Skip to Content

The 5 Best Substitutes for Tomato Puree in Curry

Tomato puree is a staple ingredient in many curry recipes, providing a thick, rich base that helps to meld together the diverse flavors and spices commonly found in this popular dish.

Its tangy, slightly sweet taste complements the heat from chilies and the warmth of spices like cumin, coriander, and turmeric.

But what if you’ve run out of tomato puree or simply want to experiment with a different ingredient in your curry?

What are the best substitutes for tomato puree in curry? The best substitutes for tomato puree in curry include crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, fresh tomatoes, and even non-tomato alternatives like red bell pepper puree or pumpkin puree, depending on the specific dish and desired flavor profile.

Don’t let a lack of tomato puree hold you back from enjoying a scrumptious curry meal.

Join us as we explore each of these alternatives and learn how to use them effectively in your next curry creation.

Why Use Tomato Puree in Curry?

Tomato Puree

Tomato puree is a key ingredient in curry as it provides a rich, concentrated tomato flavor that helps to balance the spices used in the dish.

Tomato puree is a cooked down and highly concentrated tomato sauce that is more like a paste.

This concentrated form of tomato is ideal for use in curry as it adds a depth of flavor that chopped tomatoes or tomato sauce cannot provide.

Additionally, using tomato puree in curry allows for the dish to have a smoother consistency and a more vibrant color.

Tomato puree is also used in conjunction with other tomato products, such as chopped tomatoes, to increase the tomato flavor and presence in the dish without increasing the bulk or water inherent in less concentrated products.

Overall, tomato puree is a crucial ingredient in curry that helps to enhance the flavor and texture of the dish.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Tomato Puree in Curry

Tomato puree is often used as an ingredient in curry to add flavor and texture.

However, if you don’t have any tomato puree on hand, there are several other ingredients that can be used to achieve a similar result.

Here are five of the best substitutes for tomato puree in curry:

1. Crushed Tomatoes

Crushed Tomatoes

Crushed tomatoes are an excellent option when looking for a replacement for tomato puree in a curry dish.

Made from ripe tomatoes that have been crushed and simmered, this versatile ingredient provides a similar consistency and texture to tomato puree.

The flavor of crushed tomatoes is slightly chunkier and more rustic, which can add depth and richness to your curry.

To use crushed tomatoes as a substitute, simply measure out an equal amount of crushed tomatoes in place of the tomato puree required in your recipe.

The result will be a delicious and satisfying curry that still captures the essence of the original dish.

2. Tomato Paste

Tomato Paste

Tomato paste is a thick and concentrated form of tomatoes, making it another suitable alternative for tomato puree in curry recipes.

It has a rich, deep flavor that can enhance the taste of your dish, particularly when used in small quantities.

When substituting tomato paste for tomato puree, keep in mind that it is more concentrated, so you will need to use less.

A good rule of thumb is to use one part tomato paste to two parts water, mixing it well to achieve a similar consistency to tomato puree.

Adjust the amount to your taste preferences and the requirements of your specific recipe.

This substitution ensures that your curry will retain its robust tomato flavor while maintaining the desired thickness and texture.

3. Tomato Sauce

Tomato Sauce

Tomato sauce is a smooth and slightly thinner alternative to tomato puree, making it an ideal candidate for use in curry recipes.

Its milder flavor allows it to blend seamlessly with the spices and other ingredients in your dish, while still providing that familiar tomato base.

To use tomato sauce as a substitute for tomato puree, simply swap out the required amount of puree for an equal amount of sauce.

Keep in mind that because tomato sauce is thinner, you may need to adjust the cooking time or add a thickening agent, such as cornstarch, to achieve the desired consistency.

Regardless of the minor adjustments needed, opting for tomato sauce in place of tomato puree can still result in a mouthwatering and satisfying curry dish.

4. Fresh Tomatoes


Fresh tomatoes are a versatile and easily accessible alternative to tomato puree when making curry dishes.

The natural sweetness and acidity of ripe tomatoes can enhance the overall flavor of the curry, creating a balanced and complex taste profile.

To use fresh tomatoes as a substitute for tomato puree, simply chop or dice them into small pieces and cook them down during the preparation of the curry.

This process will help to soften the tomatoes and release their juices, incorporating the rich and tangy flavor into the dish.

If a smoother consistency is desired, consider blending the cooked tomatoes to create a homemade puree that can be added to the curry.

Incorporating fresh tomatoes not only adds depth to the flavor of your curry but also contributes a burst of vibrant color that can elevate the visual appeal of the dish.

5. Pumpkin Puree

Pumpkin Puree

Pumpkin puree is a unique and unexpected alternative to tomato puree when preparing a curry dish.

With its natural sweetness and subtle earthy flavor, pumpkin puree can provide a delicious twist to traditional curry recipes.

The rich, velvety texture of pumpkin puree also lends itself well to creating a thick and hearty sauce for the curry.

To use pumpkin puree as a substitute for tomato puree, simply replace the desired amount of tomato puree with an equal amount of pumpkin puree.

Bear in mind that the flavor profile of the curry will change, becoming slightly sweeter and milder due to the pumpkin’s characteristics.

However, this can be an advantage for those looking to experiment with new flavors or cater to individuals who prefer a milder curry.

Combining pumpkin puree with the right blend of spices and aromatics can result in a unique and unforgettable curry dish that will have your guests coming back for seconds.


In conclusion, there are several great substitutes for tomato puree in curry that can be used to enhance the flavor and texture of the dish.

Whether you prefer to use fresh tomatoes, tomato paste, canned tomatoes, ketchup, or red pepper puree, each option brings its own unique flavor profile and benefits to the dish.

By experimenting with these substitutes, you can create a curry that is tailored to your personal preferences and dietary restrictions.

So the next time you’re out of tomato puree, don’t worry, these five substitutes have got you covered!

The 5 Best Substitutes for Tomato Puree in Curry

The 5 Best Substitutes for Tomato Puree in Curry

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 4 people


  • Crushed Tomatoes
  • Tomato Paste
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Fresh Tomatoes
  • Pumpkin Puree


  • Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  • Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
jenny happy muncher
 | Website

Jenny has always been passionate about cooking, and she uses her platform to share her joy of food with others. Her recipes are easy to follow, and she loves giving tips and tricks to help others create their own unique culinary creations.