8 Tasty Substitutes for Sun Dried Tomatoes When You’re in a Pinch

8 Tasty Substitutes for Sun Dried Tomatoes When You’re in a Pinch

Sun-dried tomatoes are a beloved ingredient in many recipes. Their intense, concentrated flavor adds a unique taste that is hard to replicate. However, they can be expensive and not always easy to find at the grocery store.

If you don’t have any sun-dried tomatoes on hand, don’t worry! There are several great alternatives you can use instead. While no substitute will be exactly the same, these options can fill in when you need that boost of rich, salty tomato flavor.

What Are Sun-Dried Tomatoes?

Before diving into the substitutes, let’s take a moment to understand what makes sun-dried tomatoes special. Sun-dried tomatoes are fresh tomatoes that have been sliced and dehydrated, typically by being left out in the hot sun.

sun dried tomatoes

The dehydration process removes moisture, concentrating the flavors and creating an intense, almost smoky tomato taste. Sun-dried tomatoes sold commercially are also often packed in oil and seasoned with herbs, garlic, and spices.

This unique preserving method makes sun-dried tomatoes a handy ingredient to keep in the pantry. They have a long shelf life and pack big tomato flavor into a small package.

Sun-dried tomatoes are typically used in recipes where you want to add a boost of rich, salty tomato flavor. They work great in pasta, pizzas, sandwiches, salads, and sauces. You can also snack on them right out of the jar for a tasty, nutritious bite!

Now let’s look at some easy ingredient swaps when you find yourself short on sun-dried tomatoes.

1. Oven-Roasted Fresh Tomatoes

Oven-Roasted Fresh Tomatoes

One of the best substitutes for sun-dried tomatoes is to make your own oven-roasted fresh tomatoes! This mimics the dehydrating process, concentrating the tomato flavor without needing direct sunlight.

Oven-roasted tomatoes can be substituted 1:1 for sun-dried tomatoes in most recipes. And they have the benefit of being faster than truly sun-drying tomatoes, which can take 12-36 hours in the sun.

How to Roast Fresh Tomatoes:

  • Choose ripe, flavorful tomatoes like Roma, cherry, grape, or heirloom varieties. Avoid under-ripe tomatoes, which will lack that concentrated taste.
  • Slice the tomatoes in half or quarters, drizzle with olive oil, and season generously with salt, pepper, and dried herbs like oregano, basil, or thyme.
  • Place on a baking sheet and roast at 225°F for 2-3 hours, until the moisture has evaporated.
  • Optionally, broil for the last 5 minutes or so for extra caramelization.
  • Let cool completely before using. Store leftovers covered in the fridge for 5-7 days.

The end result is fresh tomatoes with an extra punch of flavor! Use oven-roasted tomatoes anywhere you’d use jarred sun-dried tomatoes.

2. Tomato Paste

Tomato Paste

Another good substitute is tomato paste. Tomato paste is made by cooking tomatoes down to a thick, concentrated consistency. This makes it pack a big tomato punch into a small amount.

When replacing sun-dried tomatoes with tomato paste in recipes, use a 1:1 ratio. If the recipe calls for 1/4 cup diced sun-dried tomatoes, use 1/4 cup tomato paste instead.

However, the texture and appearance will be different from the smooth, thick tomato paste. For applications where texture is key, like pizza toppings or sandwiches, tomato paste won’t work as well.

Where tomato paste shines is by adding that concentrated tomato flavor to sauces, dressings, soups, and stews. It blends in seamlessly to provide a flavor boost without altering the texture too much.

If you want to enhance the flavor of the tomato paste, add a pinch of dried oregano, basil, garlic powder, or red pepper flakes. This can help emulate the seasoned flavor of jarred sun-dried tomatoes.

3. Canned Diced Tomatoes

Canned Diced Tomatoes

For another quick and easy swap, reach for a can of diced tomatoes. Canned tomatoes are pre-cooked, so they are soft and tender like sun-dried tomatoes rehydrated in oil or water.

However, canned tomatoes still have a lot of moisture. To get the right flavor concentration, use 3 times the amount of canned diced tomatoes when substituting for sun-dried tomatoes.

For example, if the recipe calls for 1/3 cup of chopped sun-dried tomatoes, use 1 cup of canned diced tomatoes. You may also want to drain off some of the liquid from the tomatoes before using.

Canned diced tomatoes work especially well in recipes like kinds of pasta, soups, chili, or sauces. The cubes of tomatoes mimic the shape of sun-dried tomatoes. Just be aware the extra liquid may throw off the consistency, so reduce any other liquids as needed.

For salads, sandwiches, pizzas, and other applications where dryness is preferable, canned tomatoes aren’t the best choice.

4. Tomato Sauce or Puree

Tomato Sauce or Puree

Tomato sauce and tomato puree are two other canned tomato products that can work. Tomato sauce is slightly chunky, while puree is completely smooth.

As with canned diced tomatoes, use about 3 times the amount when substituting for sun-dried tomatoes. The sauce and puree have more moisture than sun-dried tomatoes, so the increased volume helps achieve the right flavor impact.

These are best for mixing into dressings, spreads, sauces, soups, and stews when you want tomato flavor, but the texture isn’t as important. They have a similar level of concentration as tomato paste.

When using tomato sauce or puree in place of sun-dried tomatoes, consider adding a splash of balsamic vinegar or lemon juice. The extra acidity helps balance out the rich umami flavor.

5. Tomatoes Slow-roasted in the Oven

Tomatoes Slow-roasted in the Oven

We discussed quickly oven-roasting tomatoes, but for an even better match for sun-dried tomatoes, try slow-roasting whole tomatoes in the oven. This draws out moisture over several hours, intensifying the flavor significantly.

Slow roasting is easy:

  • Leave cherry, grape, or plum tomatoes whole. For larger tomatoes, slice them in half.
  • Toss the tomatoes with olive oil, balsamic or red wine vinegar, plenty of salt and pepper, and dried herbs.
  • Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  • Roast at 200-250°F for 4-8 hours, until tomatoes are shriveled and caramelized.

These ultra-condensed roasted tomatoes have a texture very close to sun-dried. Use them as a 1:1 replacement in any recipe. The long cooking time gives you rich, caramelized tomato flavor without the wait for actual sun drying.

The oven’s gentle heat over several hours mimics the effects of sun drying. Slow-roasted tomatoes like these are delicious in pasta, sandwiches, salads, or as a snack on their own.

6. Tomato Leather

Tomato leather is a fun, DIY way to replicate the chewy texture of sun-dried tomatoes. To make tomato leather:

  • Puree ripe tomatoes in a blender until completely smooth. Strain out any seeds or skins for the smoothest texture.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Spread the tomato puree in a thin, even layer, about 1/8 inch thick.
  • Bake at 170°F for 6-8 hours with the oven cracked open slightly. This allows moisture to escape slowly.
  • Once dried, the tomato puree will be stiff and leathery. Peel it off the parchment and cut it into strips or small pieces to use like sun-dried tomatoes!

The tomato leather will be slightly stickier than sun-dried tomatoes but delivers a similar chewy texture. It offers an intense tomato flavor punch too.

Use strips or pieces of tomato leather anywhere regular sun-dried tomatoes are called for. The homemade tomato leather strips make especially good salad toppings.

7. Dehydrated Tomatoes

For the closest match, dehydrate fresh tomatoes at home using a food dehydrator or your oven. This mimics the actual process used to make sun-dried tomatoes.

To dehydrate tomatoes:

  • Core tomatoes and slice 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Roma tomatoes work best because of their low moisture content.
  • Arrange slices in a single layer on dehydrator trays or baking sheets. Season with salt, pepper, and dried herbs if desired.
  • Dehydrate at 135°F for 6-10 hours, flipping halfway, until tomatoes are shriveled but still pliable and leathery. They should not be brittle or crunchy.
  • For oven drying, prop the door open slightly and rotate the trays every few hours. It will take longer than a food dehydrator.
  • Once dried, you can pack the tomatoes in oil or water. Refrigerate for 1 month or freeze for longer storage.

Home-dehydrated tomatoes are the clear substitute winner! When dried properly, they have nearly the exact same taste and texture as store-bought sun-dried tomatoes.

8. Tomato Powder

Lastly, for recipes where texture isn’t as important, use concentrated tomato powder. Tomato powder is made from pureeing and dehydrating ripe tomatoes into a fine powder.

It takes just 1 tablespoon of tomato powder to equal 1/4 cup of rehydrated sun-dried tomatoes!

The vibrant red powder dissolves easily into liquids for an instant flavor boost to soups, stews, dressings, and sauces. You can’t beat the convenience of a long-lasting pantry staple like tomato powder when you need a big tomato taste fast.

Keep tomato powder on hand for an easy way to replicate the rich, vibrant flavor of sun-dried tomatoes in sauces, dressings, and soups whenever you need it.

How to Use Sun-Dried Tomato Substitutes

Once you’ve got a workable sun-dried tomato stand-in, it’s time to put it to use. Here are some of the most popular ways to use this handy ingredient:

  • Pulse into homemade salad dressings or sauces for a flavor boost
  • Mix into cooked grains like rice, farro, or quinoa
  • Top homemade pizzas, focaccia, and flatbreads
  • Fold into omelets, frittatas, and egg scrambles
  • Toss with roasted or grilled veggies
  • Add to pasta, casseroles, and baked pasta dishes
  • Mix into hot cooked beans or lentils
  • Use as a sandwich or wrap filling
  • Skewer onto kebabs along with veggies and meat
  • Bake into egg or veggie-based muffins
  • Mix into marinades and rubs for vegetables, meat, and fish
  • Add to bruschetta toppings along with basil, garlic, and cheese

No matter which substitute you use, incorporate it during the cooking process to allow the flavors to mingle. Avoid sprinkling it over a finished dish, as the flavor impact will be muted.

The Bottom Line

Sun-dried tomatoes offer an unmistakable, bold tomato flavor that can be difficult to replicate. But you have options when this unique ingredient is missing from your kitchen.

Canned tomatoes, tomato paste, and dehydrated tomatoes provide the closest flavor and texture. Or get creative with roasted red peppers, olives, artichokes, or tomato sauce in a pinch.

While no substitute can exactly match sun-dried tomatoes, these handy homemade swaps fill in nicely. With so many alternatives on hand, you can still whip up your favorite sun-dried tomato recipe, even when your jar runs dry


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Mohsin
By Mohsin

Hi, I’m Mohsin, creator of Tomato about website. I have over a two decade of gardening experience and I love helping others growing healthy tomatoes!


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