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Cheaper Cheater “Sun-Dried” Tomato Spread Recipe

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Cheaper Cheater Tomato Spread

I have had a bag of sun-dried tomatoes sitting in my pantry for two months. While just about anything else I did not buy in bulk has rotated through there, on the shelf it sits.

It’s not that I don’t have ideas for how to use it. I have tons… it’s just… I want to save it for an extra special time.

I’ve loved sun-dried tomatoes for years, ever since that creamy sun-dried tomato paste my mom used to make. They’re just not exactly on the cheap side. So, when I had a few extra dollars, for a couple ounces I got them… and there they sit.

Cheaper Cheater Tomato Spread

In the meantime though, I am getting my love for that rich tomato flavor for pennies. One that I am actually willing to make, and use without a supernatural sign that says “this is an occasional special enough to use the real deal.”

It is a cheaper cheater “sun-dried” tomato spread – made from tomato paste. 

Yes, I am a cheater cheater tomato paste eater.

Concentrating on Flavor

Tomato paste and sun-dried tomatoes are hardly the same. They are both concentrated tomato flavors, and that is where the similarities end. But, that is enough to work with, especially when I am motivated by the cost difference in a dollar can of tomato paste vs. a $5 bottle of sun-dried tomato spread.

Cheaper Cheater Tomato Spread horzontal

The first step is to caramelize the tomato paste. If you put tomato paste and oil in a pan and cook over medium heat, the paste changes colors and the oil takes on a beautiful red hue.

Then of course comes the seasoning. I have seasoned this in different ways, and when I opened my spice drawer to make this one more time in order to write the post, the rosemary and nutmeg begged to be used. Despite feeling like I should stop listening when spices talk to me, I listened and was glad I did. They were simple but delicious additions.

Other flavors are garlic, because garlic runs my kitchen, and white wine vinegar to get a bit of the tang that is present in sun-dried tomato. Of course salt too. Plenty of it!

Cheaper Cheater Tomato Spread

After it is flavored and caramelized it needs only to be blended, to help incorporate the oil, and then it is ready and willing to be spread on bread, crackers, or in our “we eat a unique diet thanks to allergies” way lentil wraps.

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Cheaper Cheater “Sun-Dried” Tomato Spread Recipe

  • Yield: 1/2 c. 1x


I love the concentrated tanginess of sundried tomatoes, but not the price, so here is a cheaper cheater version of sundried tomato spread that gets that richness of flavor for pennies.



ship kroger


  1. In a small pot mix the olive oil (use the code STEWARDSHIP for 10% off at that site!), garlic, rosemary, and nutmeg. Put over medium heat and cook and stir for a minute or two or until the garlic is translucent.
  2. Add the tomato paste (in glass jars, no BPA!), and begin to break it up into the oil (they won’t mix). Stir and cook for 4-5 minutes until the tomato paste looks darker and the oil is very red.
  3. Transfer to a blender or food processor and pulse together. Add in the vinegar and salt (Use the code kitchenstewardship for 15% off of your first purchase) to taste (you’ll want it salty since it is a spread.)
  4. Store in the fridge. Pictured it is straight from the fridge, and therefore kind of thick, if you want it thinner let sit out of the fridge for 30 minutes or so.

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What are your favorite sandwich spreads?

Cheaper Cheater Tomato Spread Recipe - skip the pricey sun-dried tomatoes and in 5 minutes you can get almost the same taste with a $1 can of tomato paste and this cool trick.

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11 thoughts on “Cheaper Cheater “Sun-Dried” Tomato Spread Recipe”

  1. Could this be frozen? I use it as a pizza sauce, and would to make a double batch and freeze half.

  2. I use straight tomato paste on my kids’ pizzas. It’s too sweet for me, but it seems more nutrient dense than tomato sauce.
    But I would probably love this! With some fresh mozzarella as the cracker…. and a basil leaf on top (or parsley or cilantro while I wait for the basil….)

  3. Katie, the link for the lentil wraps doesn’t work. Please update that! I’m interested! Thank you….

      1. I tried the link just now and it still doesn’t work. I’m interested in the wraps too. They look tasty!

  4. Tracy Spangler

    Thank you so much for sharing this delicious, budget-friendly recipe! Due to the high cost of sun dried tomatoes, and my extremely limited grocery budget, any recipes I come across that include sun dried tomatoes are immediately bookmarked in my ‘Maybe When I When The Lottery’ recipe collection. I’m so excited that I can revisit these recipes and see if your super cheater sun dried tomato spread will work!

    Quick question: many of these recipes call for a jar of chopped sun dried tomatoes in oil. Can I substitute this recipe, or is there some way to tweak it, perhaps with the addition of a small amount of diced tomatoes?

    Thanks for this, and all your other fantastic posts!
    Tracy S.

  5. This sounds really good Debra! We LOVE anything Greek, so I can see using this as a spread for pitas, wraps or even grilled cheese – thank you for experimenting for the rest of us!

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