top view of stuffed bell peppers

Substitute For Tomato Sauce In Stuffed Peppers

Do you want to make stuffed peppers but you’re all out of tomato sauce? Or maybe you are looking for a tomato free alternative?

No matter what stuffed pepper recipe you are making there are a number of substitutes you can use. And each of them will provide you with the flavor you need for stuffed peppers.

I love the smell of stuffed peppers in the oven! It’s one of my family’s favorite dinners and we make them multiple times a month. My oldest loves them spicy and the youngest likes them mild so I’m making two different recipes every time!

And there has been more than one occasion where I started making the stuffing only to discover I was all out of tomato sauce. And if you know me, it’s no surprise that I will use a substitute instead of making a special trip to the store for a single ingredient.

Luckily, there are numerous tomato sauce substitutes that provide a great flavor (and prevent hopping in the car).

So what are the best substitutes for tomato sauce you can use to make stuffed peppers?

The top tomato sauce alternatives are tomato paste, pasta sauce, tomato soup, canned tomato, ketchup, and ajvar.

Make sure to keep reading to learn how you can use each of these tomato sauce replacements in your stuffed pepper recipe.

Tomato Sauce Alternatives for Making Homemade Stuffed Peppers

closeup of stuffed bell peppers

There are a lot of versions of stuffed peppers, and almost all of them call for tomato sauce. Tomato sauce is a great base for stuffing bell peppers.

The flavor and consistency brings all your other ingredients together in a wonderful way. So when you swap in a substitute you want to use an ingredient that provides a similar flavor and texture.

Note: When making your substitution conversions it’s important to remember that eight ounces of tomato sauce equals one cup.

Related: Tomato Substitutes

Tomato Paste

tomato paste mixed with water in glass container

With tomato paste and a little water you have the best all around substitute for tomato sauce. The consistency and flavor is quite similar to tomato sauce, and it mixes well with the other ingredients in your stuffing.

You will want to combine your tomato paste and water before adding it to the rest of your ingredients. No other changes need to be made to your recipe.


1/2 cup of tomato paste with 1/2 cup of water equals 1 cup of tomato sauce

Pasta Sauce

unlabeled clear container of pasta sauce

Canned pasta sauce is another excellent tomato sauce alternative that works well with stuffed peppers. It provides the flavor and moisture needed and you can use almost any type of spaghetti sauce you have in the pantry.

If you are concerned about flavored pasta sauce effecting your final flavor, you can reduce the other spices used. But I have found this to be unnecessary with most store bought pasta sauces.


1 cup of pasta sauce equals 1 cup of tomato sauce

Tomato Soup

serving bowl of tomato soup

Tomato soup is a great way to replace tomato sauce and it works well in any stuffed pepper recipe. The flavor works well and with some subtle recipe adjustments you are good to go.

Tomato soup has a higher moisture content than tomato sauce so you will need to reduce other liquids by about a quarter cup to get the consistency right.


1 cup of tomato soup equals 1 cup of tomato sauce

Canned Tomatoes

stewed tomato in bowl and empty can on table top view

With a little extra time, you can use any type of canned tomato to make a great tomato sauce replacement. Drain the liquid from your canned tomato and heat them in a skillet at medium low heat until they have reduced to the right thickness. Then simply add them to the other ingredients in your recipe.

You can use everything from diced, crushed, stewed, or whole canned tomato. The key is to slowly reduce them so that they will blend with your other stuffed pepper ingredients.

Note: If you have fresh tomato, they can be used as well. Clean, cut, and reduce them before adding them to your other ingredients.


1 cup of reduced canned tomato equals 1 cup of tomato sauce


bowl of ketchup

Believe it or not, ketchup can be used instead of tomato sauce in a pinch. Ketchup will add a sweetness to your stuffed peppers, but the flavor works surprisingly well.

The texture is also quite similar, so no other adjustments need to be made to your recipe. I’ve found natural, no sugar ketchup (catsup) provides the flavor most similar to what you would get with tomato sauce.


1 cup of ketchup equals 1 cup of tomato sauce


spoonful of Ajvar

If you are looking for a tomato free alternative, then this red pepper, eggplant sauce is the perfect choice for any stuffed pepper recipe.

The consistency is perfect and the flavor pairs seamlessly with the other ingredients in your recipe. You can find ajvar at most grocery stores, or you can make some at home.


1 cup of ajvar equals 1 cup of tomato sauce

Tomato Sauce Replacement for Stuffed Peppers FAQ

stuffed peppers closeup

Can you use pureed vegetables instead of tomato sauce?

Yes, you can make a great tomato sauce alternative with pureed vegetables. Some great options for stuffed peppers are eggplant with carrot or beets with carrots.

Simply clean and chop your vegetables and puree in your food processor before adding to the rest of your ingredients.

Can you use marinara sauce instead of tomato sauce?

While you can use marinara sauce in stuffed peppers, most varieties have a large amount of spices so you will need to reduce the other spices from your stuffed peppers.

After adding your marinara sauce, slowly add additional spices to taste.

Can you use tomato juice in stuffed peppers?

Tomato juice can be used to make stuff peppers instead of tomato sauce. Keep in mind that tomato juice has a much higher water content than tomato sauce, so you will need to reduce other liquids from your recipe to avoid your stuffing being too runny.

For each cup of tomato juice used, reduce the other liquids in your recipe by a half a cup. Use a 1:1 ratio of tomato juice to tomato sauce.