Crushed tomatoes are a pantry staple. However, it is still possible to run out of them right when you need them for a dish. Luckily, there are multiple crushed tomato substitutes.
What are the best substitutes for crushed tomatoes? The best substitute for crushed tomatoes is the one you can make yourself. This will take you some time but the result will certainly be worth it. There are other substitutes you can go for. Here are the best options – fresh tomatoes, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato puree, whole peeled tomatoes, and pizza or pasta sauces.
In this article, you will learn what crushed tomatoes are used for, what are their best substitutes, and how to use them to achieve the right texture and flavor.
Crushed Tomatoes – When and Why They Are Used
Crushed tomatoes are a mixture of softened tomato chunks and tomato puree or paste. Crushed tomatoes undergo very little cooking compared to other tomato products, such as sauces or pastes.
There are so many things you can do with crushed tomatoes. If you have them in your pantry, all you need is a few other staple ingredients to come up with a wholesome dish. Here are a few ways of using crushed tomatoes.
- Use it as pizza or pasta sauce
- Make some tomato soup
- Make salsa
- Use to top meatballs
- Use to make home-style chili, etc,
The list of dishes you can use crushed tomatoes in is endless. But if you don’t have them at home, it is not a big deal as there are a few options that will work well as substitutes for crushed tomatoes.
The Best Substitutes for Crushed Tomatoes
Here are the best substitutes for crushed tomatoes. Choose one that will work best for the particular dish you are making.
1. Fresh Tomatoes
If you don’t have crushed tomatoes at home but have fresh tomatoes, then you have nothing to worry about. Just peel them, remove the core and seeds, and throw them into a blender or food processor.
If you want a texture similar to canned crushed tomatoes, don’t blend them until the texture is smooth. However, in the case of some dishes, you may benefit from smoothly blended tomatoes.
Season to taste. You can add salt and pepper, and if it goes well with your dish, you may also add herbs.
For the ultimate crushed tomatoes tastes, add a small amount of tomato paste to add richness of taste and adjust the texture.
2. Diced Tomatoes
Having canned diced tomatoes in your pantry is always nice as you can do a lot with them. Up until using them instead of crushed tomatoes.
Some people get confused about the differences between diced tomatoes and crushed tomatoes. The main difference is that diced tomatoes are chunkier. But this is something you can fix.
Use a potato masher to make the diced tomatoes less chunky. You can also give diced tomatoes a quick blend to bring them to a texture of crushed tomatoes.
You may experience slight flavor differences depending on the brand or type of diced tomatoes you are using. There are such options on the market as fire-roasted diced tomatoes, Italian style diced tomatoes, with chili, without salt, etc.
Adding tomato paste or pureed tomatoes to diced tomatoes will improve their texture and make them more similar to crushed tomatoes.
3. Tomato Paste
Tomato paste is not the closest substitute for crushed tomatoes. But if it is the only tomato-based canned product you have at home, it will work too.
In some dishes, however, if all you need is the tomato flavor and juice, you can dilute a small amount of tomato paste with water and use this mixture instead of crushed tomatoes. Keep in mind that tomato paste has a very concentrated flavor and the smallest amount goes a long way. So, try not to overdo it.
When using tomato paste, it is best to blend it with fresh tomatoes or some other type of canned tomatoes to get a flavor similar to that of crushed tomatoes.
4. Tomato Puree
Tomato purees have a smoother texture compared to crushed tomatoes. However, it all depends on the brand you are using. Some brands make crushed tomatoes less chunky than others. Thus, if you have been buying crushed tomatoes from a brand that makes them smoother, you won’t notice much of a difference.
It should be noted, however, that the flavor of pureed tomatoes may be slightly deeper compared to crushed tomatoes. But it is not as concentrated as that of tomato paste.
You can substitute one part of crushed tomatoes with one part of tomato puree.
5. Whole Peeled Tomatoes
If you have canned whole peeled tomatoes at home, you have crushed tomatoes almost ready at hand.
All you have to do is to chop the tomatoes to achieve a texture similar to that of crushed tomatoes. Bring the tomatoes to a boil over high heat. Boiling the tomatoes will soften them. You can also use a potato masher to further break down the chunks.
6. Pasta or Pizza Sauce
If you need crushed tomatoes to make a pasta or pizza sauce, then using jarred sauces is a great option.
A simple marinara sauce, for example, will work great in many cases. But one thing to keep in mind when using jarred sauces as a substitute for crushed tomatoes is that they are seasoned and may contain additional ingredients. These may include herbs, garlic, onion, etc.
Thus, when using such sauces read the ingredient list in order to adjust your recipe and not have too much of a certain ingredient.
Make Crushed Tomatoes Yourself
If the recipe calls for crushed tomatoes and there are no chances that you would consider any of the options above, then making your own crushed tomatoes is the only option. And being honest, it is the best option as you will get the same texture and taste as with canned crushed tomatoes.
But before you do this, know that it is going to take you much longer than opening a can of crushed tomatoes.
Here is how to do it.
- Peel the tomatoes. To make it easier, leave them in boiled water for around 5 minutes. The skin will crack and you will be able to easily remove it.
- Remove the stem. You may or may not remove the seeds.
- Cut the tomatoes into cubes.
- Divide your cut tomatoes into six parts.
- Transfer 1/6 of the tomatoes into a pot. Use a potato crusher to crush the tomatoes. You can also do it with a wooden spatula but it will take you longer.
- Keep the heat high and stir the tomatoes.
- Once the tomatoes start boiling, add another part of cubed tomatoes. Don’t crush them. Let them cook and soften.
- Add the remaining tomatoes part by part.
- Let the tomatoes boil for 5 minutes and your crushed tomatoes are ready.
The good thing about making your own crushed tomatoes is that you can make a bigger batch and freeze or can them for later use.
What Is the Difference Between Crushed Tomatoes and Tomato Sauce?
As opposed to crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce is much thicker. As it undergoes a longer cooking process, the sauce thickens and acquires a more concentrated flavor. Crushed tomatoes are not cooked for too long. This is why tomato chunks don’t get completely blended into the sauce.
Texture-wise, tomato sauce is much smoother as there are no chunks in it.