Tomato Puree vs. Paste: 3 Differences & When to Cook with Each

Tomato Puree vs. Paste: 3 Differences & When to Cook with Each

Although tomato puree and tomato paste are both very important in the culinary world, they are two very different ingredients. Tomato puree is fresh tomatoes, lemon juice, and salt all blended together into a smooth puree. Tomato paste is made from cooked tomatoes that are boiled down to just the meat of the tomato and none of the juices. Knowing these differences, let's look into how else they're different and how they can be used.

red tomatoes background. Group of tomatoes
Tomatoes, commonly mistaken for a vegetable when they're a fruit, are a great source of antioxidants, potassium, and vitamin C.

©Ewa Studio/Shutterstock.com

Tomato Puree vs. Paste: How They're Made

Tomato puree is a blend of multiple ingredients. It includes fresh tomatoes, an acid (lemon juice is what's commonly used), and salt, all blended together. Unlike tomato sauce, puree is blended well so that it is smooth and there are no chunks in sight.

Tomato paste is made solely from tomatoes. It is cooked tomatoes that are boiled down and then strained to remove excess liquid. Once completed, they are cooked one more time to ensure most of the juice is evaporated leaving you with a thick paste.

Tomato Puree vs. Paste: Taste

Because of the additional ingredients in tomato puree, it will have a much milder taste than a tomato paste. Because tomato paste is a concentrated form of tomatoes, it is sweeter since you're tasting the pure form of the tomato. Both of these ingredients can vary in sweetness based on the type of tomato used to make them!

Tomato Puree vs. Paste: Texture

Tomato puree is like a thick liquid in texture. It's smooth but hardy. Tomato paste is significantly thicker and not like a liquid at all. For lack of a better example, it's similar in texture to toothpaste!

Tomato Puree vs. Paste: When To Use Them

These two ingredients are used very differently. Tomato puree is often used for making sauces. Whether it be pasta sauce, pizza sauce, salsa, or a glaze, tomato puree is the way to go. Tomato paste on the other hand is typically used for adding flavor. It is used in sauces, but also soups, stews, vinaigrettes, and more.

A Quick Comparison of Tomato Puree vs. Tomato Paste

Infographic comparing tomato puree and tomato paste.
Tomato puree has more ingredients than tomato paste.

One of the most important things to understand about the differences between tomato puree and tomato paste is the ingredients. Tomato puree contains salt and an acid in addition to the tomatoes, giving it a milder taste. Tomato paste only uses tomatoes, meaning that the sweet taste of tomatoes stands strong. The consistency of these two differ; tomato puree is a thick liquid, while tomato paste is definitely not a liquid. Many recipes incorporate either tomato puree or tomato paste into them; read on to find out what some of these recipes are!

Tomato Puree vs. Paste: Recipes

If you have these staple ingredients in your fridge or pantry, here are some ways you can use them!

Tomato Puree

Tomato Paste

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tomato paste in a glass bowl and spoon

Eggplant and Tomato Sauce with Pasta

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  • Author: Moms Who Think



1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine or water
1 medium eggplant (about 1 pound), cut into 1/2-inch cube
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
16 ounces rotini pasta
Grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish if desired


1. Combine tomatoes, tomato paste, wine, eggplant, onion, garlic, oregano, and ½ teaspoon salt in a 5-quart slow cooker; cover and cook on low 4 hours or until eggplant is soft and sauce is thick.

2. Just before sauce is done, bring a large pot of salted water to boil over high heat. Add pasta, and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain pasta, and toss with sauce. Garnish, if desired.

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