Homemade Sun-Dried Tomatoes--3 Ways

Sun-dried tomatoes are so tasty, adding amazing flavor to any dish, but they're so pricey! Thankfully, you can easily make them yourself! You'll learn all about it in this post on Sun-dried Tomatoes 101: learn how to make sun-dried tomatoes, how to store them, and how to use them.

A jar of sun-dried tomatoes

It’s that time of year when you’ve got a bumper crop of tomatoes from the garden and you’re wracking your brain about what to do with all that tomato deliciousness.

You can make and store this Easy Marinara, or Easy Homemade Ketchup, but one of the best options in my book is to make sun-dried tomatoes!

What are Sun-Dried Tomatoes?

If you haven’t had sun-dried tomatoes before, you are missing out, big time! They’re simply ripe tomatoes that have been dehydrated to remove most (80-90%) of their water content.

Sun-dried tomatoes have a strong sweet-tangy flavor that’s much more intense than regular, fresh tomatoes. They taste incredible in so many different dishes when you want that tomato flavor to really shine or just want to add some oomph or umami to any dish.

Are Sun-Dried Tomatoes Better For You Than Regular Tomatoes?

Fresh tomatoes lose some of their nutritional value quickly after being picked off the vine due to their high moisture content.

Sun-dried tomatoes, however, are dehydrated in a way that preserves their nutritional value while also retaining their flavor. They’re not only a powerhouse of flavor, but also of nutrition.

High in Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, lycopene, thiamin, niacin, iron, riboflavin, potassium, magnesium, and dietary fiber, while also low in sodium, calories, and fat, they are nutritionally comparable to fresh-picked tomatoes--just more concentrated.

Why Make Sun-Dried Tomatoes at Home

Small jars of sun-dried tomatoes are notoriously expensive--and often loaded with salt.

They may seem fancy or intimidating, but sun-dried tomatoes are actually super easy to make. And the best part about making them at home is how amazing they taste!

Benefits of making sun-dried tomatoes at home:

  • A great way to preserve tomatoes from your garden, local farmer’s market, or CSA
  • Much more economical than purchasing
  • You can control the amount of salt used
  • So easy to make - almost foolproof
  • They taste incredible (even better than store-bought)
  • Season them as you like
  • They make terrific homemade gifts

Ingredients for Making Sun-Dried Tomatoes

You don't need much to make your own sun-dried tomatoes at home.

Tomatoes

Any kind of tomato will work--from cherry to jumbo! Cherry, grape, and pear, however, will dry faster due to the lower water content.

Note: for Roma tomatoes, some say you need to hollow them out before dehydrating them, but I've never done this. Instead, you can press down on them (or any tomato really) during drying or make sure to cut Romas (or any tomato) into 1/4 inch slices and they'll work great. Who wants to waste good tomato insides?

Tip: cutting your tomatoes as uniformly as possible is the most important thing to do.

Sea Salt

Salt is a “must-have” because the salt brings out the flavors of the tomatoes. However, go light because the tomatoes are so flavorful that they don't need much. Plus, the tomatoes dry up to less than 1/2 their size, making the salt more concentrated.

Oil

Oil is optional, I highly recommend it for added taste and texture.

Seasonings

Also optional, but adding dried or fresh seasonings like herbs or garlic to your sun-dried tomatoes makes them extra special.

How to Make Sun-Dried Tomatoes at Home

There are actually three ways that you can make homemade sun-dried tomatoes.

Drying in the sun is the traditional way to make sun-dried tomatoes (hence the name.) However, this is the most unreliable due to weather, bugs, and other critters. No one wants to be eating sun-dried bugs!

Using a dehydrator works really well, but not everyone has one (though I highly recommend them-they're great for so many things including preserving herbs, soaking and drying nuts and seeds, making fruit leathers, kale chips, these amazing green bean chips, coconut shreds, and more)

Making sun-dried tomatoes in the oven is obviously the most common option. I prefer the lower temps of a dehydrator (technically you can have dehydrated "raw" tomatoes) but I'll focus on the oven option, with info on how to dehydrate and dry in the sun as well.

tomato halves on baking sheet covered with parchment paper

How to Make Sun-Dried Tomatoes in the Oven

1. Wash tomatoes.

2. Slice your tomatoes as uniformly as possible and lay them out on a cookie sheet, baking pan, or baking stone in a single layer.

3. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil over them (optional) and sprinkle lightly with salt.

4. Season with spices if desired.

4. Preheat oven to a low temperature. 160 up to about 255 Fahrenheit will work, but I recommend setting it at the lowest possible temperature to prevent burning.

5. Put the baking sheets into the oven and bake, watching them carefully so they don’t burn. They'll be in there for a while--possibly even all day.

If desired, you can flip the tomatoes in the middle of the drying time (around the 2-3 hour mark) to make things move a little faster.

6. The tomatoes are done when they are dry but still pliable (not moist or sticky).

Note: You can also dry the tomatoes more until they're a lot less pliable or even not pliable at all. I love them both ways! The more dry they are, the longer their shelf life.

tomato halves on dehydrator tray

Making Sun-Dried Tomatoes in the Dehydrator

1. Wash tomatoes.

2. Slice tomatoes as uniformly as possible and lay them out on your dehydrator trays. I love this dehydrator, but this dehydrator is a good lower priced option.

3. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil over them (optional) and sprinkle lightly with salt

4. Season with spices if desired.

5. Place trays into the dehydrator and dry at 125 degrees for up to 5 hours, or as long as needed. Watch them carefully.

6. They're done when they are dry but pliable (not moist or sticky)

Note: You can dry the tomatoes at higher or lower temperatures, but I use 125 consistently since this is low enough for the dehydrated foods to still likely be "raw" but they will dehydrate faster than at lower temps.

Making Sun-Dried Tomatoes in the Sun

If you really want to have the true, time-honored experience of sun-drying tomatoes, here's how to do it. Might handy if your power goes out and you have a boatload of tomatoes or for a fun experiment, but it's a little tricky.

Lay your tomatoes (with or without seasonings and oil) out on a screen with air circulating beneath outside in the sun. There are lots of screen drying options--both for purchase and DIY.

A few notes about drying tomatoes in the sun:

  • You need consistently warm, dry conditions (humid conditions make the process take much longer).
  • To avoid creating a critter picnic with your precious tomatoes, lay a piece of cheesecloth over your tomatoes while they are drying.
  • Be sure to bring your tomatoes inside at night.
  • This method takes the longest--anywhere from a couple of days to weeks.
  • Blowing a fan on the tomatoes will help them dry faster and keep bugs away.
  • Sun-drying in a greenhouse is a great way to do this.

How to Season Your Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Even though homemade sun-dried tomatoes taste amazing plain, adding different herbs and seasonings make them even better. You can season before, during, or after drying.

IMPORTANT Tip: Only use dried herbs and seasonings on your sun-dried tomatoes. Fresh herbs will cause the mixture to spoil quickly.

Here are some seasoning options:

  • Herbs - rosemary, basil, paprika, Italian seasoning, onion powder
  • Spicy - crushed red pepper flakes
  • Garlicky - garlic powder or dried minced garlic
  • Unique Options - This Vegetable Broth Powder would work great. Skip the salt if you try this.
homemade sun-dried tomatoes in oil in glass jar on white table

How to Store Sun-Dried Tomatoes

1. Freezer

Place dried tomatoes on a tray in the freezer until frozen. Then put them in a freezer-safe bag with the air removed until you want to use them. ( I personally like using this type of bag or a bag similar to this smaller version with these clips for sealing.) They'll last up to a year, but will taste the best within 3 months.

If you want to freeze your tomatoes in oil, put them (whole or pieces) in ice cube trays with enough oil to cover. Pop frozen cubes into bags and store in the freezer.

2. Refrigerator

Refrigerate sun-dried tomatoes in a jar with enough oil to cover. They'll last for up to a week or two.

If you want jarred tomatoes, but won't be using them quickly, store the tomatoes in the freezer and move them in small batches to a jar with oil and desired seasonings.

The more you dry your tomatoes, the longer they'll keep. We've made them, and eaten them years later!

3. On the Shelf

If you dry your sun-dried tomatoes really thoroughly, you can store them in a bag or other container for quite awhile, but I still recommend the fridge or freezer.

pouring oil on homemade sun-dried tomatoes in a glass jar

How to Rehydrate Dried Tomatoes

To rehydrate, simply soak them in warm water, broth, or wine until soft. Remove from water, pat dry, and use according to recipe directions.

Note: If you store your dried tomatoes in oil, they'll plump up and not really need to be rehydrated.

How to Use Your Homemade Sun-Dried Tomatoes

There are so many different and tasty ways to use sun-dried tomatoes. Try them in:

collage of homemade sun-dried tomatoes in oil in glass jar and on baking tray

More Homemade "Sun-dried" Tomato Process Photos

Here are some more photos showing you how it's done.

heirloom tomato slices on dehydrator tray
Heirloom tomatoes ready to go in the dehydrator
tomato slices coated in oil and seasonings in a stainless bowl
Tomato slices coated in oil and spices
seasoned tomato slices on dehydrator tray
Seasoned tomato halves ready to go in the dehydrator
"sun-dried" tomatoes on dehydrator tray
They're done!
dried heirloom tomatoes on dehydrator tray
Heirloom tomatoes finished drying
homemade sun-dried tomatoes in small plastic bag with Twixit Clip
All bagged up! These bags and clips are SO handy!
Sun-dried tomatoes in a glass jar

Homemade Sun-dried Tomatoes

Make your own Homemade Sun-dried Tomatoes easily--in the oven! (with information on using a dehydrator, or even drying in the sun!}
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Appetizer, Dressings, Seasonings, etc.
Cuisine: Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Keto, Low-Carb, Paleo, Sugar-Free, THM:S, Vegan, whole30
Keyword: homemade sun-dried tomatoes
Servings: 18
Calories: 14kcal

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds tomatoes (use as many tomatoes as you would like to process)
  • salt (optional; to taste)
  • olive oil (optional; to taste)
  • dried or fresh herbs (optional; to taste)

Instructions

  • Prepare tomatoes by washing.
  • Slice tomatoes as uniformly as possible to a maximum of 1/4" thickness. and lay them out on a cookie sheet in a single layer.
  • Heat your oven to a low temperature. You can potentially set it from 160 up to about 255 Fahrenheit, but I recommend going with the lowest possible temperature to prevent burning.
  • Drizzle a small amount of olive oil over them (optional) and sprinkle lightly with salt.
  • Season with spices if desired.
  • Place baking sheets into the oven and bake, watching them carefully so they don’t burn. They'll be in there for a while--possibly all day.
  • If desired, flip tomatoes in the middle of the drying time (around the 3 hour mark) to make them dry a bit faster.
  • The tomatoes are done when they are dry but still pliable (not moist or sticky).

Notes

Technically, you can dry the tomatoes more than stated--they will be a lot less pliable or even not pliable at all. It’s a matter of personal preference, but I love them both ways! The more dry they are, the longer their shelf life will be.
TO MAKE SUN-DRIED TOMATOES IN A DEHYDRATOR:
Instead of using baking sheets, use dehydrator trays. Dry at 125 degrees Fahrenheit until tomatoes are dry, but still pliable.
TO MAKE SUN-DRIED TOMATOES IN THE SUN:
Place tomato slices on some kind of raised screen to dry in the sun. Cover with cheesecloth. See post for more information including drying supplies.

Nutrition

Calories: 14kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 4mg | Potassium: 179mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 630IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 8mg | Iron: 1mg | Net Carbs: 2g

Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is merely an approximation. Optional ingredients are not included and when there is an alternative, the primary ingredient is typically used. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of the nutritional information given for any recipe on this site. Erythritol carbs are not included in carb counts since they have been shown not to impact blood sugar. Net carbs are the total carbs minus fiber.

I love drying tomatoes this way for so many reasons, but mostly because they are so easy to make and taste incredible. What are your favorite ways to use sun-dried tomatoes?

Update Information: This post was originally published in Sept. 2011 and was rewritten and published with new images in Oct. 2020. For reference, following is the previously used image.

Bowl of sun-dried tomatoes and some tomatoes on tabletop

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100 Comments

    1. Hi there - I have a whole section on how to store them in the post. Let me know if you don't see them. Thanks!

  1. Hi Adrienne. I do have a challenge for you Adrienne! I take latte in the morning just one cup!
    Want to try a recipe for me? Cost of sachets for 8 portions in a box here in Scotland varies Our B&M do a box for about £1 '70 the cheapest I have searched for. Tried making Latte at home, but not really satisfied Adrienne. Daughter gave me a machine for heating and mi,xing the mixture.It's the ingredients knowing what to add to coffee and milk. Hope you will be able to help here.Thanks.
    Corrie

    1. Hello there! Funny thing is I was wanting to do this! Can you send me a link or a list of what you are using now? Instant latte that you are adding coffee and milk to? Thanks and look forward to doing this!

    1. Hi there! I have used them for a VERY long time after making them. Consider them to be dried foods and know that storage shelf life will depend on how you store them. You could vacuum seal in a mylar bag for many years ;). Enjoy!

  2. I notice some tomato dehydrator recipes say to remove seeds and goop around seeds, and remove scar around stem. You did not remove these parts. What is best?

    1. I have no idea why you would have to removed the seeds? I would never do it w/ all of that work involved. The scar--maybe? But I'm one to just eat whatever I can for now waste :).

  3. Hello. If I dry the tomatoes to store, can I then latter put them in oil to use like I would buy in a jar of semi dried tomatoes? How long would they need to be in the oil.
    Thanks,
    Annette

  4. I have about 1000 tiny tomatoes. Could you just smash them and put on trays rather than slicing every one of them?

  5. Hi, Adrienne!
    I found your recipe incredibly useful, so I tried to make sundried tomatoes, but on the 2nd day, almost all became moldy. Is it possible because, as soon as I put them out there, the weather went from 35 C sunny to 20 C cloudy? 😀
    I'm just not lucky, I guess. :)))

    1. You tried to dry them in the sun? Sadly if there is no sun it won't work - sounds like the weather was your problem :(.

  6. 5 stars
    Hi Adrienne,
    I love your recipes and tomatoe ideas. After reading, I have decided to purchase an Excalibur Dehydrator, however I prefer to not shop online. I will probably purchace it from Wal-Mart. My question is: Is there a way you can receive commission from my purchase if I don't buy it online? Thanks, Renee

    1. If you are interested you can email me at wholenewmom {at} gmail {dot} com and I can arrange for you to purchase one and I can have it sent to you. That would work. Thanks for your interest in supporting me.

    1. Firmer tomatoes will work better. Mushy ones have more water in them so they will take longer and not produce as good of a resulting product. Hope you like them!

  7. I am struggling to find the write method to preserving my tomatoes. I dehrated at a lower temp (maybe mistake number one) until pliable but not moist. Then put them in a jar filled with olive oil and put them in thr fridge. After a week there are big crystals on top And lots of sediment on the bottom of the jar. When you bag them, where do store them and how long are they good for? Do you ever immerse them in olive oil like I did? Thoughts?

    1. You can store them in olive oil. I will be adding to the post soon hopefully. Did you add anything to the jar?

        1. Hi there. I can't make shelf life claims, but I have had mine in the fridge for a long time and they lasted quite awhile. Enjoy! You could store them in airtight mylar bags that are vacuum sealed for longer storage.

  8. This is a very enlightening information. Please let me know if we can dry cabbage, broccoli or any other vegetable in dehydrator or microwave and preserve for the rest of the year.

  9. I dry tomatoes this way also, but I love sprinkling them with garlic or onion salt; italian seasoning, rosemary, chopped basil, or oregano....the results are awesome and the sky is the limit as to what you can sprinkle them with!

  10. I'm looking forward to trying this. I'm not sure what a non-stick sheet is, can parchment paper be used?

    1. Yes, you can do that - there are specific non stick sheets made for dehydrators and of course it would be less expensive to use the not disposable sheets long term. Hope that helps!

      1. If you want to go one step further, dehydrate until dried and then put in a nutrabullet or strong blender or food processor and make a powder.......use in soups, eggs, salads, or withany broth......I love my tomato powder....

        1. LOVE that idea. I have some tomato powder in the basement that needs to be used. Thanks for reminding me! How do you use yours?

        2. great idea to make it into a powder joan . can you tell me what will be the shelf life of this powder and do you store it in the fridge

  11. I really want to do this but I don't have a dehydrator...how could i do it?I came over from NapTime creations link up, I'm excited to see more of your creations.

    1. You could do it in an oven on the lowest temp - not a great thing for summer but it will work. Thanks for stopping by!!!

      1. Re using an oven to "sundried" tomatoes. I replace the light in the oven with a 100 watt light bulb. That will keep the oven at 115-120F and work well drying the tomatoes.

        1. Thanks - so you just leave the light on? That keeps it warm enough? I assume it wouldn't be the case in a chilly house, correct?

  12. Hi, Adrienne,
    I want to do these again this year! I like all the extra info you give and the encouragement to use heirlooms, too. Would you consider contributing your great posts on the 'EOA' link-up. Your posts are the kind I would love to offer my readers! Thanks ahead of time 🙂

    1. Hi Jacqueline. I have tried to make it a point to link up but sometimes miss it. Sorry -I had a guest from Australia come in today and got really overwhelmed. Thanks!!!

  13. Hi I just saw your post and am starting to dehydrate my tomatoes and was wondering, why do you use the olive oil before dehydrating? My tomatoes dehydrate in less than a day when I don't add anything to them. I was surprised to hear people get mold on them while dehydrating also, is this common?

    1. The olive oil is frequently used when drying tomatoes. It makes a very nice final result. But it isn't needed. It is common to get mold when drying tomatoes if you don't dry them at a high enough temp. Ick - happened to me on a few trays but won't happen again (I hope!).