Tomato Sauce VS Ketchup – 4 Important Differences

When it comes to tomato sauce, you’d think they’re all the same. In the end, they’re tomato-based and that’s that. But oh boy do they differ ! Tomatoes are an amazing base for a sauce, but there are some many things you can do with them that it’s really a shame to class them all as one sauce.

Two distinct sauces come to mind: ketchup and plain tomato sauce. Of course, tomato sauce is a general term and may refer to ketchup as well. But here we’re talking about the basic tomato sauce that you can use as a bade for other tomato sauces.

So how do ketchup and tomato sauce differ ? What’s their main differences and how are they similar ? is one better than the other ? Let’s have a look.

tomato sauce ketchup

Tomato sauce vs ketchup

Tomato sauce is different from ketchup in that is has a higher tomato content, and is thicker in consistency. Ketchup is a bit sweet and acidic, as it has sugar and vinegar added, while tomato sauce does not use either of those.

The way both of these sauces are used is very different. Where you add ketchup as a dipping sauce, or something to save a bad pizza, tomato sauce can be part of the dish. You will always find tomato sauce used as a base for pizza, not ketchup.

Both of these are tomato-based, but they serve different purposes. Let’s take a closer look at their differences.

1. Tomato sauce has a stronger tomato flavor

Probably the most relevant difference between the two sauces is the actual flavor itself. Tomato sauce is made up or tomatoes, onions, and then anything else is optional. It can have other vegetables, it may have some meat, it may have a splash of wine, or even a few herbs.

But the plain, simple, delicious tomato sauce is always just tomatoes, onions, salt, and pepper. Some may argue it has to have a bit of garlic, and we’re big fans of that.

Read also: Why Is My Tomato Sauce Orange ? 

So, because of this very simple ingredient list tomato sauce is the strongest tomato flavor you will even find in such a sauce. Most other sauces have added ingredients like extra herbs, and the tomato isn’t as strong.

Ketchup on the other hand has less tomatoes, and is comprised of a long list of ingredients. The tomatoes are a bit lost in all that extra flavor, such as cinnamon, vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, coriander, and so on. It’s a very flavorful, sometimes spicy sauce that will go with pretty much everything.

2. Ketchup goes with most things

And yes, here we are discussing exactly how ketchup is used with everything. You’ll have ketchup packets offered no matter what you buy. A pizza, burgers, fries, curry, fried chicken, taco, burrito, a salad, anything you can buy from a food court.

This speaks volumes about the overwhelming flavor ketchup can have. Is your pizza bad ? Not if you add some ketchup. Are the fries stale and bland ? Add some ketchup. Is that hotdog a bit dry and tasteless ? Again, ketchup. Along with a litany of other assorted sauces that just seem to make everything better.

You may be wondering if tomato sauce isn’t as good. Well, it is, but there’s a catch. Tomato sauce isn’t as stable as ketchup. No, ketchup is made to survive on the shelf for much longer, even after it’s been opened. And it’s come to be expected that you get ketchup instead of tomato sauce.

Meanwhile, tomato sauce can be a bit too much for some meals, especially if you come from a place that does not usually eat a lot of tomato sauce.

3. You cannot use ketchup as a pizza sauce

Despite ketchup being able to make to make a bad pizza good, it cannot be used as a base instead of tomato sauce. Here’s why. Ketchup is a very delicious condiment, and that’s exactly it, it’s a condiment.

Using it as a base would overwhelm the entire pizza, aside from it being the wrong texture. Pizza needs the extra moisture and texture found within tomato sauce.

On the flipside, if you try and use tomato sauce as a condiment you have to start adding herbs, and spices. Otherwise it’s just more tomato sauce and that’s not an improvement.

4. Ketchup is a more complex, sweet, acidic sauce

Both sauces are flavorful in their own way, but in terms of spices ketchup takes the cake. It’s an amalgamation of spices and herbs and sugar that brings everything to the table.

And since it’s such a large ingredient list, the overall flavor is kind of complex. In our opinion there is no depth of flavor in ketchup, but it’s got so many notes that you have to stop and think about what you’re tasting.

Tomato sauce is simpler, but if properly made has a really deep flavor that brings out the tomatoes. Without bothering anyone’s acid reflux, to boot ! This means several hours of simmering, which most people don’t have the patience for and we get that.

Still, by comparison ketchup is a more complex sauce with a lot of flavor.

Is ketchup better than tomato sauce ?

In our personal opinion no, ketchup isn’t better than tomato sauce. Both have their uses and cannot be substituted for one another in any scenario. At least not without drastically changing the recipe.

We love tomato sauce when it’s simmered for long hours and has a simple ingredient list. Ketchup is more of a condiment you keep in the back of the fridge for when your takeout isn’t that great or a sandwich needs something extra.

Is ketchup tomato sauce in Australia ?

Yes, in Australia ketchup is known as tomato paste, which is really not that far off. After all, ketchup is tomato-based and is a sauce. This may cause some misunderstandings for tourists when then expect one thing and get another. Just something be aware of.

All in all, ketchup and tomato sauce have their place in the world. They’re both tomato-based and there’s really a use for both of them. If you’re a ketchup lover you definitely know how much it can transform a meal from bland to really tasty. We particularly like the mayo and ketchup mix on a hotdog, since mustard can really be too much when it gets hot.

If you’ve got any other food curiosities be sure to check the related articles below, we’re always adding more food facts to make your life that much easier.