Crushed tomatoes can be made at home or bought at the grocery store. They are made with diced tomatoes that are then crushed or mashed to release more juices and flavors while cooking.
While crushed tomatoes made at home fresh and undeniably tastier, they can be a lot of prep and cooking. In addition, it can be too time-consuming, so most people buy canned at the store.
You can use crushed tomatoes in everything from lasagna to tomato stew, and yes, these mighty tomatoes are easy to run out of in the pantry, too.
While making your own crushed tomatoes would probably be the best option if you’re all out of the canned variety, there are plenty of other options you can try. In this article, we’ll explore the alternatives based on what works and in what scenario.
Read on to find out our picks for crushed tomato alternatives and swaps.
Crushed Tomato Substitutes
Like most canned tomatoes, Crushed tomatoes are made with plum tomatoes such as Roma tomatoes or san marzanos. These tomatoes offer rich and delicious flavors that are perfect for pasta sauces like marinara or tomato sauce. This means that crushed tomatoes share something in common with a lot of other grocery store products, such as canned diced tomatoes, tomato puree and paste, and more.
So let’s explore some ideal alternatives based on flavor and texture.
1. Fresh tomatoes
Yes, using fresh tomatoes would be the best option because you could cook your crushed tomatoes yourself. That said, it isn’t always a good option.
The best tomatoes for homemade crushed tomatoes will be plum varieties like Roma tomatoes. You can also use other types, such as Campari tomatoes and various heirlooms.
2. Plum tomatoes
If you have store-bought plum tomatoes in a can, you already have one of the best alternatives to crushed tomatoes available to you.
Simply empty the plum tomatoes into a mixing bowl to crush them with a potato masher and remove the skins. Now you can cook them and enjoy your own homemade crushed tomatoes that are almost as good as the fresh homemade options you’d make from beginning to end.
3. Diced tomatoes
You can also make crushed tomatoes from canned diced tomatoes, but unlike canned plum tomatoes, they don’t always have the same rich flavors. This minor difference can be confusing as diced tomatoes are often made from plum varieties, too. That said, if you reach for plum tomatoes first, you’ll always notice the difference.
4. Tomato paste
Tomato paste makes an excellent substitute in terms of outright flavor, though you might want to add some water if you want a sauce and not an outright paste.
Tomato paste is made similarly to crushed tomatoes, but all remnants of tomatoes are removed. The sauce is then cooked again to reduce any remaining moisture, and voila, you have tomato paste.
Like crushed tomatoes, tomato paste is often made with plum tomatoes. So the delicate balance of sweet but almost savory flavor is maintained when picking tomato paste as a substitute.
The main downside is that the texture will be different, as, without any remnant of crushed tomato, you’ll lose that classic texture.
5. Tomato puree
Tomato puree (also known as passata) makes another good option to replace crushed tomatoes in many recipes because it is so similar to tomato paste; you can read about the differences here.
However, tomato puree isn’t as dense and rich as tomato paste and is, in fact, technically a form of sauce based on its water contents.
Still? Tomato puree makes an excellent crushed tomato substitute for use in lasagnas, curries, and other recipes that require the flavors more than the texture of the tomato.
6. Marinara sauce
You can easily buy store-bought tomato sauces such as marinara, often made with crushed tomatoes as the base; these can be a great option, even if the last one on our list.
Marinara sauce is tasty and will be an excellent alternative to crushed tomatoes in many recipes, such as stewed tomatoes, and may even be a better option as a pouring sauce for pasta dishes.
Where marinara will let you down is that it has added ingredients such as basil, peppers, and onions. So keep that in mind because the flavor won’t be the same. In addition, some marinara sauces come chunky, and others are delicate, so the texture may not be perfect depending on the brand you buy.
Crushed Tomatoes vs. Tomato Puree
The difference between crushed tomatoes and tomato puree is that puree is a sauce made by cooking tomatoes for several hours and finally filtering out any remnants of tomato, such as the skin. Therefore, tomato puree differs from crushed tomatoes, which are simply tomatoes crushed for cooking purposes.
Crushed Tomatoes vs. Tomato Sauce
Crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce are not the same. Tomato sauce is a recipe containing added herbs and meat products, while crushed tomatoes can be any tomatoes that are crushed for use in recipes such as tomato sauce.
Crushed Tomatoes vs. Diced Tomatoes
The difference between crushed and diced tomatoes is that crushed tomatoes are tomatoes crushed for use in specific recipes.
Crushed Tomatoes vs. Ground Tomatoes
There is no difference between crushed and ground tomatoes; ground tomatoes are just another phrase or name for crushed tomatoes.