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What Is Tomato Passata? Everything About This Ingredient

Suppose you’re cooking an Italian recipe and reviewing the ingredients for your grocery run. You might notice that the list often includes passata. What is tomato passata?

This article right here holds all the answers. We’ll discuss how to make this Italian staple, its taste, and where you can buy it. We’ll also share some ways to use it in your recipes.

bowl filled with tomato passata with fresh tomatoes next to it.

What Is Tomato Passata?

Tomato passata is just pureed and strained tomatoes.

Passata is an Italian pantry essential ingredient, and you can find it in bottles and cartons.

Unlike other tomato products, this sauce does not have extra seasonings or flavorings. The ingredients list only two things: tomatoes and salt. Some brands do not even put salt, just pure tomatoes.

How to make it

To make tomato passata, cut tomatoes in half, remove the seeds, season with salt, simmer, and strain. Then, you run the mixture through a sieve to remove all solids and arrive at velvety smooth passata.

Because of this process, passata is almost always confused with tomato puree. But these two things are not the same. Tomato puree comes from whole peeled tomatoes you puree after you’ve cooked them.

When it comes to passata, you don’t need to remove the skin beforehand. The food mill and the sieve will take care of that for you.

Where To Find It

You can find passata in most grocery stores nowadays. Expect the price to be a bit higher than tomato sauce or tomato paste, though.

If it is unavailable, you can use a batch of fresh tomatoes and do it yourself. Or, you can start with canned tomatoes instead. Starting with crushed tomatoes is also an option.

The Passata Tradition

Italian families gather annually to make passata. It is a long-standing tradition where families take a whole day making passata.

These families do this to preserve that bountiful tomato harvest during the summer. And so they can have a stash of passata throughout the year.

They take turns preparing the tomatoes, simmering, seasoning, and bottling the passata. Then, they divide the finished product among themselves.

This way, they can enjoy homemade passata any time of the year. They then wait another summer to repeat the tradition and get a new batch.

It’s important to note that each family has its own tradition and way of making passata. Some do not cook but blanch the tomatoes. In that case, passata is an uncooked tomato purée. But most people cook the tomatoes before passing them through a tomato strainer.

What Does Passata Taste Like?

Passata has a bright and fresh flavor owing to the fresh tomatoes people use to make it.

Depending on the tomatoes, they can be sweet, sour, and slightly acidic.

Most of the passata available commercially have some salt, so it has a slightly salty flavor.

Compared to tomato sauce, passata can come off as bland. After all, tomato sauce is a final ingredient that you can use.

Passata is more of a base upon which you will build other sauces.

Characteristics Of Tomato Passata

Flavor Profile

Passata tastes exactly like fresh tomatoes. It is acidic, as fresh tomatoes are.

Tomato passata is also sweet, sour, and slightly salty because of the added salt.

The exact flavor depends on the brand; some use tomatoes without salt.

In that case, tomato passata’s flavor profile is only sweet, sour, and acidic.

Remember that tomato passata can taste incomplete, especially if you try it out of the bottle. After all, you are not supposed to eat it on its own.


Italian passata has a thick consistency. It does not have water or any other substance other than tomatoes.

However, tomato sauce is dense than passata. Tomato sauce has thickeners, whereas tomato passata has none.

And because you run it through a sieve, passata is also smooth, without chunks, seeds, and the skin of tomatoes. This texture is great for making thick and rich tomato-based dishes.


Tomato passata looks a lot like tomato sauce. It has a vibrant red color, and you can tell it is thick based on its appearance.

Nutritional Content

Tomato passata is a great source of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. It also contains vitamins C and K.

Aside from these, you’ll also get folate and potassium from consuming passata.

How To Use Tomato Passata

In Italian Cuisine

Passata is a staple in an Italian kitchen; it is the base of all Italian tomato sauces. Many dishes in Italian cuisine call for passata due to its rich tomato flavor.

The meatball dish, Polette, and seafood stew Caccuccio won’t taste the same without passata.

The classic sausage and beans recipe, Salsicce e Fagioli, also calls for passata to create its decadent sauce.

People also use passata in all kinds of tomato-based dips for dishes, including the dip for arancini or Italian crispy rice balls.

You can use passata in any Italian recipe that calls for blended tomatoes. This time, you won’t have to start from scratch because you have a handy ingredient that tastes the same.

As A Base For Sauces

Passata is a good base for tomato-based sauces. You can use it for meatballs, pizza, and pasta sauces. All you need to do is pair it with spices and herbs that will give the passata more flavor.

You can use parsley, shallots, and fresh basil leaves to complement the tomato flavor of passata.

In Soups And Stews

You can also use passata in soups and stews that need a bright tomato taste.

Passata works well in a beef or vegetable stew. It also pairs well with cream, so you can use passata to make creamy tomato soup.

As A marinade

Passata is also a great marinade ingredient for any meat, whether pork, chicken, beef, or fish.

You can expect the resulting meat to be richer and more tomatoey. Use it with herbs and spices to give your meats a great flavor.

As A Topping For Pizzas And Pasta

Of course, passata also makes an excellent pizza and pasta topping. Using it instead of tomato sauce will give you a fresh burst of flavor and will make your pizza and pasta unique.

Spread on top of a pizza before adding other toppings. Or, put a dollop on top of pasta instead of using diced tomatoes.

Preparing Tomato Passata

Tomato passata is an easy recipe to make at home.

You only need a few ingredients and a few minutes to spare.


  • Fresh and ripe tomatoes
  • Salt
  • Basil (optional)


Here’s an easy passata sauce recipe:

  1. Wash the tomatoes.
  2. Cut the tomatoes in half.
  3. Remove the seeds and the core.
  4. Place the halved tomatoes in a large pot.
  5. Heat the tomatoes until they’re soft.
  6. Place the tomatoes in a cheesecloth placed over a large bowl.
  7. Take the cheesecloth and twist it until no water comes out.
  8. Discard the liquid.
  9. Take the tomatoes out of the cheesecloth and put them in a tomato strainer or a food mill.
  10. Strain or mill the tomatoes and catch the passata from the machine.

If you’re making a large batch for storing, here are additional steps to follow:

  1. Place basil leaves inside sterile bottles or jars.
  2. Pour the passata into the bottles.
  3. Seal your bottles.
  4. Arrange your bottles neatly inside a large pot.
  5. Fill the pot with water.
  6. Bring to a boil.
  7. Simmer for 30 minutes.
  8. Allow to cool.
  9. Store in a cool, dry, and dark place.

Tips For Making The Perfect Tomato Passata

To make the perfect passata, you must choose the best tomatoes.

Ripe San Marzano tomatoes are a top choice, but some prefer Roma tomatoes.

Remember to wash the tomatoes thoroughly. The skin goes in on the food mill, so you must ensure that the skin is free of debris. Take time to examine each tomato and remove the bad spots using a paring knife.

After boiling the tomatoes, strain them properly to ensure all the liquid is out. If you fail to do so, your passata will be watery instead of thick.

If you’re storing the passata for a long time, do not skip boiling the bottled passata. This process extends the shelf life and helps preserve your passata.


It would be best to use a sharp knife to remove any bad spots in the tomatoes and cut them in half before cooking them.


The key to making a thick passata is to take all the water out of the tomatoes. To do this, you’ll need the help of a cheesecloth to wring out all the liquids. If you don’t have a cheesecloth, a regular sieve will do.

Food Mill or Electric Tomato Strainer Machine

You can use a food mill to process the tomatoes for small batches of passata. But if you’re making a big batch, you’ll be better off with an electric tomato strainer.


If you’re using bottles with a narrow mouth, use a funnel to guide your passata inside. Doing so will ensure a less messy kitchen counter and avoid waste.

Best Passata Substitute

If you are looking for the best substitute for passata, there are many delicious alternatives, from more authentic tomato-based options to something more simple and accessible, like meat broth.

Is Passata And Tomato Puree The Same Thing?

No. Passata and tomato puree are different. You can make passata from raw tomatoes, especially if you’re going to use it in cooking immediately. On the other hand, you cannot make tomato puree using raw tomatoes. Plus, tomato puree calls for you to peel the skin of tomatoes before pureeing. With passata, you use the tomatoes skin-on.

What Is Another Name For Passata?

People also label passata as strained tomatoes. Some brands also sell tomato passata under the name sieved tomatoes. If you cannot find anything with the label passata, try looking for these names instead.

Where Is Passata In A Supermarket?

Look for passata in the canned goods section of the supermarket. They can also be in the same aisle where you’ll find tomato sauce. You may also try looking for it in the international aisle, as most brands of passata come from Italy.


Are you cooking something Italian? Well, there is a big chance that you’ll see tomato passata on the ingredient list. If you don’t know what it is, it is just pureed and strained tomatoes. That said, it lends a fresh and bright tomato flavor to dishes. It is the base of all Italian tomato-based sauces.

Passata is also used in stews, soups, and casseroles. It is also a common ingredient in pasta sauce. You can buy it in grocery stores, but if you have the time, you can whip a bottle or two yourself. You need some tomatoes, salt, and a food mill – and you’re ready.

bowl filled with tomato passata with fresh tomatoes next to it.

What Is Tomato Passata?

Natalia-Flavorful Home
Suppose you’re cooking an Italian recipe and reviewing the ingredients for your grocery run. You might notice that the list often includes passata. What is tomato passata?
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  • 6 tomatoes large ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion large, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  • Add the chopped onion and garlic to the pot, stirring until softened and lightly browned (about 5 minutes).
  • Stir in the tomato paste until combined.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes to the pot with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Simmer the mixture for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally and breaking up any large chunks of tomato with a wooden spoon.
  • When the tomatoes have softened and released some of their juices, use an immersion blender to puree the mixture until smooth. Alternatively, you can transfer it to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.
  • Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed, then let cool before using or storing.


Enjoy your homemade tomato passata! It’s perfect for adding to pasta sauces, pizza sauce, soups and stews, or even spreading on toast with a little ricotta. 


Calories: 460kcalCarbohydrates: 47gProtein: 9gFat: 30gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 21gSodium: 296mgPotassium: 2258mgFiber: 12gSugar: 28gVitamin A: 6638IUVitamin C: 118mgCalcium: 122mgIron: 3mg
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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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