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Substitute for Ketchup (12 Ideas Worth A Try).

We’ve got a whole list if you are looking for a substitute for ketchup. Ketchup is one of the most popular condiments in the world. You are sure to find a bottle of ketchup in most American homes. With the summer barbeque season, it is featured in meals even more than usual. Keep reading below to learn more about the best substitute for ketchup.

small dish filled with ketchup, grape tomatoes on table top.

What Is Ketchup? 

Ketchup is a condiment often made with tomatoes, apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper, and onion powder.

It has a smooth consistency and a rich tomato flavor. The condiment is often used as a topping or dipping sauce for many meals. 

Originally, they made ketchup with ingredients like anchovies, kidney beans, mushrooms, and walnuts.

The recipe evolved to use tomatoes in 1876 when it first went on sale by the F & J Heinz Company. They are currently one of the most well-known producers of the condiment today. 

Benefits Of Ketchup

The nutritional benefits of ketchup are mostly from the tomatoes it contains.

Tomatoes are rich in a powerful antioxidant called lycopene. On top of that, they also have Vitamins A, C, and K, manganese, and potassium.

Since you only use a bit of ketchup every time, it will not be a good source of these vitamins.

Ways To Use Ketchup

It is among the best condiments for french fries, potato wedges, and fried chicken.

Most people also like them in scrambled eggs, baked beans, and sloppy joes. Ketchup is also a popular ingredient in sweet and sour sauce recipes.

It also makes the best glaze, as it is commonly used in making barbecue sauce. Stir-fries, meatballs, and coleslaw also taste better when they have ketchup.

Best Substitutes For Ketchup 

Some substitutes can easily replace you if you need ketchup but don’t have any. You might not even have to go for a grocery trip. Most of these are already in your kitchen.

Check out the list below for the best ketchup alternatives:

1. Barbeque Sauce 

Barbecue sauce is one of the most popular and versatile ingredients. You may use it in meals as a marinade, topping, or dipping sauce. The condiment has a rich, tangy flavor with sweet or spicy notes. 

Much like ketchup, many store-bought barbecue sauces contain added sugars and preservatives. That said, making a homemade barbecue sauce is an excellent option to limit sugar intake.

Barbecue sauce will give you a smoky flavor that is not present in ketchup. On top of that, it has a deep brown color. This will change the color of your dish.

If you are not up for these changes, skip this swap.

Otherwise, use this as a ketchup substitute in a 1:1 ratio.

2. Mustard

While mustard and ketchup have entirely different flavors, they are often paired together. They are used as toppings for hamburgers, hot dogs, and other American staple dishes.

If you want to reduce your ketchup intake, you can skip using it altogether and use mustard alone.

Mustard, particularly Dijon mustard, is a great substitute for ketchup in a sandwich. The same is true for wrap spreads and french fries.

Remember that mustard is yellow, greatly affecting your dish’s overall appearance. If the red color of ketchup is what you need, choose other alternatives.

Use the same amount of mustard as the amount of ketchup called for in your recipes.

3. Salsa 

Salsa is another excellent substitute for ketchup. It contains the same base ingredient, fresh tomatoes, and often has no added preservatives or artificial flavors.

It is also incredibly simple to make using all-natural ingredients. This makes it one of the best homemade ketchup substitutes.

The condiment is traditionally made with tomatoes, onions, garlic, chilies, and lime juice. You can add some extra heat by adding chili sauce or chili peppers.

Remember that salsa tends to be chunky. Skip this if you are after a swap with a smooth consistency.

Otherwise, follow a 1:1 ratio when replacing ketchup with salsa.

4. Sun-dried Tomato Hummus 

Sun-dried tomato hummus also makes a great ketchup substitute.

Hummus is one of the healthiest spreads made entirely of natural ingredients.

It contains a significantly high amount of carbohydrates. For this reason, it is not the best option if you are trying to eat low-carb.

Hummus has a very thick consistency. Because of this, it is most recommended to use it to substitute ketchup in dipping sauces.

5. Tomato Paste 

Tomato paste is a key ingredient in ketchup recipes. That said, it makes a great alternative on its own. It is made with concentrated tomatoes reduced to remove any excess moisture. This results in a paste-like consistency for which it is known.

It is most commonly used as a base for several pasta sauces. You can also incorporate the condiment into various meals easily. It is much lower in sugar, calories, and sodium than ketchup but provides the same yummy flavor. Because of this, many people use tomato paste in meatloaf recipes as an alternative to ketchup.

This is also not spiced, so it lacks the acidity that ketchup provides. To solve this, add some vinegar to your dish. Both distilled vinegar and apple cider vinegar will work.

Use tomato paste as an alternative to ketchup following a 1:1 ratio.

6. Tomato Sauce

Tomato sauce can also work as a ketchup replacement. However, it is much thinner, so the consistency will be different. The flavor might differ as well.

While ketchup is sweet, tomato sauce is more bitter and has a subtle seasoning taste.

If you use it as a ketchup substitute, consider adding more seasoning to the dish. Using a sweetener like honey or maple syrup will also help to create a similar taste.

If you are using tomato sauce as a dip, adjust the flavor as noted above.

It will not work for all recipes, though. Nevertheless, tomato sauce is excellent as a fill-in for cooked recipes.

Simmer tomato sauce if you want a thicker consistency. If you leave this sauce as-is, adjust the other wet ingredients. Doing this will create a dish that is not too runny.

Follow a 1:1 ratio when using tomato sauce as a swap.

7. Tomato Juice

Tomato juice can work in a pinch if you only want to have the tomato flavor. It has a much thinner consistency than tomato ketchup, though.

Tomato juice typically consists of tomato juice and salt. It lacks the other seasoning that ketchup is known for, and it is not as sweet.

You’ll find a similar earthy taste to tomato juice, though it will have a blander flavor.

Combine it with other substitutes like BBQ sauce for best results.

Use 1-2 tablespoons at a time in a recipe.

8. Sriracha

Sriracha can also be a ketchup substitute, especially if you enjoy a spicy flavor. This replacement offers a similar bright red color and consistency.

Unlike ketchup, sriracha is created without tomatoes. Instead, the main ingredients are chili, garlic, salt, and vinegar.

You may taste some similarities due to the vinegar and seasoning. Still, you will not find the tomato taste that ketchup offers. There is a sweetness present that mimics that of ketchup, though.

Sriracha works best as a dipping sauce due to its thicker consistency.

Due to the heat and flavor difference, do not use sriracha instead of ketchup when large amounts are required.

Keep in mind that this swap provides a much spicier taste. If you are not a fan of spicy food, opt for a different replacement option. No exact amount is needed to replace ketchup, as it’s up to your taste preference.

You can also use sriracha to add flavor to cooked dishes. In this case, use one tablespoon or less depending on the heat level preference. It will add some sweetness to the dish.

9. Tomato Jam

As with the other swaps that have tomatoes, you’ll also find a similar flavor in tomato jam.

The sweetness of tomato jam is also close to that of ketchup. This swap works specifically well for dips and sauces.

Note that there will be a noticeable flavor difference due to the seasonings in tomato jam. Tomato jam includes spicy peppers, ginger, and cinnamon instead of vinegar, pepper, and onion powder. Also, it usually has cumin which does not complement every spice or food item.

Because of this, tomato jam will not work in all recipes that call for ketchup.

Use tomato jam in a 1:1 ratio as a replacement.

If you have a low heat tolerance, start with ½ the required amount. Add more to adjust to your taste.

10. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar can also work as a swap for ketchup. Since it is one of the main ingredients of ketchup, they share the same tangy taste.

For this reason, this kind of vinegar also works well in most dishes.

As with other alternatives that don’t have tomatoes, this does not have a similar color.

This is also significantly thinner and comes in a clear, dark brown hue. It will not work if consistency and color are important in your dish.

However, this is perfect if you are only after the sour flavor.

Apple cider vinegar is also very acidic, so do not use a 1:1 ratio.

Rather, start with 1 teaspoon, then add more if necessary.

11. Mayonnaise

Another option for a swap is mayonnaise. It is often paired with ketchup, so you can use it to replace it in a pinch.

The main difference is that it has a white color, so your dish will look entirely different.

Mayonnaise works best when replacing ketchup in sauces and dips.

12. Homemade Ketchup

Healthy homemade ketchup is also great if you have time to make it. Doing it yourself will also enable you to omit ingredients you don’t like.

For instance, you can remove sugar if you watch your sugar intake.

Use this as you would store-bought ketchup because they taste the same.

Homemade ketchup recipe.


  • 12 oz tomato paste
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vinegar, either distilled white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup or brown sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp finely ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • sun-dried tomatoes (optional)
  • chili sauce (optional)
  • chili peppers (optional)


Put all ingredients into a blender, except water. Blend until smooth while adding water gradually. Use less for a thicker consistency, or use more depending on preference.

How To Choose The Best Ketchup Substitute

The key to choosing the best ketchup substitute is ensuring it goes well with other ingredients in your recipe. After all, the goal is to pick one that does not change the flavor profile of your dish.

Consider the following when choosing the best ketchup substitute.

  1. Heat Level.

When deciding on a ketchup substitute, consider how spicy you want your dish to be. If you are after a spicy taste, go for sriracha.

Add some hot sauce or chili peppers to non-spicy options when you want something with more heat.

If you are not a fan of spicy food, pick options that taste like ketchup. Go for tomato juice, sun-dried tomato hummus, or tomato sauce.

Swaps with little to no heat are also recommended when feeding children.

  1. Thickness.

Another factor to consider when choosing a substitute for ketchup is consistency.

For example, if you are making a dipping sauce, use thicker alternates like tomato paste or jam.

Use tomato juice or tomato sauce when making a stew because they are thinner.

Lastly, choose salsa if you want a chunky texture.

  1. Flavor.

One of the biggest things you also have to watch is the flavor of your substitute.

Choose tomato-based alternatives if you do not wish your dish to stray away from its natural flavor. If you want the exact taste, make homemade ketchup instead.

However, pick mustard or barbecue sauce if you don’t mind a slight change in flavor.

  1. Color.

The overall appearance of your dish should also be considered when looking for something to replace ketchup.

For example, mustard will give you a yellow-tinged dish, and barbecue sauce will give you a brown color.

If it is important that your dish looks the same, opt for red substitutes. Choose tomato paste, tomato juice, or tomato paste.


What can I use instead of ketchup in meatloaf?

BBQ sauce stands out as a ketchup replacement in meatloaf. Due to its similar consistency and sweet taste, BBQ sauce works excellently in this dish. Salsa will also work if you don’t have this sauce, though the flavor will be quite different.

Is ketchup and tomato sauce the same?

No, ketchup and tomato sauce are two different things. Still, tomato sauce can be used as a substitute for ketchup and vice-versa. This is because they have a similar makeup of ingredients, with some differences in the seasoning used. There are two main differences – tomato sauce uses more tomatoes and has a less sweet flavor.

Is There a Healthy Version of Ketchup? 

Ketchup has a relatively low-calorie count in comparison to other mainstream condiments. Despite this, it often contains excessive sugar and sodium. Several store-bought brands even have high fructose corn syrup in their recipes.

For a healthier ketchup substitute, look into different organic brands. They usually use olive oil instead of regular oil. Some also have less sodium and no artificial sugars. Popular organic ketchup brands include Annie’s Organic Ketchup, Hunts 100% Natural Tomato Ketchup, and Trader Joe’s Organic Ketchup. 


Ketchup is a kitchen staple. It is used in most recipes, so it is not surprising that you might find your bottle empty.

When this happens, you can use a substitute for ketchup instead. There are plenty of ketchup substitute ideas, depending on your preference. If you are out for a spicier alternative, sriracha is best. However, if you want the same tomato flavor alone, go for substitutes like tomato paste, jam, or sauce.

Better yet, make your simple homemade ketchup. A no-cook version is the easiest to make and only takes a few minutes of your time.

Recipes To Enjoy With Ketchup

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Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document her recipes and share home cooking tips. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!
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