In order to understand which are the best substitutes for stewed tomatoes, we must first see what exactly stewed tomatoes are.
Once you know about the ingredients that go into making stewed tomatoes, you’ll have a clear idea about which substitutes would work best. Or maybe you’ll just decide to make the recipe at home and forget all about substitutes.
A classic recipe for stewed tomatoes requires: tomatoes, green peppers, onions, celery stalks, salt, sugar. You can also add herbs (dried parsley & oregano) and black pepper. All the ingredients are diced and simmered together for about 30 minutes. And that’s basically it.
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11 Substitutes for Stewed Tomatoes that Taste Amazing
If you aren’t excited about making your own recipe, let’s cover some substitutes for stewed tomatoes.
Nevertheless, don’t forget about the part where we discovered that the recipe for stewed tomatoes includes green peppers, onions, and celery stalk. You can skip on the celery stalk but you shouldn’t skip on the green peppers and onions if you want to get close to the original.
1. Canned Diced Tomatoes
The major advantage that some canned diced tomatoes have is their affordable price. Usually, Roma tomatoes are used and they’re absolutely perfect and delicious.
Another advantage as one of the easiest to use substitutes for stewed tomatoes is that they’re already diced.
Now, all we have to do is to chop the rest of the ingredients: onions, bell peppers, and celery stalks. Salt and sugar should be added according to your preferences.
However, there’s one thing we have to establish. How much onion, bell pepper or celery do you need to add to a can of diced tomatoes?
A 28-ounce can of tomatoes (about 800 grams) uses about 10-12 tomatoes. For the sake of approximation, we’ll consider that 10 tomatoes are used in a can of this size.
That means that for the rest of the ingredients we’ll use: one green bell pepper, one onion, and 2 celery stalks. Add salt and sugar to taste.
If you’re using a can that’s half this size, half the quantities of the rest of the ingredients, too.
Boil all the ingredients together but not for long. Make sure that the diced tomatoes still retain their shape and fresh taste.
And that’s how you make stewed tomatoes from a can of diced tomatoes.
2. Canned Whole Peeled Tomatoes
Whole peeled tomatoes are some of the easiest to find around the world. You’ll easily find a can of them wherever you live.
On the plus side, usually, they’re also pretty affordable. If you want a more expensive option, you’ll definitely want to try San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes.
However, if you’re on a budget, just get whichever is cheaper. You can adjust the taste with salt and sugar. If they’re a bit too sour, you’ll have to add more sugar.
Another option is to use ¼ teaspoon of baking soda. Baking soda is a wonderful ingredient that neutralizes acidity.
Some inexpensive canned whole peeled tomatoes can definitely benefit from just a bit of baking soda. You’ll be impressed with the difference.
You can also use a bit of milk to offset the acidity of tomatoes. I prefer using cow milk if I’m not making a vegan recipe.
You don’t have to cut the whole tomatoes beforehand. You can just cut them roughly with a wooden spatula while they boil with onion, green pepper, and celery stalks.
For the ingredients, the same rules apply as we established for the diced type: one green bell pepper, one onion, and 2 celery stalks should be added to a 28-ounce can of tomatoes.
Half the ingredients if you’re using a smaller can.
3. Canned Crushed Tomatoes
Crushed tomatoes lack the texture that diced and whole peeled options bring. These are getting closer to the texture of passata and tomato puree.
However, if you don’t mind that you won’t have the texture of tomatoes in your stewed tomatoes, you can definitely use crushed tomatoes as a stewed tomatoes substitute.
If this is all you can find, you can make do.
For celery, onion, and green pepper quantities, check out what I wrote above. The same quantities apply.
Just as it was the case with all of the above options, passata is used pretty much the same.
The main difference is that with tomato products like passata, tomato paste/puree, you won’t have the chunky tomatoes among the ingredients.
You’ll have the taste but the texture will be different since there are no tomato cubes among the ingredients.
Passata tastes delicious and it’s also used for making marinara sauce. Passata is an uncooked tomato puree that has been strained of seeds and skins.
You just have to boil it for a bit until the peppers, onions, and celery stalks reach the texture you prefer. I definitely like them more crunchy so I don’t boil them too much.
I recommend using the same one green bell pepper, one onion, and 2 celery stalks.
5. Tomato Paste
Tomato paste is the most concentrated product on this list. To obtain a cup of tomato puree, mix ½ cup of tomato paste with ½ cup of water. Heat the two on a stove and add your green pepper, onion, and celery stalk.
6. Tomato Puree
Tomato puree is just equal parts tomato paste and water. If you buy tomato puree you can use it straight from the can, boiling it with green pepper, onion, and celery stalk.
7. Fresh tomatoes
I’ve already told you how you can use fresh tomatoes to make your own stewed tomatoes recipe.
They don’t exactly count as substitutes since they’re the star of the recipe.
I just wanted to remind you that you can always make your own stewed tomatoes at home in less than an hour, preparations and cooking time included.
8. Marinara Sauce
If you have a jar of marinara sauce, you can regard it as one of the easiest to use substitutes for stewed tomatoes.
The recipe for marinara sauce involves tomatoes, olive oil, onions, salt, garlic, basil, oregano, black pepper.
As you can see, marinara sauce is a bit different but it tastes delicious. It also depends on what you’re cooking, you’ll have to decide for yourself if marinara sauce can mix well with the rest of the ingredients. In most recipes, it should.
If you’re looking for a ready-made sauce that doesn’t contain bell peppers or celery, then you can definitely use a jar of marinara sauce as a replacement.
You can use them in a 1:1 substitution.
9. Mexican Stewed Tomatoes
Can we consider Mexican stewed tomatoes as some of the best substitutes for stewed tomatoes?
We certainly can, especially for those who love a bit of heat in their food. I can never turn down a product that mentions chilis. Even if they’re mild chilis like it’s the case with this Mexican canned stewed tomatoes.
The bad news is that I’m pretty sure that not anyone can find them. Well, you could always make them at home and make them as spicy as you’d like. You can add jalapenos or green chilis or whatever chili grows in your region. Or just use some red pepper flakes.
The ingredients are: tomatoes, tomato juice, high fructose corn syrup, red chili puree, salt, dehydrated onion, dehydrated celery, dehydrated bell pepper, citric acid, calcium chloride, cumin, coriander, red pepper, and natural flavoring.
This one is absolutely perfect if you make your own salsa but it works for other recipes, too.
10. Goya Tomato Sauce
This is a tomato sauce but it’s also a bit different and very interesting. It’s awesome for those who are looking for different flavors to add to their foods.
The ingredients are: water, tomato paste, modified food starch, salt, dehydrated onion, granulated garlic, roasted green bell peppers, cilantro flavor.
I will admit that I mainly selected it for the roasted green bell peppers. When I’m making one of my favorite Moroccan meatball tagine, I also add roasted bell peppers and roasted chilis.
The idea of using roasted peppers is fabulous but you must also be aware that the crunch from the fresh peppers will be gone. Still, I don’t mind at all because the flavor is deeper, sweeter, and with a hint of smoke.
The tomato sauce from Goya can be used in a 1:1 substitution.
You can use it just like that from the can as one flavorful stewed tomatoes substitute.
11. Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies
Another canned option that can be the perfect alternative to simple diced tomatoes is to use a can of diced tomatoes and green chilies.
The ingredients are: tomatoes, water, chopped green chili peppers, less than 2% of: salt, citric acid, calcium chloride, natural flavor, cilantro.
You can use it directly as it comes, straight from the can, as one of the most delicious substitutes for stewed tomatoes.
Or you can chop half an onion, half a bell pepper, and a celery stalk and boil them for a bit together with this can of diced tomatoes and green chilies. Don’t leave them on the stove too much so that the diced tomatoes retain their consistency and shape.
Best Canned Stewed Tomatoes
We’ve seen all about the best substitutes for stewed tomatoes. I’ve also shared a quick recipe that you can try at home and then pack in sterilized jars or even freeze it in ziploc bags.
Now, let’s see which are the best canned stewed tomatoes that you can buy. If you live in a place where supermarkets sell them, you can buy a few and have them in the pantry, ready to be used whenever you need a can.
1. Del Monte Stewed Tomatoes
The canned stewed tomatoes from Del Monte actually have a few different ingredients than the ones that I mentioned in my recipe.
That’s exactly why I wanted to recommend them to you. It’s a way for us to be reminded that there are variations to every recipe. And that also shows us that we can use different substitutes for stewed tomatoes that we can make or get our hands on.
The manufacturer calls it an Italian recipe with the flavors of basil, garlic, and oregano. If you need stewed tomatoes for Italian dishes, these ones from Del Monte sound just awesome.
The ingredients are: tomatoes, tomato juice, sugar, sea salt, vegetables (onions, celery, green bell peppers), citric acid, garlic powder, basil, calcium chloride, spice, basil extract, oregano extract.
Thus, the traditional recipe is followed but with some additions to outline that this is an Italian recipe. I love it.
2. Muir Glen Organic Stewed Tomatoes
This is an awesome option for those who prefer organic products. I will admit that I first care about the taste, then the price, and then if it’s organic or not because I have to cook for an entire family. That means that it’s not always possible to buy only organic ingredients.
However, I am more curious to find which recipe Muir Glen decided to follow. That’s certainly the aspect that interests me the most.
The ingredients are: organic tomatoes, organic tomato juice, sea salt, citric acid, organic dried onion, calcium chloride, organic dried green pepper, organic dried garlic, organic celery seed powder.
The addition is the organic dried garlic. Everything else is following the original recipe.
Many people describe them as the best stewed tomatoes from a can.
However, I should let you know that the tomatoes in the can are whole peeled. You’ll have to roughly chop them out with a knife before adding them to the recipe. You can also use a wooden spoon to cut them roughly when they’re cooking.
Getting canned stewed tomatoes like these two options means that you won’t have to cook the recipe yourself and you don’t have to look for substitutes for stewed tomatoes any longer, it can be quite awesome if you can find to buy a few cans.
Easy Stewed Tomatoes Recipe
Even if you’re here to find alternatives to this ingredient, I’ll start with a very easy stewed tomato recipe. We must clearly understand what we’re trying to replace.
The ingredients are:
- 30 tomatoes
- 3 green peppers
- 3 onions
- 6 celery stalks
- 2 tbsp. salt
- 4 tbsp. sugar
I know that the amount of ingredients is pretty big. But scale it down for whatever number of tomatoes you have.
I make as much because I pack this mix into sterilized jars to always have in the pantry.
But if you want to make a small amount to eat now then just use: 5 tomatoes, one half green pepper, one half onion, 1 celery stalk, 1 teaspoon salt and 2 teaspoons sugar. See, it’s easy to scale it down.
Moreover, if you don’t have any celery or you absolutely don’t like the taste, you can just skip it. I love celery so I always have some in the fridge.
Moreover, there are other variations for this recipe. You’ll find plenty online if this one doesn’t seem good enough. Or just stick around for when I get to recommending my favortie substitutes for stewed tomatoes.
The preparations for this recipe involve: boil the tomatoes, peel them and chop them roughly.
Chop the green peppers, onions, and celery stalks. All these ingredients should be diced, on the larger side if that’s what you like.
The amount of salt and sugar that you add can be adjusted, according to your preferences. If you’re using sweeter tomatoes like San Marzano, you might not need to add much sugar at all.
You can use whatever tomatoes are cheaper or what you grow in your garden. You can use beefsteak or Roma tomatoes or other plum tomato varieties. Don’t use cherry or grape tomatoes because you’ll spend a lifetime peeling them.
In a large pot, add all the chopped ingredients with salt and sugar. Simmer them for 30 minutes until you get the desired consistency and that’s it.
Don’t boil them for too long, the ingredients should retain their freshness, that unique taste that always reminds me of summer.
Southern Stewed Tomatoes Recipe
While searching for alternatives to the classic stewed tomato recipe, I came across this website sweettmakesthree.com and they have a very different recipe. You can check it out there.
- unsalted butter – or you can use bacon grease
- bacon – you can use real bacon bits or fry some bacon slices and crumble them
- petite diced tomatoes – you can buy a can of petite diced tomatoes or, if you’re using whole tomatoes, diced them by hand, it’s very easy
- toast (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste
Sauté onions. The author of the recipe uses a cast iron pan.
Add bacon and continue sautéing until onions are translucent.
Add tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Consider adding a bit of sugar if the taste is too sour.
Cover and cook over low heat for at least 15 minutes.
Additionally, before serving, you can add toast pieces to absorb the juice and make a thickened tomato stew. You can definitely skip this step if you don’t like pieces of toast soaking in your sauce.
As you can see, this southern recipe can be included among all these delicious substitutes for stewed tomatoes because it’s completely different from the classic recipe, these southern stewed tomatoes are more hearty and a bit smoky.