This recipe calls for 2 TB tomato paste in the marinade. I assume it is to thicken it so more stays on the meat and veggies. I don't want to open an entire can of tomato paste just to use 2 TB. Can I substitute anything else in its place?

  • 1
    Given that cans of tomato pasta are only 6oz, traditionally, I'd say open it and keep the rest in the fridge. It keeps for quite awhile. The closest thing that you will find is a can of crushed tomatoes, hopefully in tomato puree and not water or juice (too thin). But in that case you'd be opening a bigger can, using the wrong ingredient, and losing out on the magic of the paste. Tomato paste conveys umami and fullness in such a way that I find it to be quite unique and irreplaceable.
    – Grey Dog
    Oct 21, 2014 at 2:00

3 Answers 3


It might be there for body, but more likely for the umami kick that tomato past helps with. I bet you could leave it out with no ill effect...otherwise, try some ketchup. You could also open the small can, use what you need and put the rest in a baggy in the freezer.

  • I did leave it out and it was still delicious. I didn't realize it added umami though. Next time I'll just use the smallest can of tomato paste I can find. Thanks.
    – Philip
    Oct 21, 2014 at 2:18

In the future buy real Italian tomato paste in the tube. You'll use it all up, it lasts and lasts.



Use your can opener on both ends of the can. They will both continue to stick to the tomato paste, especially the one on the bottom because gravity's had its way. So slowly pull up and grab one edge of the top lid. Then slide it off, pressing it against the lip of the can. Everything that was attached to it will now still be in the can. Carefully discard it.

Now, use a couple fingers (or your thumb) to press firmly on the bottom lid, being sure not to let it rock from side to side. It will slowly rise in the can, pushing a clean cylinder of tomato paste out the top of your can. (Just don't squeeze the can too hard.) When you've extruded the desired amount, use a flat blade or a credit card to scrape it off and add it to your ingredients.

Place the open can in a baggie (or vacuum seal) and then into a cool part of the fridge (toward the back). (If using a Ziploc style bag, seal it all the way, then barely open it, squeeze out as much air as you can and close the seal back up without letting any of that air back in.) When you need more, just pick up where you left off. It'll last a long time, even longer if you dip it in olive oil first. If you ever see it starting to darken a bit, pull it out, extrude that part and scrape it off before returning it to the fridge. Along the way however, be sure to never touch the actual product with your hands or fingers, as you'll impart bacteria certain to reduce its shelf life.

  • my apologies that this answer veers off a bit from what's technically being asked for (a substitute product), but I hope it may still be found useful in its own right; I was thinking that the questioner didn't really want to use a substitute but would rather do so than waste so much of the recommended product. Oct 21, 2014 at 20:10

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