What can I substitute for tomatoes in chili?

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: What can I substitute for tomatoes in chili? We will discuss what you can use instead of fresh tomatoes or tomato sauce in your dishes, without changing their taste or consistency too much!

What can I substitute for tomatoes in chili?

About 15% of people worldwide suffer from this chronic condition. Based on some experiments, nutrition has been considered as one of the predisposing factors that can affect the onset, duration, and severity of migraine. In a case-control study in 170 women with migraine, consumption of different vegetables, including tomatoes, was significantly higher in the case group (4).

When cooking chili, tomato can be replaced with any other vegetable, both as a side dish and as a condiment.


With legumes: beans, chickpeas, lentils (even canned) that make a good thick sauce even without tomatoes. The important thing is to cook the legumes only in water, adding salt towards the end of cooking and raw oil. 

With tuna, with cheese, and olive oil. With peas and pieces of cooked ham. With cream or béchamel, eventually sautéed in the oven. With aubergines cooked in a pan with oil and onion. 

How can I substitute the tomato paste?

In the absence of tomato paste, it can be replaced with products such as:

  • Ketchup.
  • Tomato juice
  • Fresh tomatoes.

When using fresh juice and vegetables, there are no problems with the final taste of the dish. As for ketchup, experienced chefs recommend taking a variety of kebabs or a classic tomato version. If you are going to cook goulash, it is better to replace the tomato paste with hot ketchup, for example, red pepper.

Canned tomato’s own juice is also a worthy alternative to tomato paste. If the hostess prepares them in large quantities, then at any time she will be able to use a bright and fragrant liquid for culinary needs.

Fresh tomatoes instead of tomato paste

Tomato paste is needed to restore tomato juice and prepare plant-based foods (sauces, ketchup). The benefits of tomatoes for the body have been known to mankind since ancient times. Scientists have discovered the pigment lycopene in fruits and said that this substance slows down skin aging. As a derivative of tomato, tomato puree contains this beneficial pigment in abundance.

Lycopene is a natural carotenoid used to combat diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and different types of cancer, including prostate cancer. It is mainly found in tomatoes but also present in tomato, papaya, guava and watermelon. It can also be consumed with other active compounds for optimal function in humans. The carotenoid lycopene is a potent antioxidant with pro-vitamin A activity and it is most effective against singlet oxygen, which is potentially the most dangerous reactive oxygen species generated in the skin following exposure to sunlight. It was effectively used in an anti-aging skin formulation in studies, which showed its potential to remove free radicals and provide anti-aging effects (2).

Since the vegetable puree is made from grated tomato, the question is whether the tomato paste can be replaced with fresh fruit or not. The answer will be yes – yes, you can. But here one caveat needs to be considered: the thick is a concentrate. Because of this, cooked dishes will acquire a richer color and taste. Remember that freshly grated fruits always contain a lot of liquid, which undoubtedly affects the final result of the cook.

If in the absence of tomato puree you decide to use fresh vegetables, grind them first, then eliminate the excess liquid by filtering the gruel through gauze. Subsequently, the drained juice is useful for homemade sauces.

Recipe: Chili con carne, without tomatoes

Chili con carne (chili with meat) is a friendly dish, easy to prepare (on the other hand, it takes a long time, allows 2 hours of cooking), and which has the advantage of being naturally gluten and dairy-free.

On the other hand, we find tomato sauce in large quantities, and the latter is responsible for many digestive disorders due to its very high acidity. Consumption of tomato or its products is one of the main causes of GERD (also known as heartburn). In this condition, individuals experience a state in which a high amount of acid washes back into the gullet. The sensation of chest pain, the sour taste of sore throat and burning are some of the unfavorable symptoms. It is assumed that the two prominent organic acids present in tomato, citric and malic acids, are the most potent triggers of acid reflux in at-risk individuals and higher tomato consumers (4).

In the case of candidiasis, I recommend limiting the use of tomatoes and tomato sauce, so there you go, I share a delicious recipe with you, with a substitute!

There are several factors that contribute to yeast infection, which means that candidiasis, including the diet, therefore, following a special diet for the treatment of candidiasis is crucial. Citrus fruits and other acidic foods such as tomatoes should be eliminated for one month in the case of candidiasis, and afterwards the consumption can be made twice a week (3).

This recipe is very healthy in case of candidiasis, just opt, as usual, for organic meat and brown or semi-brown rice (unless you currently have stubborn bloating: white rice until improvement). Brown rice differs from white rice due to the presence of rice bran which is a rich source of various bioactive phytochemicals compounds such as amino-acids, lipids, dietary fibers and minerals (1).

Why make chili without the tomato sauce? Naturopaths advise limiting the consumption of tomato sauce and the results on digestive well-being are not long in coming.

If you have noticed digestive problems when you eat pizza, Bolognese pasta, or other dishes combining tomato sauce and starchy foods, read my post “replace tomato sauce”! You will better understand where the problem is …

Ingredients – Chili con carne without tomato (4 pers.):

For the tomato sauce substitute:

Other ingredients:

  • 400 gr of organic minced beef
  • 400 gr of cooked red beans
  • 2 carrots
  • 400 mL vegetable broth
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 tbsp of chili (adjust to your taste!)
  • 2 tbsp cumin
  • 2 onions
  • 2 cloves garlic


  • 200 gr of semi-brown rice
  • 500 gr of green beans


  1. Make the tomato sauce substitute with 3 peppers.
  2. Peel the carrots then slice them into brunoise (small square pieces) using a food processor if possible.
  3. Dice the remaining pepper.
  4. Slice the onion and squeeze the garlic, then sauté them in a casserole or Dutch oven, with olive oil, over medium heat
  5. Add the minced meat for 5 ′ of cooking
  6. Then add: the pepper sauce, spices, broth, carrots, bell pepper and simmer 50 ′ over low heat
  7. Add the drained red beans then simmer for another 30 ′.
  8. Meanwhile, prepare your rice and green beans to serve your plates!

Other FAQs about Tomatoes which you may be interested in.

How to store tomato puree?

What can I use if I don’t have crushed tomatoes?


For curries, pizzas, pasta, rice, meat, fish … tomato is undoubtedly one of the most used ingredients to accompany dishes in the kitchen. However, sometimes we may not like it so much on our plate, or we are allergic to it. d. Tomato, especially when consumed raw, can lead to allergies and may even cause extremely severe anaphylaxis, especially in children and susceptible individuals to allergies (4).

If this is the case, our recommendation is to substitute the tomatoes with other vegetables, cheese, or even extra virgin olive oil. When using fresh juice and vegetables, there are no problems with the final taste of the dish. As for ketchup, experienced chefs recommend taking a variety of kebabs or a classic tomato version. If you are going to cook goulash, it is better to replace the tomato paste with hot ketchup, for example, red pepper.

If you have any questions or comments on the content, please let us know!

  1. Mitta, Jagadeeswar Reddy, Dharma Rao Vanamali, and Himavathy K. Gara. Impact of consumption of brown rice on glycaemic and lipid profile in type 2 diabetics. Int J Adv Med, 2022, 9, 722.
  2. Cefali, Letícia Caramori, et al. Development and evaluation of an emulsion containing lycopene for combating acceleration of skin aging. Brazil J Pharmaceut Sci, 2015, 51, 579-590.
  3. Martins, Natália, et al. Candidiasis: predisposing factors, prevention, diagnosis and alternative treatment. Mycopathol, 2014, 177, 223-240.
  4. Salehi, Bahare, et al. Beneficial effects and potential risks of tomato consumption for human health: An overview. Nutrition, 2019, 62, 201-208.