Finding suitable substitutes for sun-dried tomatoes can be a challenge. I often rely on their intense, concentrated flavor to add an umami pop to pastas, pizzas, salads, and antipasto platters. But when I’m out of this pantry staple, I’ve learned that with a little creativity, I can still recreate that sweet yet savory sun-dried tomato magic.
In this article, I’ll go through the best stand-ins to use when you don’t have any sun-dried tomatoes on hand. I’ll cover everything from fresh tomatoes to spices that can mimic their taste and texture. You’ll also find helpful substitution ratios so you can seamlessly swap in these alternatives in your favorite recipes.
8 Best Sun-Dried Tomato Substitutes
One of the most obvious substitutes for sun-dried tomatoes is fresh tomatoes. After all, sun-dried tomatoes are just fresh tomatoes that have been dehydrated.
Chopping up a ripe, juicy tomato is the easiest way to get that basic sun-dried tomato flavor in its freshest form. I like using tomatoes on the vine since they tend to be more flavorful. Campari and Roma tomatoes also have a good balance of sweetness and acidity that work well.
You can use different types of fresh tomatoes depending on the recipe and your desired result. Small cherry or grape tomatoes cut in halves or quarters make a great substitute in salads. Larger beefsteak or heirloom varieties can be chopped for sauces and salsas.
Keep in mind that fresh tomatoes will be more mild in flavor compared to sun-dried tomatoes. I find this makes them suitable for dishes when I want a lighter tomato presence or if I’m cooking for people who don’t love an intense sun-dried tomato taste.
I also recommend sprinkling some lemon juice on the fresh tomatoes. The acidity helps brighten their flavor, bringing them closer to the tanginess of sun-dried tomatoes.
Here’s an easy substitute for sun-dried tomatoes: tomato powder. Since both are made from dehydrated tomatoes, tomato powder can mimic that intense sun-dried tomato taste and vivid red-orange color.
The powder dissolves easily into recipes needing that tomato flavor in sauce, dough or seasoning form. I like sprinkling it onto pizza, adding it to bread or cookie doughs, and whisking it into soups and stews.
You can swap in tomato powder anytime a recipe calls for sun-dried tomatoes in powdered form like in a spice rub or dip seasoning blend. It’s a versatile substitute for capturing that sweet and savory sun-dried tomato essence.
Canned whole, crushed, or diced tomatoes are another handy sun-dried tomato alternative I often use. Their flavor is quite similar since canning also concentrates and intensifies the taste of ripe tomatoes.
Compared to sun-dried tomatoes, I find canned tomatoes to be slightly more mild. Their texture is also a bit thinner. If I’m making a sauce or stew, I’ll add a spoonful or two of tomato paste or puree to thicken it up.
Here’s a handy conversion ratio if substituting canned tomatoes for sun-dried tomatoes:
- 3/4 cup drained canned tomatoes = 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes
I like using canned tomatoes because they’re harvested and canned at their ripest, locking in that perfect balance of sweetness and acidity. Unlike fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes can be used year-round for consistently great flavor. Just open and drain a can for an easy sun-dried tomato substitute anytime.
In recipes that need a really concentrated tomato presence like sauces, stews, and soups, tomato paste is one of the best stand-ins for sun-dried tomatoes.
Since tomato paste is cooked down to remove moisture, it ends up with a rich, intensely tomatoey flavor. The texture is also quite thick and dense.
Here is a simple substitution ratio when using tomato paste instead of sun-dried tomatoes:
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste = 5 sun-dried tomatoes
If you want an especially bold, robust tomato taste, try doubling the amount of tomato paste. You can also add more tomato paste to thicken up and enrich the flavor of soups, stews, and sauces.
Tomato puree is my go-to substitute for sun-dried tomatoes when I’m making soups, stews, pasta sauces, or any recipe where I don’t need the texture of tomatoes but want that cooked down flavor.
Compared to tomato sauce, tomato puree is thicker with a more concentrated taste. But it’s not as thick as tomato paste. It’s the perfect middle ground that makes it ideal for achieving a rich sun-dried tomato flavor.
I do find tomato puree to have a stronger taste compared to most sun-dried tomatoes. Start with 3/4 cup tomato puree for every 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes. Then adjust to taste if you need more or less puree for the right flavor balance.
Homemade Sun-Dried Tomatoes
When I’m diligent about planning ahead, making sun-dried tomatoes at home ensures I always have some on hand. All you need is fresh tomatoes, some basic spices, and an oven or dehydrator.
Simply slice Roma, Campari or other paste tomatoes about 1/4 inch thick. Scoop out the seeds and inner flesh, then mix the slices with olive oil, salt, pepper, and any other seasonings you like.
Spread the seasoned tomato slices in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Bake at the lowest oven temperature, around 135°F. After around 20 minutes, the tomatoes should be sufficiently dried but still tender.
It takes some time but is easy. Plus, you can control the ingredients and seasoning to get that perfect homemade sun-dried tomato taste. Any extras can be stored in oil in the fridge for months.
With its sour yet slightly sweet flavor, tamarind paste is an interesting substitute I sometimes use in place of sun-dried tomatoes. It works especially well in savory dishes like curries, sauces, and marinades.
On its own, tamarind paste can taste very tart. I mix in a bit of sugar, honey or maple syrup to balance out the acidity. Once it’s sweetened, that pleasant sweet-sour taste has a similar vibe to sun-dried tomatoes.
Start with about 1 tablespoon of tamarind paste for every 1/4 cup of sun-dried tomatoes. Adjust the quantity and sweetness to suit your tastes. It may seem like an unorthodox substitution, but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!
Roasted Bell Peppers
Lastly, don’t overlook roasted red bell peppers as an alternative for sun-dried tomatoes. When charred, bell peppers take on a wonderfully sweet flavor with a hint of smokiness.
Chopped roasted red peppers lend a similar mildly sweet and “roasted” essence to dishes like sun-dried tomatoes. I like to toss them into pasta salads, feature them on antipasto platters, or blend them into bruschetta toppings.
For 1/4 cup of sun-dried tomatoes, substitute between 1/3 to 1/2 cup of diced roasted red bell peppers. Adjust the quantity to taste to achieve that sweet and savory sun-dried tomato impact.
Even without sun-dried tomatoes, you have plenty of tasty options for capturing their unique flavor and texture in your cooking. From fresh tomatoes to spices like tamarind, you can find a suitable stand-in for any recipe.
The key is picking substitutions that make sense for the dish you’re making. A quick pasta or salad will work with fresh tomatoes or bell peppers. Hearty stews and sauces come together well with tomato paste or puree. Get creative and don’t be afraid to test out multiple alternatives.
With these handy sun-dried tomato substitutes, you can still whip up delicious meals. Your food doesn’t have to suffer just because you’re out of one ingredient. Next time you’re in a pinch, try out a few of these alternatives for a flavorful and satisfying dish.
8 Best Substitutes for Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Homemade Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Roasted Bell Peppers
- Choose your preferred alternative from the aforementioned options.
- Adhere to the cooking instructions for your chosen substitute, ensuring the correct proportion of ingredients.
Hi, I’m Ben Holland. I love cooking, traveling, and spending time with my family! Here you’ll find simple and delicious recipes, travel tips, and stories about my adventures with my wife and kids.