7 Best Stewed Tomato Substitutes

Stewed tomatoes are a popular nutritional side dish and can be added to various recipes. They complement poultry, pork, and beef as a side dish, so their versatility is broad. Stewed tomatoes can be in pasta dishes or stews.

The consistency of stewed tomatoes is soft chunks, cut from the tomato into pieces, then simmered over low heat until it breaks down into delicate pieces and juice. While stewed tomatoes are usually cooked with salt, some people prefer to add other flavors with sugar, spices, onions, or celery.

But, what to do if there aren’t any canned stewed tomatoes in your pantry?

Substitutes for Stewed Tomatoes

  • Diced Tomatoes
  • Whole Peeled Tomatoes
  • Crushed Tomatoes
  • Tomato Paste
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Tomato Puree
  • Fresh tomatoes
Stewed Tomato Substitutes

Diced Tomatoes

Diced tomatoes have a slightly different texture than stewed tomatoes. As the name indicates, the tomato has been chopped into smaller pieces and canned in its juice. The canning process is shorter and does not break down into soft chunks, like stewed tomatoes, so the texture is firmer.

You’ll want to simmer diced tomatoes longer to achieve the same soft texture as stewed ones. Feel free to add salt, sugar, spices, and other vegetables to enhance the flavor.

Use the following substitute for 1 cup of stewed tomatoes:

= 1-1/2 cups of diced tomatoes

Whole Peeled Tomatoes

Canned whole peeled tomatoes can be substituted for stewed tomatoes with a bit of effort. Since they are complete, you will need to chop them into smaller pieces, then simmer and stir on low heat until the texture breaks down into soft chunks. 

Most canned tomatoes are not seasoned beyond salt, so you have the option to add sugar, spices, or other vegetables for additional flavor.

A substitution for 16 ounces of stewed tomatoes is:

= 1-1/2 cups (of further cooked) chopped whole peeled tomatoes

Crushed Tomatoes

You may find slight differences in canned crushed tomatoes as different brands vary from smooth and pourable to containing small tomato chunks.

Since crushed tomato texture is generally smooth, there will be no need to further cook it down before substituting it for stewed tomatoes in a recipe.

Replace one cup of stewed tomatoes with:

= 1 cup crushed tomatoes

Tomato Paste

Tomato paste is a product that is reduced to a thick, smooth consistency, and it enhances the tomato flavor while not requiring more than a small amount. Using tomato paste as a substitute will only require a tablespoon or two in many recipes, and remember that the texture will be smooth with no pieces of tomato.

Consider replacing three cups of stewed tomatoes with:

= 1 cup of tomato paste

Tomato Sauce

Tomato sauce can be a substitute for stewed tomatoes, and it is smooth and creamy in texture with no pieces of tomato. It may come with additional flavorings such as onion, basil, peppers, celery, or spices, or it may be plain with only salt added. 

The best substitution for one cup of stewed tomatoes would be:

= ¾ cup of tomato sauce.

Tomato purée

Tomato purée is a product with a smooth texture between a paste and a sauce. During the cooking process, it’s strained of any residue of skin or seeds. Some compare it to a blend of tomato paste and water. Canned purée is generally unseasoned, except for salt.

To replace one cup of stewed tomatoes, consider:

= 2/3 cups tomato purée

Fresh Tomatoes

Creating stewed tomatoes from the store or garden is an excellent option for health-conscious cooks. While canned tomatoes are a perfect shortcut and backup, using tomatoes from the garden gives you control over food safety and preservative use.

Understand that creating stewed tomatoes from fresh will take more time, but the aroma and pleasure you get will be worth it with texture and flavor.

How to Make Stewed Tomatoes from Fresh

The following will guide you through the steps of a basic stewed tomato recipe. You can choose to add additional vegetables or spices to fit your taste. The ingredients you’ll need:

  • 8 to 10 fresh tomatoes
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoon unsalted butter

After assembling all ingredients, you will need to peel the tomatoes. Do this by using a paring knife and cutting away the skin. Most cooks prefer a method that saves more of the meat of the tomato:

  • Drop the tomatoes into a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds. 
  • Remove the pot from the stove, pour off the hot water, and
  • Immerse the tomatoes in a bowl of ice.

The tomato skins will pull away easily.

Next, cut the tomatoes into chunks.

Add the cut tomatoes to a saucepan. Simmer over low heat, constantly stirring to keep the tomatoes from burning. As they cook, the juice will appear as the tomatoes soften.

Once the juice begins to appear, add the seasonings and stir them in. Taste and add seasoning to fit your taste.

Continue simmering until the desired softness of the tomato is reached (20-30 minutes). 

FAQ

Can I turn diced tomatoes into stewed tomatoes? 

Make simply stewed tomatoes with diced tomatoes and salt. Peel the tomatoes, dice, then slowly cook for 30-40 minutes over low heat, occasionally stirring to prevent burning. Add additional flavor with spices, onion, and celery.

Can I use regular tomatoes instead of stewed tomatoes? 

Use fresh tomatoes in place of stewed tomatoes. If a recipe calls for stewed tomatoes, and you only have fresh ones, they should be peeled, diced, and cooked down to the consistency of stewed tomatoes before adding them to your recipe.

Is there a difference between stewed tomatoes and diced tomatoes?

Stewed tomatoes are those cooked down to a stew-like consistency and are generally used in recipes for flavor or as a side dish. Diced tomatoes are freshly cut into small pieces and used on salads or recipes that do not require a cooked tomato.

Can I use crushed tomatoes instead of stewed tomatoes? 

Crushed tomatoes are fresh ones that have been mashed (crushed) and combined with tomato puree or sauce, and the texture can be thick and chunky. They may be canned or made fresh.
 
Stewed tomatoes are seasoned with salt (sometimes spices or sugar) and have a stew-like consistency and may be made from fresh tomatoes or canned.

Can I substitute tomato soup for stewed tomatoes? 

If you seek texture and flavor, using tomato soup will not give the same result to your recipe. A recipe calling for stewed tomatoes is seeking the texture of the tomato and the rich flavor.
 
A better substitute would be tomato sauce, as it is cooked down and condensed with seasonings to enhance a recipe. Tomato soup is generally less robust in flavor than a puree or sauce.

Are stewed tomatoes the same as whole peeled tomatoes?

The flavor and texture will be similar if you use canned whole peeled tomatoes with salt or other spices used in the canning process. However, the canning process for the whole tomato will not have been as long as the stewing process.
 
If using the whole peeled tomatoes for a recipe that calls for stewed tomatoes, you should dice them and simmer them over low heat to further break them down before adding them to the dish.

About Rachelle

Hi, I'm Rachel! I love cooking and finding new recipes but was always missing one of the ingredients in my kitchen. I created Can I Substitute? for people like me who are one substitute away from a great meal. If you're looking for great ingredient substitutes you've come to the right place. Feel free to contact me with any questions or comments.

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