(not) Sun Dried Tomato Sauce

$1.17 recipe
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.91 from 22 votes
Pin RecipeJump to recipe →

This post contains some affiliate links, which means that we make a small commission off items you purchase at no additional cost to you.

You know those little jars of sun dried tomatoes packed in delicious herb infused olive oil that cost about $5 a pop? This (not) Sun Dried Tomato Sauce is just like those yummy tomatoes. …Except not. Ha!

This was completely a happy accident and now my life will never be the same. I started out wanting to make something similar to this magic sauce, but was going to use it as a base for my homemade pizza tonight, so I added some tomato paste to make it more, well, pizza-like. When I gave it a taste I was absolutely stunned. it tasted just like those oil packed sun dried tomatoes!

Not Sun Dried Tomato Sauce in pan with spoon
I was so happy because nearly every time I’m at the store I want to buy those expensive little tomatoes, but the price always holds me back. Now I know I can make something that tastes really, really similar and for VERY little money.

So, what do you do with this “sauce”? Well….

  • Use it as a pizza sauce (like I’m going to do tonight)
  • Toss it with warm pasta, and then top with some parmesan cheese
  • Use it as an uber flavorful sandwich spread (best with focaccia or other hearty bread)
  • Use in place of garlic butter on sliced french bread for a tomatoey version of garlic toast
  • Just go ahead and dip really good, crusty bread in it!

It’s so good that I’m sure you can come up with a million more yummy things to do with it!

Share this recipe

(not) Sun Dried Tomato Sauce

4.91 from 22 votes
A quick and easy tomato sauce that tastes like it’s made with expensive sun dried tomatoes, but it’s not!
Servings 2
Cook 10 minutes
Total 10 minutes


  • 1/3 cup olive oil ($0.64)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced ($0.08)
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano ($0.03)
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil ($0.03)
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme ($0.02)
  • 1/4 tsp dried rosemary ($0.02)
  • a pinch crushed red pepper ($0.02)
  • 10-15 cranks freshly cracked pepper ($0.02)
  • 1/2 tsp salt ($0.02)
  • 3 oz. tomato paste ($0.27)
  • 1/2 tsp honey ($0.02)


  • Add the olive oil, garlic, basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, crushed red pepper, salt, and some freshly cracked pepper to a small skillet. Stir and heat the mixture over low heat for about 3 minutes. It’s okay if it sizzles slightly, but you don’t want it to get hot enough that the herbs burn.
  • Add the tomato paste and honey. Allow it to heat through as you stir. It will not form a smooth sauce. Continue to stir and heat over low for about 5 minutes or until you notice the tomato paste has darkened slightly. Either use immediately or refrigerate until ready to use!

See how we calculate recipe costs here.


If you don’t have all of the herbs listed above, you can still make a pretty good version of this. The thyme, rosemary, crushed red pepper, and freshly cracked pepper are optional. Of course, for the most flavor use them all


Serving: 1ServingCalories: 730.6kcalCarbohydrates: 21.9gProtein: 4.3gFat: 72.7gSodium: 1473.4mgFiber: 4.8g
Read our full nutrition disclaimer here.
Email Me This Recipe
Get this sent to your inbox, plus get new recipes from us every week!
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

How to Make Sun Dried Tomato Sauce – Step By Step Photos

Olive Oil and Herbs in skillet
Start by adding 1/3 cup olive oil, 1 clove minced garlic, 1/2 tsp dried oregano, 1/2 tsp dried basil, 1/4 tsp dried thyme, 1/4 tsp dried rosemary, a pinch of red pepper flakes, a generous dose of freshly cracked pepper (10-15 cranks of a pepper mill), and 1/2 tsp salt. Heat over low for a few minutes. It’s okay if the oil sizzles just slightly, but don’t let it burn. Cooking it for a few minutes helps infuse the oil with the herbal flavor and cooks out the raw garlic flavor.

Tomato Paste and Honey added to other ingredients in skillet
Next add 3oz. (half of a 6oz. can or about 1/3 cup) tomato paste and 1/2 tsp honey. Don’t forget to freeze the rest of your tomato paste so that you have it on hand the next time you need some! 

Finished Not Sun Dried Tomato Sauce in skillet
Cook and stir over low heat until it’s heated through and the tomato paste has darkened slightly (see the difference between the vibrant red in the last picture and this deep crimson color?). That should take about 5 minutes. Now it’s ready to use! 

Close up of Not Sun Dried Tomato Sauce
This recipe makes about a half cup of (not) Sun Dried Tomato Sauce. The “sauce” will not be a smooth, cohesive mixture because of the oil/water thing happening. But, that doesn’t mean it’s not delicious! Can you almost TASTE it?!

Share this recipe

Posted in: , , , , ,

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Leave a Comment
    1. I’m not sure, to be honest, I’d need to test it to see how it turns out. But the sauce is such a small quantity that you’d need a VERY small slow cooker, anyway. It only takes about 10 minutes on the stove top, so unless you’re using the slow cooker because you don’t have a skillet or stove top, it probably isn’t worth using the slow cooker.

      1. Thanks for the fast reply! I hate going anywhere near a hob in August (no a/c) but I went ahead and did it and I am so glad that I did. It just cooled down enough to test and my partner and I can not stop eating it.

        I’m newly vegetarian and struggle sometimes to get the depth of flavor I’m used to without meat. This was absolutely fantastic. I already have a list of ways I want to try it. I’m going to start with mini pizzas tonight if there’s any left. Thank you so much for this great recipe!

  1. This recipe saved dinner. Down to pantry basics, our of jarred pasta sauce, and we got something really quite nice on the table. Thanks!

  2. Sometimes eating on a tight budget sucks. Tonight was not one of those nights! This sauce gave me so much flavor for so little money! I used it to make pizza, and it far exceeded my expectations. Thank you, Beth! 💖

  3. Do you think that you could substitute this for sun-dried tomatoes in an alfredo sauce?

    1. I’m not sure, I think I’d need to test it to see if anything weird happens when combining the two. Sometimes when you add something very acidic to creamy sauce it can cause it to curdle, although a high fat content in the sauce, which alfredo has, can sometimes prevent that.

  4. Holy smokes was this delicious! Had this over pasta and it was so incredibly rich and flavorful. It was also easy to have this going in one pot while the pasta was cooking in another. I’ll definitely be making this one again. Thanks for another great recipe! The world is a better place for having this sauce in it!

  5. It is difficult to overstate the stretch value of this sauce … I literally cannot imagine when I won’t have some pasta or bread, as well as some frozen or canned tomato paste on hand (with the oil and spices) to make this recipe to glorious result! It tastes extremely sweet and satisfying on pasta (nowhere near the “deprivation feeling” one can get when so limited by what’s in the house), and can also do extra duty as a compliment-worthy hostess spread for crusty bread or pizza sauce! Not to mention the fact that you can freeze the leftover sauce for later too! This will be a new staple!

  6. I made this for the first time today and it tastes fantastic! I wanted to see if I could make the sauce more cohesive, so I added about 1/2 tsp liquid lecithin, and it emulsified the sauce pretty well, though it still split a little so I may use a different emulsifier next time. In any case, this is definitely going to the top of my list of go-to tomato sauces, and I think I’ll use it next time my partner and I make pizza!

  7. Thank you! I had a sundried tomato emergency (glanced in the pantry at roasted red peppers, without my glasses on). You saved me a trip too the store!