Substitutes For Stewed Tomatoes

Stewed Tomatoes are an American dish made with fresh tomatoes, garlic, herbs, and sometimes other ingredients such as bell peppers, onions, and celery. This article looks at what makes an ideal stewed tomato substitute and gives you some ideal alternatives you can use.

This traditional dish is still eaten throughout the United States as a main. It is often served as a side dish, especially on occasions like Thanksgiving. The dish has been served in America since at least the 1700s when it appeared on a Kentucky race track’s menu in 1788 as tomato stew.

You might be making stewed tomatoes as a special dish to be enjoyed with bread, but a growing number of dishes use stewed tomatoes as part of a bigger recipe. So if you need a substitute for stewed tomatoes, read on to find out what you need to know.

Substitutes for Stewed Tomatoes

You can often substitute fresh tomatoes with canned tomatoes and add the spices as you would normally. You can also substitute tomato varieties easily, with few exceptions. For example, Plum Tomatoes and Campari Tomatoes are popular varieties with many sub-types and can be used for cooking with delicious tangy flavors with plenty of sweet notes. But you would perhaps do well to stay clear of Cherry Tomatoes, Sun-dried Tomatoes, and Oven-roasted Tomatoes.

1. Crushed Tomatoes

Crushed Tomatoes can serve as the base for your stewed tomatoes by removing the need to stew the tomatoes for a long time. Instead, you can take your tomatoes and crush them before cooking them.

Another benefit of Crushed Tomatoes is that you can remove the skins. When cooked, the skin from tomatoes can release a bitter flavor, so eliminating the skins can be a good idea.

2. Canned Tomatoes

Decanted canned tomatoes

Canned Tomatoes, also known as tinned tomatoes in the United Kingdom, are an excellent alternative to Stewed Tomatoes. Open the can and get cooking right away. Then, add the herbs and other vegetables as you would ordinarily do. You can combine canned tomatoes with Tomato Puree to create a slightly thicker sauce.

Note: Not all canned tomatoes are equal, so you should opt for the highest quality you can get. Canned plum tomatoes can help create a more delicious sauce than chopped.

3. Tomato Puree

You can stir in Tomato Puree with herbs and vegetables to create a sauce that doesn’t contain any tangible tomatoes in particular. This option can be a preference for those wishing to serve soup-like meals or for recipes that include sausage or pasta.

Tomato puree can give your dish a vibrant, energetic, and attractive appearance. You might wish to use the puree in combination with other options on the list, such as canned tomatoes or crushed tomatoes.

4. Tomato Paste

Tomato Paste is an ideal alternative for Stewed Tomatoes in soups, or you can make a Tomato Paste Sauce for use in meat dishes if you find Tomato Puree or Stewed Tomatoes not to your preference. 

Many people do not know that tomato paste and puree are different, with tomato paste being far thicker in density. 

Note: You can add a little hot water to tomato paste to dilute it a little.

5. Fresh Tomatoes

When all else fails, you can opt for any fresh tomatoes you have in the pantry. With fresh tomatoes, you can make stewed tomatoes by crushing or ‘mashing’ the tomatoes before picking out any excess skin.

Once you’ve picked out the skins, you can cook them on a low heat for 45-60 minutes. Stewed tomatoes are a slow-cooked dish that can be replicated with almost any tomato, but plum tomato varieties work best.


Stewed Tomatoes are a popular food for many recipes and dishes, and sometimes, you will need an easy and available substitution for them. Thankfully, you only really need to know a few other options to be able to replace them easily. Use one of the tomato options above and get cooking!