Tomato Paste vs Tomato Puree

BJ from Amsterdam, Netherlands asks:

“Could you please let me know what the difference is between tomato paste & tomato puree when consulting your recipes; I have a feeling that it could make an enormous difference in taste.”

My reply: “Thanks for your letter regarding the difference between tomato puree and tomato paste. Yes there is indeed a difference.

There is some confusion in tomato product terminology according to what part of the world you live. In USA for instance, the term ‘tomato paste’ is an almost unknown term. In Australia, tomato paste refers to tomato concentrate. It is cooked – reduced down, a little sweet, and thick – almost like smooth peanut butter in consistency. You can get it in jars or cans or tubes. In Italy this is sometimes referred to as ‘triplo concentrato di pomidoro’ (pictured below).

triplo concentrato di pomodoro:

Tomato puree is more liquid and is uncooked, not concentrated or reduced, and is usually found either as a smooth thin liquid with no seeds, as crushed whole peeled tomatoes with the seeds inside. You can also find tomato puree in tall glass jars labeled ‘passata’ meaning tomato puree without the seeds.


In Italy, Passata literally refers to raw tomato puree that has been passed through a sieve. Depending on the degree of sieving, the pulp can be perfectly smooth (polpa di pomodoro) or slightly chunky (passata rustica). So passata usually refers to skinned, seedless, unflavoured, uncooked tomato pulp, either slightly chunky or smooth. Sometimes a little salt and/or basil is added.

passata rustica:

So cooked tomato paste/concentrate is not interchangeable with uncooked tomato puree. They are both quite different and the difference is in consistency and taste.

In my recipes, I suggest to add a spoon or two of ‘tomato paste’ when it is needed, otherwise I say ‘crushed tomato’ or ‘tomato puree’. My recipes make it quite clear.

Hope this clarifies.

Posted by Kurma on 16/11/11; 7:02:14 AM

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