What Is Caldo de Tomate? How Can I Substitute It?

As a Latin native, or someone who is getting into Latin cooking and cuisine, caldo de tomate might feel pretty familiar.

But for many Americans they may come across a Latin recipe that asks for caldo de tomate and come up a bit short. But don’t worry, this ingredient is easy to replace as well as make yourself at home. 

You may even try to find the ingredient in a store and struggle to get your hands on it. In any case, whether you are simply out, can’t find it, or don’t even know what it is, we are here to help.

Don’t forget that recipe too quickly as in this article we will cover what caldo de tomate is, what it tastes like, and why it is used, so that we can figure out what can substitute it best.

Keep reading to find this out and much more in our article below!

What Is Caldo de Tomate How Can I Substitute It

What Is Caldo De Tomate?

Put simply, caldo de tomate is basically a tomato broth. You would use caldo de tomate like you would any broth or stock, whether that is chicken, vegetable, or otherwise.

Stock in general is used to add liquid to a dish without diluting flavor. If you add water on its own to a dish you are diluting flavors.

The idea of broth and stock was devised by restaurants and clandestine cooks alike as it both uses the extravenous parts of an animal or vegetable that would usually be thrown away, and it makes sure your dish remains super flavorful when you need to add some liquid element.

In any case, a caldo de tomate can differ in its ingredients, often depending on who is making it. It generally will always have tomato in it and is considered to be a tomato broth or stock.

Other common ingredients are onion, garlic cloves, and water itself.

Caldo de tomate can also have other elements we may recognize from chicken broth, by simply adding things like chicken bones or whatever meat bones you have.

A vegetarian may enjoy a caldo de tomate but won’t add chicken or any meat elements to the broth.

Caldo de tomate can be widely used in latin recipes and as a result has become sold in grocery stores across the US. It is served in dried cubes like other commercial stocks are sold, which you then dilute with water.

If a recipe suggests the use of caldo de tomate you can use either the dried cubes or the freshly made stock.

Knorr described their dehydrated blocks of caldo de tomate as a ‘delicious mix of tomato and chicken flavors enhanced with onions, parsley and spices.”

What Are The Best Substitutes For Caldo De Tomate

Here are a few easy ways to either get caldo de tomate or substitute it easily in your recipe or dish.

Make It Yourself!

What Is Caldo de Tomate How Can I Substitute It (1)

If you are used to using the dehydrated or dried version of caldo de tomate that you dilute with water from concentrate, you may not realize that you can easily make this yourself.

Any stock is pretty easy to make and requires patience and ingredients more than anything else.

If you know how to make chicken stock, simply add diced tomatoes to that mix, and you have caldo de tomate, you could even do this with a dehydrated chicken stock and add tomatoes to that.

Per kilogram of diced tomatoes you need about a liter of water, simply let this mixture sit for a while and you will effectively have a caldo de tomate, or a broth of tomato.

Traditionally, you add many other things to this like basil, or other herbs, as wella garlic and all the classic European mise en place.

Chicken Stock

You may already know how to make chicken stock, or may have some dehydrated, pre prepared stock ready in your pantry. If this is your case, you can easily use this in lieu of caldo de tomate.

Of course, you may get a little less tomato flavor but this can be fine.

If you do end up using chicken stock only you can easily just add more tomatoes to your dish and let them simmer, or simply add tomatoes to your pre-existing chicken stock.

This will bring the tomato flavor that caldo de tomate generally brings to dishes. Caldo de tomate will classically have chicken stock in it anyway, so they are pretty interchangeable.

Vegetable Stock

For the vegetarians out there,tomato broth is an easy way to bring lots of depth to a dish.

Vegetable stocks are easy to make and often used by vegetarians to help not dilute their meals with water when a recipe requires some dilution.

In any case, colpa de tomate is basically a vegetable broth or stock in any case, so if you had to use ordinary veggie stock in place of it, it’s going to taste similar.

If you have your own vegetable stock recipe, simply add some diced tomatoes to this and you will have your own veggie version of colpa de tomate.

Can Of Tomatoes

These days tinned tomatoes are a common ingredient in the shop and a basic ingredient everyone should know how to use. If your dish is requiring a tomatoey kick of flavor, then tinned tomatoes are a great place to get it.

You can get cans of tomatoes that are peeled but whole, which you can simply mash into your dish, or you can get the diced canned tomatoes.

The latter ingredient is very similar to caldo de tomate and functions the same by thinning a sauce or dish out without diluting its flavor. 

Tomato Paste

What Is Caldo de Tomate How Can I Substitute It (2)

Tomato paste is literally concentrated tomato flavor, no added flavors or anything, just pure tomato.

So in the case where a dish asks for caldo de tomate, provided there might be some other vegetable in your recipe, the flavors aren’t going to differ greatly if you simply include some tomato paste.

When sauteéing or braising your vegetables simply add a good squeeze of tomato paste to your vegetables and you have all the caldo de tomate flavors present.

Most people will have some tomato paste, or pureé, in their pantry, or you can definitely buy some in the grocery store.

Red Or White Wine

What Is Caldo de Tomate How Can I Substitute It (3)

Again, when confronted with the issue of adding liquid to ad is to thin it out or deglaze a pan without diluting the flavor of a dish, wine is a common solution.

Wine brings a lot of flavor to a dish while also fulfilling the function of deglazing or thinning out a sauce, as someone might use caldo de tomate. 

If your dish already has tomatoes in it, simply use wine to thin the sauce out instead of tomato stock.

If your recipe asks for a broth but you have none, adding about half as much wine, white or red, can help add flavor without diluting it.

Red wine is probably closer to the tomato flavors, but tomatoes generally bring a little sweetness and acidity, and wine can often bring a similar amount.

A little too much wine can be too strong for a dish though. Regardless, no need to worry about alcohol here as it gets cooked off. 

Final Thoughts

While specific, caldo de tomate is pretty simple – it’s just tomato broth.

If a dish is asking for caldo de tomate, you can simply add tomatoes to any stock you were going to use, and it will taste the same.

In lieu of any brother or stock there are other tomato products like tinned tomatoes, or even tomato paste or pureé that will do almost exactly the same thing with a little ingenuity on your part.

What Is Caldo de Tomate? How Can I Substitute It?

Recipe by AubreyCourse: Substitutes


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Caldo de tomate is just a tomato broth, it can throw some cooks off but is actually a really easy ingredient to both create yourself and substitute should you need to.


  • Decide on what substitute you need
  • Pick a substitute from the list above
  • Read what you need to substitute with
  • Create the recipe and enjoy
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