Easy Substitutes for Tomato Paste

Making homemade paste? The viscosity and flavor are limited only by how much time you put into the project.

It may not be the prettiest item you have in the pantry, but that canned, thick tomato sauce is a hard-working, versatile, and incredibly flavorful ingredient. When making homemade tomato sauce or a spice-infused Shakshouka, a dollop or two of tomato paste adds extra tomato essence and zest. Tomato paste is simply what happens when you cook down tomatoes for a long time, removing as much water as possible. If you are in the middle of making a pan of homemade lasagna and realize you are out of tomato paste, don't panic. Here are two ways to make easy substitutions for tomato paste.

Make a Substitute Using Tomato Sauce

Here is how to turn canned tomato sauce into a quick tomato paste substitute. Pour 1 cup (8 ounces) of tomato sauce into a saucepan and bring it to a simmer or low boil over medium heat. While it simmers, stir constantly for anywhere from 7-10 minutes, or until the sauce is reduced by about two-thirds. The mixture will thicken as it bubbles. 1 cup of tomato sauce should yield a little over 1/3 cup (about 3 ounces) of tomato paste. Depending on your need, you can start with a larger amount of tomato sauce, just remember you will need to cook the mixture for longer to reduce it by at least two-thirds.

Make a Substitute Using Canned Tomatoes

You can also turn a can of diced or whole tomatoes into homemade tomato paste. Blend a can of tomatoes in a food processor or blender until smooth, pour the mixture into a saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened and reduced by about two-thirds. A 14.5-ounce can of tomatoes should yield about 2/3 cup (6 ounces) of tomato paste. If you don't need to use the entire can to make paste, freeze the remainder for another use.

A quick homemade tomato paste substitution using tomato sauce or canned tomatoes will not be as thick or have as concentrated a flavor as real tomato paste, which is cooked for hours and reduced down into a thick, flavorful paste. These substitutions will work if you are in a bind, but you may want to use a little more than the recipe calls for since the flavor won't be quite as concentrated.

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