In this article, you can pick the best substitute for sun-dried tomatoes to help you with any recipe.
Sun-dried tomatoes are delicious, chewy tomato chunks that liven up any recipe. What do you reach for when you’re in the middle of cooking your dish and can’t find your sun-dried tomatoes?
Sun-dried tomatoes offer a chewy texture and tangy flavor. They’re easy to find at grocery stores. But, more varieties are typically present at farmers’ markets. You can spot these morsels by their varying shades of red and brown. Chop the tomatoes into bite-sized pieces for a salad topping. Better yet, soak them before use to allow for a more pliable, easy-to-chew consistency.
To make this, first, tomatoes are ripened on a vine. Then, they are dehydrated under the sun for about a week. The longer the tomatoes dehydrated, the bolder the flavor they produce.
They use the following tomatoes to create this food product:
Sun-dried tomatoes come from Italy. In the 1500s, the Spaniards brought tomatoes to the area. The sun-drying process allowed the tomatoes to stay preserved for longer. The popularity of this ingredient did not rise in the US until the 1980s. What brought them to light was the start of the Mediterranean Diet.
In the 1990s, American companies made a new version of sun-dried tomatoes. This new version allowed less overhead costs. It used dehydrators instead of the old-fashioned drying method. This made these dehydrated tomatoes cheaper to produce, making them even more accessible.
There are three main types of sun-dried tomatoes available.
The first two are dry-packed sun-dried tomatoes and sun-dried tomatoes in oil. Dry-packed sun-dried tomatoes only use salt and some preservatives. Sun-dried tomatoes in oil are sold in jars with different types of oil and varying seasonings.
Both are dried in the same manner. But, oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes are immersed in oil and flavoring before packing. This packing difference causes a change in flavor and texture. The oil-packed tomatoes are more supple.
The final variety of sun-dried tomatoes is semi-dried tomatoes. These have a milder taste due to a shorter drying time.
Fresh tomatoes work well as a sun-dried tomato substitute. They offer a fresher flavor and mild sweetness, though the tomato taste is still present. Use fresh tomatoes in salads, vegetable sushi, and even soups.
The level of sweetness present in fresh tomatoes is less than that of sun-dried tomatoes. They are also generally less tangy. Yet, they brighten up recipes with a red color and a mild flavor. If you are still craving tanginess, you can alter the flavor by adding citrus juice. Try a splash of fresh-squeezed orange juice in salads for a sweeter taste.
Tomatoes are easy to find in stores, personal gardens, and farmers’ markets. There are quite a few varieties of tomatoes available. These options make it easier to pair tomatoes with different recipes. Using fresh tomatoes offers a similar sweet tomato taste.
They don’t have the intense flavor of sun-dried tomatoes and lack the punch of tanginess. Fresh tomatoes are not ideal for all recipes.
Cooking Tip: Use in a 1:1 ratio as a replacement for sun-dried tomatoes.
The tomatoes used for canned tomatoes are plum tomatoes and garden vine tomatoes. Canning tomatoes began during the Civil War to preserve food for the army.
Canned tomatoes offer a more similar flavor to sun-dried tomatoes than fresh tomatoes. Harvesters use tomatoes at their peak ripeness.
This process gives canned tomatoes a similar sweetness and acidic taste in recipes. Canned tomatoes provide a more subtle flavor than sun-dried tomatoes, though.
These substitutes for sun-dried tomatoes are best in sauces. They also make good subs in liquid-based recipes like soups and stews.
Canned tomatoes offer a similar flavor to sun-dried tomatoes. They have both sweetness and acidity. Plus, they work well in sauces and stews.
Canned tomatoes do not work well in recipes without sauce, marinade, or other liquid. This factor limits the use of canned tomatoes as a replacement. Besides, the flavor is milder, causing you to use a larger quantity.
Cooking Tip: Use 3x the amount required by the recipe.
Tomato puree is a concentrated form of tomatoes. Its consistency is between tomato paste and tomato sauce.
They make this version by cooking tomatoes first. Then, removing skins, seeds, or pieces from the puree follows.
This is often made with tomatoes and water. But some versions include more seasoning. Opt for tomato puree that is either made from tomatoes alone. Or, use those with only tomatoes and water to avoid flavors that do not mesh well together.
Use tomato puree in the same type of recipes where you would incorporate canned tomatoes. These include soups, sauces, and marinades. This puree offers a similar taste to sun-dried tomatoes. Though, like other canned options, it is more subtle in flavor.
Like sun-dried tomatoes, tomato puree provides a strong taste and some sweetness. It’s an accessible tomato product at your nearby grocery store. You can find it in the canned aisle or near the pasta ingredients.
This substitution is not ideal for all recipes due to its liquid form. It also is not a perfect flavor match. Those with a sensitive palate may notice a difference in flavor.
Cooking Tip: Use one tablespoon of tomato puree for every three sun-dried tomatoes.
Roasted bell peppers are a great sun-dried tomato substitute. When roasted, these vegetables present a sweetness that mimics sun-dried tomatoes. They also offer a smoky taste which bodes well with Italian recipes. Choose red, yellow, and orange bell peppers over green as they provide a sweeter flavor.
These bell peppers are versatile. You can use them in almost all recipes that need sun-dried tomatoes. Use roasted bell peppers as salad toppers, or mix them with pasta and rice. Add them into soups or stews, and chop them into fine pieces for a replacement in bruschetta.
Most stores carry roasted bell peppers in the prepared foods section. Otherwise, creating a homemade version with store-bought sweet peppers is easy. These peppers add a similar sweetness to recipes, too. It can replace sun-dried tomatoes in almost all recipes.
There will be a noticeable flavor difference in dishes that include bell peppers. This is due to its smoky taste.
Cooking Tip: Use a 1:1 ratio when replacing sun-dried tomatoes with sweet bell peppers.
There is no need to worry if you can’t find sun-dried tomatoes in the store. You can create a homemade version using a dehydrator or an oven. Buy tomatoes from the store or pull some from your garden. Then, keep them at low heat for a few hours.
Your homemade version will have an identical taste to those you can buy from the store.
The flavor of your homemade version may depend on several things. Some factors include which variety of tomatoes you choose and how ripe they are. Yet, they will still offer the tangy sweetness you seek in recipes. Use this option for any recipes that call for sun-dried tomatoes.
The flavor of homemade sun-dried tomatoes is identical to store-bought sun-dried tomatoes. As you make this option from scratch, you can alter it. You can choose the flavors and amount of salt you add to this ingredient.
This version is more time-consuming than purchasing sun-dried tomatoes from your local store. The cooking process includes cleaning, chopping, and arranging tomatoes.
You should also check the homemade sun-dried tomatoes from time to time.
Cooking Tip: Use a 1:1 ratio to replace the store-bought version.
Tamarind paste works as a substitution for sun-dried tomatoes in a pinch. This paste has a sour flavor and a tangy taste like sun-dried tomatoes when combined with sugar. Yet, this swap’s tomato taste is missing as it is made from tamarind instead of tomatoes.
This paste works well in Asian-inspired recipes, Indian-inspired dishes, and marinades for meat. It is not a good alternative in uncooked recipes, as the flavor is too sour.
Sweetened tamarind paste provides a similar tangy flavor to dishes. It’s available at most large chain grocery stores in the international aisle.
The flavor will be different when using tamarind paste. Its sour taste may be overwhelming for some people. If this is the case, avoid this swap and choose an alternative.
Cooking Tip: Use ½ teaspoon of tamarind paste to replace three sun-dried tomatoes. Add a sprinkle of sugar for the best results.
The closest-tasting alternative to sun-dried tomatoes is roasted bell peppers. Tomato paste is another similar-tasting alternative.
Yes, you can use regular tomatoes instead of sun-dried in specific recipes like salads. You will not find a tangy taste like what the sun-dried version offers. But the taste of tomatoes is present in fresh tomatoes, too. This makes them a good substitute for sun-dried tomatoes.
Sun-dried tomatoes are dried as a preservation method. Meanwhile, regular tomatoes are purchased fresh from a store or grown in your garden. These two variations of tomatoes each provide a different taste. Sun-dried tomatoes are chewier and sweeter than standard tomatoes.
No, sun-dried tomato paste is not the same as tomato puree. Sun-dried tomato paste is created by drying tomatoes first. Then pulverizing them into a paste follows. Tomato puree is made from fresh tomatoes, which are cooked and blended. Because of this, it has a smoother consistency.
It depends on which type of sun-dried tomatoes you have. Sun-dried tomatoes that are packed in a container can stay on your counter. They can also stay in your cupboard if you are in a dry environment. You must keep sun-dried tomatoes in oil in the fridge once you open the container.
The best substitute for sun-dried tomatoes shouldn’t alter the flavor of your dish.
The next time you cannot find sundried tomatoes in your kitchen or at the store, give one of the above a try. Use tomato puree for the most similar taste or sweet bell peppers as the most versatile option.
If none of the above choices are available, try semi-dried tomatoes. As a last resort, tomato powder and tomato sauce can also work.