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Tomato Puree v. Sauce

I have a recipe that calls for 14 oz of tomato puree.

What can I substitute for the puree? I'm assuming it's a little thicker than tomato sauce. Do you think I could use about an equivalent amount of tomato sauce thickened with 1 or 2 T of tomato paste?


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  1. Here in CA I can never find puree, only sauce. I have sometimes taken a can of diced canned tomatoes and pureed it in the food processor as a substitute, sometimes I just use the sauce. Adding a little bit of tomato paste sounds like a good idea.

    1. Other way around. Puree is just pureed tomatoes, whereas sauce is cooked and generally seasoned, so sauce is thicker and more intensely flavored. Personally, I don't touch sauce... I'll season my own, thanks.

      If you have a recipe that calls for sauce, you could just simmer the puree for a bit and season it if you want for the same effect. Or if you're making a tomato sauce, just use the puree and simmer it a little longer.

      1. Why do want to substitute for puree?

        1 Reply
        1. re: hondo77

          Well, I can't buy anything called puree in my local stores.

        2. Wouldn't canned crushed tomatoes be the same thing as tomato puree?

          1. Follow up from OP:

            I ended up just using just using tomato sauce. Tomato puree was too hard to find at the store. I don't know why the recipe called for tomato puree. Tomato sauce worked just fine.

            1. Interesting question. A little googling reveals that puree is quickly cooked and pureed tomatoes. Sauce is a catchall term that can include diluted puree to spaghetti sauce.

              1. I have just pureed a 28 oz can of whole tomatoes. Essentially the same texture, although you may want to reserve some of the "juices" from the whole tomatoes. I'm sure a large can of diced would work as well. To me, tomato sauce is a very different product, but I guess it depends on what you're making whether or not they're interchangeable.

                1. Tomato Paste: Adds thickness and body — often used in combination with other tomato products or ingredients (broth, water or wine), to give sauces a thicker and richer consistency. Made from 100% tomatoes.

                  Tomato Sauce: Adds a mild tomato flavor and smooth consistency — can be used in larger quantities than paste; extremely versatile and blends in easily with other ingredients. Use in soups, stews, rice dishes, and sauces.

                  Tomato Puree: Adds the simple, clean flavor of vine-ripened tomatoes and a smooth consistency. Best used when the pure, full flavor of tomatoes is desired in a sauce. Free of added seasonings, tomato puree truly complements any flavoring or ingredient beautifully.

                  I saw a recipe on Laura In The Kitchen who uses Tomato Puree, but the cans were labeled Tomato Paste.
                  Your call.

                  Courtesy of http://www.contadina.com/default.aspx

                  1. I don't recall seeing the phrase "tomato puree" very often these days, they're usually labeled as "crushed tomatoes" when I see them in the store.

                    I would just throw some canned whole or diced tomatoes in a blender with a little tomato paste. The brand of crushed tomatoes I usually buy has tomato paste in it as well according to the label.

                    Canned tomato sauce is crap and loaded with salt, and I read somewhere a while back that they use older tomatoes for tomato "sauce", but by law anything sold as tomatoes by themselves (diced, crushed, paste, whole) have to be of a certain freshness.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Atomic76

                      Me either. But in the following recipe, it does show it. It is a basic recipe, but I've made many of Laura's and they are all simple, and delicious. After I doctor them up at times. :)

                    2. Yikes i just used sauce and the chicken eggplant parmesan was runny! Never again

                      1. I use tomato puree for my favorite sauce recipe. Contandina brand makes a tomato puree, tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, and tomato paste. I have tried my recipe using the crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce and it's just not the same.
                        As others have suggested, if you can't find them, I would puree some whole canned tomatoes as a substitute.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: PamelaD

                          Thanks i had read on here where some said not a big deal it was a big deal. i can find it I just grabbed the wrong can and it was too late to stop and go get some. Oh well it was still good just soupy!!

                        2. I saw bottles of tomato puree at Cost Plus/World Market the other day. Doesn't answer the question, but in case anyone wants some.

                          1. Thanks only our 2 Cost Plus closed here about 3 years ago. Good news I bought some of their wine racks for my wine cellar! Thanks

                            1. The reason I never use canned tomato puree or paste as is is b/c the producers include the skins and seeds. These will make for a bitter sauce that needs to be sweetened, although adding sugar only masks the bitterness. Same goes to adjusting the acid level.
                              I always sieve any canned tomatoes. It's surprising how much is seed/skin.