Tomato powder is made from dehydrated tomatoes that have been ground into a fine powder. It has an intensely concentrated tomato flavor and is used to add color and rich tomato taste to recipes without adding excess moisture.
However, tomato powder can be difficult to find in regular grocery stores. If you don't have any tomato powder on hand, there are several ingredients you can use instead in both sweet and savory dishes.
Why Use Tomato Powder?
Before jumping into the substitutes, let's first understand why cooks and bakers use tomato powder in recipes:
- Concentrated flavor - Since tomato powder is made from dehydrated tomatoes, it contains a highly concentrated tomato taste. Just a small amount can provide lots of flavor.
- Adds color - The bright red powder enhances the visual appeal of dishes. It's especially good for providing natural color in gluten-free baking.
- Long shelf life - When stored properly in an airtight container, tomato powder can last 6-12 months. It gives you tomato flavor even when tomatoes are out of season.
- Easy to use - You don't have to worry about chopping fresh tomatoes or excess moisture from canned products. Just spoon in tomato powder as needed.
- Gluten-free and vegan - Tomato powder is naturally gluten-free and vegan, making it perfect for specialty diets.
Knowing why tomato powder is popular gives you an idea of what properties to look for in a substitute. Now let's explore your options!
Tomato Soup Powder
Tomato soup powder is made from dehydrated tomato soup. It contains tomato powder along with other ingredients like salt, sugar, maltodextrin, and seasoning.
The flavor is similar to tomato powder, though a bit more complex. It provides the same red color too. Just be aware that tomato soup powder also adds extra sodium, so adjust any salt in the recipe accordingly.
- Substitution ratio: Replace tomato powder 1:1 with tomato soup powder.
Tomato soup powder works especially well in rubs, dressings, marinades, and anywhere you want powdered tomato flavor. It's readily available in the soup aisle at most grocery stores. Popular brands like Lipton or Knorr make tomato soup powder.
Tomato paste is cooked tomatoes boiled down into a thick, concentrated paste. The deep red color and intensified tomato taste make it a suitable stand-in for tomato powder.
Since tomato paste contains moisture, it won't provide the exact same texture as tomato powder. But it mimics the concentrated flavor.
- Substitution ratio: 1 tablespoon tomato powder = 1 tablespoon tomato paste + 1 teaspoon water
When using tomato paste as a tomato powder alternative, reduce any other liquids in the recipe. The paste will add thickness, so you likely won't need as much water or stock.
Look for tomato paste sold in tubes or small cans. It lasts longer once opened compared to larger cans. Tomato paste works well in pasta sauces, stews, soups, curries, and anywhere you want an intense tomato presence.
Dried tomatoes are fresh tomatoes that have been dehydrated, just like tomato powder. The difference is tomato powder has been ground into a fine texture.
You can make DIY tomato powder by grinding dried tomatoes in a food processor or spice grinder. Or just use the dried tomatoes directly in recipes by chopping them very finely.
- Substitution ratio: 1 tablespoon tomato powder = 3-4 dried tomatoes, chopped
Both oven-dried and sun-dried tomatoes work. They provide the same sweet, acidic tomato punch as tomato powder. Use them in sauces, stews, curries, and baked goods.
For a quick shortcut, you can also use jarred sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil. Just drain off the oil first.
Tomato puree is made from cooked, strained tomatoes, giving it a thick, smooth texture. The flavor is similar to tomato powder but slightly more acidic.
Since tomato puree contains moisture, it won't provide the exact same texture. But it mimics the rich color and flavor.
- Substitution ratio: 1 tablespoon tomato powder = 1 tablespoon tomato puree
When using tomato puree in place of tomato powder, you may need to reduce other liquids in the recipe to account for the moisture in the puree.
Look for plain tomato puree with no seasonings or extra ingredients. Use it in sauces, stews, curries, soups, baked goods, and anywhere you want deep tomato presence.
Tomato juice is made from pressed, strained tomatoes. The flavor is less intense compared to tomato powder. But in a pinch, you can use tomato juice reconstituted into a thicker paste.
Reduce tomato juice over medium heat until it forms a thick paste with a deeper red color. The paste will approximate the texture of tomato powder.
- Substitution ratio: 1 tablespoon tomato powder = 1/4 cup tomato juice, reduced
Season the reduced tomato juice paste with a pinch of sugar, salt, garlic powder, and oregano to boost the flavor. Use it anywhere you'd use tomato powder for soups, stews, sauces, etc.
Like tomato juice, plain tomato sauce has a less concentrated flavor versus tomato powder. But you can simmer tomato sauce over low heat until it reduces down into a thicker paste.
The resulting tomato paste will have a similar texture and deep red color like tomato powder. Season it for extra flavor if needed.
- Substitution ratio: 1 tablespoon tomato powder = 1/4 cup tomato sauce, reduced
When using reduced tomato sauce in place of tomato powder, you'll likely need less liquids since the sauce provides moisture.
Plain or unseasoned tomato sauce works best. Use the reduced sauce in stews, curries, gravies, or anywhere you want a thick tomato presence.
Sweet Paprika and Lemon
Here's an outside-the-box tomato powder substitute for those who want to avoid tomatoes entirely, either due to allergies or personal preference.
- Substitution ratio: 1 tablespoon tomato powder = 1 tablespoon sweet paprika + 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
This powdered tomato alternative adds vibrant color and some acidity reminiscent of real tomatoes.
Use the paprika-lemon blend to season meats, sprinkle on vegetables, or add to dressings and dips. It won't taste exactly like tomatoes but offers a similar flavor profile.
Mild Chili Powder
Ground mild chili peppers can also substitute for tomato powder's vibrant color and gentle fruitiness.
- Substitution ratio: 1 tablespoon tomato powder = 1 tablespoon mild chili powder
Mix the mild chili powder with a bit of lemon juice to add acidity similar to tomatoes.
Use this tomato powder replacement when you want to avoid nightshades but desire a slight fruity heat. Works well sprinkled on meats, eggs, or popcorn.
Tomato Powder Substitutes Chart
|Tomato Soup Powder||1:1||Rubs, dressings, sauces|
|Tomato Paste||1 tbsp powder = 1 tbsp paste + 1 tsp water||Sauces, stews, curries|
|Dried Tomatoes||1 tbsp powder = 3-4 dried tomatoes||Sauces, stews, curries, baking|
|Tomato Puree||1:1||Sauces, stews, curries, baking|
|Reduced Tomato Juice||1 tbsp powder = 1/4 cup juice, reduced||Soups, stews, sauces|
|Reduced Tomato Sauce||1 tbsp powder = 1/4 cup sauce, reduced||Stews, curries, gravies|
|Sweet Paprika + Lemon Juice||1 tbsp powder = 1 tbsp paprika + 1/2 tsp lemon juice||Seasoning meats, vegetables, dips|
|Mild Chili Powder||1:1||Seasoning meats, eggs, popcorn|
Key Takeaway: Tomato soup powder, tomato paste, and dried tomatoes make the best substitutes for mimicking tomato powder's flavor and color.
Tips for Using Tomato Powder Substitutes
When using a tomato powder alternative, keep these tips in mind for best results:
- If the substitute contains moisture, reduce other liquids in the recipe.
- Start with less substitution and adjust to taste. It's easier to add more.
- If needed, season substitutes with sugar, salt, garlic, and herbs for extra flavor.
- To thicken thin substitutes, simmer over medium heat until reduced.
- For powdered alternatives, begin by using a 1:1 ratio and tweak as needed.
- Check your pantry first before buying a specialty item you won't use often.
Getting the right tomato flavor and texture might require some trial and error. But these substitutes should give you a delicious outcome!
Tomato Powder Substitute Recipes
Ready to try out a tomato powder swap? Here are some recipe ideas:
Chili Seasoning: Mix 3 tablespoons mild chili powder, 1 tablespoon smoked paprika, 2 teaspoons garlic powder, 1 teaspoon oregano, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Vegetable Roast: Toss carrots, potatoes, onions, and 1 tablespoon tomato paste with olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, and oregano. Roast at 400°F for 30 minutes until tender.
Turkey Meatballs: Sauté 1/4 cup drained sun-dried tomatoes and 1 minced garlic clove. Mix with 1 pound ground turkey and 1 egg. Form into balls and bake at 400°F for 15 minutes.
Key Takeaway: Tomato powder substitutes work for both sweet and savory recipes. Experiment to find your perfect match.
Frequently Asked Questions
What exactly is tomato powder?
Tomato powder consists of dehydrated tomatoes that have been dried and ground into a fine powder. It provides an intensely concentrated tomato flavor.
Why is tomato powder good for recipes?
Tomato powder adds vibrant color, concentrated tomato taste, and a long shelf life. It also thickens dishes without extra moisture. Just a small amount gives recipes a flavor boost.
What are the best tomato powder substitutes?
The best substitutes for tomato powder are tomato soup powder, tomato paste, dried tomatoes, tomato puree, and reduced tomato sauce or juice. They closely mimic both the flavor and texture.
Can I make homemade tomato powder?
Yes! You can make tomato powder at home with a food dehydrator or oven. Simply dehydrate tomato pieces or tomato paste until completely dried. Then grind the dried tomatoes in a blender or food processor into a fine powder.
What recipes work well with tomato powder?
Tomato powder shines in rubs, marinades, pasta sauces, stews, curries, soups and baked goods. Both sweet and savory recipes benefit from its concentrated flavor and color.
How should I store tomato powder?
Keep tomato powder in an airtight container in a cool, dark place like the pantry. For maximum freshness, store in the refrigerator. Properly stored, it will last around 6-12 months.
Tomato powder is a handy ingredient to have in your pantry arsenal. It boasts a strong tomato taste that enhances both sweet and savory recipes. While tomato powder can be difficult to locate at times, there are many suitable substitutions available.
Tomato soup powder, tomato paste, dried tomatoes, tomato puree, and reduced tomato sauces and juices make excellent alternatives. They mimic both the concentrated flavor and texture of tomato powder.