Tomato Preparations

In the US common canned tomato products include:

  • Paste, cooked down tomatoes, to the point where they are scoopable with a spoon but will not flow. Very thick, like peanut butter. Often sold in six or twelve-ounce cans.
  • Puree – cooked tomatoes that have been–well–pureed, but are mostly at their natural density; also called crushed tomatoes.
  • Sauce – cooked down, strained tomatoes, a little thicker than tomato soup. May include herbs, spices, or some flavoring in addition to pure tomato product.
  • Diced – solid chopped tomatoes, usually in tomato juice.
  • Whole – whole cooked (usually peeled) tomatoes, usually packed in tomato juice. These will still have the seeds.

Found this on 6/2/2018 after making Justin DeVillier’s Shrimp Creole where he called for pureed tomatoes. We used diced and it did not look or taste the same.

The following is from

For many recipes, you can substitute either 2 to 3 tablespoons of tomato paste plus enough water to make 1 cup for each cup of puree. For example, if your recipe calls for 2 cups of puree, substitute 4 to 6 tablespoons of paste plus enough water added to the paste to equal 2 cups.


Taste the liquid after adding the minimum amount of tomato paste. If it tastes too weak, add 1 or 2 additional tablespoons of paste.

Because tomatoes are cooked only briefly before being made into puree, the tomato flavor in puree is milder than the flavor of paste. The concentrated tomato flavor of paste comes from tomatoes that are cooked for hours until they’re reduced to the paste consistency. Use a small amount of tomato paste if you want a closer match to the mild flavor of puree.


For additional flavor in sauces, meatloaf toppings or other dishes, use chicken or beef bouillon for half of the water you use when substituting tomato paste for puree.

Tomato paste has no added salt and naturally contains about 20 mg. of salt in a 2-tablespoon serving. On the other hand, tomato puree generally contains added salt; it typically contains 62 mg. of salt for the same serving size. If you’re using paste instead of puree, however, you may not need additional salt. Taste the tomato liquid before adding any additional salt.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email