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

By Patricia S York
May 27, 2020
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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.