce
  • Braised leg of lamb
  • Any red pasta sauce

As you can see, this list is extensive and honestly, it’s just a few popular options. There are so many things you can do with crushed tomatoes. 

Substituting Crushed Tomatoes – The 5 Best Options

Crushed tomatoes are easy to use for a lot of things but it’s easy to not have them on hand when you need them. Or maybe your local grocery store was low on supply for some reason. 

Lucky for you, there are plenty of great alternatives for substituting crushed tomatoes. By far, the best option is to make your own. You can make them completely from scratch or you can use a combination of other tomato products to give you a very similar product. 

This is a very simple and very effective solution. It’s definitely our favorite. If you’re a little unsure of trying to do it on your own, no worries, we might have some other tricks up our sleeves for you. 

The thing is, there are several different ways to make your own. As we progress through the remainder of this guide, most of our substitute options will be various ways that you can make a substitute. 

Don’t get too worried, you can use other canned tomato products for the most part in order to make your own crushed tomatoes. Let’s get started, shall we?

1. Fresh Tomatoes

Can you guess what crushed tomatoes are made from? That’s right – fresh tomatoes! So, using fresh tomatoes is a great way to substitute your crushed tomatoes. 

Dice those fresh tomatoes up and throw them in a food processor or blender. You won’t want to fully blend them as that will make a sauce but you can get close.

You can season if you like (salt, cilantro) but it’s not really necessary until you make your sauce or whatever it is you are using those crushed tomatoes for. 

If you really want the perfect crushed tomatoes, add a small amount of tomato paste to your processing and you will get it just about right as far as overall texture and finish. 

2. Tomato Paste

Tomato paste is nice and thick and while it’s thicker than what you typically expect of crushed tomatoes, it makes a suitable substitute.

Tomato paste is definitely much thicker than crushed tomatoes so there are a couple of things you should know about using this substitute. 

First, it’s best if you can add fresh tomatoes or even diced tomatoes to this and blend it all together. If that is not an option, try adding a small amount of water to thin the consistency out slightly. 

Finally, you should know that you won’t need as much tomato paste as you would have crushed tomatoes unless you combine that tomato paste with another substance to get a different thickness. 

3. Diced Tomatoes

Here is another homemade substitute option, or you can buy canned diced tomatoes. This one is quite similar to using the other options we’ve shared. 

Once again, you will want to blend these or use a food processer to puree them slightly. Remember, you don’t want to turn them into a tomato sauce.

You can add some tomato paste or tomato puree to these as well to get your flavor and consistency almost exactly the same as crushed tomatoes.

After all, crushed tomatoes are made with a tomato and tomato paste mixture. 

4. Tomato Sauce + Tomato Paste

You can use just tomato sauce as a suitable substitute but your consistency won’t be quite right. Depending on what you’re making, you could probably make it work anyway. 

However, if you want to turn this substitute into a winning option, we recommend mixing some tomato paste with your tomato sauce. The tomato paste will thicken the sauce and add the texture that you’re looking for. 

It’s not a perfect solution but it does make a really good substitute option if these items are in your pantry or if you grabbed the wrong thing when you did your grocery shopping. 

5. Spaghetti or Pizza Sauce

If all else fails, you can try using another tomato-based sauce as a substitute. The problem here is these sauces are typically seasoned so your flavor may vary because of that.

However, if you’re making a red pasta sauce or pizza, these will do quite well. 

If you’re making other things that require crushed tomatoes, just adjust your seasonings to incorporate the seasonings of these pre-made sauces.

Again, you can add a little tomato paste if you need to thicken it up. This isn’t the perfect solution, but it will get you by in a pinch! 

Conclusion: Crushed Tomato Substitutes

Crushed tomatoes are perhaps one of the easier pantry items that you can easily find substitutes for.

Whether you need a substitute because you grabbed the wrong tomato product off of the shelf or because you thought you had it and you didn’t, there are plenty of options here for you. 

You can turn just about any other tomato product into crushed tomatoes if you are willing to give it a try! 

Related Questions

We hope that you find this guide to the best substitute for crushed tomatoes to be a helpful and informative resource for dealing with your crushed tomato crisis. There are several great options here for you so you should be able to find something to work! 

We invite you to review the following question and answer section for some additional information that could be useful. 

If I Use Whole Tomatoes, Should I Boil Them First?

It’s really not necessary to boil them first but you absolutely can. If you don’t want the skins or seeds to be in your crushed tomatoes, you could boil them only about 20-30 seconds to make the skins easier to peel off. This is purely optional and up to your preferences. 

What’s the Difference in Tomato Sauce and Crushed Tomatoes?

The tomatoes in tomato sauce are actually cooked into a thick and concentrated sauce and then strained to separate any chunks or seeds.

On the other hand, crushed tomatoes are made directly from whole tomatoes with no cooking involved or required in the process.

Up Next: Can You Freeze Green Tomatoes?

One Comment

  1. Thank you so much. I need crushed tomatoes for a recipe but I don’t have any. I’m gonna use the tomato sauce and tomato paste substitute. Will post my results

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