How to Make Tomato Puree: An Easy Guide

A spoonful sits atop a bowl of finished puree.
Recipe At-A-Glance
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Canning & Preserving30 min
This easy-to-follow guide will walk you step-by-step through the entire process of making homemade tomato puree from fresh or canned tomatoes.

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Knowing how to make (and use!) tomato purée is one of the most versatile skills you can have in the kitchen. A smooth, thick, flavorful tomato purée can be used in all kinds of dishes, from pizza to chili to bloody marys to ketchup!

Tomato purée can also be an easy substitute for canned tomato sauce, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, or even diced tomatoes in almost any recipe. You can make tomato purée from fresh tomatoes, canned whole tomatoes, or even frozen tomatoes. Let’s show you how!

Close up of a spoonful of fresh tomato puree.

What are the best tomatoes for tomato purée?

As always, we say that the best tomatoes for tomato purée are the tomatoes you have! In general, paste tomatoes like roma tomatoes or San Marzano tomatoes will be your best bet—they have thick flesh and fewer seeds. This means you’ll have less waste when you process your tomato purée through a food mill or strainer, so you’ll get more bang for your buck. But truly, any tomato you have on hand will work!

You can use fresh tomatoes, frozen tomatoes, or even high-quality canned whole tomatoes. If using canned tomatoes to make purée, we recommend you use either home canned whole tomatoes—so you can guarantee the quality—or a high-quality store-bought San Marzano canned tomato. The flavor difference is huge!

Two open cans of San Marzano tomatoes stand atop a kitchen linen on a wooden cutting board.

What’s the difference between tomato purée and tomato paste?

Tomato purée and tomato paste are very similar in texture and appearance, and can mostly be used interchangeably. The main difference is that tomato paste is a highly concentrated tomato sauce. Tomato paste has been simmered for a long time to remove most of the water and leave behind lots of tomato flavor.

Tomato purée is just a simple smooth blend of tomatoes. The flavor isn’t quite as concentrated as tomato paste, but it works in place of it in a pinch.

Overhead of a small bowl of tomato puree surrounded by fresh roma tomatoes and basil.

So, can tomato purée be used in place of tomato sauce or tomato paste?

Sure can! When using it in place of tomato sauce, it’s a 1-to-1 substitution—so for each cup of tomato sauce, use one cup tomato puree. When using in place of tomato paste, increase the amount of tomato purée to 1 1/2 times the amount of tomato paste called for, then also decrease the other liquids in the recipe slightly. So for each cup of tomato paste use one and a half cups of tomato purée.

What equipment do I need to make tomato puree?

All you need to make tomato purée from fresh tomatoes is a large stock pot and a blender (both a countertop blender or an immersion blender work just fine). You’ll also need knives, cutting boards, measuring cups, and probably a towel or two—tomatoes can get messy!—but you probably already have those things in your kitchen.

If you’re making the purée from frozen tomatoes or canned tomatoes, all you’ll really need is a blender!

Do I need to peel the tomatoes first?

While you don’t absolutely have to, if working with fresh tomatoes, we do recommend you peel the tomatoes first. Tomato skin can perform unpredictably when cooked—sometimes it can end up tough or even slimy. You’ll have the best results with peeled tomatoes.

How do make tomato purée from canned tomatoes?

Making tomato puree from canned tomatoes is our favorite method. A lot of the work (like peeling!) had already been done. You can have your puree done in just a few moments!

  1. Select whole canned tomatoes—either high-quality store-bought San Marzano tomatoes or home canned whole tomatoes.
  2. Drain the tomatoes, reserving the liquid from the can in a glass measuring cup.
  3. Poke a hole in each tomato with a knife or your finger, and gently squeeze out the majority of the juice into the glass measuring cup.
  4. Place the drained tomatoes into the carafe of a blender, and blend on medium-high until very smooth—adding some of the reserved juice if needed to adjust the thickness to your liking.

Overhead of smooth tomato puree in the carafe of a blender.

Wholefully Protip

Did you freeze tomatoes to stash them for the winter? No worries, you can make tomato puree using frozen tomatoes, too. Just thaw them completely, remove the peels (they should slip right off), core, and then follow the canned tomato directions from above starting at step #2.

How do you make tomato purée from fresh tomatoes?

Making tomato purée from ripe tomatoes takes a little bit more time, but it’s totally worth it in the middle of summer when tomatoes are at their peak! Here’s how.

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Fill a large bowl with cold water and ice. Using a sharp knife, core each tomato.
  2. Plunge the tomatoes into the boiling water for 20-30 seconds.
  3. Remove with slotted spoon, and immediately plunge into the bowl of ice water to stop cooking.
  4. The peel should already start to slip off of the chilled tomatoes, but just use your fingers to remove it the rest of the way.
  5. Gently squeeze out the majority of the juice and seeds from each tomato into a the glass measuring cup.
  6. Place the drained tomatoes into the carafe of a blender, and blend on medium-high until very smooth—adding some of the reserved juice if needed to adjust the thickness to your liking.

Wholefully Protip

Is your tomato puree too liquidy? No worries. Just pour it into a saucepan and heat over medium-high heat until it’s the consistency you want.

Finished puree close up in a bowl with a spoon.

How do you can tomato purée?

Instead of canning this tomato purée recipe, we recommend you head over to our tutorial on canning tomato sauce. This basic tomato sauce recipe is a perfect base for lots of recipes, and our canning recipe makes it safe for water bath canning to make it shelf-stable.

Can tomato purée be frozen?

Sure can! We like to first freeze it in ice cube trays, and then pop the tomato-tastic cubes out into a gallon zip-top freezer bag for long-term storage. Then you can just drop in a cube or two anytime you need some tomato flavor in soups, stews, or sauces.

How long does tomato purée last?

Tomato purée will last between 5-7 days in the fridge in an airtight container. It will safely store in the freezer for 6 months or more.

Overhead of a bowl of fresh tomato puree with a spoonful on top.

How can I use tomato purée?

As we’ve already chatted about, you can use tomato purée almost anywhere you’d use tomato sauce, tomato paste, or tomato juice. Here are some ways we use it in our kitchen:

  • Combine with some herbs and spices to turn into a great pizza sauce, marinara sauce, pasta sauce, or spaghetti sauce.
  • Blend up with some peppers, onion, and cilantro to make a great fresh, restaurant-style salsa.
  • Use in place of the tomato juice in your favorite bloody mary recipe.
  • Simmer it into the perfect enchilada sauce for Black Bean Enchiladas.
  • Use it as a base for an amazing batch of Turkey Chili.
 
A spoonful sits atop a bowl of finished puree.

Tomato Puree Recipe

Yield: Just under 2 cups
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

This easy-to-follow guide will walk you step-by-step through the entire process of making homemade tomato puree from fresh or canned tomatoes.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh paste tomatoes or canned whole San Marzano tomatoes

Instructions

    For Fresh Tomatoes:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Fill a large bowl with cold water and ice. Using a sharp knife, core each tomato.
  2. Plunge the tomatoes into the boiling water for 20-30 seconds.
  3. Remove with a slotted spoon, and immediately plunge into the ice water bath to halt cooking.
  4. The peel should already be starting to slip off of the chilled tomatoes, but just use your fingers to remove it the rest of the way.
  5. Gently squeeze out the majority of the juice and seeds from each tomato into a glass measuring cup. 
  6. Place the drained tomatoes into the carafe of a blender, and blend on medium-high until very smooth—adding some of the reserved juice if needed to adjust the thickness to your liking.

For Canned Tomatoes

  1. Select whole canned tomatoes—either high-quality store-bought San Marzano tomatoes or home canned whole tomatoes.
  2. Drain the tomatoes, reserving the liquid from the can in a glass measuring cup.
  3. Poke a hole into each tomato with a knife or your finger, and gently squeeze out most of the juice into the glass measuring cup. 
  4. Place the drained tomatoes into the carafe of a blender, and blend on medium-high until very smooth—adding some of the reserved juice if needed to get your desired consistency.

Notes

  • This recipe can be scaled up as much as you like.
  • Is your tomato purée too liquidy? No worries. Just pour it into a saucepan and heat over medium-high heat until it's the consistency you want.
  • You can make tomato purée using frozen tomatoes, too. Thaw them completely, remove the peels (they should slip right off), core, and then follow the canned tomato directions from above starting at step #2.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 3 Serving Size: 1/2 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 35Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 10mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 2gSugar: 5gProtein: 2g

At Wholefully, we believe that good nutrition is about much more than just the numbers on the nutrition facts panel. Please use the above information as only a small part of what helps you decide what foods are nourishing for you.

Cassie is the founder and CEO of Wholefully. She's a home cook and wellness junkie with a love of all things healthy living. She lives on a small hobby farm in Southern Indiana with her husband, daughter, two dogs, two cats, and 15 chickens.

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Hello. My name is Cassie, and I’m a healthy home cooking expert.

I'm a Certified Holistic Nutritionist, and I've been developing healthy recipes professionally for over 15 years. Food is my love language, and my kitchen tips and nourishing recipes are my love letter to you!

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