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. like you, i've had to turn to making things i want because of lack of buying options. that being said, once i figured out how to do things for myself, they not only tasted better and exactly how i wanted them to, but i saved money, became more self-sufficient, and actually fell in love with preserving food.

    i'm so jealous of your beautiful dried heirlooms! gimme gimme! haha

    p.s. it’s The Wednesday Fresh Foods Blog Hop today and i adore your post. it's exactly what we're looking for! you’re welcome to stop by and link up if you like! we'd love to have you!

    1. I will try to link up later and see how it goes - trying to taper off a bit due to being busy :).

      The heirlooms are almost gone - sigh.

  2. I have a huge jar of sun dried tomatoes, and have no idea what to use them for. Is there some place with recipes or ideas?

  3. I think I'm going to have to follow you. My husband LOVES sun dried tomatoes, but we lived without them for a year because of the expense. I'm going to email him this post, and then go read your seasoned dried tomato recipe...

    1. Welcome. I hope to see you around again!! I never buy sun dried tomatoes anymore either. I think I only did it once when I could get a 1 lb bag of itsy bitsy ones - and the company doesn't make them anymore. 🙂

  4. I just found your blog and can't wait to read the past posts, I am now following you! Please stop by and visit me!
    Michelle at Simple Pleasures

  5. I love this idea! I've wondered about tomatoes on the dehydrator, I am definitely going to try it now!

    Thanks for linking up with Friday Food on MomTrends.com!

    ~Shannon (Food Channel Editor @ MomTrends)

  6. Thank you for the quick response, Adrienne. I'll go right now and lower my temp on the dehydrator, and pull out my tomatoes and get them 'marinated' in the salt/oil and get them back to drying again. I just recently was directed to your blog and love what I'm finding there.

  7. I was impressed with your sun-dried tomatoes so am dehydrating some romas today. You didn't mention what temp you dry them at, nor about how long they take ... could you give me a suggestion? The Excalibur book says tomatoes at 155 degrees. Is that because there is so much liquid/moisture that such a high temp is recommended? Do you use a lower temp? Thanks for the great suggestion -- I had NOT attempted doing tomatoes before because I didn't want to peel them. Also, do you season them with the Real Salt and olive oil when they are dried and ready to package up?

    1. Hi Pat. I dried them at about 125. I didn't write the temp b/c I know some people like to dry @ low temps to keep foods raw. I spoke w/ Excalibur and they said it is because of the high moisture. I mainly did not have a problem drying them at the lower temp, but we did lose 1-2 trays this summer due to mold. Good to know! I will add this to my post. I season them with the oil and salt prior to drying. I'll add that to the post as well. Thanks!

  8. Thank you for sharing! My husband and I love sun dried tomatoes and I told him I wanted a dehydrator for christmas. I know exactly what the first thing I will make if I get it!

  9. That is super easy. I will try this. I always buy them in jars with olive oil.

    Thank you so much for sharing it at Foodie Wednesday. I hope you can join us again today with another great recipe.

  10. Great tutorial! I am hoping my tomatoes ripen in large enough quantitites before our first freeeze for me to do this. Thank you for sharing your posts with the Hearth and Soul Hop; I find them inspiring!

    1. Hi Vivienne.
      Yes, we finally buckled down and bought one about 2 years ago If you haven't seen the Excalibur Savings on my site you might want to check them out. I'd be happy to answer any questions that you may have. I can say for sure that though they are pricey up front, it has been worth every penny.
      ~Adrienne

  11. Your tomatoes are gorgeous! I don't have a dehydrator yet, but I can understand now why they are so popular. Thank you for sharing this excellent (and frugal!) post with The Hearth and Soul hop, Adrienne.

  12. I've dehydrated tomatoes in the past, but haven't done any this year. I'll get right to work on remedying that. 🙂 You are right. They are very easy and so tasty. (And so much cheaper to do it yourself!)

  13. Wow - this looks wonderful! I would love it if you shared this on Makin' You Crave Monday over at MrsHappyHomemaker.com!!

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