What to Do with Overripe Tomatoes

Overripe tomatoes may not be ideal for a fresh salad, but they still have a lot of potentials. Far from being a lost cause, these tomatoes can be the star of many dishes and preparations. Here’s a guide to making the most of your overripe tomatoes.

1. Tomato Sauce or Paste

Fresh tomatoes with homemade tomato paste in a wooden sppon next to a garlic clove
Fresh tomatoes with homemade tomato paste in a wooden sppon next to a garlic clove

Overripe tomatoes are often sweeter and have a more pronounced flavor, making them perfect for sauces.

  • Procedure: Chop the tomatoes, cook them down with some garlic, onion, herbs, and seasonings of your choice, and then blend to your desired consistency.

2. Tomato Soup

There’s nothing like a rich tomato soup, especially when made with naturally sweet overripe tomatoes.

  • Procedure: Sauté some onions and garlic, add in the chopped tomatoes, a bit of stock or water, and seasonings, then simmer and blend.

3. Salsa or Bruschetta

For a more rustic texture, overripe tomatoes can be turned into a delightful salsa or bruschetta topping.

  • Procedure: Dice the tomatoes, and mix with onions, garlic, basil (for bruschetta) or cilantro (for salsa), lemon or lime juice, and seasonings.

4. Tomato Jam

Yes, tomatoes can be made into a savory or sweet jam!

  • Procedure: Cook down the tomatoes with some sugar, lemon juice, and perhaps a touch of ginger or cinnamon until they reach a jam-like consistency.

5. Roasted Tomatoes

Roasting can intensify the flavor of overripe tomatoes.

  • Procedure: Halve the tomatoes, drizzle with olive oil and seasonings, and roast in a moderate oven until they’re caramelized and flavorful.

6. Tomato Juice or Bloody Mary Mix

Transform those tomatoes into a refreshing drink or a base for cocktails.

  • Procedure: Blend the tomatoes and strain the juice. Add seasonings or spices for a Bloody Mary mix.

7. Freeze for Later

If you don’t have an immediate use for them, overripe tomatoes can be frozen and used in cooked dishes later.

  • Procedure: Simply wash, core, and freeze whole on a baking sheet. Once frozen, transfer to a zip-lock bag.

8. Dehydrated Tomatoes

Turn your overripe tomatoes into tomato “raisins” or powder.

  • Procedure: Slice the tomatoes thinly, season if desired, and use a dehydrator (or an oven on a very low setting) to dry the slices. For tomato powder, simply blend the dried slices.

9. Tomato Salad

Even if they’re a bit overripe, tomatoes can still shine in a salad, especially if paired with strong flavors.

  • Procedure: Mix diced tomatoes with ingredients like feta, olives, capers, or red onion, and toss with a vinaigrette.

10. Compost

If your tomatoes are far too gone, they can still nourish your garden. Add them to your compost pile, and they’ll help create rich soil for future plants.


Overripe tomatoes offer a world of culinary possibilities. Instead of discarding them, utilize these methods to give them new life. Whether it’s a warm soup on a chilly evening or a zesty salsa for a summer BBQ, there’s always a delicious way to repurpose those overripe gems.

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Bubbly Chef author