substituting the fresh to canned tomatoes

Canned tomatoes are easy to store, inexpensive, and available all year long, but sometimes, substituting fresh tomatoes for canned crushed tomatoes makes more sense.

No doubt, canned tomatoes are convenient, but fresh tomatoes from your garden or local farmer’s market are hard to beat when they are in season.  

When you cook fresh tomatoes, they not only add more flavor to your recipe, but they also have a better nutritional value.  

So, yes, going with fresh tomatoes is always a great choice, but what if you do not have any available?

What can I substitute for canned crushed tomatoes? You certainly have many options to consider.

Substituting fresh tomatoes for canned tomatoes is a healthy option, but you can find many other alternatives, including tomato paste, tomato juice, and even pasta sauce. 

Choosing Between Canned and Fresh Tomatoes

choosing between fresh and canned tomatoes

There are times when fresh tomatoes are required for a recipe, other times canned tomatoes are preferred. 

But, there are still other occasions when both are needed to make a recipe. Thus, you may wonder, “What is the difference, anyway?” 

Canned Tomatoes

You can save yourself time and effort in the kitchen by using canned tomatoes instead of fresh ones.

Additionally, most of them are salted, which enhances the tomato flavor with time. 

Fresh Tomatoes

Going with fresh tomatoes is always a healthier option. They also taste great but are sometimes not as impressive as high-quality canned tomatoes.

But, the results are more impressive when you opt for organically grown tomatoes in your local area. 

Canned Vs Fresh Tomatoes

the canned versus fresh tomatoes

Whether you should use canned or fresh tomatoes is heavily influenced by their intended purpose.

Fresh tomatoes are the best option whether you prepare a salad or give a dish a burst of vibrancy.

On the other hand, canned tomatoes, with their concentrated flavor and ability to withstand high temperatures, are the best option when making stews and sauces with tomatoes. 

An Important Consideration

While the robust flavor of canned tomatoes is typically complimented, the nutritional benefits for which tomatoes are known are sometimes lost in the processing.

Some brands of canned tomatoes have more carbs, calories, and sodium levels than others because of many additives.

Furthermore, since the skin is typically removed while processing tomatoes for canning, canned tomatoes have a lower concentration of the antioxidant lycopene.

Therefore, substituting fresh tomatoes for canned varieties is often a great choice.

Using Fresh Tomatoes in Your Recipes

use a fresh tomatoes

Identifying the correct number of fresh tomatoes to use in your recipe in place of canned tomatoes is the real catch.

In order to decide, you will have to gather more info about how many tomatoes are used in a can of tomatoes.

Mostly, a pound of fresh tomatoes is roughly equivalent to one 14.5-ounce can of tomatoes.

But if you go with a 28oz can, it has about 10-12 tomatoes.

Once you have done the math, you will have to do some additional work on your part to make fresh tomatoes usable. 

Peeling is usually the first step, but it is possible to find canned whole tomatoes that have already been peeled

Fact: It is possible to buy canned tomatoes that may have already been chopped, diced, or crushed, and they may also contain some additional seasonings, so buy accordingly. 

 Preparing and Using Fresh Tomatoes in Recipes

preparing and using fresh tomatoes

When handling fresh tomatoes, the first step always involves peeling them properly.

  • Take the time to peel off any labels and scrub the tomatoes clean.
  • Tomatoes should have their cores removed and then boiled for 30-60 seconds.
  • Take them out of the boiling water and plunge them into a bucket full of ice-cold water.
  • Carefully cut off the tomato’s skin using a knife.
  • Crush them and use them in place of canned crushed tomatoes.

In addition to using this method, you can also try roasting them to remove the skin.

  • Split tomatoes half lengthwise after you have cleaned and cored the tomatoes,
  • Place the halves, cut side down, on a baking sheet.
  • For best results, bake at 425F for half an hour, or broil for 8-10 minutes.
  • Let them cool down and them peel them quickly.
Fact: Putting tomatoes in cold water immediately after boiling prevents overcooking and saves your tomatoes from becoming mushy afterwards. 

Substituting Fresh Tomatoes for Canned Crushed Tomatoes

substitute for crushed tomatoes

Using fresh tomatoes is often a great substitute for canned tomatoes, but this is not the only option available.

Here are some other alternatives to consider. 

Try Tomato Paste

Using canned tomato paste in place of canned crushed tomatoes may save the day for you.

Keep in mind that if you try this option, it is better to thin out the canned tomato paste from the can, as it is much thicker than crushed tomatoes.

To achieve that, you can simply add some fresh or diced tomatoes to the paste and blend it nicely to achieve the right consistency.

Sometimes, simply diluting the paste with water may do the trick. 

Opt for Diced Tomatoes

choose diced tomatoes

The majority of diced tomatoes on the market are simply tomato bits preserved in tomato juice. So, you can definitely use it in place of canned crushed tomatoes.

To do that, simply add a can of chopped tomatoes to your food processor and pulse a few times.

It is quite the same as you do with fresh tomatoes. Continue until you have smashed all the chunks.

Keep in mind that you should not pulse it for long because you do not want the mixture to turn into a sauce.

Keeping some chunks intact will make them more useful for your recipes. 

Go with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Sun-dried tomatoes offer a tasty and hassle-free substitute for canned tomatoes.

In fact, you can always use them in any recipe that calls for crushed tomatoes.

a  sun-dried tomato

Keep in mind that you should soak your sun-dried tomatoes in hot water. Do it for about 10 minutes because that is enough to rehydrate them.

It is worth mentioning that sun-dried tomatoes elevate any dish by giving it a rich, deep taste, but you may need to add a bit more water to get the right consistency. 

Use Tomato Puree

Tomato puree is a thicker, more concentrated form of tomato sauce. In contrast to crushed tomatoes, this is less acidic and more subtle.

Tomato puree is a suitable option for crushed tomatoes because some brands process their tomatoes to remove most of the chunks.

If you make stews or soups, you can definitely try this substitute because they usually do not need you to be too careful with texture.

The good thing is that the flavor difference between tomato puree and crushed tomatoes is negligible.

Fact: When using canned tomato puree in place of canned crushed tomatoes, you should substitute them in equal amounts. 

Utilize Pasta Sauce

use pasta sauce

Pizza, pasta, and marinara sauces may also work quite well when your recipe calls for canned crushed tomatoes.

They are an acceptable substitute for crushed tomatoes due to their silky texture and substantial thickness.

They work quite well for most of your dishes, but not all.

The thing is that many of these sauces are often pre-seasoned with ingredients like onions, garlic, spices, and herbs.

Therefore, it is important to adjust the seasonings used in the recipe if you want to go with pizza sauce. 

Put Your Money on Tomato Juice

When you have nothing else available, you can still try tomato juice to manage your recipe better.

The thing you need to bear in mind is that tomato juice contains a lot more liquid, which is only natural.

the tomato juice

But, it also means that it is less likely to work in all of your recipes that require diced or crushed tomatoes.

In case you stick to tomato juice, it often means that you can omit the water or stock.

However, the amount of water it can replace in a recipe varies according to the ingredients you are using.

Fact: Using stewed tomatoes in place of crushed tomatoes may also be a good idea but always check for other additional ingredients in stewed tomatoes before you substitute. 


Substituting fresh tomatoes for canned crushed tomatoes often makes a lot of sense, so long as you know how much to use.

You have to understand how many tomatoes are there in a can and then substitute accordingly.

But, the good thing is that you do not have to limit yourself to fresh tomatoes only, as many other interesting alternatives are available too.

So, carefully check your recipe and consider the consistency you want to achieve to find the best substitute.