What’s a Good Tomato Sauce Substitute?

Tomato sauce is a popular and delicious sauce made from tomatoes and various ingredients. Tomato sauce can refer to several different sauces, but in the United States, it most often refers to a sauce containing tomato, olive oil, and garlic. Many good alternatives are available if you’re looking for a tomato sauce substitute.

In this article, we’re going to look at replacements for American-style tomato sauces, including tomatoes, olive oil, and garlic. The other most common tomato sauce recipe includes tomato, salt, and minimal herbs.

What Is Tomato Sauce?

As already mentioned, in the U.S., Tomato sauce most often refers to a combination of a few select fresh ingredients. However, it can also be purchased pre-prepared in cans and jars in grocery stores. Shop-bought varieties are often marketed as spaghetti or pasta sauce, although these can also contain additional ingredients.

There are some other notable types of tomato sauce, such as meat sauce and marinara sauce. What is most often referred to as tomato sauce contains fewer ingredients than those sauces.

The usual ingredients for traditional tomato sauce include tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, salt, and occasionally other herbs and spices.

Tomato sauce is most often used as a pouring sauce or as an important ingredient in an overall dish rather than as a condiment.

Best Substitutes for Tomato Sauce

1. Tomato Paste

Tomato paste is an easy substitute that’s readily available in most grocery stores, and you might even have some in the cupboard!

This substitution is an excellent option for things like pizza, lasagna, chili, or meatloaf. Some even prefer the thicker texture of tomato paste, but you can easily thin out the consistency by following the basic instructions below.

All you need to do to substitute tomato paste for tomato sauce is add a little water, olive oil, and garlic optionally.

Just add one part of water for every one part of tomato paste to make this a 1:1 replacement.

2. Pasta Sauce

You can use pasta sauce as a substitute option for tomato sauce when preparing a dish like gnocchi, spaghetti, or similar. It’s widely available in grocery stores but often contains additional ingredients.

You can use pasta or spaghetti sauce as a 1:1 replacement for tomato sauce.

3. Canned Tomatoes

Canned tomatoes can serve as the basis for your own homemade tomato sauce. They can also work as a general substitution.

  • Gently heat canned tomatoes
  • Add 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil
  • Add 1-2 cloves of diced or crushed garlic
  • Gently simmer for 5-10 minutes

You can follow the above instructions to create your own tomato sauce at home or simply use canned tomatoes as a 1:1 replacement for tomato sauce.

4. Tomato Puree

Another good substitute is tomato puree, a thicker consistency but not as thick as tomato paste.

All you need to do to use tomato puree is follow a similar approach to what you would if you were using tomato paste.

This means mixing a little added water, but you’ll want to use more puree and less water. You can add a little salt, olive oil, and garlic to perfect the mixture.

5. Marinara Sauce

Marinara sauce is a delicious alternative to tomato sauce as it is itself a type of tomato sauce. Unlike some other options on this list, you wouldn’t want to add anything to this sauce.

It does include added ingredients such as onion, but it’s a great substitution for certain dishes. It can elevate chicken dishes where you would be using tomato sauce. It can also work well with meatballs, spaghetti, or even meatloaf.

You can use marinara sauce as a 1:1 substitute for tomato sauce.

6. Nomato Sauce

If you need a substitute because of a tomato allergy, then nomato sauce is the alternative for you. This tomato-free sauce contains beets, onions, carrots, garlic, white wine vinegar, and balsamic vinegar.

You can make it at home, but it’s also becoming more readily available in grocery stores and various produce markets. It can be best to make a batch of this in advance and freeze it for the next time you need it!


You can find an excellent tomato sauce substitute for any situation or recipe with the list above. Whether you’re creating a simple pasta dish or something more complex, give one of these alternatives a go and enjoy!