They’re exactly what you think they would be: tomatoes that were left naturally sun-baked and, as a result, were dehydrated to the point of shriveling and darkening in color. Sun-drying tomatoes is a cooking activity of Mediterranean origins. It brings a fun, delicious twist to your ordinary tomatoes.
Sun-dried tomatoes are used in making pesto, sauces, relishes and broths or as ingredients in chicken roasts, salads, pasta, calzones, and pizzas. They come in dry-packed and oil-packed varieties and you can use them depending on your dish requirements.
If you’re running low on your stock of sun dried tomatoes or you simply don’t have the time to do it yourself at home, you can substitute using fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato puree, tomato powder, roasted bell peppers, and tamarind paste.
Best Sun Dried Tomatoes Substitutes
Sun dried tomatoes have an intensely sweet and tart flavor that is difficult to replicate. One way to get similar enough results is by also using tomatoes that are prepared differently, however, there are also non-tomato alternatives too.
Read the next sections of this article to find out 7 of the best substitutes for sun dried tomatoes.
What better way is there to replace sun dried tomatoes than using original, fresh tomatoes? They’re a kitchen staple so chances are you already have them ready in your pantry. Take note that fresh tomatoes are milder in flavor and have a lot of varieties.
Grape tomatoes are ideal substitutes when used in meat dishes. In salad recipes, cherry tomatoes work best. Plum tomatoes and red beefsteak tomatoes can be used in dips, dressings, and sauces—just use 4 to 6 of them to make half a cup of sun dried tomatoes.
Remember to seed and chop your fresh tomatoes before adding them into your dishes. If you want an extra acidic kick to better capture the flavor profile of sun dried tomatoes, add a squeeze or two of lemon or lime juice to your recipes.
If you want a closer substitute to sun-dried tomatoes but with a less intense impact, canned tomatoes are the best way to go. They’re usually harvested at their peak ripeness levels which means they have a sweet and slightly acidic taste.
When cooking with canned tomatoes, use a three-fourths cup of canned tomatoes for every quarter cup of sun dried tomatoes you typically use. Make sure you check the label or ingredients if they have sodium preservatives. If you prefer them without sodium, purchase the low-sodium variants.
Canned tomatoes are best for sauces, pizzas, and soups, although the resulting consistency is thinner compared to sun dried tomatoes. Make sure you drain the liquid off of the can and that you use the entire can itself since they are highly perishable.
Made from boiling tomatoes, straining them, and then recooking until it creates a concentrated paste with a thick consistency, tomato paste has an intense flavor profile similar to sun dried tomatoes. Usually, kosher salt or sea salt is used as a preservative when making a large amount of tomato paste.
Tomato paste is used in pasta sauces, stews, soups, marinades, curries, and seasonings. You can also use it for meat-based dishes, especially in braises. Just make sure you add spices or herbs to create a delectable aroma unlike any other.
A little goes a long way for this substitute. Use 1 tablespoon of tomato paste for every 3 to 5 sun dried tomatoes you typically use in a recipe. You can even use a double concentrated tomato paste if you want more of the flavor it provides.
Similar to tomato paste but cooked at a lesser amount of time, tomato puree is available in supermarkets, grocery stores, and farmers’ markets in cans or tetra packs so it makes for a widely accessible substitute. They have a richer flavor compared to sun dried tomatoes and a thick consistency.
You can use tomato puree for sauces of different kinds—pizza, cream, barbecue, or hot and spicy sauce? You got it. It can also be used in soups, stews, seafood-based dishes, rice, curries, and paellas.
Using tomato puree as a substitute for sun dried tomatoes is pretty similar to how you use tomato paste. Just use a tablespoon for every 3 to 5 sun dried tomatoes. You have the option, however, to add more based on your preferences.
Tomato powder is basically pulverized sun dried tomatoes. They are also made by drying or dehydration through heat but the difference is the tomato skins are pounded and made into powder. This means that they have nearly the exact same flavor profile, tomato powder is just drier.
When using as a substitute, just add 2 to 4 tablespoons of fine tomato powder to water and you would be good to go. Tomato powder is great in egg-based dishes, sauces, dips, stews, and even smoothies that are combined with other ingredients.
Problem is, they’re a little difficult to find unless you’re fine with purchasing from online retailers or specialty markets.
Roasted Bell Peppers
This list will not be complete without including non-tomato alternatives for those who completely don’t have any tomato stocks in any of its different forms. Keep in mind that roasted bell peppers are milder when it comes to flavor.
Roasted bell peppers can be used in creating antipasto, pasta sauces, brochettes, meatballs, and tacos. You can also add them in chicken, egg, and tuna salads, egg-based dishes such as omelets, fajitas, mashed potatoes, and seafood broths.
There are no specific instructions on how to use roasted bell peppers as sun dried tomatoes, so you’d just have to trust your instincts and taste buds on this one.
Made from boiling tamarind until its consistency thickens for about 30 to 45 minutes, tamarind paste is a great non-tomato substitute for sun dried tomatoes. It has a sweet but also tangy flavor that is similar to that of sun dried tomatoes.
Tamarind paste is versatile and can be used for curries, pad thai sauce, stir-fries, and even candies. When using as a substitute, make sure to add a little bit of sugar to balance its sourness.