How to Use All Your Tomato Paste

August 22, 2016

This is an open letter of thanks to whomever realized the potential of packaging tomato paste in toothpaste-like tubes with screw-on caps: Thank you—thank you—for preventing the crusting over of many tiny, half-empty cans of tomato paste, hastily covered in a scrap of plastic wrap and secured with a rubber band.

But since the toothpaste tubes can be harder to find, my pantry (and, I bet, yours too) still has a stash of the little cans. Here are a few ideas for using up any leftover tomato paste, to keep your fridge free of the crusty stragglers:

  • Make pizza! And use your tomato paste, loosened with a bit of water and olive oil (and spiced to your liking) in place of tomato sauce.
  • Or make a batch of roasted nuts that taste like pizza.
  • Whisk some into the water or broth you're using to cook grains in.
  • Whip a spoonful or two into homemade hummus, or go for spicy, white bean-based Kickass Dip (the name of which keeps its promise).
  • Blend it with yogurt and spices (like za'atar and smoked paprika) and use as a marinade for chicken—or, if the yogurt is thick, as a dip for crudités.
  • Take advantage of a rainy day and use the paste to add intensity to a fresh tomato soup. (Serve it with grilled cheese, of course.)
  • Make a tomato-y vinaigrette by adding a dab of paste to your go-to recipe. Especially good on a corn salad. (Like this one!)
  • Use it in a sweet and sour eggplant caponata.

We originally ran this story July 12, 2016. We're bringing it back in honor of Tomato Week!

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How do you use up the second half of the can? Share your tips and ideas in the comments.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • j7n
  • Jan Weber
    Jan Weber
  • sammy
  • Nellie
  • witloof
Writing and cooking in Brooklyn.


j7n May 16, 2021
Ground meat, savory grain porridge, fermented cabbage and pasta can accept a glutamate flavor or red colorant. Dilute it 1:4, add salt and drink as a tomato juice with food. I drink stock cube solutions with a small amount of paste and sour cream to make them milder. A closed jar by the back side of the fridge might keep for a month without mold. The most cost-effective paste here comes in 500g glass jars. I don't care about delicacies of recipies, eat whatever I have got, and am surprised that using tomato paste is an issue with other people (who may have large bottles of ketchup).
Jan W. August 22, 2016
Strangely I have become sort of a tomato paste snob. I have discovered the glorious power of tomato paste in making pizza sauce to amatriciana to making homemade flavored pasta, and I really can't go back to using the little cans anymore. I now exclusively use Mutti's double concentrated tomato paste tube for most applications and their triple-concentrated (apparently the only place you can get it is Eataly) paste for pizza sauce. Amore is typically my backup in case I run out (yes, I use tomato paste, garlic paste, and anchovy paste in tubes frequently enough to run out). It's also fantastic in getting a nice fond for beef and rabbit braises - I tried letting some paste char a bit with the fond on the bottom of the pan after searing the meat and then's really a big boost in flavor.

However, despite transcending the can, I am ecstatic to see yet more uses for this amazing product.
sammy August 22, 2016
srsly those tooth-tomato-paste tubes are a lifesaver. Honorable mention goes to gochujang in a tube.
Nellie August 22, 2016
Freezes beautifully. I just divide into Tbls on plastic wrap and defrost as needed.
witloof August 22, 2016
This recipe is great:
al W. July 12, 2016
Best way to use all your tomato paste is buy the stuff in a tube
AntoniaJames July 13, 2016
Agree. And if it's not convenient to buy on a regular basis, stock up because it keeps forever in the coldest place in your fridge. (I keep it in the back of my meat drawer.) ;o)
Judy S. July 12, 2016
Put my extra in a snack size Baggie and throw it in the freezer. When I need some I just snap off a piece. Easy as can be.
PHIL July 12, 2016
yes, forgot the adobo cans too they last forever frozen, also, chimichurri. freezes well. wax paper is a good idea for the thicker stuff. one of these days I will label the bags so I stop putting frozen beef broth instead of coffee cubes in my iced coffee
Alicia M. July 12, 2016
I do the same as Phil, except I just spoon it onto some wax paper in TB servings because I no longer have an ice cube tray around. I do this with chipotle peppers in adobo (puree first) and just about any other sauce I usually only need a couple TBs of for a recipe. Just pop them into a container with a label and use for months.
Caroline L. July 12, 2016
Great tip! I always have leftover chipotle peppers in adobo, too.
PHIL July 12, 2016
Good ideas especially with all the talk about wasted food in the news. I usually freeze it in an ice cube tray then I have it whenever I need it for a quick addition to whatever I might be making. I do the same with leftover broth, pesto, ginger etc...
Rachel July 12, 2016
Phil, I came down here to say almost the exact same thing. I always buy a big can and freeze the leftovers in plops on a piece of waxed paper. Once the plops are solid, I put them in a freezer baggie and use as needed.
702551 July 12, 2016
Yup. If you have a small amount left in a can, just freeze the can.

Absolutely no reason to find ways to use leftover tomato paste when it freezes so well.