Use one of these 9 simple substitutes for sun-dried tomatoes if you don't like them or don't have them on hand. They're all simple variations that still add the tomato flavor or texture to your recipe.
We've even included directions on how to make homemade sun-dried tomatoes and offer some non-tomato based substitutes!
Any of these options would be a great alternative in our creamy Tuscan chicken. Try them out the next time you make your favorite dish. Let us know what you think about our sun-dried tomato substitutes in the comments!
What Exactly is a Sun-Dried Tomato?
I am sure we've all had this question at least once before...what, exactly, IS a sun-dried tomato? They are fresh tomatoes...dried in the sun! Really - that's what they are - dehydrated tomatoes!
More specifically, they are fresh tomatoes that lose their water content after drying in the sun (or oven). With today's technology, many people and companies speed up the process by using a dehydrator or oven to make sun-dried tomatoes.
Typically, these fresh tomatoes turned sun-dried tomatoes spend 4-10 in the sun before the drying process is complete. Since sun-dried tomatoes are dry tomatoes that lose their water content, it takes a lot of sun-dried tomatoes to make a comparable amount.
Fresh tomatoes lose around 90% of their water content when dried. As a result, it takes roughly 20-30 pounds of fresh tomatoes to make 1 pound of sun-dried tomatoes.
Typically, fresh plum tomatoes are used to make sun-dried tomatoes. However, they can be made from any variety of tomato, including cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, or roma tomatoes.
One unique thing about sun-dried tomatoes is that they retain their health benefits, even after dehydration! Because of their health benefits and unique flavor, grocery stores have even started to carry pre-made sun-dried tomato pasta sauces. However, because these dehydrated tomatoes are often pretreated with salt, they are high in sodium.
How to use Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Sun-dried tomatoes are usually preserved in an oil, like olive oil. They are used in a wide variety of recipes but will most often be found in pasta dishes or Italian dishes. They are also becoming very common pizza toppings! Try using sun-dried tomatoes on our gluten-free pizza crust!
The texture of sun-dried tomatoes is different than that of a regular tomato. The chewy texture and rich flavor make it a delicious snack on it's own. However, you can add it to any dish you're preparing because it is a highly versatile ingredient. The flavor profile of a sun-dried tomato has a much more intense tomato flavor than fresh tomatoes.
Adding sun-dried tomatoes for your next grocery trip? Grocery stores will usually stock oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes in the canned goods section. Fresh sun-dried tomatoes can be found in the produce section.
Can't find sun-dried tomatoes at your grocery store? Here are the best substitutes for sun-dried tomatoes!
Best Sun-dried Tomato Substitutes
To decide the best option for your sun-dried tomato substitutes, consider if you are cooking with them or using as a topping. Depending on how you are using them will help decide which substitute is best.
1. Quick Oven-Roasted Tomatoes
Quick oven-roasted tomatoes, also known as semi-dried tomatoes, are a great option to use in place of sun-dried tomatoes. They don't have the same chewy texture or intense flavor as sun-dried tomatoes. Their texture is a bit softer and they have a little sweeter flavor. They are a good substitute for sun-dried tomatoes as you will substitute semi-dried tomatoes for sun-dried tomatoes in equal quantities.
It is easy to make quick oven-roasted tomatoes! Cut any fresh tomatoes in half then putting them on a baking sheet or baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with garlic salt. Roast in the oven at 450 degrees F for 20 minutes or until they start to brown.
Universally, for cooking or toppings, oven-roasted tomatoes will be the best option to substitute for sun-dried tomatoes. Try them in this one pan creamy chicken and gnocchi!
2. Tomato Puree
Another option to substitute for sun-dried tomatoes is to use tomato puree! Tomato puree does not have the same texture of sun-dried tomatoes but has a similar flavor profile.
Tomato puree is a great substitute for any recipes that need the same flavor intensity but not the texture. You can also mix with some tomato sauce if you need to lessen the intense flavor or thickness of tomato puree.
To substitute, start by adding a tablespoon of tomato puree. You can add more if the recipe needs a bit more tomato flavor! Use tomato puree in this Tuscan sausage sheet pan gnocchi!
3. Fresh Tomatoes
For salads, fresh tomatoes are going to be the perfect substitute for sun-dried tomatoes. They offer a similar flavor, even if the texture is quite different.
We love using fresh ingredients as substitute because of the juiciness they give to our recipes. Try using them in this cucumber tomato avocado salad. You can substitute in equal amounts but be aware of the extra juiciness they will add!
4. Tomato Powder
If your recipe doesn't need additional liquid or texture and you just want tomato flavor then tomato powder is an excellent substitute!
Tomato powder works best recipes that do not need the texture of sun-dried tomatoes. However, tomato powder can be difficult to find in grocery stores, so you may need to order it online to have on hand. Try using tomato powder in this Italian meatball soup.
When using tomato powder, start by substituting ¼ teaspoon to your recipe. Add more if you want a stronger flavor!
5. Canned Tomatoes
Canned tomatoes are a great substitute for sun-dried tomatoes, especially in pasta sauces and pizza sauce. However, using canned tomatoes will likely thin your sauce so you may need to add a tablespoon of tomato paste or two to thicken it up.
They have a less intense flavor than sun-dried tomatoes. For every ¼ cup of sun-dried tomatoes, use ¾ cup of canned tomatoes. Canned tomatoes will be a great substitute in this Burrata pasta!
6. Homemade Sun-dried Tomatoes
Homemade sun-dried tomatoes are obviously going to be one of the best substitutes, if not THEE best substitute, for store-bought sun-dried tomatoes. However, they are the most labor-intensive and time consuming.
To make homemade sun-dried tomatoes, buy your choice of fresh tomatoes. Fresh plum tomatoes are the most common choice, but any variety of tomato, including cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, or roma tomatoes, will work!
Cut your tomatoes in half, scooping out all of the insides and seeds; you will only be using the shell of the tomato. Lay the tomatoes flat on a baking tray or baking sheet. Place them in an oven that is around 140 degrees F and let them roast for 2-4 hours. It is important to keep a watchful eye on them as your homemade sun-dried tomatoes can go from perfect to burnt in minutes!
You will substitute your homemade sun-dried tomatoes in equal quantities. They will be an excellent substitute in this creamy balsamic steak pasta!
Best Sun-dried Tomato Substitutes - Non-Tomato Based Substitutes
If you have a tomato allergy or dislike the taste, there are excellent sun-dried tomato substitutes that are not tomato-based.
7. Roasted Bell Peppers
As far as non-tomato options go, roasted bell peppers are one of the best alternatives for sun-dried tomatoes. They offer very similar coloring but have a less intense flavor, overall, than sun-dried tomatoes. They are also bell peppers and not tomatoes so they will not give your recipe any hint of tomato flavor. 😉
You can make roasted bell peppers by slicing them and putting them on a baking sheet in your oven. Check out our tutorial on how to cut bell peppers!
Roasted bell peppers work great as salad and pizza toppings. They are also great as part of an antipasto platter or an accompaniment to a crusty bruschetta.
8. Tamarind Paste
If you are making an Asian inspired dish, tamarind paste will be an excellent substitute for sun-dried tomatoes!
Because of tamarind paste's sour taste, we recommend that you start by substituting ¼ teaspoon of tamarind paste. Taste test before adding more!
But you will need to take care of the quantity added to the recipe; tamarind paste has a robust sour taste. We recommend using a small amount of the paste and testing before adding more. I like to start with a ¼ teaspoon.
Okay - hear us out - pecans can actually make a great substitute for sun-dried tomatoes! Pecans add a dense texture and some crunch to your recipe.
Pecans can add a bit of a smoky flavor or sweet flavor, depending on which ones you use, and can be a great addition to any salad or pasta salad. They would be a great substitute for any tomato, not just sundried tomatoes, like in this summer orzo pasta salad.
Frequently Asked Questions
Believe it or not, sun-dried tomatoes are fresh tomatoes that have dried in the sun. However, today's technology and the demand for mass production have made it more common to dry them in an oven or dehydrator.
You can find the ones packed in oil or preserved for longevity in the canned vegetable aisle. You will find fresh sun-dried tomatoes next to the fresh tomatoes in the produce section aisle.
The final product of sun-dried tomatoes require a little bit more labor and love than harvesting typical tomatoes. Because of the added steps and manpower needed for the final product, the cost is higher than regular fresh tomatoes.
They aren't necessarily healthier because they're essentially the same ingredient. Sun-dried tomatoes and fresh tomatoes have amazing health benefits as they are high in vitamin C and potassium. However, fresh tomatoes have a high level of water, which is why they go bad quickly. Dehydrated tomatoes can retain their flavor while lasting a long time.
If you make a recipe, I’d love for you to give it a star rating ★ below. You can also tag me on Instagram so I can see it!