Is Tomato Paste Tomato Sauce?

They’re both tomato based so is rubbing some tomato paste on your meatballs the same as pouring tomato sauce over it?

The Short Answer:

No, tomato paste and tomato sauce are not the same. But tomato paste is a key ingredient in most tomato sauce.

The Long Answer:

As an Italian American, I scoffed when reading this question. I’ve been working with tomato paste since I was but a wee lad. It is one of the key ingredients of most tomato sauces and tomato soup. It is the base on which my tomato sauce comes to simmery beautiful crimson life.

But then I realized that to the uninitiated non-Italian combing through the tomato products aisle looking for something to toss on their quick spaghetti, the terms tomato paste and tomato sauce might be confusing.

Let’s start off with tomato paste. It’s a thick substance, way thicker than your typical tomato sauce. It’s made by cooking tomatoes for a few hours, which dries them out and reduces the amount of water within. The seeds and skins are strained out and the tomatoes are cooked again to create a thick and rich concentrate.

If you look at the consistency of tomato paste, it is a paste. It’s easy to spread on things. It’s generally pretty thick. It’s nothing like tomato sauce or even tomato puree.

Tomato sauce is a seasoned blend of tomato paste, fresh tomatoes (either crushed or pureed), and water along with some veggies like onion and garlic. It is all stirred and boiled together to create a nice blend.

A lot of people wonder whether you can substitute tomato paste for tomato sauce. The easiest answer to that would be no, but if you were dead set on it I suppose you could add some water to the paste in order to make it easier to pour. However, tomato sauce is a lot more than just paste and water mixed together.

A major mistake people make with the tomato sauce that they buy in the store is pouring it from the jar right onto your pasta. These sauces have only been cooked slightly, and as such, they’re pretty acidic. If you cook them a little bit you’ll mellow out the flavor and have a much more positive pasta experience.

Get used to tomatoes in different forms with these recipes! Italian Tomato Pie uses fresh, diced, and tomato paste. Chicken Cacciatore uses both tomato paste and tomato sauce. Yum!

What’s your tomato sauce recipe? Do you eat tomato sauce from a jar? Have you ever tried to use tomato paste in your recipes? Sound off in the comment section below and let us know!

They’re both tomato based so is rubbing some tomato paste on your meatballs the same as pouring tomato sauce over it? #tomato
They’re both tomato based so is rubbing some tomato paste on your meatballs the same as pouring tomato sauce over it? #tomato

Kevin Kessler

Kevin J. Kessler is an experienced professional writer and published author living in Orlando, Florida. With a lifelong passion for food, this sandwich loving Italian boy enjoys exploring unanswered questions about the foods we all know and love so well. Kevin’s foodie lifestyle was born through his love of Walt Disney World and the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. A lover of stories, he enjoys trying new dishes from all over the world and learning everything there is to know about where food comes from, how its prepared, and what variations on it exist.