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The 5 Best Substitutes for Tomatoes

There are many uses for tomatoes; they work great, eaten fresh or cooked.

Fresh tomatoes are excellent for salads, and they complement leaves like lettuce nicely.

Cooked tomatoes are used in a wide variety of cuisines, from Italian to Indian.

Tomatoes are eaten in every corner of the world today and are one of the most recognizable vegetables.

However, In Europe in the late 1700s, some people believed they were poisonous.

Of course, this was a case of mistaken identity, but you may still need a substitute for tomatoes today.

Whether you’ve run out of tomatoes in your pantry, or maybe you are allergic to tomatoes, we will give you the best substitutes for tomatoes here.

What are Tomatoes?

what are tomatoes

So many cultures use tomatoes as a staple in their cooking; in fact, tomatoes are the world’s number one fruit.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, the worldwide production is more than 180 million tons.

We think of them as vegetables, but scientifically, they are classed as fruit.

Tomatoes are originate from South and Central America, but explorers from Europe brought them over to the Old World.

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Today, many cultures have wholly adopted the tomato as an essential part of their cuisine.

Indian food, in particular, uses a lot of tomatoes, especially in curries.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Tomatoes

You may be thinking you’re in trouble if you can’t find tomatoes for your dish, but there are some options.

You can even leave out tomatoes in some recipes.

The substitutes we have listed are mainly focused on cooked dishes.

1 – Canned Tomatoes

canned tomatoes

There is nothing better than the real thing, and if you can’t find fresh tomatoes, you may have canned tomatoes already in your kitchen.

According to the USDA, canned tomatoes are eaten just as much as fresh tomatoes.

Canned tomatoes will not do much good in salads and sandwiches, as fresh tomatoes are definitely needed.

You can use them in any dish you are going to cook; just be aware that the canned version has a more robust flavor.

Canned tomatoes will do well in:

  • Pizzas.
  • Pasta.
  • Curries.
  • Sauces.
  • Soups.
  • Beans & Meats.

Canned tomatoes come in a few forms, including whole and diced.

Tomato puree has already been cooked, so you may not need to cook your food for as long.

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2 – Pumpkin


This winter squash will probably already be in your pantry if you are out of tomatoes, so you can save yourself a trip to the store.

Pumpkins are incredibly healthy, being high in Vitamin A and other nutrients.

This squash is perfect for people on diets, and it boosts your immune system as well.

When you cook pumpkin, it has a similar texture and consistency to tomatoes, making it a good substitute for curries or stews.

If your dish needs tomatoes to be pureed, pumpkins are an excellent stand-in.

Pureed pumpkin is very similar to pureed tomatoes and will thicken and fill up the dish in the same way.

Suitable ratio:

Tomatoes and pumpkins vary in size considerably, so you need to measure the chopped or pureed form.

  • 1 cup chopped tomato= 1 cup chopped pumpkin.
  • 1 cup pureed tomato= 1 cup pureed pumpkin.

3 – Bell Peppers

bell peppers

Don’t worry about adding too much spice with this option; bell peppers are often called sweet peppers.

The best substitute for fresh tomatoes is red bell peppers.

Red bell peppers are the sweetest variety, and their color is also the same as tomatoes, so your salad won’t look much different.

Red bell peppers are used best as an alternate in recipes that require fresh tomatoes.

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Salads that cannot use other options on this list can use bell peppers nicely.

Bell peppers also are great on sandwiches and burgers, especially when accompanied by a leafy vegetable.

Peppers have a much lower water content than tomatoes, which is important to think about when using them in cooking.

For example, if you are making pasta or curry, you may want to puree the bell peppers first.

Suitable ratio:

  • 1 large tomato= 1 bell pepper.
  • 1 cup tomato puree= 1 cup bell pepper puree.

4 – Yogurt


You may be surprised to see yogurt on this list, but keep on reading.

Tomatoes are often used in food that needs to be thickened or as a base for a sauce, and yogurt can fill this same function if used carefully.

Indian curries often use tomatoes as a base; they thicken the liquid and make the dish savory.

You can also use yogurt in this way to provide body and tartness to the curry.

Use unsweetened yogurt for curries, homemade yogurt is the healthiest option.

Yogurt can also be used instead of tomatoes in thicker stews and similar dishes.

When using it in cooking, always try to add it as late as possible.

Suitable ratio:

  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes= 1 cup yogurt.

5 – Mango


Here is another surprising entry to this list; you might think that mangoes are the opposite of tomatoes.

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While ripe mangoes are very sweet, unripe mangoes have a slightly sour and tart taste.

Mangoes have a lovely, thick texture that can be used to thicken stews and curries, just like tomatoes.

It will be best to use slightly unripe mangoes for savory or spicy dishes so the sweetness does not interfere.

Fresh mango also goes nicely in salads.

The sweetness of the fruit will change the character of the salad, so choose your dressing carefully.

Suitable ratio:

  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes= 1 cup chopped mango.


Tomatoes have a lot of health benefits too, but some people have allergies that don’t allow them to eat tomatoes.

Tomatoes are incredibly versatile and used in an amazing number of dishes; this means that nothing can substitute it in every recipe.

What works for a salad won’t work for a curry.

Choosing a substitute depends on the recipe, and only experience will tell you if it will work or not.

Yield: 4 Servings

The 5 Best Substitutes for Tomatoes

The 5 Best Substitutes for Tomatoes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • Canned Tomatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Bell Peppers
  • Yogurt
  • Mango


  1. Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  2. Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
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