Tomato Paste Vs. Tomato Sauce | Which One Should You Choose?

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We never cared to know the difference between tomato sauce and tomato paste, have we? Not just that, many people even think of it as a single ingredient. This article has just one aim: to let the world know that tomato sauce and tomato sauce aren’t the same!

Tomato Paste

So what is the difference between the two ingredients? Although both tomato sauce and tomato paste are made from tomatoes, there is a considerable difference in their taste, uses, health benefits, and culinary uses.

Tomato paste is nothing but cooked tomato concentrate. It would have an intense tomato flavor and be extremely thick in texture.

On the other hand, tomato sauce is a mix of other ingredients along with tomato and has a much more loose texture and lightened flavor to it.

This article is entirely dedicated to tomato paste and tomato sauce. In short, we are here to discuss all the possible differences between the two.

Not just that, by the end of this article, we will try to choose the best of the two. Before going into each ingredient separately, let’s take a quick look at its differences.

Tomato Paste Vs. Tomato Sauce | Difference Table

Basis of DifferenceTomato PasteTomato Sauce
Origin/ NativeSicily, Southern ItalyMexico
Available inCan and Tube Canned / Bottle/ Sachet
TastesIntense tomato flavorTomato flavored with a slight tanginess
AppearanceReddish with a thick paste consistencyReddish brown with a runny consistency
UsageUsed In Italian CuisinesMultipurpose
NutritionRich in vitamins A, C, and LycopeneGreat source of antioxidants and minerals.
SubstitutesCanned tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, ketchup, and tomato sauce, serve as some of the best tomato paste substitutesKetchup, pureed red pepper, fresh tomatoes, and canned diced tomatoes are some of the best tomato sauce substitutes

What Is Tomato Paste?

Tomato Paste

To put it simply, tomato paste is nothing but highly concentrated tomatoes. Cooking tomatoes make it for a very long time. Most tomato pastes are made without using the skin and seeds of the tomatoes. They are cooked until they achieve a thick paste consistency.

When compared to tomato sauce, tomato paste has a very strong tomato flavor. Traditional tomato paste contains nothing but tomatoes. However, the tinned tomato paste contains some preservatives as well as salt. (Non-salted versions are also available)!

Tomatoes are available to us in a lot of versions. Raw, canned, sauce, and whatnot! But if you need to bring tomato flavor without much water content, then tomato paste is the best option to try! 

If you are preparing a slow-cooked meatloaf or want to add some tomato flavor to your taco filling, choose tomato paste over anything else! Also, if you want to intensify the flavor of tomato paste, add it to the initial stage of your cooking.

Commercially, tomato paste makers don’t use the usual tomatoes to make this paste. Tomato paste is made from tomatoes with less water content and a thick pericarp region. They make the paste more flavorful.

Tomato paste is usually classified based on its concentration of dry content. Depending on that, it is classified into three – single concentrate (14%), double concentrate (30%), and triple concentrate (38%). Out of these, double concentrate is the most commonly available one.

What Is Tomato Sauce?

Tomato Sauce

Tomato sauce is simply a sauce made from tomatoes. This sauce is mainly served as a side dish and goes very well with both vegetable and meat dishes. Tomato sauce uses tomato as its main ingredient. Along with it, it also uses some salt, herbs, and other condiments for flavoring.

Tomato sauce needs no special introduction. Everybody will have a bottle of opened tomato sauce in their fridge. You can simply mix it with any dish, from rice to French fries. If you like the taste of tomato sauce, you can literally eat it with anything.

Tomato sauce has many uses. Regardless of serving it as a side dish, tomato sauce also serves as the base for so many other sauces like marinara sauce and pasta sauce. Different regions have different versions of tomato sauce, and given below are some of them!

  • Sugo – Italians call tomato sauce sugo! This is a simple tomato sauce widely available in all supermarkets.
  • Pomodoro – It is a kind of tomato sauce cooked for a short period. It can be in sauce form or in a chunky form. It uses tomatoes, olive oil, salt, pepper seasoning, sugar, and onion as its primary ingredients. It uses tomatoes with or without skin.
  • Marinara – Compared to Pomodoro, marinara sauce is further cooked down to tomato sauce. Other than the basic ingredients, the flavors of marinara sauce are enhanced by oregano and anchovies. Marinara and Pomodoro are different versions of tomato sauce in Italy. However, in the US, both mean the same.
  • Bolognese – This sauce needs no special introduction! It is a special kind of tomato sauce made using meat. This uses either beef or pork for its preparation. It’s a favorite of many people and goes well with spaghetti and tagliatelle. Not just kids, but adults also love this sauce. 
  • Ala Vodka – This tomato sauce, as its name suggests, is prepared using vodka and tomatoes.
  • Arrabbiata – This is the spicy version of tomato sauce. This is made by adding red pepper flakes along with other ingredients.

Tomato Paste Vs. Tomato Sauce | Similarities Between The Two

Tomato Paste

Before looking into the differences between the two, let’s quickly look through some of the similarities between the two.

1. Both Are Prepared From The Same Fruit

As its name suggests, tomato paste and tomato sauce use tomato as their primary ingredient. Not just that, even though they have a slight change in flavor, the primary flavor of these two condiments is tomatoes.

2. Both Are Used To Flavor The Dishes

Both tomato paste and tomato sauce don’t serve as a main dish. They are widely used as a side dish and as a base for making other dishes. It is intensely flavored and brings so much taste to your dish.

3. Both Can Be Substituted With Each Other

Depending on your taste preferences, tomato sauce and tomato paste can be used interchangeably. Both have similar tomato flavor to them. However, there is a slight texture difference between both. However, if you use it correctly, you can’t tell the difference!

Tomato Paste Vs. Tomato Sauce | What Are The Major Differences?

Tomato Sauce

As we have said, tomato paste and tomato sauce are made from the same fruit. However, they are two condiments as they have a considerable difference between two! So in this section, we will look into some of the major differences between tomato paste and tomato sauce.

1. Origin

The origin of tomato paste is linked to Italy. It is a thickly concentrated paste and has a strong tomato flavor. Tomato paste almost tastes like that of dried tomatoes. Hence a little amount of tomato paste goes a long way.

The origin of tomato sauce is said to be in Mexico. It has a runny thinner consistency with more water content in it. It has a mild flavor when compared to that tomato paste.

2. Taste And Aroma

Tomato paste has a subtly sweet flavor and tangy tomato flavor to it. On the other hand, tomato sauce has a more tangy sweet taste along with the taste of other herbs. Tomato paste tastes mainly like dried tomatoes.

3. Appearance 

You can quickly differentiate tomato paste and tomato sauce based on their appearance. Tomato paste, just as its name suggests, has a very thick texture to it. You just need a spoonful of tomato paste to flavor your recipe.

Tomato sauce, on the other hand, is much runnier in consistency. It has more water content when compared to that tomato paste. Depending upon its ingredients, the color can be anything from red to brown.

4. Culinary Usage 

Tomato paste and tomato sauce can be used interchangeably in some dishes. However, they have their own different uses. Tomato sauce has a mild tomato flavor, and thus it is widely used as a side dish to many dishes. It can be used as it is, straight from the bottle.

However, tomato paste has a thick consistency and deep tomato flavor. It is often used as one of the ingredients in cooked items. Tomato paste in its raw form has a strong flavor which isn’t everyone’s cup of flavor!

Many times when we use tomato paste in our dishes, it gives a raw tomato flavor to our dishes. To get the maximum flavor out of tomato paste, always add it in the initial stage of cooking and cook it until it’s caramelized!

5. Nutrition 

Tomato paste and tomato sauce have a comprehensive nutritional profile. Both are used in limited quantities and add little to our nutrition. However, when compared between the two, tomato paste has more nutritional value than tomato sauce.

6. Substitutes 

Running out of an ingredient has been introduced to us previously. If you are out of tomato sauce or tomato paste, find a perfect substitute! In this section, let’s discuss some of the most suitable tomato paste and tomato sauce substitutes.

Regarding tomato paste, canned tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, ketchup, and tomato sauce are some of the best substitutes for tomato paste. Ketchup, pureed red pepper, fresh tomatoes, and canned diced tomatoes are some of the best substitutes for tomato sauce.

7. Ingredients

The main ingredient used to make both tomato sauce and tomato paste is tomato. However, that is not the single ingredient used to make these. Tomato paste mainly uses three ingredients, tomato, salt, and olive oil.

However, tomato paste, on the other hand, uses many more ingredients than just tomato and salt. It uses different ingredients such as salt, sugar, herb, garlic, onion, etc. There are many types of tomato paste, and each has different ingredients. 

8. Packaging

Nowadays, tomato sauce and tomato paste are available in different packaging. However, tomato paste mainly comes either in cans or in tubes. On the other hand, tomato sauce comes mostly in bottles.

9. Health Benefits

Both tomato paste and tomato sauce are rich in nutrients and have many health benefits. In this section, we will look into some of the amazing health benefits of tomato sauce and tomato paste.

Tomato sauce is a rich source of many minerals and vitamins like vitamins A and K. It also contains a good amount of potassium and magnesium, which are necessary for body strength and muscle building. 

Being a good source of lycopene, tomato sauce prevents many chronic diseases, including cancer. It also helps to regulate and lower the body’s blood sugar level.

Tomato paste contains much more nutrients than that tomato sauce. It has almost a similar nutrient value to real tomatoes. Just like tomato sauce, it also contains vitamins A and C. It is also a great source of lycopene.

However, tomato paste has a higher concentration of all these vitamins and minerals.

Can Tomato Sauce And Tomato Paste Be Used Together?

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

Regardless of a slight flavor difference, tomato sauce and paste bring a similar flavor to a dish. Therefore using either of the two is needed to bring a sweet, tangy, and umami flavor to your dish.

However, if you are a lover of tomato flavor, you can add both to heighten the flavor of your dish. But that is unnecessary as you can achieve the same taste by using too much of either of these two. 

There are not many dishes that require both of these as ingredients. However, when we cook, we are the sole builder of an entire recipe, and the band to spell some taste into your food is wholly in your hand, thus if you are an experimenter. There is no harm in adding these two to any dish that asks for either of these.

  1. Homemade Spaghetti Sauce – Nothing can beat the taste of homemade spaghetti sauce. They are easy to prepare, and once prepared, it goes well with a lot of dishes. To make this recipe, chop brown beef and onion and blend them well. Add tomato sauce, paste, Worcestershire sauce, and other herbs. Add water to this thick mixture and simmer it for some time. Your sauce is ready to use!
  2. Tomato Sauce– We all love a bowl of tomato soup. This is another dish that uses both tomato sauce and tomato paste as its main ingredient. A cup of hot and creamy tomato sauce is a favorite for many people. It can be eaten alone or as a side dish for a crunchy bread loaf!
  3. Zoodles – If you are a huge pasta fan like me, try this zucchini pasta, aka zoodles. Cut zucchini-like pasta and sauté it along with chopped onion and garlic. Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, and marinara sauce to it. Sauté for some more time and enjoy it along with some cheese.
  4. Slow-Cooked Turkey Chili – This slow-cooked turkey chili can be the perfect addition to your party menu. It uses turkey, tomato paste, and tomato sauce as its main ingredients. For making this recipe, cook turkey and mince it. 

Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, onion, pepper, beans, jalapenos, corn, chili, and pepper into this pot. Cover it and cook it for two hours.

Top Dishes To Make With Tomato Sauce

Below are some dishes that use tomato sauce as one of their main ingredients.

1. Easy Spaghetti Recipe


If you are in a hurry and want to make something easy and tasty, then this is the recipe you need to try! This is a one-pot recipe and only needs a handful of ingredients. For making this recipe, cook the spaghetti to perfection.

Add some olive oil, a few garlic cloves, and oregano in a pan, and sauté it for some time. Add the pasta, tomato sauce, salt, black pepper, and some pasta water. Cook it for some time and your spaghetti is ready!

2. Mexican Rice Recipe

Mexican rice

A bowl of flavorful rice can always be equated with comfort. Thus if you want to experience some Mexican flavor this time, try making a Mexican rice recipe. It uses rice, oil, tomato sauce, and salt as its main ingredient.

For flavoring, add chicken broth, garlic powder, chili powder, and spices of your choice. To make this recipe, boil rice and add all of the rest of the ingredients to it. Cook till all the water in the rice disappears.

3. Rigatoni Pasta Recipe

Rigatoni pasta

This is one of the easiest and tastiest tomato pasta recipes. It brings the tangy flavor of tomato and the creamy cheese taste to the chewy pasta. It uses béchamel sauce, tomato sauce, cheese, and pasta as its main ingredient.

To make this rigatoni pasta recipe, cook the pasta and add tomato sauce and béchamel sauce. Check the salt and, if needed, add more. Once done, serve it with some grated cheese.

4. Shakshuka 


If the egg is what you have for your morning breakfast, then shakshuka is something you should try having at least once a week.

It is tasty, healthy, flavorful, and can be cooked in minutes. If you want to make your morning breakfast special, try making some shakshuka.

5. Creamy Tomato Shell

Creamy tomato shell

Nothing can be easier and more comforting than this creamy tomato shell recipe. It just requires one pot and some minimal ingredients. To make this recipe, you will need pasta, cashew, tomato sauce, garlic cloves, water, and salt.

Cook the pasta according to the given instructions. Drain it and add tomato sauce. Into a blender, add garlic cloves, cashew, spices, and salt and give it a good blend.

Once down, mix it with pasta and add some pasta water to it. Cook until it becomes thick gravy.

Top Dishes To Make With Tomato Paste 

If you have some tomato paste, here are some recipes you can try cooking with tomato paste. These dishes use tomato paste as one of their main ingredients.

1. Classic Chili Recipe

Classic chilli recipe

You cannot go wrong with a classic chili recipe on a winter afternoon. These are the comfort foods we all have grown up with. Thus if you are craving some, heat olive oil in a pan and add some onion.

Saute it, add some ground beef, and cook for some time. Add chili, cumin, sugar, tomato paste, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Add tomatoes, kidney bean broth, and beef broth, and give it a good boil. The classic chili is ready to serve.

2. Slow-Cooked Pizza Dip

Slow cooked pizza dip

A typical tomato sauce for a pizza is not new. Thus if you want to bring some extra taste to your pizza, try this slow-cooked pizza dip. The ingredient needed for making this recipe is a little long; however, it pays off all your efforts once cooked.

To make this recipe, you will need minced beef, pork, tomato paste, parmesan cheese, pepper, Italian seasoning, garlic cloves, spices, and salt. Cook the meat in a large pan until they are slightly cooked.

Once done, add the rest of the ingredients and cook it for another 2 hours. Once done, cook with some cheesy garlic bread or as a side dish for your pizzas.

3. Chicken Butternut Chili

Chicken butternut chili

This chicken butternut chili is worth a try. It carries a lot of flavor along with some amazing nutrients. If you want to serve your guests something healthy yet tasty, try this recipe. To make this recipe, you will need almost ten ingredients.

Like canola oil, carrot, celery ribs, onion, butternut squash, tomato paste, chicken broth, chicken pieces, and fresh cilantro, sauté all the vegetables in a pan and add the ingredients to it and cook for nearly 30 minutes. Serve it hot with some fresh cilantro as its toppings. 

4. Tomato Orange Soup

Tomato orange soup

As its name suggests, tomato orange soup uses tomato paste and orange juice as its main ingredients. This recipe is extremely flavorful and combines the tangy sweetness of tomato and orange. 

For making this recipe, saute onions in oil until they are brown. Add tomato paste, orange juice, garlic, and roasted tomatoes. Simmer it and cook for 45 minutes.

 Into this, add honey, orange zest, cilantro, and butter. Bring down from the heat and bend it, sieve it, and heat it again before serving it.

5. Pomegranate Pot Roast

Pomegranate pot roast

This pomegranate pot roast is a delightful dish. It uses tomato paste, pomegranate juice, and beef broth as its main ingredients. It is flavorful and goes very well with garlic loaves of bread and portions of pasta.

Tomato Paste Vs. Tomato Sauce | Which Is Healthier?

Tomato paste

Without any doubt, tomato paste is a healthy alternative to tomato sauce. Both tomato paste and tomato sauce are enriched with all the goodness of tomatoes. However, tomato paste has a higher concentration of tomato, thus a higher concentration of nutrition.

 Also, it uses comparatively less amount of preservatives and other ingredients than tomato sauce. So, all in all, we can undoubtedly say that tomato paste is healthier than tomato sauce.

Tomato Paste Vs. Tomato Sauce | Which Is Tastier?

Tomato sauce

It is tough to pick one between tomato sauce and tomato sauce. Both are good to taste. However, if one had to choose between the two, I recommend tomato sauce. Tomato sauce has a mild flavor profile.

Most people love the taste of tomato sauce. It’s mild and slightly sweet and combines the flavor of so many other herbs. On the other hand, tomato paste has an intense tomato flavor, and that’s the only flavor it has.

Tomato paste can be too much for some people. Thus, we can conclude that tomato sauce is tastier than tomato paste.

Tomato Paste Vs. Tomato Sauce | Which Is More Versatile?

Tomato sauce

Counting the number of varieties available and the dishes we can make with the ingredient, it is safe to say that tomato sauce is much more versatile than that tomato paste. There are innumerable varieties of tomato sauce available to us.

On the other hand, only three varieties of tomato paste are available to us. However, the way in which we can use this paste to make different dishes is just limitless.

 Tomato Paste Vs. Tomato Sauce | Which Is Better?

Tomato paste

Without any doubt, we can say that tomato sauce is better than tomato paste. It has an extremely rich flavor and too many varieties and is used as an integral ingredient in many dishes worldwide.

Even though tomato paste is a great ingredient, its popularity is smaller than that of tomato sauce.


Finally, we have reached the end of this article. We had a great discussion regarding tomato paste and tomato sauce. I hope I have covered every single topic you want to know about these ingredients.

Tomato paste and tomato sauce are great ingredients to have at your kitchen table. Both have their own tastes and purposes. However, if you ask me to pick one among the two, I would go for tomato sauce.

Tomato sauce has too many varieties and is easy to get. You can also make a lot of dishes using this single ingredient. However, we shouldn’t forget all the wellness and goodness tomato paste brings to your table.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I use tomato paste instead of tomato sauce?

Yes. Tomato sauce can be used as a tomato paste substitute.

Are tomato paste and tomato sauce the same?

No. Tomato sauce and tomato paste are two different ingredients.

Is tomato sauce just tomato paste with water?

No. Tomato sauce contains many ingredients other than just tomato paste and water.

Which is sweeter tomato sauce or tomato paste?

Tomato sauce is sweeter than tomato paste.

Which is thicker tomato sauce or tomato paste?

Tomato paste is thicker than tomato sauce.

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