Substitute for Stewed Tomatoes — 11 Recipes To Try Out

Finding a substitute for stewed tomatoes can be easy. We’ll tell you all about the top alternatives and how to use them. 

If you want to try something new or simply don’t have stewed tomatoes, one of the options below is sure to be a good fit. 

Let’s jump right in.

What Are Stewed Tomatoes?Bunch of tomatoes on a stem

Stewed tomatoes are a mix of tomatoes, spices, seasonings, and condiments cooked together and jarred. They add flavor and consistency to dishes like pasta and casseroles. 

What makes stewed tomatoes unique is that you slice them into cubes rather than dicing them. Plus, the seasonings and flavors keep things interesting.

We’ll tell you how to make stewed tomatoes shortly, but canned tomatoes are good for stewing when fresh tomatoes aren’t in season. 

What Do They Taste Like?

Stewed tomatoes are quite sweet, with a hint of sour from the fruit’s acidity. That adds a lot of flavor to a dish, and pasta lovers adore it.

If you’re looking for healthy alternatives and would rather do something else than cooking, read our Daily Harvest breakdown. 

What Seasonings Are in Stewed Tomatoes?

Aside from tomatoes, the main ingredients include:Salt on a wooden spoon

  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Celery (optional)
  • Green Pepper (optional)

Many recipes that explore the best substitute for stewed tomatoes recommend rosa tomatoes, but you can use whatever you have as long as the tomatoes are big enough to remove the skin. 

If you’re struggling to find the right tomatoes in-store, a grocery delivery service might be a good option. Check out our other monthly subscriptions to find out more.

Benefits of Stewed Tomatoes

Stewed tomatoes offer a brilliant base for dishes when you don’t have time to make fresh sauce or if tomatoes aren’t in season. Plus, they’re easy to store. 

Stewed Tomatoes Substitutes 

Let’s look at the different stewed tomato substitutes and how you make them.

Diced TomatoesDiced tomatoes

So, can you substitute diced tomatoes for stewed tomatoes? Yes, diced tomatoes are chopped up and mixed with spices before canning. The process usually involves citric acid and calcium chloride to help maintain their freshness and consistency.

Canned diced tomatoes are an excellent option if you’re looking for a chunky consistency, like for stews and curry. 


  • +/- 2.5 lbs of tomatoes per jar
  • Lemon juice — 1 tbsp per pint or 2 tbsp. per quart
  • 1–2 tsp salt (optional)

The first step is washing the tomatoes. Then, you can remove the skin or leave it, depending on the needed consistency and substitute for stewed tomatoes in a recipe. Generally, diced tomatoes are chunkier. 

Slice the tomatoes to your desired size and funnel them into your jars. Compact the tomatoes quite a bit to release their juices and get as many tomatoes in as possible.

Then, add salt to taste, 1–2 tsp is usually enough, but it’s not a must. But lemon juice is essential. Most recipes recommend using 1 tbsp per pint or 2 tbsp. per quart. 

Once everything is in the jar, ensure you can it properly by placing the fully closed jar into boiling water. It should be sealed tight. 

Tomato Pastetomato puree in a bowl

If your recipe calls for stewed tomatoes substitute, tomato paste can add plenty of flavor as a base ingredient in soups and pasta.

But you can also use it as a spread for bread or eggs on toast. 


  • 2 tbs salt
  • 2 tbs lemon juice or 0.5 tsp citric acid
  • 10 lbs tomatoes 
  • 2 tbs olive oil

While making tomato paste has quite a few steps, it’s totally worth it.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. While it’s getting hot, chop your tomatoes into quarters and add them to a large pot with the olive oil. Keep them on medium heat until soft, and you can see the skins beginning to detach. 

To make your puree super smooth, pass the tomato through a sieve. Then, add the lemon juice or citric acid and salt to the sieved tomatoes. Place the puree on two baking trays and put them in the oven. 

Check your paste every 30 minutes, stirring along the way. Once reduced, combine the two pastes onto one tray and bake them together.

The process can take between 3 and 4 hours. Once ready, you can jar the paste or freeze it. Either option lasts between nine months to a year. 

Tomato Sauce

You can also substitute tomato sauce for stewed tomatoes

A good tomato sauce is an absolute must for most Italian dishes. The flavors mix with the seasoning and add a great taste. 

There are a few variations, and some consider tomato sauce the same as marinara. But classic tomato sauce is a staple on its own. 


  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tbs tomato paste
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 5 lbs tomatoes

Cut your tomatoes in half and squeeze the seeds out to reach a smoother consistency, particularly when using the substitute for stewed tomatoes in chili. Then, grate the tomatoes into a bowl and throw out the skins.

Place the grated tomatoes into a saucepan on high heat along with the olive oil. Bring that to a boil, add the other ingredients, and lower the heat to bring the sauce to a simmer. 

Stir occasionally and, when ready, add it to your container. It’ll last around five days in the fridge, but you can freeze it. We recommend keeping it in a ziplock bag to preserve the freshness. 

Crushed Tomatoes

We’ve come to the battle between stewed tomatoes vs crushed. Crushed tomatoes are the same as the recipes we’ve already looked at. The difference is that when you add the tomatoes to the pot, you use a masher to achieve your desired consistency. In contrast, stewed tomatoes don’t have a crushed texture but are still soft. 

Whole Peeled TomatoesBunch of whole red tomatoes

Whole peeled tomatoes are a good substitute for stewed tomatoes. You can use them to make any of the tomato recipes above. 

Peeled tomatoes can be a great solution if you have too many tomatoes and aren’t entirely sure what to do with them. Food wastage is a big no-no in our book. 


  • 15 lbs tomatoes
  • ¾ lemon juice

The first step is bringing a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, you can use a sharp knife to mark an X on the bottom of each tomato and prepare a large bowl of ice water. 

Once the water is boiling, add the tomatoes for about one minute. Then, remove them with a spoon with holes to drain off any liquid. Add them directly to the ice water and remove the skins when cool enough to handle. When using jars, it’s also important to add 2 tbs of lemon juice.

Fresh Tomatoes

So, can I use regular tomatoes instead of stewed tomatoes? Fresh tomatoes are always a winner. You won’t find a better substitute, but note the type of tomatoes you’re using. While they’re technically the same fruit, they can taste different.

Canned TomatoesTomato puree in a jar

Canned tomatoes can be a real lifesaver if you don’t have time, whether they’re store-bought or homemade.  

Making canned tomatoes is quite simple if you have air-tight containers to preserve the fruits. Jarring is the most popular method to make a substitute for stewed tomatoes, whereby you screw the lid on tight. After that, you bring a large pot of water to a boil and gently place the jars inside.

Ensure each Mason jar is entirely covered and leave them in around 40–50 minutes. Once they’re ready, carefully remove the jars and leave them for a few hours until they reach room temperature. 

It’s essential to write the date on your jar to know if the tomatoes are still edible. Canned tomatoes can last longer than a year in the pantry if done correctly. 

Keep an eye out for any weird smells, mold, or squirting liquid. It’s better to be safe than sorry when adding in your Mexican stewed tomatoes substitute

Tomato Puree

Tomato puree is pretty similar to the options above, but it’s a bit thicker. We recommend using rosa or plum tomatoes.

Wash the tomatoes and cut them in half. You can also remove the skin if you want. Then, use a spoon to remove the seeds and cut out the core. 

Chop the tomatoes finely and place them into a pot. Bring the mixture to a boil. Be sure to stir so the tomatoes won’t burn. Once heated, turn the temperature to medium heat and let the tomatoes simmer for about 10 minutes. 

Remove the pot from the heat and allow the mixture to cool for 5–10 minutes. Now comes the fun part. Using an immersion or traditional blender, mix up the tomatoes until they’re firm and thick. 

Lastly, place your substitute for stewed tomatoes in your preferred storage container. We recommend ziplock bags to keep it neat and accessible. 

Tomato Soup

There are so many variations of this recipe that it’s difficult to choose the best one. But in our book, convenience is king. So we went with a super easy recipe that you can modify as you wish. 


  • 4 tbs Buttler
  • ½ large onion
  • 1 ½ cups water or stock
  • 28 ounces of canned tomatoes
  • Salt

Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the other ingredients. Bring that to a simmer and cook uncovered for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Depending on your desired consistency, you can blend the soup as you wish. 

Sun-Dried TomatoesSun dried tomatoes in a jar

What is a suitable substitute for stewed tomatoes? Sun-dried tomatoes can be an excellent choice. They’re a staple for classic Italian and vegetarian dishes. It might take a few tries before getting them exactly right, but once you do, you’ll be happy with the flavorful result. 

If you’re on a plant-based diet and want convenient pre-made meals, you can also check our HelloFresh breakdown for vegetarians. 

But let’s go back to the recipe. While you can buy sun-dried tomatoes in store, nothing comes close to making them from scratch. 


  • 7-8 lbs Roma tomatoes
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp oregano (optional)
  • 1 tsp basil (optional)

Follow these steps:

  1. Remove the stems and score the bottom. 
  2. Cut the tomatoes lengthwise and scrape out the seeds.
  3. Mix the seasonings and sprinkle them on the tomatoes. 
  4. To make this stewed tomato substitute correctly, place the tomatoes cut side down onto framed trays with netter underneath. 
  5. Place the trays on top of something to ensure air can reach the entire fruit. 
  6. Put the trays in a place with a lot of sunshine with netting on top to avoid flies or other critters. 
  7. After one and a half days, turn the tomatoes and leave them for one and a half days more. If the weather turns bad, move them to a sheltered spot.

Remember that not all tomatoes dry at the same rate, so feel them before removing them. They should be entirely dry but still pliable. 


Here’s another great substitute. But keep in mind that the consistency is different, so always add a little bit at a time.

How to Make Stewed Tomatoes

Now, let’s get down to making stewed tomatoes at home. 


  • 10 tomatoes
  • 2 tsp salt


Want to know how to make stewed tomatoes from fresh tomatoes? Start by peeling them. Then, blanch them for a minute in boiling water and plunge them into cool water immediately afterward.

Toss the tomatoes, peeled and quartered, in a large pot with the salt. Simmer for 20–30 minutes over low heat, stirring regularly to prevent scorching. Serve or place into storage for freezing

If all this sounds like too much of a mission, look at our subscription box reviews for some ready-made delivery options. 

What Recipes Use Stewed Tomatoes?

Generally, that covers all recipes with a tomato base or side. Some examples include:

  • Pasta
  • Casseroles
  • Stews
  • Soups
  • Curries

The options are pretty much endless.

Wrap Up

Stewed tomatoes are an awesome addition to any dish with a tomato base, and they work well as a side dish, too. If you don’t have any, you can try one of the substitutes above. Some may even work better than the initial recipe.

We recommend giving each substitute for stewed tomatoes a try to see what works best with your favorite meals.

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