Aside from their distinct flavor, sun-dried tomatoes offer a lot of nutrition and health benefits. They are commonly used in many dishes such as salads, stir-fries, pasta portions, and stews that require the distinct flavor of tomatoes.
But, what will you do when you’re in the middle of preparing your favorite dish, and you suddenly find out you are out of sun-dried tomatoes? Will you leave your unfinished dish and just move on to prepare something else?
Following are some of the best replacements you can use in lieu of sun-dried tomatoes:
- Canned Tomatoes
- Semi-Dried Tomatoes
- Tomato Paste
- Tomato Sauce
- Tomato Powder
- Diced Fire-Roasted Tomatoes
- Tomato Puree
- Fresh Tomatoes
- Tomato Flakes
Well, there’s no need to panic if you still cannot find any alternatives from the list above because there are myriads of sun-dried tomato alternatives that you can use. Some are tomato-based and some are not.
The good thing is, whichever alternative you prefer, or whichever is available, you can finish your recipe and come up with a satisfactory dish – even if there are no sun-dried tomatoes in it.
13 Best Substitute For Sun Dried Tomatoes
Sun-dried tomato is a regular ripe tomato that has lost a significant portion of its water content because of exposure to the sun for an extended period of time.
The process results in an ingredient that brings an intense sweet-tart flavor burst and a pleasantly surprising chewy texture.
Let’s talk about each sun dried tomato substitute in more detail to help you decide which one will work best for you.
Before they are canned, fresh tomatoes are first cooked by heating. Canned tomatoes offer a decent alternative to sun-dried tomatoes when used in sauces. The flavor profile would be comparative to sun-dried tomatoes, albeit with lesser intensity.
When using canned tomatoes, you can make the sauce slightly thicker by putting 1 scoop of tomato paste. To substitute for sun-dried tomatoes, use the ¼:¾ substitution ratio.
This means for every ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes required in the recipe, you should use ¾ cup canned tomatoes.
However, there’s one thing you must keep in mind when using this alternative. Once you have opened a can of tomatoes, you must use everything. Otherwise, it will spoil easily.
Semi-dried tomatoes have undergone the same drying process that sun-dried tomatoes went through – but only halfway. Thus, you may consider semi-dried tomatoes as one of the best substitutes for sun-dried tomatoes.
Because they are only semi-dried, the tomatoes haven’t completely dried up. As such, they will tend to spoil faster than completely dried tomatoes. This is because they have retained a certain amount of their liquids.
When semi-dried, tomatoes are generally sweeter and have a gentler surface because they were not exposed to the drying process as long as the sun-dried variety. Likewise, there is still some liquid left in them.
Semi-dried tomatoes make ideal toppings in pasta, greens, and pizza. Because they do not need much boiling time, they are left with a nice texture.
To produce a thick paste, tomatoes are cooked for several hours by steaming or boiling. This process reduces the fruits’ moisture content. The cooking process is stopped temporarily to remove the tomato skins and seeds. The process is then continued until a thicker paste is achieved.
This method of producing a thick tomato paste is often used in preparing Italian dishes. The paste comes with an amazing flavor, and is best used in curries, soups and various other dishes that need tomato flavor.
Tomato paste is a great alternative to sun-dried tomatoes in dishes that need some thickening. However, you will not get the same texture that while tomatoes can provide. If this is not a problem for you, then this is your ideal substitute.
Tomato sauce is another great tomato-based substitute for sun-dried tomatoes. It offers an intense flavor to your dishes.
However, the sauce comes with artificial flavoring and seasonings. Avoid the substitute if you only prefer natural ingredients.
Tomato sauce is ideal for use when making sauces and dressings. Replace sun-dried tomatoes with tomato sauce if you want to add a uniquely sweet flavor to your dish.
Like sun-dried tomatoes, tomato powder has gone through exposure to the sun, after which it is ground to produce a fine powder.
Thus, it can also be considered as one the best alternatives to sun-dried tomatoes in dishes that need tomatoes in powdered form or sauce.
To achieve the same flavor and taste of sun-dried tomatoes, sprinkle a little more of the powder than the amount of sun-dried tomatoes called for in the recipe. Tomato powder is best used in smoothies, sauces, and soups. It also goes well with eggs.
Diced Fire-Roasted Tomatoes
Some people think that fire-roasted tomatoes are just the same as sun-dried ones. They are mistaken; there are distinct differences. When fire-roasting, the tomatoes are charred over flame, and then diced before canning. The blackened flecks are visible in the tomatoes.
The process of roasting brings out the tomatoes’ sweetness, and gives the distinct smoky flavor. The smokiness is what makes fire-roasted tomatoes a great substitute to sun-dried tomatoes.
When used as a substitute, use an amount equal to the amount of sun-dried tomatoes required in the recipe. Adjust the amount of fire-roasted tomatoes depending on the taste you want to achieve.
Another tomato-based alternative, tomato puree is a good alternative to sun-dried tomatoes in various dishes. Tomato puree is the thick fluid that results from cooking and straining tomatoes, a process that is similar to making tomato paste.
If the recipe you’re preparing needs a viscous, “tomatoey” liquid, then you can use tomato puree. It is often used in tomato-based soups and pasta sauces.
Even if tomato puree does not provide the same amount of flavor that sun-dried tomatoes offer in dishes, it can bring lots of additional fluid that your dish may need. For best results, use tomato puree in dishes that need tomato flavor, but not necessarily the texture of whole tomatoes.
To most people, adding sun-dried tomatoes to a fresh mix of greens may not be an appealing – and appetizing – idea. Thus, it would be best to replace sun-dried tomatoes with fresh ones.
Using fresh tomatoes as a substitute would bring a more subtle flavor, as well as a fresh succulent feel. If you want your salad to be a bit more acidic, you can sprinkle some lime or lemon to get the acidity level you want.
One not so good thing about using fresh tomatoes as a substitute for sun-dried tomatoes is when you intend to use it as a pizza topping. For one, its damp nature may ruin your pizza; you are better off using a “dry” alternative instead.
Even if you’re not an experienced cook, you can easily incorporate tomato flakes in your dishes to add color and flavor. You can use tomato flakes to replace sun-dried tomatoes, and lend a sweet taste to your salads and omelettes.
Tomato flakes are also very accessible. They are widely available in most grocery stores.
The first of the non-tomato-based substitutes on this list is tamarind paste. To produce the ingredient, you need to use the dull, tacky and sharp fruit of the tamarind tree.
While it is widely-used and very common in Thai cuisine, only a few western recipes use tamarind paste. Nevertheless, you can use tamarind paste as an able substitute for sun-dried tomatoes in some dishes such as Asian pan-fried recipes.
Tamarind paste will bring a sharper and more severe burst of flavor to your dishes. If you have tried Thai dishes before, you will find the flavor profile familiar.
You may find this a bit surprising, but artichoke hearts can likewise be a good non-tomato-based substitute for sun-dried tomatoes. The substitution will work well in some recipes like salads. The ingredient is also ideal for use in pizza toppings.
You can get artichoke hearts either fresh or canned. But as a substitute for sun-dried tomatoes, it is recommended that you use canned artichoke hearts instead of the fresh variety.
When using artichoke hearts as a sun-dried tomato substitute in recipes, you can use the 1:1 substitution ratio. Make small adjustments to achieve the flavor you prefer.
Roasted Bell Pepper
Known as a vegetable that provides a burst of spicy flavors in food, bell pepper is less impactful compared to other types of pepper. This is the reason the veggie is used more often as a side dish.
When roasted, bell pepper brings a delightful, smoky flavor. It will elevate the flavor of any dish you add it to.
To substitute for sun-dried tomatoes, sprinkle roasted bell peppers with olive oil. This will be the ideal fixing to add on top of dried bruschetta. While it will bring the same flavor profile of sun-dried tomatoes, it would be a little milder.
DIY or Homemade Sun-Dried Tomatoes
When looking for sun-dried tomato alternatives to use in your recipes, DIY or homemade sun-dried tomatoes would obviously be your last recourse. Why? This is because drying tomatoes under the sun will take a lot of time.
If you are in immediate need of a substitute for sun-dried tomatoes, there are effective ways to fast-track the process. For one, you can use an oven or a toaster to dry tomatoes on your own.
- First, preheat your toaster or oven to around 275 F.
- Then slice fresh tomatoes in half. Get rid of the seeds, and dispose of the flesh.
- The next step is to lay down the tomatoes on an iron tray or a lined baking sheet, face down.
- Turn the heat on, until the tomatoes achieve a leather-like texture.
The cooking time will depend on how big the tomatoes are. On average, the cooking time for your homemade sun-dried tomatoes should be around 20 to 25 minutes, at the most. Just make sure to check the progress of the tomatoes from time to time to avoid overcooking.