Tomatoes are a great way to add a burst of flavor to any dish. Their fresh, slightly sweet taste works well with almost everything, making them an easy last-minute addition.
And when you make oven dried tomatoes, that taste only gets better! The extra layer of smoky goodness rounds out the tomato’s amazing fruitiness. Creating a lovely umami that you won’t be able to get enough of.
Read on to find easy step-by-step instructions and all the tips and tricks you could possibly need to fill your pantry with the endless flavor of oven dried tomatoes!
Let’s Make Oven Dried Tomatoes!
Start by preheating your oven to 250º Farrenheit. Be sure to use the bake setting, convection baking or broiling will cause the tomatoes to cook too quickly.
Take your pound of grape or cherry tomatoes and give them a quick rinse before you start cooking. This will not only get rid of the dirt but also any chemicals used to keep insects off the plants.
Now you can slice them down the middle, lengthwise. Try to keep the cut as even as possible, that way there won’t be any really thin pieces that could burn before the others are ready.
With parchment paper or wax paper, line a baking sheet so that none of the tomatoes stick to the pan. Then place each tomato half on the parchment with the open side facing upwards. It’s ok if they are touching.
Sprinkle some sea salt onto the tomatoes. Make sure you don’t miss any in the process since the salt helps to bring out each tomato’s moisture.
When your oven is ready, place the baking sheet on the middle rack and cook your tomatoes for 2.5 hours. After that, you can take them out and check to see if they’re ready.
You want them to be soft and pliable to the touch. They also should release any juices when squeezed.
If some are ready take them out and throw the rest back in the oven. At most, it shouldn’t take longer than 3.5 hours for all your grape or cherry tomatoes to cook.
Different Types of Tomatoes
When making oven-dried tomatoes, pretty much any type of tomato will work. But the time it takes to cook them, their flavor, and how you prepare them might have to change.
There are about 21 small tomato varieties. If you choose one of these, the steps above won’t change at all. But the specific variety could have a very different flavor that will affect how you want to use your finished product.
The Coyote variety is an amazing option when making oven-dried tomatoes. With its yellow, cherry shape, the coyote has one of the sweetest and fruitiest flavors out there. This means it’s going to be even stronger once it’s been cooked in the oven.
Coyotes are the kind of tomatoes you want to mince and sprinkle over top of pasta. Or maybe use one or two of them as a garnish for a dish. Otherwise, they may overpower the rest of your ingredients.
The Sun Gold cherry tomato is another great variety that’s known for its crazy flavor. When it first starts to ripen, this yellowy-orange tomato has a snappy tartness. But that quickly turns into an almost candy-like sweetness if you let it sit on the vine a little longer. No matter when you pick them, they’re an amazing choice for making oven-dried tomatoes!
Medium-sized tomatoes, more commonly known as plum tomatoes, are some of the most popular varieties to use when making oven-dried tomatoes. That’s because the tomatoes will shrink in the oven and plum varieties tend to be a nicer size at the end of the process.
That’s why Roma tomatoes are such a popular choice for people who often oven-dry tomatoes. But varieties larger than cherry or grape require a little extra work to prepare.
After you halve them, you’ll need to scoop out the pulp in the middle before you cook them. Oven-drying tomatoes that large will also take around five hours to be ready. Maybe even seven hours, depending on their exact size and your oven.
In terms of the different tastes, the San Marzano stands out. This tomato has very thin skin and a meaty interior. While most tomatoes have 4 seed chambers, this type has only two! This makes San Marzanos extremely jammy and rich when heated.
It’s pretty uncommon for people to use large varieties when making oven-dried tomatoes despite the incredible textures and tastes that they can have.
If you’re up for the challenge, you’ll have to start by cutting the tomatoes into ¾ – inch slices. This is the only way to get the same drying effect that you would from smaller varieties. If you don’t cut them into slices the edges will likely burn before the middle dries completely. Prepared in slices, it will also only take 2.5 to 3.5 hours for them to cook.
When choosing which type, almost any heirloom tomato is a good choice but the most famous varieties are Brandywine and Purple Cherokee. Brandywine is known for its slightly spicy aftertaste that becomes even bolder when oven-dried. And Purple Cherokee has become one of the most well-regarded tomato varieties for producing that classic, rich flavor everyone loves.
Pineapple and Caspian Pink are some other amazing choices. With Pineapple’s fruity, citrusy taste or Caspian Pink’s amazing color, either tomato variety can turn your dinner plate into a piece of art.
When making oven-dried tomatoes, there are no limits to ways you can personalize your recipe!
If you want to preserve the original freshness of your tomatoes, try adding a drizzle of olive oil. As the aromas evaporate in the oven, the olive oil will be there to pick them up. Creating little beads of freshness along the top of each piece. But don’t drench them, or they won’t dry out properly.
You can also add pretty much any dry seasoning on top of the sea salt to give your finished product an even more complex taste. Garlic, thyme, oregano, and basil will pair best, but anything is on the table. Just keep in mind that the slow cooking process will also enhance the flavors of the spices, so don’t overseason them.
For recipes like this, it’s always best to try the most basic version first. After you know exactly what the end result will taste like, you can really begin to customize your ingredients.
How to Serve Your Oven-Dried Tomatoes
Oven-dried tomatoes are one of the most versatile ingredients to have in your kitchen. Even sprinkling them on a piece of buttered toast will turn a simple breakfast into a gourmet one!
These can also be used to enhance every Italian dish you make! Try throwing them in your next pasta sauce or layering them in a sandwich. You could even toss them into a salad! And that’s just the beginning.
Stews, soups, caramelized onions, and mashed potatoes could all do with a few tomatoes. If some of them got a bit too dry, grind them into a spice rub for your next big grilling project. Or drench them in olive oil and puree them into a tomato pesto.
When something tastes this good, there’s nothing that it can’t be used for!
How to Store Your Oven-Dried Tomatoes
Store your oven-dried tomatoes properly to keep them from going to waste!
In Olive Oil
First, you need to let your tomatoes cool completely. Only once they’ve reached room temperature should you transfer them into a jar or several jars and pour in high-quality olive oil until they are completely covered.
This method is the most popular way to store oven-dried tomatoes. Soaking them in the oil will ensure they don’t dry out quickly, which helps them stay fresh for longer. Depending on how well they were dried, your tomatoes could last for up to two months in the fridge like this.
But the real benefit is the oil. As the tomatoes sit in the oil, the flavors from the two mix together. Your tomatoes will become even richer, and your oil will start to change color and get some of your tomatoes’ amazing smokiness.
Cooking with this olive oil or even drizzling it on top of a dish will add a whole other layer of umami to your meal!
Simply putting your oven-dried tomatoes into a dry, air-tight container is another way to store them. But they won’t last as long using this method.
Kept in the fridge, your tomatoes will stay good for around two weeks. But they will lose a lot of their plumpness and flavor before then. If you want to dry store your tomatoes, it’s best to make smaller batches you plan to use quickly.
Enjoy Your Oven-Dried Tomatoes!
Follow these easy, step-by-step instructions to get beautifully oven-dried tomatoes on demand and add a punch of flavor to every dish.
No matter what you’re eating, these tomatoes will make it better!
If you’re looking for more information to help you pick the perfect tomato, check out our Tomato Varieties blog posts!
- 1 lb cherry, grape, or Roma tomatoes
- Sea salt or kosher salt
- Olive oil (optional)
- Preheat oven to 250º F.
- Wash your tomatoes.
- Slice the tomatoes lengthwise.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or wax paper.
- Place your tomatoes on the baking sheet with the open halves facing up.
- Salt your tomatoes.
- Bake for 2.5 to 3.5 hours or until the tomatoes are soft and pliable to the touch.