9 Delicious Tomato Substitutes to Enhance Your Recipes

9 Best Tomato Substitutes – A Comprehensive Guide

Tomatoes are widely known for their versatility and delicious flavor. They can be used in a variety of ways, adding depth and richness to a wide range of dishes. However, there are situations where you may need to find a tomato substitute. Whether you have an allergy, dislike the taste, or simply can’t find fresh tomatoes, this guide will provide you with nine excellent alternatives.

1. Canned Tomatoes

Canned tomatoes are a popular substitute for cooked fresh tomatoes. While they may not be as desirable when eaten straight from the can, their flavor develops and becomes more palatable when cooked. It is important to choose all-natural canned tomatoes to avoid additives and preserve the natural qualities of tomatoes. Canned tomatoes offer a savory flavor with a possible sweet undertone, depending on the type of tomato used.
How to substitute:

  • Use canned tomatoes in recipes that call for cooked tomatoes, such as casseroles, stews, soups, and sauces.
  • One standard can of tomatoes can replace about two large fresh tomatoes or four to six small tomatoes. Adjust the quantity based on the size of tomatoes required in the recipe.
  • For cherry tomatoes, either use canned cherry tomatoes or substitute 1 can for every 1 1/2 cups of cherry tomatoes.

2. Red Bell Peppers

Fresh red bell peppers are an excellent substitute for both fresh and cooked tomatoes. While they differ significantly in flavor from tomatoes, red bell peppers offer a sweet flavor with a slight citrus undertone. They also mimic the bright red color of tomatoes. When used fresh, red bell peppers have a crunchy, juicy texture. When cooked, they soften and release flavorful juices.
How to substitute:

  • Use fresh red bell peppers as an alternative to tomatoes in salads, sandwiches, casseroles and stews.
  • Thinly slice red bell peppers for best results.

3. Eggplant

Eggplant is another versatile tomato substitute, especially in cooked dishes. While it may require some additional sweetening with honey, syrup, or sugar, eggplant offers a meaty and savory flavor profile. It has a soft, spongy texture that can enhance the richness of casseroles, stews, and meat dishes.
How to substitute:

  • Incorporate eggplant into recipes that call for cooked tomatoes.
  • Dice or slice eggplant and cook according to recipe instructions.

4. Pasta Sauce

Pasta sauce, often flavored with salt, pepper, herbs, flavorings and even cheese, can be a suitable substitute for tomatoes in various cooked dishes. It provides a smooth and saucy texture with some added complexity of flavor. Pasta sauce works well in pasta dishes, stews, and meat dishes.
How to substitute:

  • Substitute an equivalent amount of pasta sauce for fresh tomatoes in recipes.
  • Adjust the amount based on personal preference and desired level of tomato flavor.

5. Zucchini

Zucchini has a slightly sweet taste with a subtle bitter undertone. It can be used as a substitute for tomatoes in cooked dishes, providing a tender texture. Zucchini works well in casseroles, stews and meat dishes.
How to substitute:

  • Cut zucchini into small cubes or slices and add to the recipe as a tomato substitute.

6. Sun-dried or sun-ripened tomatoes

Sun-dried or sun-ripened tomatoes are concentrated in flavor and add a rich flavor to dishes. They have a soft, chewy texture that complements stews, sauces and meat dishes. Sun-dried or ripe tomatoes can provide a savory profile without the distinct flavor of fresh tomatoes.
How to substitute:

  • Use sun-dried or sun-ripened tomatoes as a flavorful addition to cooked dishes.
  • Adjust the amount according to personal preference and desired intensity of tomato flavor.

7. Carrots

Carrots have a neutral flavor with slightly sweet and earthy undertones. They can be used as a substitute for tomatoes in cooked dishes, providing a crunchy texture when raw or a soft texture when cooked. Carrots work well in casseroles and stews.
How to substitute:

  • Cut carrots into small cubes or slices and add them to the recipe instead of tomatoes.

8. Squash

Pumpkin offers a sweet taste with a slightly bitter undertone, making it a unique substitute for tomatoes. It has a soft and tender texture that works well in both fresh and cooked dishes. Pumpkin can be added to casseroles, stews and meat dishes.
How to substitute:

  • Cut pumpkin into small cubes and use in recipes that call for tomatoes.
  • Adjust the amount according to personal preference and desired level of sweetness.

9. Tomato paste

Tomato paste is a concentrated form of tomatoes that can be used as a substitute in recipes that require a rich tomato flavor. It has a thick and intense flavor that adds depth to sauces, stews, and soups. Tomato paste is especially useful when you want a tomato-like flavor without the added liquid.
How to substitute:

  • Substitute an equivalent amount of tomato paste for fresh tomatoes in recipes.
  • Dilute tomato paste with water or broth to achieve desired consistency.


While tomatoes are a popular ingredient in many dishes, there are several alternatives that can be used when fresh tomatoes are unavailable or undesirable. Canned tomatoes, red peppers, eggplant, pasta sauce, zucchini, sun-dried or ripe tomatoes, carrots, squash, and tomato paste all offer unique flavors and textures that can enhance your recipes. By understanding the characteristics and functions of these substitutes, you can confidently create delicious dishes without tomatoes. Experiment with these alternatives and discover new and exciting flavors in your culinary adventures.


Are tomato substitutes suitable for people with tomato allergies?

Yes, tomato substitutes can be a great option for people with tomato allergies, providing alternative flavors and textures without triggering allergic reactions. However, it is important to check for specific allergies to the substitute ingredients before using them.

Can I use tomato substitutes in raw salads?

Some tomato substitutes, such as red bell peppers and sun-dried tomatoes, can work well in raw salads, adding flavor, color, and texture. However, it is important to consider the flavor compatibility with the other salad ingredients and adjust the amounts accordingly.

How do I determine the right amount of tomato substitute to use?

The amount of tomato substitute to use depends on personal preference and the desired level of tomato flavor in the dish. As a general guideline, you can start by replacing tomatoes with an equivalent amount of the substitute and then adjust to taste.

Can I use tomato substitutes in all recipes?

While tomato substitutes can work well in many recipes, it’s important to consider the specific dish and its flavor profile. Some recipes, such as traditional tomato-based sauces or salsas, may require the distinct flavor of tomatoes. In these cases, it can be a challenge to find an exact substitute without compromising the intended flavor.

Can I freeze dishes made with tomato substitutes?

Yes, dishes made with tomato substitutes can generally be frozen, but it’s important to note that the texture and flavor of the substitute ingredients may change slightly upon thawing. It’s a good idea to test the frozen dish and adjust the seasoning if necessary after thawing.

Are there any health benefits to using tomato substitutes?

Tomato substitutes, such as red bell peppers and carrots, offer their own nutritional benefits, including vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. While they may not provide the exact same benefits as tomatoes, incorporating a variety of substitutes can contribute to a well-rounded and nutritious diet.