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Thick and Rich Homemade Tomato Paste

5 from 5 votes

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A DIY recipe for thick, smooth tomato paste made from scratch! Preserve fresh garden tomatoes or use canned tomatoes to make this basic pantry essential. Homemade tomato paste keeps perfectly for up to a month in the fridge and even longer in the freezer.

Rich and tasty, the best tomato paste is a must-have pantry staple — it enriches soups, amplifies flavor in pasta sauces and so much more! Learn how to make it at home with this easy recipe.

A spoonful of thick tomato paste on a marble surface.

Making tomato paste is an excellent way to use up and preserve a bounty of fresh garden tomatoes, or as an easy project to make with everyday canned tomatoes.

Although it’s easy enough to buy tomato paste at any grocery store, making homemade tomato paste will reward you for a few reasons.

Why you should try this recipe

  • It’s fun and satisfying to make a condiment or ingredient that you’d normally buy in a store.
  • The taste! Homemade tomato paste has a bright, fresh flavor. Skip the “tinned” taste you often get from canned paste.
  • You’ll know exactly what’s in it — this tomato paste has just one ingredient (tomatoes), no salt, oil or additives.

Tomato paste is basically the essence of tomato — it’s made simply by cooking tomatoes and all their juices until they become thick and concentrated.
Tomato paste has slighter lower acidity and a higher sugar content than plain tomato sauce. It’s usually packaged in those familiar small 4-6 ounce cans or in tubes like toothpaste.

Fun facts about tomato paste

  • Tomato paste contains an abundance of the amino acids that are the source of umami — the Japanese word for “delicious” — a sensation that you can taste in savory mushroom sauce, soy sauce and tomato soup.
  • Traditionally, southern Italian and Sicilian tomato paste starts with vats of cooked tomatoes. The seeds and skins are strained out, and the resulting pulp is spread out on large wooden boards and left to dry in the sun for days.
Thick tomato paste on a spoon, with a lid and jar in the background.
Homemade tomato paste tastes fresh and bright.

Tomato sauce vs tomato paste

Tomato sauce and tomato paste are not the same. Tomato sauce is made with tomatoes that are seasoned with salt, aromatics and oil. Tomato paste is simply a concentrate of tomatoes.

Ingredients for the recipe

This recipe transforms one 28-ounce can or two pounds fresh tomatoes into about 3/4 cup of rich paste (and it can be doubled or tripled). You don’t want to add salt because the resulting concentrate will be too salty.

  • Canned whole tomatoes: Use best-quality canned tomatoes packed in their own juices OR use fresh or homegrown plum (roma) tomatoes, which have less water than slicing tomatoes. Because they can be expensive, I suggest saving heirloom tomatoes to use fresh in a salad or other dish.

How to make tomato paste, step by step

If you’ve ever made a fruit butter with apples or pears, the process of making tomato paste will seem familiar.

How to use it

Storage tips

  • Tomato paste keeps in the freezer for months and refrigerator 3-4 weeks.
  • Be sure to use very clean glass jars or sterilized jars for refrigerator storage.
  • Before refrigerating, pour a thin layer of olive oil on the top of the paste. This creates a seal which helps prevent mold formation.
  • Silicone ice cube trays that hold 2 tablespoons per portion are perfect for freezer storage — fill, freeze and pop out the cubes you need for your recipe.
A spoonful of tomato paste on a marble surface.

Thick and Rich Homemade Tomato Paste

Karen Tedesco
An easy recipe for thick, smooth tomato paste made from scratch! Preserve fresh garden tomatoes or use canned tomatoes to make this basic pantry essential. Homemade tomato paste keeps perfectly for up to a month in the fridge and even longer in the freezer.
Print Pin
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 30 mins
Total Time 1 hr 40 mins
Course Sauces
Cuisine Italian
Servings 12 tablespoons

Equipment

Food mill or fine-mesh colander

Ingredients

  • 1 28-ounce can whole, peeled tomatoes, or 2 pounds halved fresh plum or vine tomatoes

Instructions 

Yield: About ¾ cup

  • Put the tomatoes in a large heavy pot, such as a Dutch oven or soup pot.
  • Bring to a simmer (not a raging boil) over medium-high heat. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring once or twice to be sure the tomatoes aren't sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  • Lower the heat to medium-low or low, depending on your stove, adjusted to maintain a slow bubble. Cook uncovered for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are very thick and a spoon scraped along the bottom of the pan makes a clear path. The tomatoes should be reduced to about 1 cup, and most of the liquid will be evaporated.
  • Preheat the oven to 275 (135 C).

Puree and strain the tomatoes

  • Use a food mill: Insert the finest disc and set the food mill over a medium bowl. Transfer the tomatoes to the food mill. Turn the crank until the tomatoes are pureed, leaving just the seeds, skins and other solids behind.
    Use a mesh colander: Put the tomatoes in a fine-mesh colander set over a bowl. Use a sturdy spatula or wooden spoon to push the tomatoes through the colander. Discard the seeds (or compost them).
  • Line a small rimmed baking sheet with a piece of parchment. You can also use a shallow 1-quart Pyrex baking dish and skip the parchment paper. Spread the tomato puree in an even layer over the bottom of the pan.
  • Bake the tomato paste 30-40 minutes, until the edges look dry and slightly caramelized and the top has a few cracks.
  • Cool 10-15 minutes, then scrape the tomato paste into a sterilized glass jar with a lid.

Karen’s Notes and Tips

  • Tomato paste keeps in the freezer for months and refrigerator 3-4 weeks.
  • Be sure to use very clean glass jars or sterilized jars for refrigerator storage.
  • Before refrigerating, pour a thin layer of olive oil on the top of the paste. This creates a seal which helps prevent mold formation.
  • Silicone ice cube trays that hold 2 tablespoons per portion are perfect for freezer storage — fill, freeze and pop out the cubes you need for your recipe.

Nutrition

Calories: 0.01kcal | Carbohydrates: 0.003g | Protein: 0.001g | Sodium: 0.1mg | Potassium: 0.2mg | Fiber: 0.001g | Sugar: 0.002g | Vitamin A: 0.1IU | Vitamin C: 0.01mg | Calcium: 0.03mg | Iron: 0.001mg
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Hey, I’m Karen

Creator of Familystyle Food

I’m a food obsessed super-taster and professionally trained cook ALL about making cooking fun and doable, with easy to follow tested recipes and incredibly tasty food! Read more about me here.

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One Comment

  1. 5 stars
    I absolutely love tomato paste and have never had a recipe that allowed me to make my own. Thank you!