10 El Pato Sauce Substitutes [In Meat Braising & More]

I love a good can of El Pato. The rich tomato sauce filled with onions, peppers and spices brings a homeyness to so many delicious authentic Mexican dishes.

El Pato can sometimes be hard to locate in the grocery store though. In recent years they have suffered from recalls due to lead found in their cans.

As a discerning parent wanting to provide other food options for my family that doesn’t risk exposure to lead or other toxins, I decided to research some options for good substitutes for the classic can of tomatoey goodness.

If you are looking to braise meat with your el pato, some great substitutes include your own homemade el pato, rotel sauce, fire roasted canned tomatoes, or Pace mild salsa. For enchiladas, try canned enchilada sauce or tomato sauce. If you are looking to make a soup, the best substitutes include canned spaghetti sauce, tomato soup, or tomato juice.

Sometimes people are not sure about what the best substitutes are or when they should use which one.

The main things you want to consider when choosing a substitute for El Pato is what consistency you are looking for, and whether or not you want to add any additional ingredients to your substitute to make it taste more like the original El Pato.

If you are looking for a quick and easy substitute, choosing one that already has many spices and vegetables in it might be a better choice.

But if you prefer to tailor your recipe to your needs, you might prefer a simpler substitute that doesn’t have as many added ingredients.

Some recipes it will be ok if your tomatoes are chunky, while for others it will be important that you sauce is smooth like the original El Pato.

Best El Pato Sauce Substitutes

1. Homemade El Pato Sauce Best Substitute for Braising Meat

Homemade El Pato sauce is always going to be superior to the real thing. Simmering the tomato and spices on your stove will allow you to control the recipe the way you like so that you can tailor it to your liking.

Here’s a simple recipe for a “dupe” for El Pato red sauce.

Ingredients:

1 28 oz can tomato sauce

1 tsp garlic salt

½ tsp onion salt

2 tsp cumin

two tsp powdered chile de arbol

2 tsp paprika

¼ tsp ground clove

¼ tsp allspice

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp vinegar

Combine all ingredients on the stove, heat through until at a low simmer. Cool and use as directed in your recipes.

This recipe can replace El Pato at a 1:1 ratio.

2. Rotel

Who among us hasn’t had a classic queso made with a block of Velveeta and a can of rotel? But that’s not all Rotel can do.

Pour it over a chicken and roast it in the oven for an hour and you have a perfect Mexican style weeknight dinner.

Add it to a cup of rice while it is cooking and you have delicious Mexican Rice. Rotel is canned diced tomatoes with green peppers and onions added and some spices.

It’s an easy substitute for El Pato. For a smoother consistency give it a whirl in the blender, and then add it to any meats your are braising or marinating.

Rotel can replace El Pato at a 1:1 ratio.

If you’re interested in learning more about Rotel, check out this article: 10 Rotel Substitutes [In Quesos & More] (smarterhomemaker.com)

 3. Canned Fire Roasted Tomatoes

This is like the baby brother of Rotel starts with fire roasted tomatoes and builds on flavor from there. Canned fire roasted tomatoes simply stop with the tomatoes.

They have a rich smoky flavor from the fire roasting that adds an earthy element to your braised meats.

If you want to kick it up a notch try adding some jalepenos and garlic, which will bring it closer to an El Pato sauce. However, the tomatoes are delicious on their own as well.

Fire roasted tomatoes can replace El Pato at a 1:1 ratio.

4. Pace Mild Salsa

Pace mild salsa is a bit more of an unconventional choice. Nevertheless, this salsa is perfect as a braising liquid for a variety of dishes.

The Mild salsa is filled with flavoring agents like onion, garlic, and a hint of heat. If you prefer a smoother consistency you can put it in a blender for two minutes, or leave it chunky for a more rustic feel.

Pace mild salsa has made many a weeknight dinner come to life, and it will continue to do so for generations.

Pace can replace El Pato at a 1:1 ratio.

5. Enchilada SauceBest Alternative for Making Enchiladas

Some people swear by El Pato for making enchiladas. But look no further than a classic jar of enchilada sauce in your Mexican food aisle for an easy treat to spice up your weeknight enchiladas.

Enchiladas are made by taking corn tortillas, dipping them in a spicy red sauce, then wrapping them around meat, beans, or cheese (or all three).

They topped with more sauce and cheese and then baked in the oven until hot and bubbly. Some people call them “Mexican lasagna” or “Mexican casserole” but we call them “delicious!”

Enchilada sauce can replace El Pato at a 1:1 ratio.

6. Canned Tomato Sauce

In a pinch, a simple can of pureed tomato sauce can work wonders. Pureed tomato sauce has the same consistency as El Pato and enchilada sauces, so it works well as a substitute.

That said, it can be a bit bland on its own since the only ingredient is tomato and maybe a little salt.

Add some garlic and onion powder, cumin and a bit of oregano to get something closer to an El Pato sauce.

Canned tomato sauce can be used at a 1:1 ratio to replace El Pato.

7. Canned Spaghetti Sauce Great Substitute For Making Soup

Canned spaghetti sauce is not a perfect substitute because it is going to have spices and flavors more aligned to Italian cuisine than to Mexican cuisine. That being said, in a pinch canned spaghetti sauce can work very well.

Like El Pato, its primary ingredient is still tomatoes. In a soup, the spaghetti sauce will dissipate into the soup and mostly you will taste the tomato flavor over anything else.

If you want to give it a bit more of an El Pato flavor, throw in a couple of chopped jalapenos and a pinch of cumin.

Canned spaghetti sauce can replace El Pato at a 1:1 ratio.

8. Tomato Soup

Yes, tomato soup! It’s an unconventional choice, but afterall what is in tomato soup but tomatoes?

Tomato soup is a perfect base to add to a pozole, tortilla soup, or Menudo for a quick jolt of rich tomatoey flavor.

An advantage of tomato soup is that it is smooth and creamy, and has lots of added flavor with all of the pureed vegetables and spices already in it.

It’s easy to find in any grocery store and can elevate many Mexican soup recipes.

Tomato soup can replace El Pato at a 1:1 ratio.

9. Tomato Juice

Now this one is more of a last resort option. Tomato juice is very thin compared to the other substitutes on this list.

Because of that it is not an ideal substitute. It will change the consistency of the dish and there is a risk it may be a bit too watery.

However, tomato juice has a strong tomato flavor and many added flavors such as salt, onion, and pepper.

It can work well in a soup where all of the ingredients are in liquid form, because the thinness of the tomato juice will not be noticed as much.

Alternatively, you can heat the tomato juice up and cook it for 30 minutes or so which will reduce and concentrate the juice. Doing this will make the juice a bit thicker if you prefer that consistency.

Tomato Juice

10. Whole Tomatoes

This is a more time-intensive option but will be sure to yield delicious results. A batch of chopped and sauteed whole tomatoes will give you a rich and savory flavor with a good dash of sweetness as well.

Try Roma tomatoes for a consistency closer to Italian tomato sauce, or cherry tomatoes for an extra sweet sauce.

Anything you choose will benefit from a quick cook in a pan if adding to a soup. This will help the tomatoes break down in the soup and flavor the entire dish better. 6 large tomatoes or 9 medium tomatoes will replace one can of El Pato.

Why Was El Pato Discontinued?

A recent report found dangerous high levels of lead in certain El Pato products. Those products were temporarily discontinued for public safety.

At this time all El Pato products have been re-introduced with safer lead-free containers.

Where Can I Purchase El Pato products?

You can purchase El Pato at most major grocery stores. They are almost always carried at Mexican grocery stores as well.

They will typically be found in the tomato aisle, sauce aisle, or ethnic food aisle of major grocery chains.

You can also purchase El Pato products directly from the supplier at this website: Products Archive – Walker Foods

Substitutes for Braising Meat

El Pato is a popular choice to add to meats like beef or chicken while cooking in the oven. Braising is the process of baking a meat in liquid.

The liquid cooks the meat at a consistent temperature and also imparts flavor to the dish.

Final Considerations

Whether you are making a luscious Mexican style roast, gooey cheesy enchiladas, or a steaming pot of soup, there are tons of great options out there to replace your El Pato in a pinch.

Go homemade, grab a can of Rotel or Pace salsa, or even grab a jar of tomato sauce in a pinch.

Whatever you choose, if tomato is the main ingredient it will be an easy substitute that can work well in your dish.

Homemade El Pato Sauce Recipe

Homemade El Pato Sauce Recipe

Yield: 8 Servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

Homemade El Pato sauce is always going to be superior to the real thing. Simmering the tomato and spices on your stove will allow you to control the recipe the way you like so that you can tailor it to your liking.

Ingredients

  • 1 28 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • ½ tsp onion salt
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • two tsp powdered chile de arbol
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp ground clove
  • ¼ tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp vinegar

Instructions

    Combine all ingredients on the stove, heat through until at a low simmer. Cool and use as directed in your recipes.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 31Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 820mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 2gSugar: 4gProtein: 2g

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