Packed with flavor and delightfully chewy, there’s nothing quite like sun-dried tomatoes. Whether you want to top your pizza with them, throw some in your salad, enjoy them plain, or jazz them up with a bit of seasoning — you really can’t go wrong, here.
When you’re following a recipe and don’t happen to have any sun-dried tomatoes on hand, however, what are you supposed to do?
Listed below are the best sun-dried tomato substitutes we could find. All of these options are easy to use in your very own kitchen (and, chances are, some of the ingredients listed are already sitting in your fridge).
We’ve made sure to include options that have a similar flavor and texture to sun-dried tomatoes. That way, you won’t have to worry about whatever substitute you decide to use throwing off the taste of your dish.
|Fresh Tomatoes||Perfect for salads — sweet, subtle flavor with some added juiciness.|
|Oven-Roasted Tomatoes||Sweeter than regular sun-dried tomatoes, and very easy to make at home.|
|Tamarind Paste||Sweet and sour flavor that’s quite comparable to sun-dried tomatoes — perfect for stir-fries.|
|Roasted Bell Peppers||A bit sweeter than sun-dried tomatoes, but they have a similar flavor and texture (and are much cheaper!)|
|Pecans||Similar, slightly nuttier flavor. Roast them in the oven for a smokier taste!|
|Canned Tomatoes||Great for sauces — similar flavor, though not quite as intense.|
|Tomato Powder||Made from ground-up dried tomatoes, this may just be the next best thing!|
|Semi-Dried Tomatoes||Like sun-dried tomatoes, but juicier! Also quite easy to make at home.|
|Tomato Paste||Ideal for sauces and curries — carries the same intense flavor as sun-dried tomatoes.|
Why Would You Want To Substitute Sun-Dried Tomatoes?
Naturally, if a recipe calls for sun-dried tomatoes and you don’t happen to have them on hand, this poses an issue. You might not have time to run to the store or cook your own sun-dried tomatoes (as this is a pretty time-consuming process).
You may also want to substitute sun-dried tomatoes if you’re trying to stick to a specific budget. Sun-dried tomatoes tend to be more expensive than, say, bell peppers, but roasted bell peppers make for a perfectly good substitute.
When you’re in a pinch, being aware of the best possible substitutes for sun-dried tomatoes can be extremely helpful. It could also be a great way to customize your meals if need be.
Let’s say that someone you’re serving doesn’t particularly care for the flavor of sun-dried tomatoes, for example. Substituting an ingredient with a less-intense flavor, like canned tomatoes, could make all the difference!
The Best Substitutes For Sun-Dried Tomatoes And When To Use Them
Now, sun-dried tomatoes are pretty unique — both in flavor and texture — so you shouldn’t expect a substitute like roasted bell peppers or tamarind paste to taste exactly like sun-dried tomatoes.
It’s also going to depend on what you’re making. Semi-dried tomatoes would probably be a better sun-dried tomato substitute on pizza than, say, pecans. Both of these ingredients would taste great in a salad, though!
You’ll also want to take the texture and the intensity of each ingredient’s flavor into consideration. Sun-dried tomatoes are quite sweet, tangy, and chewy. Thankfully, this isn’t too difficult to achieve as long as you know what to do in terms of preparation. Let’s talk about these sun-dried tomato substitutes in more detail below.
When you’re lacking sun-dried tomatoes, fresh tomatoes could make for a potentially fantastic substitute. Whether you’re making a healthy sandwich or throwing together a nice, vibrant salad, fresh tomatoes are sure to provide you with that delicious, tangy flavor you’re looking for.
The only drawback here is that fresh tomatoes can be pretty juicy and squishy. When you’re picking out tomatoes at the store, you’ll want to make sure they’re actually fresh. The last thing you want is bruised or overly-mushy tomato slices ruining your salad (or whatever it is you’re making). If you’re seeking a substitute that’s a bit more dry in texture, keep reading!
As you can imagine, oven-roasted tomatoes are quite similar to sun-dried tomatoes (though, you shouldn’t expect them to turn out exactly the same). They taste a bit sweeter than classic sun-dried tomatoes, and they tend to be a little softer in texture.
Oven-roasted tomatoes are quick and easy to make — just preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, and let your sliced tomatoes cook for about 15 or 20 minutes. The only negative here is that this substitute requires some extra time and preparation, but it should be well worth it!
Let’s say you’re whipping up your favorite Asian stir-fry, and you realize that you’re fresh out of sun-dried tomatoes. In this particular case, tamarind paste would make for the perfect substitute. It’s both tangy and sweet, just like the real thing!
Tamarind paste is a bit more sour in flavor than sun-dried tomatoes are, so be careful about how much you add to your dish. We don’t recommend adding more than a ½ teaspoon to start. Remember, you can always taste it and add a little bit at a time as you cook.
Roasted Bell Peppers
Red bell peppers are quite versatile, and they taste absolutely delectable when roasted. Like tomatoes, bell peppers are mildly sweet and tangy — so you’ll be covered in terms of flavor. After roasting them in the oven — or, better yet, over an open flame — they’ll be slightly charred and chewy in texture.
Roasted bell peppers taste great on pizza, in pasta dishes, salads, stir-fries, and bruschetta. They’re also super inexpensive to buy at the store, especially in comparison to sun-dried tomatoes — which is always a plus.
Pecans probably aren’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think about potential substitutes for sun-dried tomatoes, but you’d be surprised how similar they are flavor-wise. If you’ve ever had pecans in a salad, you know that they’re delightful, texture-wise, as well!
They’ll also add a bit of nuttiness to whatever dish you’re making, which is always nice. We’d recommended roasting them in the oven for a few minutes before adding them to your next sauce or salad. They’re wonderfully smoky!
Canned tomatoes, as you can probably imagine, are quite similar in flavor to sun-dried tomatoes. They aren’t nearly as intense, though, so you may have to do a little extra seasoning of your own to make up for that.
Canned tomatoes would make for a particularly good substitute in pizza sauce, pasta sauce, or tomato soup recipes that call for sun-dried tomatoes. Like bell peppers, canned tomatoes also tend to be cheaper than sun-dried tomatoes, so you shouldn’t hesitate to grab a can or two the next time you go grocery shopping.
While tomato powder doesn’t possess that same chewy texture that sun-dried tomatoes have, it’ll still make for an excellent substitute — especially in tomato soup or pizza sauce recipes. It’s quite literally made from ground-up dried tomatoes, after all!
If you don’t have any sun-dried tomatoes on hand, you can use tomato powder to add a punch of tangy flavor to your soup, salad, or casserole. The best part? Using tomato powder doesn’t require you to add any extra liquid, so you won’t have to worry about your dish getting overly soggy.
If you’re really craving the taste and texture of sun-dried tomatoes, semi-dried tomatoes are probably going to be your best option as far as substitutes go. Because they haven’t been dried for as long, they’re a bit sweeter and softer in texture.
Semi-dried tomatoes are a particularly great substitute for sun-dried tomatoes because some folks might prefer the milder flavor. They’re not too overpowering, but they won’t change the taste of the dish you’re making too much, either. It’s the best of both worlds!
Tomato paste is cooked down from tomatoes over time, which are then strained to remove any skin or seeds. This process creates a dense, concentrated liquid that’s absolutely bursting with flavor.
You can easily find tomato paste at the grocery store, or make it yourself at home. Not only does it make for a wonderful substitute for sun-dried tomatoes, but it’s also a great thickening agent for soups and sauces. You will not, however, get the same texture from using tomato paste that you would from using sun-dried tomatoes, so just keep that in mind!
While sun-dried tomatoes are fairly unique, that doesn’t mean you can’t replace them with any of the aforementioned substitutes in pretty much any recipe. You might find that you actually prefer tomato paste in your soup, or roasted red bell peppers on your pizza.
That’s the beauty of cooking — you get to experiment with different ingredients and discover which flavors really float your boat. You shouldn’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone, either. The next time you’re making a curry or stir-fry, add a little bit of tamarind paste or tomato powder to the pot. You might just surprise yourself!