Real Food

InstantPot Fauxmato Sauce: a nightshade-free Marinara & AIP Tomato substitute

Fauxmato Sauce by PaleoParents

That’s right, we said Fauxmato.
Because there’s no tomatoes here.

    Fauxmato Sauce on PaleoParents GIF
Deception has never tasted so good.

This tomato-free sauce is perfect as a marinara or tomato replacement for just about anything!

 Stacy often says that the one thing she misses the most since changing the way she eats to a nightshade-free diet is tomato sauce. After all, she is part Italian. We had been searching for tomato-less alternatives for a long while, with no success, until we stumbled upon The Urban Poser’s Tomato-less Marinara Sauce recipe and started making it pretty regularly. It is by far THE BEST “no-mato” sauce we’ve tried. Unfortunately, the process of making that recipe is that it takes up to 90 minutes and involves steaming up your house for an extremely long time. So, we’re gonna do what we do best – mess up a perfect recipe with shortcuts in favor of saving you time!

Fauxmato Sauce Prep on PaleoParents

However, we cannot tell a lie. The prep on these veggies is legit the most effort and time consuming part. So Uncle Matt has given you a shortcut in the recipe if you really just don’t have 10 minutes to peel and chop veggies. That said, if you DO prep your own, using a veggie peeler is definitely the best life choice on all these veg – don’t try to cut off the squash and beet’s skin, that’s just dangerous and messy.

Fauxmato Sauce by Paleo Parents

Well, with extensive experimenting over several months, we’ve reduced the preparation time to about 35 minutes or so using our most favorite kitchen invention, the Instant Pot! The Instant Pot, as we’ve instructed before in our Tutorial on the device, is a counter top electric pressure cooker that makes tons of kitchen tasks fast and easy. If you don’t have one, we definitely recommend it. It’s probably our most frequently used kitchen appliance these days and we’re always finding more uses for it!

Fauxmato Sauce on PaleoParents

One of the best uses for it is reducing the time it takes to steam hard root vegetables and squashes from more than 40 minutes to only 15. And that’s exactly how we make our new fauxmato sauce!

Fauxmato Sauce on Paleo Parents

Fauxmato Sauce



  1. Place vegetable cubes with two cups of water in your Instant Pot. Set to steam on high pressure for 10 minutes.
  2. After steaming complete, release pressure and remove lid. Transfer vegetables to food processor or high speed blender with a slotted spoon (removing most of the liquid). Puree on high speed with remaining ingredients and about 1/2 C of steaming liquid.
  3. Empty and rinse out pot insert, then replace into Instant Pot. Pour puree into the pot, cover and set on saute for 20 minutes.
  4. Serve as a tomato sauce anywhere you require one!


Wanna save even more time? You could speed up the process further by using baby carrots, already peeled and diced butternut squash, and Love Beets. Since peeling and chopping vegetables is about the only work you'll do for the whole recipe!

And once you have this vegetable puree base, you can use it in a variety of tomato applications. Anywhere you see a tomato sauce or puree, use the vegetable puree. Here are some recipes we highly recommend you use this in:

Caramelized Tomato Eye of Round

Stuffed Peppers (or stuff a squash for nightshade-free)

Spaghetti (squash) & Meatballs

Halupki Stirfry

Less Lasagna

Tikka Masala

Not Beanie Weenies

and this week we will be putting it on top of our famous, award winning Meatloaf!

Fauxmato Sauce Marinara by PaleoParents

We’ve provided our recommended spices for MARINARA version of tomato sauce in this recipe. The flavors mask the earthy tones of beets that most people don’t like, but if you’re making a different type of dish we recommend adding more spices than would normally be called for when subbing this sauce. Trust us when we say that our kids don’t like beets – in fact one produces a giant temper tantrum when he sees them in our home – but this sauce is something no one complains about. Frankly, I caught Stacy licking the spoon while she was photographing for the post.

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  • Kim

    Yes!! Thank you for doing the work for me! UP’s marinara is the only one I’ll make and I just used up the last bottle in the freezer.

  • Tracy

    How long can the marinara sauce stay in the fridge, if not all used up? Or is it better to freeze?

    • Well, we’ve kept ours in the fridge for a couple weeks it no issues. Any longer than a week should probably go in the freezer, though. Good luck!

  • Kim G

    Does this sauce have a prominent beet taste? (It sure looks gorgeous…)

    • When made as marinara I cannot detect beets at all. When plain before being seasoned, there is only a slight earthy taste – mostly masked by the sweetness of the BN squash and carrots. We even said above our kids don’t like beets but happily eat this sauce, it’s really not beet-like at all.

  • Charmaine Taylor

    Oh my! That wine substitution recipe is much better than mine! Great idea!

  • Juliana H

    Okay, I had sworn off nomato sauces foreverrrr (always so disappointing) but your description of this one made me try again! Two questions, if you don’t mind: 1) Do you by any chance have approximate measurements in cups for the carrots and squash? Carrot sizes vary a lot, and I did buy a container of pre-cut squash, but I think the 20 oz. may have made the sauce overly squashy! And it’s definitely more dark orange than red. 2) I closed the Instant Pot and set it to sauté, but with the vent closed the pot turned itself off after only a couple minutes. So I opened the vent and sautéed it that way, but (as I kind of expected!) some of the sauce burned to the bottom and gave everything a not-so-hot flavor. I’m not going to give up on finding an edible fauxmato sauce, though! Thanks, and I appreciate any help! 🙂

    • Ok, so I used what I’d call a medium squash, and it yielded about 3-4 cups of flesh, so probably a little less than your container. I ended up with about 2 cups of carrots, and about 4 cups of beets. The ratio is probably key here: the sweetness of carrots and squash are there to mellow out the earthiness of the beets.

      I should clarify with that step. Yes, it might burn slightly at the bottom. An alternative would be to stir frequently, but that’s not as hands off. I just didn’t serve the bottom burned bits.

      • Juliana H

        Awesome, thank you so much!! I’ll play with ratios a little more next time. I had a dream last night that I made this recipe for a cooking competition. I’ve been eating it for the last few days and have really started enjoying it so much! A fauxmato sauce that’s actually satisfying—thank youuuuuuu!

  • Tim Dietz

    This recipe sounds like there is an awful lot of sugar. We prefer more savory sauces. Does this one taste sweet? If so, can you recommend something to tone down the sweetness?

    • Well, there is no added sugar, so any amount in it comes from the vegetables and wine. Now, the amount of sugar in butternut squash is less than in tomatoes and the sugar in carrots is only slightly more. The most sugar will come from the beets. Try halving that amount and adding in extra squash and carrots. Also, cut back on the wine and add vinegar or lemon juice instead. That should bring down your sugar count significantly. That said, no matter what, you’ll find this recipe to have much less sugar even as is than you’ll find premade in any store.

      • Tim Dietz

        Thanks for the info and suggestions. Looking forward to trying this.

    • Ruth Engelthaler

      Try extending the recipe out by boiling and onion or two until soft and then pureeing it in with the rest of the vegetables. You could also roast some garlic cloves in the oven while you are peeling and steaming the vegetables and puree those in as well. Think I will do that since we also prefer our sauces to be more savory than sweet.

  • Marjorie

    What might be a good substitute for the squash? (No squash or sweet potatoes) Cauliflower? That might be grainy though. Turnips? Rutabaga? Parsnips?

  • leslie

    This is amazing. I’ve made it a few times now and it’s always a hit. My kids wouldn’t eat other fauxmato/nomato sauces. They eat this stuff up! And while I hate, hate, hate peeling and prepping butternut squash, my husband bought me a new veggie peeler A Y shaped one) and now it’s a breeze! Wins all around.

  • Deb

    Two words: Immersion Blender. I’ve used that in my Instant Pot for soups and it is a BREEZE!

  • Tara

    Do you think sweet potatoes could be used in place of the butternut squash?

    • Yes, but they’re more starchy so probably less beets and more liquid to balance it out!

  • Ruth Engelthaler

    Thank you for this recipe!!!! Our family is on a dairy free version of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet plus some of us just don’t do well with nightshades. This fits our needs perfectly. Plus I already have an IP I’ve been using to make batches of bone broth, SCD applesauce and more, so this is perfect for us. Pretty soon I’m going to have to get a second IP just because I use it for so much.

  • Andryea Natkin

    Can you tell me how much this recipe yields? Also, Is it safe to assume we can freeze in small batches??

    • Lowrie Ward

      i made it the other day and i wanna say it was close to 2 pints (almost filled 2 of my pint storage containers). all the ingredients are freezeable, so i expect that wouldnt be a problem. it’s pretty liquidy though, so watch for expansion!

    • Rosemary McNaughton

      I got about 6 cups but I didn’t saute it down much. The consistency seemed good, though.

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  • Rosemary McNaughton

    Great flavor! I found this spit a lot while sauteeing, just like real marinara sauce… I ended up sauteing on the low setting for more like 10-15 minutes, with the lid mostly on. The consistency still came out like tomato sauce. Anyone have tips for a better way to cook this down in the instant pot?

    And I recommend a Y-peeler for peeling butternut squash. I used to bake them whole to avoid having to peel them, but once I got a Y-peeler, peeling became a cinch, and whole butternut squash keep better than pre-cut so it helps me keep them around for when inspiration strikes.

  • Jennifer Grandouiller

    Step one: is that with a steamer basket for the veggies? Or just set the veggies in the water?

    • I’ve done it either way and it doesn’t make a difference.

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  • Alyssa Langelier

    Do you find that the beets stain your vitamix or your instant pot?

    • Not at all – we’re not even that good about quickly washing things and haven’t had any issues.

      • Alyssa Langelier

        Good to know. Thanks!

  • Alyssa Langelier

    What are the measurements for the vegetables in grams? I plan to use pre peeled veggies. Thank you!

  • Ruth Engelthaler

    This is our family’s favorite no-tomato sauce. I have tweeked the recipe just a bit to come up with a more savory version. To this recipe I add 1 large roasted onion, two heads roasted fennel and two heads of roasted garlic. i roast all these vegetables in a roasting pan in the oven prior to embarking on the fauxmato sauce recipe and the veggies are done by the time I need them to combine in the blender. I like both the taste and texture that this provides the fauxmato sauce.

    I also omit the 2 cups water and just add 1/3 C concord grape juice + 2/3 C beef bone broth to the IP with the veggies and allow that to be the liquid that steams them. This further shortens the prep time, by reducing the amount of fluid it is not necessary to reduce the sauce further after blenderizing. For the acid, I add 1/2 to 1 full lemon’s worth of freshly squeezed juice at the very end. This provides a brighter flavor profile as well as balancing the acidity to make it more like real tomato sauce. For some reason I just like it better than the apple cider vinegar though both work well, it is just a flavor preference.