Homemade Sun-Dried Tomatoes (aka Nature’s Candy)

published Jul 21, 2022
summer
Sun-Dried Tomatoes Recipe

For easy (and incredibly flavorful) homemade sun-dried tomatoes, let the oven do all the work.

Makesabout 48 dried tomatoes

Prep5 minutes

Cook5 hours to 8 hours

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Credit: Jason Rampe

There’s nothing quite like sun-dried tomatoes — they lift up the flavor of anything they touch. The slow drying process concentrates the flavor of the tomatoes, locks in their summer sweetness, and leaves you with an intensely savory bite. It’s a time-consuming undertaking that originated in Italy, where Italians would dry out tomatoes on their ceramic rooftops in the heat of summer sun for days. While I don’t have the time to slowly dry tomatoes on my rooftop like a Tuscan nonna, I can mimic and simplify the process in my oven. It couldn’t be easier.

Simply cut the tomatoes in half, toss them with a little olive oil and salt, and transfer them to a parchment-lined baking sheet, cut-side up. After that, all you need is time and heat. This is the most basic iteration of these tomatoes; you can amp up your flavor profile by tossing in some thyme leaves or thinly sliced garlic.

Types of Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Below are two types of sun-dried tomatoes. The version you want will determine your cooking time.

  • Par-dried tomatoes: This variety of sun-dried tomatoes are deeply roasted with juicy centers. However, they are not fully dried. I love these tomatoes as a side at my breakfast table (think: Australian breakfast), as a topping in my ramen, or chopped up and twirled into pasta.
  • Fully sun-dried tomatoes: This kind of sun-dried tomatoes are similar to the ones you purchase at the store. They are dried all the way through, until the edges and center are completely shriveled and all moisture has escaped. The flavors are even more intense than the par-dried tomatoes.

What Tomatoes Should I Use for Sun-Dried Tomatoes?

Sun-dried tomatoes are typically made with Roma tomatoes. Smaller varieties can also be used. For this recipe, I chose Campari tomatoes because of their small size — they’ll end up being very close in size to the store-bought versions you’re used to. You can use Roma or large cherry tomatoes as well, but you will likely need to adjust your cook time.

How Long Does It Take to Make Sun-Dried Tomatoes?

To make sun-dried tomatoes in the oven you have to mimic the sun. Remember, this is a process that traditionally takes days, so low and slow is the way. In a 200°F oven, you’ll need about five hours for par-dried tomatoes and seven to eight hours for fully dried tomatoes. For even drying, swap the sheet trays in the oven occasionally.

Credit: Jason Rampe

How to Store Sun-Dried Tomatoes

If you’re not using all the par-dried tomatoes right away, store them in the freezer. Let the tomatoes cool completely on the sheet pan then transfer the sheet pan to the freezer. Once the tomatoes are frozen, transfer them to an airtight container and pull them as needed. 

You can store fully-dried tomatoes in two ways. If you’re using them within a week, store them in an airtight container in the fridge. If you’ll be using them over time, add them to a pint-sized jar and cover with olive oil before refrigerating. This will keep bacteria from forming on the surface and will prevent the tomatoes from absorbing moisture.

How to Use Sun-Dried Tomatoes

If you don’t eat them all directly off the tray before you get to use them (I’m very guilty of this!), try these delicious recipes.

Sun-Dried Tomatoes Recipe

For easy (and incredibly flavorful) homemade sun-dried tomatoes, let the oven do all the work.

Prep time 5 minutes

Cook time 5 hours to 8 hours

Makes about 48 dried tomatoes

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds small tomatoes, such as campari or large cherry (about 24)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Arrange 2 racks to divide the oven into thirds and heat the oven to 200ºF. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

  2. Remove the stem from 2 pounds small tomatoes. Cut in half crosswise and transfer to a large bowl. Right before you place them in the oven, drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil, sprinkle with 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, and toss to combine.

  3. Using your hands or a slotted spoon, transfer the tomatoes to the baking sheets. Arrange cut side up and space them evenly apart.

  4. Transfer the baking sheets to the oven and cook, swapping the baking sheets between racks about every hour, 5 to 6 hours total for dried but more juicy tomatoes or 7 to8 hours total for tomatoes that are dried around the edges with very little moisture in the center. Let the tomatoes cool on the baking sheets until room temperature.

  5. To store less dried tomatoes: Freeze until frozen solid, then transfer to an airtight container and keep frozen for up to 6 months. Thaw before using.

  6. To store more dried tomatoes: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week. For longer-term storage, transfer the tomatoes to a pint-sized jar, add enough olive oil to cover, and refrigerate for up to 6 months.