Here's What You Can Substitute For Tomato Paste

Tomato paste is one of those common ingredients that works in a lot of dishes, and having it on hand is a great idea to make cooking easier. However, everyone has had that moment when they go to get an ingredient, only to discover they are out of it. When this happens, instead of panicking, you can substitute.

The best ingredient to substitute for tomato paste depends on the type of dish you're making. If the dish needs a tomato flavor, but doesn't require the thickening that tomato paste provides, tomato sauce or tomato puree work great as substitutes (via Taste of Home). However, keep in mind that both of these are less concentrated than tomato paste. As a result, to get the same tomato flavor, it will be necessary to add at least twice as much.

The best substitute for tomato paste flavor

Another alternative is canned tomatoes, such as diced or stewed tomatoes. This works better than sauce or puree when you need the thickening that paste would have provided. Again, canned tomatoes don't have the concentration of paste, so more will be required for the same flavor. Also keep in mind that canned tomatoes are packed in liquid, and you don't want to add that to your recipe, so drain the tomatoes before using them.

If you don't have any tomato products on hand, and you're only looking for a splash of added flavor, fish sauce or Worcestershire sauce is an alternative (via The Takeout). That sounds weird, but it will add a savory flavor, though without the sweetness of tomatoes. Keep in mind that both are strong flavors, so unlike sauce, puree, or canned tomatoes, you will only want to add a little bit at a time, and taste the dish as you go so you don't overwhelm it.

As a last resort, Taste of Home says you can also use ketchup as a substitute. This one is tricky, because ketchup usually has added sugar and vinegar and isn't as thick as tomato paste, though it is thicker than sauce. This works best in recipes that are in the barbecue family, such as pulled pork or short ribs.