A quick and simple DIY for how to make sun dried tomatoes at home either in the oven, in a dehydrator, or in the sun. All you need are tomatoes and a little patience – for delicious, flavor-packed, tangy semi-dried tomatoes!
Homemade sun-dried tomatoes are a delicious way to use tomatoes. Maybe you grow tomatoes, have been receiving an abundance of them in recent produce boxes, or just love them. In any case, sun-dried tomatoes are an exciting yet easy recipe to try.
Plus, unlike store-bought varieties, this homemade version is cheaper (significantly so), and customizable with additional herbs and spices.
What Are Sun Dried Tomatoes
Sun-dried tomatoes are ripe tomatoes that have been left out to dry in the sun. This causes them to lose most of their water content. 80-90% of their moisture evaporates but they retain their sugar and nutrients. Dried tomatoes have an intense tomato flavor and full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Unfortunately (but not really), my “sun dried” tomatoes aren’t dried in the sun. If you live here in the UK, then you’ll probably understand why: the sun is less than reliable, and we couldn’t be described as a warm climate. With that in mind, I’m providing methods that I know will work every single time, regardless of the weather and humidity!
Learning how to make sun dried tomatoes is easy. Within this post, I’ve included methods for oven-dried tomatoes and using a dehydrator. All you need is just one ingredient, too: tomatoes! (with some optional extras).
How to Make Sun Dried Tomatoes
Learning how to dry tomatoes is easy. First, you’ll need fresh tomatoes.
I like to use either grape tomatoes, Campari, or cherry tomatoes. They are smaller in size which means faster dry times. Plus, I love their sun dried tomato flavor.
However, you can use any ripe tomatoes that you have available to you – with fleshier varieties being best (as there’s less liquid to dry out within them). However, as long as you use tomatoes that are relatively the same size (that way they’ll dry out at the same rate), then it should work.
If using tomatoes that are juicy and have a lot of flesh inside, like Plum tomatoes (Roma tomatoes), then it can be best to scoop out the meat before drying. You can then use that in other recipes, so it doesn’t go to waste.
To begin the process of making sun dried tomatoes, wash the tomatoes and remove their stems. Cut the tomatoes in two or cut them into slices if using bigger tomatoes.
Then place on a baking sheet with parchment paper or a dehydrator tray, cut side upwards.
If wanted, sprinkle some sea salt or dried herbs (like rosemary, thyme, or even garlic powder). See more ideas in the Recipe Card below.
If using a dehydrator, dry them at 68ºC/155ºF for between 7-9 hours. The overall drying time will depend on the tomato’s freshness, size, as well as overall humidity. And this is how to make sun dried tomatoes in dehydrator.
How to make sun dried tomatoes in oven is similar to using a dehydrator. If using an oven, either dry them at about 70ºC/160ºF for about 7 hours or select the lowest possible temperature and dehydrate them for about 4 hours. It’s best to prop open the oven door with a heat-proof wooden spoon so steam is released from the oven.
Using the Sun
If you live somewhere warm and dry, you can easily learn how to sun dry tomatoes. Place the halved tomatoes on a tray or a rack and place them in the sun. To prevent little critters from enjoying them before you do, cover the tomatoes with a muslin cloth.
The tomatoes will take 5-10 days to dry out. Sun drying cherry tomatoes will be a little faster.
The tomatoes are ready when they are dry (not squishy) but bendy/pliable still rather than snappable. Pay attention to them towards the end of the drying time to ensure they aren’t dried too long (which can make them tough).
Uses for Sun Dried Tomatoes
These flavor-packed goodies can be used within tons of recipes where you want the tomato flavor to shine through. Here are a few of my top suggestions.
- Toss into salads for little flavor-packed bites or use to make salad dressing.
- Within baked goods (like these Sundried Tomato Savoury Muffins & Rainbow Hummus Frosting).
- Mix into pasta dishes or make sun-dried tomato pasta.
- Top soups, stews, and even pizza. Add to risotto.
- Mix into sandwiches, wraps, and other “bread” dishes (Homemade Easy Falafel wrap).
- Use in pesto (Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto), dips, sauces, and marinades (Rainbow Hummus 6 ways).
- Add to a homemade antipasto/cheese platter.
- Add to burgers, for additional flavor (like this Mushroom ‘bun’ burger)
- Mix into omelets, scrambled eggs, or scrambled tofu.
- Make creamy sauces for chicken or fish.
- Use to flavor compound butter.
- Use as a filling for quiches and tarts.
Plus, the little jars make for a great gift for foodies!
Substitute for Sun Dried Tomatoes
There are several substitutes you can use to replace sundried tomatoes. Depending on the recipe, you can easily switch and use fresh tomatoes or canned whole tomatoes. Alternatively, use tomato paste or tomato powder. Each substitute will provide a different texture and a different level of flavor.
How to Store Sun Dried Tomatoes
Advice on storing these dried tomatoes differs, depending on the source. So I’ll provide what I know to be correct, to the best of my knowledge. I usually use my tomatoes within a week anyway – so have never dealt with them spoiling.
Can You Freeze Sun Dried Tomatoes
You can freeze freshly dried tomatoes in a freezer bag for between 3-4 months. Simply lay in a single layer on a sheet to freeze before transferring to another bag/container (that way they won’t stick together while freezing).
You can also store them in an airtight jar within the fridge for 1-2 weeks.
How to Store Sun Dried Tomatoes in Oil
Alternatively, store them by packing in oil. To do so, place the tomatoes in a large jar and drizzle with olive oil or sunflower oil until they are fully submerged. If you’re using plain oil, then these will be fine for between 1-2 weeks. Though a friend told me she once had her DIY sun dried tomatoes in oil for three months, with no issues.
If you decide to infuse the oil with fresh herbs, chili, or garlic, the tomatoes will need to be eaten within 4 days.
Chef’s Tips: To further extend the shelf life of the tomatoes, dip them in a bit of lemon/lime juice before submerging them in olive oil. This will help to prevent bacteria growth.
More Delicious Tomato Recipes
If you try this sun dried tomatoes recipe, I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions below. Also, I’d appreciate a recipe card rating below, and feel free to tag me in your recipe recreations on Instagram @Alphafoodie!
How to Make Sun Dried Tomatoes (3 Ways)
- 2.2 lb tomatoes I use cherry, grape, and campari most often. However, you can also use roma tomatoes too or larger ones, sliced thinly rather than halved.
- Wash the tomatoes and remove their stems.
- Cut them in two or cut them into slices if using bigger tomatoes. Then place on a baking sheet or a dehydrator tray, cut side upwards.
- If using a dehydrator, dry them at 68ºC/155ºF for between 7-9 hours. The overall drying time will depend on the tomato freshness, size, as well as overall humidity.
- If using an oven, either dry them at about 70ºC/160ºF for about 7 hours or select the lowest possible temperature and dehydrate for about 4 hours. It's best to prop open the oven door with a heat-proof wooden spoon- so steam is released from the oven.
- The tomatoes are ready when they are dry (not squishy) but bendy/pliable still rather than snappable. Pay attention to them towards the end of the drying time to make sure they aren’t dried too long (which can make them tough).’
How To Store
- You can freeze freshly dried tomatoes in a freezer-safe bag for between 3-4 months. Simply lay in a single layer on a sheet to freeze before transferring to another bag/container (that way they won't stick together while freezing). You can also store in an airtight jar within the fridge for 1-2 weeks.Alternatively, place the tomatoes in a large jar and drizzle with olive oil until they are fully submerged. If you're using plain oil, then these will be fine for between 1-2 weeks (though a friend told me she once had hers for three months, with no issues). If you decide to infuse the oil with fresh herbs, chili, or garlic- then the tomatoes will need to be eaten within 4 days.Tip: To further extend the shelf life of the tomatoes, dip them in a little lemon/ lime juice before submerging in olive oil. This will help to prevent bacteria growth.
- If you’d like to rehydrate the tomatoes slightly before using, soak them in hot water or vegetable stock for 15-20 minutes. The soaking liquid can then be used in soups, stews, etc.
- Allow the tomatoes to cool completely in the oven, with the door propped open. This will help them to dry further as they cool down.
- Feel free to chop up the tomatoes before storing them in the fridge/ freezer if you want to use them in recipes where they’ll always be chopped. That way, they’re ready to go!
- With sun-dried tomatoes, the flavors will improve over time as they sit. Especially if you add dried herbs to the oil, allowing them to marinate for at least a day before using will increase the flavor a lot.