What is the Best Substitute for Marinara Sauce?

by Charlie
Published: Last Updated on
Best Substitute for Marinara Sauce

Marinara sauce is one of the most popular variants of tomato sauce. It is rich in taste and flavor, and it is loved for its versatility. 

If you love marinara sauce, then you should definitely add it to your applicable dishes. But sometimes, it might not always get the job done. 

What is the best substitute for marinara sauce? Tomato paste is the best substitute for marinara sauce, thanks in no small part to its similar taste. As long as you can accommodate for consistency, you’ll find tomato paste to be perfect for your dish. 

An Overview of Marinara Sauce 

Marinara sauce is one of the many sub-variants of tomato sauce. It is usually made with tomato sauce, as well as additive herbs such as onions and garlic. Some might call it spaghetti sauce or pasta sauce

Like most things that are associated with pasta, marinara sauce originates primarily from Italy. It became a hit in many Italian dishes, then it essentially grew to become an almost worldwide phenomenon. 

Some people have mistaken it for tomato sauce, but they’re not exactly the same thing. Marinara sauce usually comes with more taste profiles than tomato sauce, and this seems to be one of the reasons why people love it so much. 

Marinara sauce works in different dishes. You can combine it with almost anything, ranging from rice dishes to pasta. In some pizza dishes, small amounts of marinara sauce could also work. 

Why Replace Marinara Sauce? 

  • Taste differences: Marinara sauce is great and versatile, but some people might not necessarily like the taste and might want to try something different. 
  • Non-availability: If you can’t find marinara sauce anywhere, then you should be able to get something else to work for your dish. 

Options for Marinara Sauce Substitutes

Best Overall Substitute for Marinara Sauce: Tomato Paste 

If you’ve got a can or a tube of tomato paste at home, then you’ve got the perfect substitute for marinara sauce on all fronts. Tomato paste comes with pretty much the same taste, and you can always make adjustments to it to make up for any differences in flavor or consistency. So, you don’t exactly miss anything at the end of the day. 

One of the primary benefits of tomato sauce is that you can easily make it. You could decide to run it straight from the pack if you’re fine with the consistency, or you could adjust the quantity with some water if you want to change the taste a little bit. 

Another benefit is that tomato paste works for pretty much every recipe you could use marinara sauce. Thanks to this versatility and similarity, tomato paste makes for the absolute best substitute. 

For a more authentic and traditional taste, you could get some herbs – including onion and garlic. Sauté some fresh onion and garlic in olive oil until the mixture becomes soft, then add it to a blend of water and tomato paste. Taste as you go, and you should be able to arrive at the perfect mix. 

As you would expect, the proportion of tomato paste that you will need to substitute for marinara sauce varies based on your preference. 

Best Available Substitute: Canned Tomatoes

If you’re in a rush and would like to get a substitute for marinara sauce in a flash, you could just use some canned tomatoes. Pretty much everyone has canned tomatoes at home, so you shouldn’t have any issues with it. 

As we all know, canned tomatoes are essentially crushed tomatoes put in a can. They would have been the perfect marinara sauce substitute, but their consistency isn’t quite the same as well. But, as always, there’s a possible solution – simply purée the tomatoes until you get a smooth consistency, and you can use that as a substitute for the marinara sauce. 

The purée strategy might leave you with something thicker than marinara sauce, but this is where watering or blending comes in. You can add water to the tomatoes or blend them properly to ensure that the consistency is as thin as you want. 

If you make a mistake and end up with something too thin for your needs, then you can simply simmer it down until you get the proper consistency again. It might take a while to find that perfect marinara sauce recipe, but keep at it and rest assured that you’ll arrive at the perfect mix. 

Your application of canned tomatoes will usually work based on your preference. The only thing you need to keep in mind is that there are different variants of canned tomatoes – all of which will contain different herbs, including onions, celery, bell peppers, and more. You will need to keep these in mind as you make your dish. 

Best Affordable Substitute: Ketchup

Ketchup might seem like a bit of an odd substitute for marinara sauce, but it actually works pretty well. As we all know, ketchup is gotten from tomatoes – the same base element used to make marinara sauce. So, it works quite well.

To begin with, you should know that ketchup and marinara sauce don’t necessarily taste alike. As you know, ketchup has a bit of a tangy taste due to its vinegar content. But, some brands of ketchup also come with some corn syrup and sugar, giving them a bit of a sweeter undertone as well. Sugar and vinegar aren’t exactly part of marinara sauce, but you can still use ketchup in your recipe as long as it is not the primary ingredient. 

Since there isn’t exactly a measurement scale for ketchup, you can use it to substitute marinara sauce based on what you like. Your taste is really the only indicator you need to guide your application. 

You don’t have anything to really be worried about when you use ketchup. Just watch the ingredients in the ketchup before you purchase it, and you should be able to understand how best it works. 

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