ketchup substitute

Top 6 Substitutes for Ketchup To Use Any Time and In Any Dish

Who doesn’t love ketchup? Whether you use it as a condiment with fries, or as a sauce additive, ketchup can be an essential ingredient in your pantry. Still, some prefer to add something less sugary and more natural to their recipes.

If this is the case, and ketchup seems too artificial for you, or just too simple, then you need to know about some substitutes to use instead. Keep in mind that the flavor and color may vary, but your dish can still be delicious in its way.

What Is Ketchup?

This table condiment or sauce contains tomatoes, sugar, and vinegar. However, the ketchup that we know today is not the same as the original one. Originally, this sauce was invented in China, and it was thought of as a fish sauce.

In the beginning, ketchup was added to season dishes, but it was not meant to be a condiment. The sauce became popular across Asia and was finally discovered by English merchants. The English then experimented using ingredients like anchovies, oysters, mushrooms, and walnuts. 

Soon after, ketchup became known as a condiment made from mushrooms. Once they came to America, the British brought over their ketchup, but over time, Americans added tomatoes and sugar.

Finally, major manufacturing companies created a simple recipe that could be shelf-stable and used for many purposes.

Ketchup is now known as the ultimate condiment in foods like hamburgers, hot dogs, fries, and more. However, it can also be used as a base for other sauces or meat dishes.

Why Replace Ketchup, Anyway?

There are some reasons why people may need to replace ketchup, here are the most common: 

  • Tomato Allergy: Since the ketchup we use these days is made solely from tomatoes, it is not an adequate condiment for those that have a tomato allergy. Using ketchup can result in a dangerous allergic reaction.
  • Health Reasons: While homemade ketchup is lower in sugar, the commercial brands that we regularly use are made from mostly sugar, which may not be a good idea for those with diabetes or heart disease. 
  • Preservatives: Some people also stay away from ketchup because of preservatives and additives, such as coloring or stabilizers. 

What Can I Replace Ketchup With?

Whether you need a healthier option or a different flavor, these ketchup substitutes are perfect for your next meal:

Best For Cooking, Meatloaf, and Sloppy Joes

#1. Tomato Paste

Tomato paste is a great way to replace ketchup in cooking, and it is a healthier choice. This option consists of tomatoes that have been cooked for hours, then drained, and reduced to a thick paste. The flavor is much more concentrated, a bit acidic and sweet, and slightly umami. 

You can use tomato paste when you prepare things like meatloaf, sloppy joes, and stews. If you need more acid in your dish, consider adding ½ teaspoon or more of white vinegar. Also, this choice is lower in sodium, which makes it healthier, but you may need to add salt as you cook.

See More: Tomato Paste Substitutes

#2. BBQ Sauce

While not the same flavor, BBQ sauce is a good choice to substitute for ketchup in some cases. Unlike ketchup, BBQ sauce is slightly spicy, smoky, and sweet with a hint of acidity.

Normally, BBQ sauce contains tomato paste or ketchup as a base ingredient, which makes it a good alternative in dishes like meatloaf, sloppy joes, or as a condiment.

If you choose to use BBQ sauce keep in mind that this sauce also contains a high amount of sugar, so it may not be the best option for someone with diabetes or health problems.

Some people also find BBQ sauce to be too spicy in comparison to ketchup, but you can reduce the heat by adding a hint of tomato paste.

See More: BBQ Sauce Shelf Life

#3. Tomato Sauce

Not to be confused with ketchup at all, tomato sauce is made from cooked pureed tomatoes. Sometimes this sauce is the product of blending the tomatoes down to a liquid consistency, and in others, it is more chunky with whole pieces of tomatoes.

Tomato sauce has sharp acidity and only a slight sweetness.

When you substitute ketchup with tomato sauce, you should keep in mind that this one is more liquid and you may want to reduce the amount of liquid you use in the cooking process. Tomato sauce is a great option when you prepare meatloaf, sloppy joes, and other sauces.

See More: Tomato Sauce Alternatives

Best For Keto, Diabetes, and Acid Reflux

#4. Salsa

Using salsa seems weird, but it is a great option when you want to cook and follow a ketogenic diet, diabetic diet, or even if you suffer from acid reflux. While buying a commercial salsa may be enough, you make one at home that follows the nutrient needs you want.

You can use cooked tomatoes, onions, peppers, a bit of hot sauce, and lime. 

If you suffer from acid reflux, we recommend you skip the lime and add a bit of sugar instead. For keto and diabetic individuals, it is best to avoid sugar and keep things more natural and nutrient-dense.

Use salsa when you prepare other sauces, as a condiment, in tacos, and to accompany other dishes.

See More: Does Salsa Go Bad?

#5. Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus

Using hummus instead of ketchup may seem weird, but the truth is that this option is highly nutritious and healthy. Hummus is made with chickpeas, olive oil, and tahini paste, but you can make a high-protein one by using more chickpeas and mixing in tomatoes.

This choice is great if you are trying to make a spread, a dip, in casseroles, and even as a condiment. 

Sun-dried tomatoes aren’t the only choice to make hummus, but they add the most flavor and texture. You can use other tomatoes or avoid them altogether, and use things like red bell peppers.

This option is good for those in a keto diet, those who are diabetic, and those who suffer from acid reflux.

#6. DIY

Like with many other things, you can make your ketchup at home without much effort. By preparing your homemade ketchup, you save yourself the added sugar and preservatives. All you need is tomato paste, sugar, vinegar, salt, and spices in a saucepan and reduce the mixture until it thickens to your liking. 

Thanks to the acidity level, this homemade ketchup can last in the refrigerator for at least a month. This is also a safe choice for individuals in the keto diet as they can manipulate the ingredients that go into it. Use homemade ketchup if you are diabetic or have acid reflux as well.



What is a healthy substitute for ketchup?

Some healthy options to use in place of ketchup include tomato paste, tomato sauce, salsa, or tomato-based hummus. If you don’t have any other options, you can also use a low-sodium BBQ sauce, or make your mixture of ingredients to achieve a similar flavor to ketchup.

Can I substitute tomato paste for ketchup?

Yes, tomato paste is a good alternative for ketchup. To substitute two tablespoons of ketchup you should use one tablespoon of tomato paste. You may also have to add a bit of vinegar and salt to achieve a closer flavor to ketchup.

Can I use ketchup instead of tomato sauce for pizza?

No, ketchup is not a good alternative to tomato sauce, mostly because it is too thick and sweet. Use other options like crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, or tomato paste, which are more subtle.


You may have never thought of having to replace ketchup, but there are instances when you may need an alternative. These six options are all very easy to find, healthy, and delicious. Use these when you want a similar flavor but a healthier meal.

Up next: Does ketchup go bad?

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