How to Make Homemade Sun-Dried Tomatoes (3 Cooking Methods Explored)

Homemade sun-dried tomatoes are a delicious addition to salads, pasta dishes, sandwiches, antipasto platters, pizzas, and more. They’re sweet, tangy, and loaded with flavor, making them ideal for pretty much any dish, or even a tasty and healthy snack on their own! 

As the name suggests, the traditional method for drying tomatoes is to leave them out in the sun for a spell, and with enough heat, they will dry up. But this isn’t always possible as it does take a few very hot sunny days (over (35°C / 95°F) to get even remotely semi-sun-dried tomatoes

The good news is that there are other ways to make homemade sun-dried tomatoes! While they are not actually dried in the sun, you can easily make them in your oven or using a food dehydrator. In this article and recipe guide, we will look at all three options (sun, oven, dehydrated) and see which offers the best (fastest, and easiest) results.

Looking for something a little different?

Check out this Homemade Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Recipe here.


Table of contents:

How to Make Homemade Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Seasoned tomato halves sit on dehydrator trays.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to make homemade sun-dried tomatoes:


  • Fresh tomatoes (Roma, plum, or cherry tomatoes all work well)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Seasoning: Herbs like basil, oregano, or thyme for added flavor (Optional)


  • Baking sheets or dehydrator trays
  • Sharp knife
  • Cutting board
  • Oven or food dehydrator


Step 1 – Choose Your Tomatoes

  • Select ripe, firm, and preferably plum, cherry, or Roma tomatoes. These varieties have less moisture and are ideal for sun-drying.

Step 2 – Wash and Prep

  • Rinse the tomatoes under cold water and pat them dry with a clean kitchen towel or paper towels.

Step 3 – Prepare the Tomatoes

  • Slice the tomatoes in half lengthwise. For smaller tomatoes, you can leave them whole. To get them as dried as possible, remove the seeds and the core (optional). Removing the seeds helps speed up the drying process.
  • Season with salt, this helps draw out moisture and intensify the flavor.

Step 4 – Optional Herb Seasoning

  • If you want to add extra flavor, sprinkle some dried herbs like basil, oregano, or thyme over the tomatoes. 

Step 5 – Arrange on Baking Sheets or Dehydrator Trays

  • Place the tomato halves, cut side up, on baking sheets or dehydrator trays. 
  • Make sure there is some space between each tomato to allow for air circulation.

Drying tomatoes in the Oven 

  • Preheat your oven to its lowest setting, typically around 140-150°F (60-65°C)
  • Place the trays of tomatoes in the oven.
  • Prop the oven door open slightly using a wooden spoon or oven-safe utensil to allow moisture to escape.
  • Depending on your oven’s temperature and the size of your tomatoes, drying can take anywhere from 6 to 12 hours or more. Check them periodically. They are done when they are completely dried but still pliable.

Drying tomatoes in a Food Dehydrator

  • Set your food dehydrator to a temperature of around 135-140°F (57-60°C).
  • Arrange the tomato halves on the dehydrator trays, leaving space between them.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for drying times, which typically range from 8 to 16 hours. 

Drying tomatoes in the Sun 

Lay out your seasoned tomato halves on a baking tray (we used a stainless steel tray as they reflect heat well). Place in full sun for at least 8 hours. Check and repeat the process the next day until you have perfectly sun-dried tomatoes. Cover with baking paper overnight (do not refrigerate). 

Note: this can take anywhere from 1-4 days depending on temperature and sun intensity. 

Step 6 – Cool and Store

Once the tomatoes are fully dried but still flexible, remove them from the oven, dehydrator, or from outside under the sun. Let them cool completely on the trays.


Place the sun-dried tomatoes in an airtight container or glass jar. Add enough olive oil to cover them completely. This helps preserve the tomatoes and adds flavor. Store the container in the refrigerator for long-term storage or use them within a week if stored at room temperature. 

If you plan on using semi-sun-dried tomatoes within a week, you don’t have to add olive oil to the container.

A stainless steel baking tray with some sun dried tomatoes

Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Semi Sun-Dried Tomatoes: What’s the Difference?

Sun-dried tomatoes and semi-sun-dried tomatoes both undergo a drying process, but they differ in terms of moisture content, texture, and flavor. 

Sun-dried tomatoes tend to be more popular, mainly due to their intense sweet, tangy flavor, however, semi-sun-dried tomatoes are better used in salads and recipes where texture is important. 

Here are the key differences between the two:

Moisture Content

Sun-dried tomatoes are dried in the sun or using heat sources until they become leathery and have very low moisture content, typically less than 15%. This extensive drying process results in tomatoes that are quite dry and chewy.

Semi-sun-dried tomatoes, as the name suggests, are partially dried but still retain some moisture. They are dried for a shorter period compared to sun-dried tomatoes, typically with a moisture content ranging from 20% to 50%. This leaves them with a softer and slightly pliable texture.


Sun-dried tomatoes have a tough and chewy texture due to their low moisture content. They can be used in various dishes and need to be rehydrated or softened before use.

Semi-sun-dried tomatoes are softer and more pliable compared to sun-dried tomatoes. They have a texture that falls somewhere between fresh tomatoes and fully dried ones, making them easier to use in salads, sandwiches, and other dishes without the need for extensive rehydration.


The intense drying process concentrates the flavors of sun-dried tomatoes, resulting in a rich and slightly sweet taste. They often have a more robust and pronounced tomato flavor.
Semi-sun-dried tomatoes have a milder flavor compared to their fully-dried counterparts. They retain some of the natural juiciness and sweetness of fresh tomatoes, making them a versatile ingredient for a wide range of Mediterranean recipes.

Preparation Tips

Making sun-dried tomatoes at home is very simple and doesn’t involve any fancy equipment. All you need is an oven, dehydrator, or sunny space outside, an oven tray, and some simple pantry essentials such as olive oil, salt, and seasoning. 

From there, it’s simply about cutting your tomatoes, seasoning your halves, and setting them to dry out, which depending on the method you’re using and how small the pieces are, can take anywhere from 6-24 hours. 

Here are a few tips for preparing your tomatoes:

Clean tomatoes

Always wash your tomatoes in fresh water before cooking or preparing them. Most store-bought tomatoes (and sometimes homegrown) will use pesticides that may still be present at the time of purchase. 

Choose ripe tomatoes

Tomatoes that are ripe and very red in color are best to use as they are the sweetest. If you use tomatoes that are slightly green, they may become bitter and more tart, especially once dried out. 

Remove the seeds

If you want the fastest way to make sun-dried tomatoes, remove the seeds and pulp. This will reduce the time taken to dry out the tomatoes, especially when you plan to use a dehydrator. 

Check spacing size between trays

Don’t overcrowd your oven trays or dehydrator trays with too many tomato halves. They need a good amount of circulation to dry out evenly so allow ½ inch (1.25cm) between each tomato. 

Also, be sure to check the spacing between your dehydrator trays, some models are quite limited in space and may only allow 1 inch (2.5cm) between trays. Keep this in mind when selecting your tomatoes and their size.

Mediterranean Flavors: Sun-Dried-Tomatoes

Sun-dried tomatoes are a quintessential ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine, known for their intense and concentrated flavor. They add a sweet, and slightly tangy note to dishes, which is why they’re a favorite ingredient in Mediterranean cooking. Here are some ways sun-dried tomatoes are used to enhance dishes:

1. Pasta Dishes 

Sun-dried and semi-sun-dried tomatoes are a popular addition to pasta recipes. They can be diced and tossed with olive oil, garlic, fresh basil, and grated Parmesan cheese to create a simple yet flavorful pasta sauce. You can rehydrate sun-dried tomatoes by soaking them in hot water or oil and then tossing them with your cooked pasta.

2. Salads 

Sun-dried tomatoes can bring a burst of flavor to salads. Add them to Greek salad, along with feta cheese, cucumbers, olives, and fresh herbs, or dress up a garden salad. You can also include them in couscous or quinoa salads for a Mediterranean twist.

3. Sandwiches and Wraps 

Use sun-dried tomatoes to elevate the taste of Mediterranean-inspired sandwiches and wraps. They pair wonderfully with ingredients like grilled chicken or roasted vegetables, hummus, and a drizzle of tahini sauce.

4. Pizza and Flatbreads 

Scatter sliced or chopped sun-dried tomatoes on your pizza or flatbreads along with ingredients like olives, artichoke hearts, red onions, and fresh herbs. You’ll notice the difference!

5. Dips and Spreads 

Incorporate sun-dried tomatoes into Mediterranean dips and spreads. They can be blended with ingredients like roasted red peppers, chickpeas, tahini, and lemon juice to create yummy hummus or spreads for pita bread or crackers.

6. Stuffed Vegetables 

Mediterranean cuisine often features stuffed vegetables like bell peppers or zucchini. You can boost the filling with a mixture of sun-dried tomatoes, cooked rice, herbs, and feta cheese for a savory and delicious Mediterranean-inspired stuffing.

7. Mediterranean Salsas 

Combine diced sun-dried tomatoes with ingredients like chopped olives, red onions, garlic, fresh basil, and a splash of balsamic vinegar to create a Mediterranean salsa. Then you could serve it as a topping for grilled fish or chicken. So simple but good.

8. Mediterranean Rice and Grain Dishes 

Mix sun-dried tomatoes into rice or grain dishes, such as risotto or tabbouleh. The added burst of flavor and sweetness is out of this world.

9. Roasted Vegetables 

Toss sun-dried tomatoes with a medley of roasted vegetables, such as eggplant, bell peppers, and zucchini. The flavors meld together beautifully during roasting.

10. Stuffed Chicken or Fish 

Sun-dried tomatoes can be used as a stuffing for chicken breasts or fish fillets. Why not pair them with feta cheese, spinach, and garlic for a Mediterranean-inspired filling?

When using sun-dried tomatoes in dishes, you can also take advantage of the oil in which they are packed, which should be extra virgin olive oil. 

This oil is infused with the tomato’s flavor and can be used for salad dressings, drizzling over grilled vegetables, or as a marinade for meats or seafood. Be creative — Sun-dried tomatoes are seriously versatile and can enhance the taste of a wide range of dishes. Once you start adding them, you’ll never look back!

Are sun-dried tomatoes healthy?

Sun-dried tomatoes are a healthy addition to your diet when consumed in moderation. 

Here are some of their potential health benefits:

1. Nutrient-Rich: Sun-dried tomatoes are a concentrated source of nutrients. They are rich in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, potassium, and iron.

2. Antioxidants: Sun-dried tomatoes contain antioxidants, such as lycopene and beta-carotene, which can help protect your cells from damage caused by free radicals. Lycopene, in particular, has been associated with a reduced risk of many chronic diseases.

3. Fiber: These tomatoes are a good source of dietary fiber, which can support digestive health and help regulate blood sugar levels.

4. Tasty and Versatile: Their intense and slightly sweet flavor can enhance the taste of so many dishes, potentially reducing the need for less healthy flavorings like salt and sugar (although this will also depend on how much salt you add at the beginning of the drying process).

Can I Eat Sun-Dried Tomatoes Every Day?

Short answer, yes. But, be careful to eat sun-dried tomatoes in moderation because they are calorie-dense due to their concentrated nature and the olive oil even though it’s packed with nutrients and good fats. If we’re talking about store-bought sun-dried tomatoes then it’s a good idea to check the product label for added sodium or unhealthy fats. 

If you’re concerned about your salt or calorie intake, opt for homemade sun-dried tomatoes, as you have more control over the ingredients used. When making them at home, you can limit the use of salt and use extra virgin olive oil which is best for a healthy diet.

Sun-Dried Tomatoes Nutrition Facts

Sun-dried tomatoes are a nutritious food that provides a range of vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial compounds. 

Below are the approximate nutrition facts for one cup (approximately 129 grams/ 4.5 ounces) of sun-dried tomatoes that are not packed in oil:

  • Calories: Approximately 139 calories
  • Carbohydrates: Approximately 29 grams
  • Dietary Fiber: Approximately 6 grams
  • Sugars: Approximately 18 grams
  • Protein: Approximately 8 grams
  • Fat: Approximately 1 gram
  • Vitamin C: Approximately 26% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Vitamin K: Approximately 40% of the DV
  • Vitamin A: Approximately 9% of the DV
  • Potassium: Approximately 21% of the DV
  • Iron: Approximately 14% of the DV

It’s important to note that these values are approximate due to various factors such as the drying method, size of the tomatoes, and whether they are seasoned with any additional ingredients like salt or oil. 

Keep in mind that sun-dried tomatoes can be calorie-dense due to their concentrated nature, especially if they’re preserved and packed in oil.
When used in moderation as part of a balanced Mediterranean diet, sun-dried tomatoes can be a tasty and nutritious addition to plenty of dishes, boosting flavor and health benefits.

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