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Ketchup vs Tomato Sauce

I’ve been asked so many times if ketchup and tomato sauce are the same. Let me say it’s not that easy. I use both in tons of recipes like various pork chop sauces, tortellini sauces, and some spicy chicken sauce recipes. But how and when should you use them? Well, let’s do a ketchup vs tomato sauce showdown. I’ll break down everything there is to know about ketchup and tomato sauce!

A side by side shot of a bowl of ketchup and a bowl of tomato sauce.

🤷 What Is Ketchup?

Ketchup is the most popular condiment with a thick, sweet, and tangy flavor. It’s made from tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, and spices, though it can often contain other spices, such as onion powder, garlic powder, and paprika. You’d normally see it paired with French fries, burgers, hot dogs, and other similar fast foods. You can even add a splash of paprika substitutes for varying flavors.

🤷‍♀️ What Is Tomato Sauce?

Tomato sauce is made primarily from tomatoes, along with other ingredients such as garlic, onions, herbs, and spices, to give it additional flavor. It can be made using fresh or canned tomatoes and seasoned to taste with salt, pepper, sugar, and other spices. Some recipes may even call for the addition of meat, such as ground beef or sausage, to create a different meat sauce recipes.

🧑‍🍳 How to Use Ketchup

As a condiment: Simply squeeze or spoon ketchup onto your favorite foods, such as burgers, fries, or hot dogs, to add a sweet and tangy flavor.

Ingredient in recipes: You can use ketchup as an ingredient in various Asian sauces, marinades, and meatloaf to enhance the overall flavor with its tasty blend of sweetness and acidity.

Dipping sauce: Enjoy ketchup as a classic dipping sauce for items like chicken tenders, onion rings, or grilled cheese sandwiches for an extra burst of flavor.

👩‍🍳 How to Use Tomato Sauce

Pasta sauce: Use tomato sauce as a base for pasta dishes to create a flavorful sauce for spaghetti, lasagna, or other pasta dishes. It’s also a great way to thicken pasta sauce and make it even more delicious.

Pizza topping: Tomato sauce is perfect when poured over pizza dough. You can also use various pizza sauce substitutes and toss in some of your favorite toppings to create a classic and delicious pizza.

Base for soups and stews: Incorporate tomato sauce into soups, stews, and chili to add depth of flavor and a rich, tomatoey base to your recipes.

A sauce bowl of ketchup with a sided of chips.

💡 Similarities and Differences Between Ketchup vs Tomato Sauce

Sugar Content – Both ketchup and tomato sauce contain sugar, but ketchup generally has a higher sugar content. This is mainly due to it containing high fructose corn syrup, while tomato sauce does not. The actual amount of sugar in ketchup can vary by brand, but it’s typically around 4 grams per tablespoon. In contrast, tomato sauce usually has less than 1 gram of sugar per tablespoon.

Use of Spices – The spices used in ketchup and tomato sauce can also differ in type and amount. But ketchup usually contains more spices than tomato sauce, such as onion powder, garlic powder, and paprika, while tomato sauce may only include basil, oregano, and salt.

Texture – They’re both also very different in terms of texture, as ketchup is thicker and smoother than tomato sauce, which is more liquid and chunky. This can be because ketchup is often made with tomato paste and vinegar, while tomato sauce is made with crushed or diced tomatoes.

Acidity Level – The acidity levels of ketchup and tomato sauce do affect their taste, as ketchup is generally more acidic than tomato sauce due to the presence of vinegar, impacting the overall flavor of the condiment. In contrast, tomato sauce has a more natural tomato flavor and is less acidic.

A bowl of rich tomato sauce with a fresh tomato next to it.

📌 Nutritional Comparison Between Ketchup and Tomato Sauce

Ketchup Nutrition

One tablespoon of ketchup contains approximately 20 calories, 160 mg of sodium, and 4 grams of sugar. It’s also a good source of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer. However, it does have high sugar and sodium levels.

Tomato Sauce Nutrition

One tablespoon of tomato sauce contains approximately 30 calories, 90 mg of sodium, and 6 grams of sugar. It’s also a good source of vitamins C and K, as well as fiber. Tomato sauce is also low in sugar and sodium.

🧐 FAQs

Is Heinz ketchup or tomato sauce?

Heinz produces both ketchup and tomato sauce. Their ketchup is made from tomato concentrate, vinegar, and various seasonings and spices. Heinz tomato sauce is a thicker and chunkier sauce made from crushed or pureed tomatoes, with no added sweeteners or spices.

What can I use instead of tomato sauce?

If you’re out of tomato sauce, you can use canned tomatoes, tomato paste, or tomato puree as a substitute. Other alternatives include salsa, marinara sauce, or even barbecue sauce.

Can I use tomato ketchup instead of sauce?

While tomato ketchup and tomato sauce share some similarities, they are not interchangeable in most recipes as ketchup is sweeter, thinner, and more acidic than tomato sauce.

Why is tomato sauce referred to as ketchup in American English?

In the United States, the term “ketchup” became popularized by the H.J. Heinz Company, which began producing and marketing tomato ketchup in the late 1800s.

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