Stewed tomatoes are used as a base ingredient in a huge range of recipes. While you can make it at home, it’s also available as a store-bought canned version. But, if you run out, there are many stewed tomato substitutes to choose from.
Stewed tomatoes are typically cooked, seasoned and canned. They may include onions, garlic, herbs, bell peppers, and more! Unfortunately, the can looks like many other tomato products, and I can’t tell you how many times I thought I had a can, but didn’t.
That’s where this guide hops in for the help with these excellent alternatives!
🍅 Quick Summary
If you already know what you are looking for, here is a quick summary table to help you with the recommended ratios. Every recipe is different, so use this as a guide, but please adjust as necessary for your recipe.
|Substitute||Ratio to One Cup Stewed|
|Diced Tomatoes||¾ cup|
|Crushed Tomatoes||¾ cup|
|Whole Peeled Tomatoes||⅔ cup|
|Tomato Purée||⅔ cup|
|Tomato Paste||⅓ cup|
|Tomato Sauce||¾ – 1 cup|
|Fresh Tomatoes||1 cup|
|Tomato Soup||1 cup|
|Roasted Peppers||1 cup|
Kicking off the list with one of the most commonly used alternatives that work with a wide range of recipes, such as chili sauce, pasta sauce, Mexican salsa, vegetable stews, tomato soup, and more!
Unlike the relatively large and soft chunks of tomato in stewed tomatoes, diced tomatoes are cut into small cubes and canned with tomato juice.
Some versions of canned diced tomatoes are roasted and spiced beforehand, which gives your dish a hint of smokiness that works like charm with Mexican style recipes.
Note: Give some San Marzano Fire Roasted Tomatoes a try. These have a fantastic rich and earthy flavor that is out of this world. This is a specialty variety that will add a wonderful depth of flavor to your dish.
Diced tomatoes are also harder because they’re either not cooked or lightly cooked without simmering, but you won’t notice the difference due to the small size of the tomato pieces.
Additionally, you can easily empty the can into a saucepan and give it some simmering along with some diced onions, celery, garlic, herbs, and seasoning to make it almost identical to stewed tomatoes!
While substituting, you should keep in mind that the diced ones take longer to reach the consistency of stewed tomatoes, so you should add them a bit earlier in a recipe if you want them to break down a bit more.
A cup of diced tomatoes contains more tomatoes than the large chunks of stewed counterparts. For that reason, consider substituting every cup of stewed tomatoes with about ¾ cup of diced tomatoes to maintain the balance of liquids in your recipe.
Crushed tomatoes are incredibly versatile and can be used as a substitute for a huge range of recipes out there!
Crushed tomatoes are usually fresh tomatoes that are mashed into a smooth texture and canned along with some purée.
Some brands offer super smooth crushed tomatoes as well as finely chopped chunks, which add a little more thickness to the texture.
When it comes to color, crushed tomatoes are much lighter because they haven’t been simmered over heat.
Ideally, this alternative is best for pizza sauce, pasta sauce, and as a general substitute for those who don’t want chunks of tomato.
Crushed tomatoes typically are not seasoned, so you’ll need to adjust the seasoning to your recipes to obtain a similar flavor. You’ll need to adjust the taste as you cook.
Like diced tomatoes, you should substitute one cup of stewed tomatoes with ¾ cup of crushed.
Whole Peeled Tomatoes
Whole tomatoes are usually canned but can also be sold in jars. These are simply peeled plum tomatoes that are packed in tomato juice or tomato purée depending on the brand.
What makes canned whole tomatoes great for substitution is that they retain the same soft texture as stewed tomatoes since the skin is removed. This makes them excellent for casseroles, but they can also work in vegetable stews, pasta sauce, and more!
The texture of the whole peeled tomatoes allows you to chop them down or even crush them to achieve a similar consistency to that of the stewed tomatoes.
You might want to add some tomato purée or juice to them and leave them to simmer in a slow cooker for some time.
The flavor profile of whole canned tomatoes is remarkably bland. For that reason, you typically need to add some seasoning to compensate. Try to add finely chopped bell peppers, celery, onions as well as some garlic powder.
You’ll need to replace one cup of stewed tomatoes with ⅔ cup of whole peeled tomatoes.
All in all, whole peeled tomatoes require some work to mimic the flavor and texture of stewed tomatoes. However, when done right, it can taste a whole lot better!
Tomato purée is another great alternative to stewed tomatoes that can be an excellent substitute if you want to control the consistency and flavor, especially if you like thicker textures. It’s usually best when used for soups and pizzas but you can also use it if you make pasta or lasagna.
Tomato puree is simply a thick tomato juice that is made by cooking tomatoes that are peeled and strained from the seeds.
However, like many tomato-based products, the consistency may vary depending on the manufacturer. Some purées are noticeably watered down to a sauce consistency while others are almost as thick as a paste (more about that in the following section).
Technically speaking, tomato purée is seasoned, as it usually has some salt in it, but of course, this is nowhere close to stewed tomato seasoning. To enjoy a similarly rich flavor, you’ll need to add black pepper, onions, garlic powder, and maybe some herbs like cilantro.
This has a strong tomato flavor, and since it’s not simmered, and can be a little bitter, so a dash of sugar might solve that, especially for pizza!
You can substitute stewed tomatoes with purée in any ratio that you like, depending on its thickness. But for the most authentic texture, replace one cup with ⅔ cup of tomato purée.
Tomato paste is one of the most common tomato-based products on the market, and since it can last for months inside a can or a jar, you’re bound to have some in your pantry!
This one is simply a highly concentrated paste that is made by cooking tomatoes for a long time (up to several hours) in order to reduce the water content. All the seeds and skin of the tomatoes are first strained to make the concentrate rich.
Tip: If you have leftover tomato paste, add one tablespoon drops to a sheet of saran wrap. Wrap it up and stick it in the freezer. This is a great way to store it and you will almost always have some extra available.
One thing you should know about tomato paste is that it doesn’t have a similar texture to stewed tomatoes. Yet, they’re one of the best substitutes if you’re only after the flavor, so they’re an ideal substitute in marinades and pasta sauce.
This also makes them an excellent additive if you don’t have enough stewed tomatoes left and you’re cooking a large batch.
Of course, tomato paste on its own won’t taste the same, but you can easily adjust the flavor note by adding vegetables and seasonings as you prefer.
Since it’s one of the most concentrated forms of tomatoes, you typically need to replace every cup of stewed tomatoes with only ⅓ cup of tomato paste.
Tomato sauce is more concentrated than purée but not as thick and rich as tomato paste.
Another unique aspect of tomato sauce that it shares with stewed tomatoes is that you can find seasoned varieties, as some brands are seasoned with salt, sugar, onion powder, basil, and even cheese!
If you like to adjust your flavor, you can also go for unseasoned tomato sauce, but be careful that some varieties may still have some salt and sugar in them.
While the tomato sauce is very similar in flavor to stewed tomatoes, they don’t have the chunky consistency that is required for casseroles. Yet, it is a great replacement for stews, pizzas, dips, and toppings in general.
The substitution ratio here depends mainly on the consistency of the sauce you’ve purchased. Some sauces are thicker than stewed tomatoes which are usually replaced in a ¾ to 1 ratio, while others are equally thick, and you replace them with a 1 to 1 ratio.
It’s not hard to make your own homemade stewed tomatoes using some fresh tomatoes.
Although making stewed tomatoes from scratch may sound like a lot of work, it’s actually surprisingly easy. Additionally, it allows you to choose and adjust your recipe to enjoy it just the way you like.
You need some fresh, ripe tomatoes, preferably Roma or beef varieties, although plum tomatoes also work.
For every 10 tomatoes, you need to add about one chopped onion, one chopped bell pepper, two tablespoons of salt, half a tablespoon of sugar, as well as herbs, vegetables, and spices of your choice, including celery, parsley, cilantro, etc.
Here’s how to use these recipes to make your own homemade stewed tomato substitute:
- Add water to a large pot and bring it to a boil.
- Put the tomatoes in the boiling water and leave them for 30 seconds, then immediately remove them and plunge them in an ice bath to loosen the skin.
- Peel the skin off the tomatoes, and dice them.
- Bring a large pot to medium heat and add your diced tomatoes.
- Add your vegetables and seasonings and allow it to simmer for 30 to 60 minutes. Make sure to stir it frequently.
Let it cool and store in a covered container in the refrigerator if you have leftovers.
If you’re going to use stewed tomatoes to make marinara, substituting it with tomato soup may actually give you an even better taste!
Tomato soup is very affordable and available in every grocery store, so you won’t have a hard time finding it.
Similar to stewed tomatoes, this one is also seasoned with various herbs and spices, so, in most cases, you won’t need to add any. However, it has a runny consistency in comparison, so you might want to thicken it a bit.
To substitute with tomato soup, you’ll add the content of the jar by a 1 to 1 ratio, but then you’ll need to let it simmer for a bit in order to reduce it.
Last but not least, if you want to try something a bit different in your recipes and you’re looking for a non-tomato substitute, roasted peppers can actually do the trick!
This substitution works best in smoked recipes like salmon pasta, but you can also try it with pizzas.
This substitution is usually done in a ¾ – 1 to 1 ratio.
It goes without saying that roasted peppers have a completely different flavor profile when compared to the tomato-based substitutes. But, it’s an excellent choice if you want to try something new and savory.
Frequently Asked Questions
Stewed tomatoes are typically found in the canned vegetable aisle in the grocery store or they can be made simply at home. The whole tomatoes are slowly cooked to bring out the flavors and other vegetables and seasonings are added to enhance the flavor.
Diced tomatoes are typically uncooked small chunks of tomatoes in a light juice bringing out a bright flavor. Stewed tomatoes are more robust, deeper flavor, having been simmered with other vegetables and seasonings.
There you have it! This brief guide walked you through the best substitutes for stewed tomatoes! One thing you should keep in mind is that each one of these alternatives will work better in certain recipes.
Since the main flavor profile of stewed tomatoes comes from adding various seasonings and vegetables like onion, garlic, bell peppers, and celery, you should always make sure to add them to your favorite alternative.
In addition to speedy alternatives to canned stewed tomatoes, I’ve also included a homemade version as well as a non-tomato version for those who want to mix things up!