How to counteract too much tomato paste? (5+ ways)

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, “How to counteract too much tomato paste?”. We will elaborate on different approaches that will help you counteract too much tomato paste in your dish. 

How to counteract too much tomato paste?

Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) is one of the most consumed vegetables and are a significant source of vitamin C (19 mg 100 g−1 fresh weight), vitamin A (623 IU 100 g−1), carotenoids and flavonoidsTomato paste can be produced to have anywhere from 21% to 37% soluble solids depending upon manufacturing needs. After evaporation, the paste is sterilized (approximately 100 ◦ C for 3–5 min), flash cooled and packaged into aseptic containers (1).

If, by mistake, you have added too much tomato paste to your dish and are hopelessly searching for ways to counteract it, don’t be worried, here we have made a long list of strategies to help you counterbalance too much tomato paste in your dish, and to make it perfect for serving.

  • Add some salt
  • Add some sugar
  • Try adding baking soda 
  • Cook for longer 
  • Add sweet-smelling vegetables and herbs
  • Add other flavor elements

Different ways to counteract too much tomato paste 

Add some salt

If you realize that you have added too much tomato paste to your recipe when tasting the meal and you haven’t lost the option of cooking the dish any further to change its consistency, try counteracting the excess tomato flavor by adding water and salt and then cooking it for some more time. 

Around 1 to 2 teaspoons of salt can work to reduce the acidic flavor of tomatoes. You can use pure table salt or sea salt. This will dilute the flavor of too much tomato paste from your dish making the consistency perfect. Salt can also be combined with sugar to further increase the effect.

Salt can suppress sour depending on the concentration, that is, the two tastes together are less intense compared to the tastes alone. In general, salts and acids enhance each other at moderate concentrations but suppress each other at higher concentrations (2).

Add some sugar

Similarly to the sour-salty interaction mentioned above, the masking effect of sugar over sour is well known. When two compounds that elicit different taste qualities – sweet and sour – are mixed in solution at moderate or strong concentrations, the mixture will often yield a taste sensation that is less intense than the simple sum of the component tastes. In two-component mixtures, each of the taste qualities is usually suppressed (perceived as less intense) than when it is tasted separately (2).

Sprinkling a teaspoon of sugar or any other sweetener to counterbalance the acidic flavor of the tomato paste is also a good choice, especially if your dish already has sweet ingredients like carrots or pumpkin. Sugar can effectively counteract the acidic flavors giving a well-balanced flavor profile. 

Just add sugar gradually, tasting after every addition to make sure that your dish does not get extra sweet.

Other than sugar, you can try adding honey or any other sweetener that best suits your recipe. Then serve your dish as if nothing happened. 

Add other flavor elements

You can also counteract too much acidic taste of tomato paste by adding heavy cream or whole milk to offset the acids and make a thicker sauce. Sour taste is due to the concentration of hydrogen ions in solution and acidic stimuli elicit action potentials from taste cells in a dose dependent manner based on the titratable acidity of the stimulus rather than its pH. Adding other food components that trap hydrogen ions will change this interaction and decrease the acidity of the food (3).

Grated cheeses also work well by overpowering much of the flavor of the tomato paste. 

Add extra oils, for instance, flavored or natural olive oils, or add butter to counteract a strong tomato taste.

Add sweet-smelling vegetables and herbs

Recipes that include tomato sauce, often benefit from added flavors. Garlic and onions go well with tomatoes in many dishes and help to decrease the excess acidic flavor. 

Onions are a good option as their sweet and savory flavor is a perfect counterpart to that of tomatoes. 

Cut one medium-sized onion for every one and a half quarter of the sauce. Cook them lightly in oil or butter till they turn soft and lightly golden. 

You can add finely minced celery or grated carrot at this step if you want. Add minced garlic later, mixing it just till it is sweet-smelling.

Herbs can also improve the flavor of the dish. Among the herbs, basil, oregano or red pepper flakes are very good options. 

These sweet-smelling vegetables and herbs would not change the tomato flavor but they will make it milder in comparison.

Flavor perception arises from the integration of multiple sensory inputs, such as volatile molecules, which are small molecules responsible for the aroma and macromolecules, which give texture and taste to the food. By mixing different flavor stimuli, these different flavors do sometimes combine to deliver a new emergent flavor experience, one that is not present (or detectable) when the component elements are presented individually (4). So, the addition of herbs with tomato paste can result in a successful sensorial experience.

Try adding baking soda

Adding baking soda can also work well as it has an alkaline nature that can help to counteract the acidic flavors of tomato paste. 

Sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3 ) is a white solid crystalline compound soluble in water, which is commonly used as an antacid to treat acid indigestion.  It is commonly added as a simple solution for restoring the pH of water that has a high level of chlorine (5).

Add half a tsp of baking soda to your dish and wait while it achieves a foamy consistency which later subsides. Stir thoroughly and taste to know how acidic it still is. Repeat until you feel the acidic flavors have been reduced, then adjust the flavorings until the taste is well-balanced.

Cook for longer

Another easy approach to counteract the strong taste of tomato paste from the recipe is to cook the recipe for some more time. The more time you cook your recipe, the more its flavors will combine well. Considering this, if you thoroughly cook your recipe then the taste of seasonings should start to blend in with the tomato paste.

This will decrease the taste and deepen the color of your dish. Keeping this in mind, you can easily make your dish suitable to serve even if you have added too much tomato paste. 

We hope these suggestions will assist you. Still, if nothing goes for you, do not be troubled. Learn from your blunders and you can try again.

Other FAQs about Tomato Paste that you may be interested in.

Can you use canned tomato paste after the expiration date?

What is the difference between tomato paste and tomato puree?


In this brief guide, we have provided an answer to the question, “How to counteract too much tomato paste?”. We have elaborated on different approaches to help you counteract too much tomato paste in your dish. 


  1. Koh, Eunmi, Suthawan Charoenprasert, and Alyson E. Mitchell. Effects of industrial tomato paste processing on ascorbic acid, flavonoids and carotenoids and their stability over one‐year storage. J Sci Food Agri, 2012, 92, 23-28.
  2. Breslin, Paul AS. Interactions among salty, sour and bitter compounds. Trend Food Sci Technol, 1996, 7, 390-399.
  3. Tournier, Carole, Claire Sulmont-Rossé, and Elisabeth Guichard. Flavour perception: aroma, taste and texture interactions. Food, 1 (2), Global Science Books, 2007.
  4. Spence, Charles. Multisensory flavour perception. Flavour: From food to perception 23, 2016: 373-394.
  5. Abbas, G., et al. Effect of dietary inclusion of sodium bicarbonate on digestibility of nutrients and immune response in caged layers during the summer. Braz J Poult Sci, 2019, 21.