(not) Sun Dried Tomato Sauce

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!

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!

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(not) Sun Dried Tomato Sauce

4.91 from 20 votes A quick and easy tomato sauce that tastes like it’s made with expensive sun dried tomatoes, but it’s not! Author: Beth – Budget Bytes Cook 10 minutes Total 10 minutes Save RecipeSaved! Print Recipe


  • 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. Have you tried this recipe?Mention @budgetbytes or tag #budgetbytes on Instagram!

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

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.

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! 

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! 

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?!

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