Sun dried tomatoes provide an intense burst of sweet-tart flavor with a chewy texture. They are excellent for adding to dishes like pasta, stir-fries, stews, and salads.
If you need a substitute for sundried tomatoes, then check out our nine alternatives that’ll let you finish any recipe without them. We've summarised everything in one easy-to-read infographic further down the page if you don't have time to read the entire guide.
What can I use as a sun dried tomato substitute?
To replace sun dried tomatoes in a recipe, your best option is semi dried tomatoes which are comparable but have a sweeter flavor with a softer texture. You can also use canned tomatoes or tomato paste in sauces and stews. For an antipasto platter or bruschetta, roasted capsicum is a good option.
1. Semi dried tomatoes
"A versatile option suitable for any recipe"
Semi dried tomatoes make an excellent substitute for the sundried product. They haven't been dried for as long so they’re sweeter and have a softer texture. But they’re fairly close, and some people will enjoy their less-intense flavor more than the original.
Other than making your own sun dried tomatoes, semi dried are the best replacement option you’ll find. You can use similar quantities in recipes.
2. Canned tomatoes
"Less intense flavor, but great for sauces"
Canned peeled tomatoes are a good back-up option for sauces. They will provide a similar flavor profile, only less intense. You’ll also find they produce a thinner sauce that can be easily thickened by adding a scoop of tomato paste.
Replace ¼ cup of sundried tomatoes with ¾ cup canned tomatoes that have been drained.
Quick tip: Have you ever thought about making your own tomato sauces? A tomato press will make your life much easier. Check out our article dedicated to researching the best tomato press appliances currently on the market.
3. Tomato paste
"Intense flavor, ideal for curries, soups, and sauces"
Tomato paste has an intense flavor, similar to sundried tomatoes. It is a good choice for curries, soups, or any other dish that requires tomato flavor. While paste is excellent for thickening food, it won’t add texture that you’d get from using whole tomatoes.
4. Tomato Puree
"A less intense and runnier option than tomato paste"
If your recipe will benefit from a dense tomatoey liquid, then a puree can be used. It is made from cooked tomatoes that have been strained.
A puree won't have as much flavor intensity as a sun dried tomato and you'll add a lot of extra liquid to the dish. Make allowances for this if the recipe calls for water or stock.
Use a puree in any dish that requires tomato flavor without the need for the texture that comes from whole tomatoes.
5. Fresh tomatoes
"A tasty, fresher alternative for salads and sandwiches."
A salad containing sundried tomato won’t appeal to everyone. If that’s you, then use fresh tomato as a great replacement ingredient.
- You get a more subtle flavor with the bonus of fresh juiciness.
- Adding a splash of lemon or lime juice will boost the acidity of your salad.
- A half-pound of plum tomatoes or cherry tomatoes are good choices in salads.
6. Tamarind paste
"Good for Asian stir-fries that call for sun dried tomatoes."
Recipes that call for sundried tomatoes in Asian cooking aren’t all that common. But if you’re cooking a stir-fry that calls for them, then use tamarind paste instead. You will get a similar sweet and sour flavor, although tamarind paste has a more intense sour burst.
We suggest using a small spoonful and taste testing before adding more.
7. Roasted bell pepper
"A good backup for antipasto platters and bruschetta."
Are you entertaining guests and looking at back-up options for an antipasto platter? Maybe you need another ingredient to top a crusty bruschetta? Roast bell pepper (capsicum) drizzled in olive oil will be right at home on the plate. This is a much milder option than using sun dried tomatoes.
8. Make your own
"Best option if you enjoy tomatoes sundried but can’t get any."
Sun drying tomatoes may take too long, so we suggest using an oven to speed up the process. Follow the simple steps below.
- Preheat a toaster oven or conventional oven to 275F (135C).
- Start by choosing a sweet variety of fresh tomato such as grape tomatoes. Roma tomatoes are also a good choice as they have less water content than most other common varieties.
- Slice each tomato in half, scoop out the inside seeds and soft flesh, then place them onto a lined baking tray, cut side up. Cook until they become dry and “leather-like”.
The cooking time will vary depending on the size of the tomato, but a general guideline is 20 minutes. Check them regularly to make sure the fruit doesn’t overcook.
9. Tomato powder
"A quick and easy option if you can find it in store."
Tomato powder is a great ingredient for adding punchy tomato flavor without any liquid or texture. Sprinkle it into soups, sauces, stews, and baked goods.
You may find it difficult to source tomato powder, so if it's not in your local supermarket then try spice specialist stores or online retailers.
How many tomatoes in a pound? We got the scales out so that you don’t have to.
Here are all nine backup options in one handy image.
Commonly asked questions
Which aisle of the grocery store has sun dried tomatoes?
Sundried tomatoes can usually be located in the canned vegetable aisle and, in some stores, the produce section.
Why are sun dried tomatoes so expensive?
Sundried tomatoes are relatively expensive when compared to fresh tomatoes. This is due to a combination of labor costs, packaging, and, in some cases, the use of extra virgin olive oil.
How many sun dried tomatoes in a cup?
There are roughly 25-35 sundried tomatoes in one cup; a precise number is difficult to provide as the size of the tomatoes will vary.
Dry vs oil-packed sun dried tomatoes
Oil-packed tomatoes cost more than the dry variety due to the extra cost of oil. The dry-packed tomato has tougher skin and tends to be chewy.
Oil packs often come with added seasoning which needs to be taken into account if you’re using them in a recipe. Dry tomatoes can be softened by soaking in a cup of warm water with a teaspoon of salt added, then microwaved for 2 minutes.
- Southern Italians first created sundried tomatoes, known locally as pomodori secchi. They wanted to extend the life of their crops by dehydrating tomatoes on their rooftops. What they didn’t anticipate was the intensified sweetness and flavor that resulted from the sun’s rays.
- Sundried tomatoes are a popular antipasto as well as a useful ingredient in pasta sauce, bruschetta, frittatas, paninis, salads, and dips.
- If you chop tomatoes often, you may want to get yourself a tomato knife.
- In a pinch, it is possible to make sundried tomatoes in the microwave. Slice the tomatoes in half lengthways, then place on a large plate face down. Heat on low for around 15 minutes. Watch carefully during the cooking process to avoid burning them.
- 10 medium ripe tomatoes produce one ounce of sun dried tomatoes.
Interesting reading: What does a Pepperoncini taste like?
If you need a substitute for sun dried tomatoes, then your best alternative is to use semi dried tomatoes, canned whole tomatoes, or tomato paste. All the alternatives will have a different texture and the flavor intensity will vary. For those that don’t enjoy sundried tomatoes, this may be a good thing. Your soups and sauces will have a milder flavor profile.