This cherry tomato confit is one of the best ways to preserve the taste of fresh summer tomatoes for your cold winter nights! Grab a batch of fresh and juicy tomatoes and some olive oil, and we're in business. It's tart, delicious, and screams summertime (even when it's not!)
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🍅 What is tomato confit?
Confit is a French technique that was mainly used for preserving meats and vegetables. In the case of tomato confit, the tomatoes are seasoned, slowly cooked, and preserved in fat — typically olive oil — and spices. The tomatoes are cooked until soft and flavorful, and the olive oil takes on a rich, tomatoey flavor!
💭 Why you'll love this tomato confit recipe
- Requires almost no active prep or cook time! This simple recipe just needs six simple ingredients (minus salt and pepper!) and a little patience to wait for them to cook in the oven!
- A delicious way to preserve fresh tomatoes for the winter. I'm all about getting people to eat seasonally. Take advantage of tomato season by making this tomato confit. This is the perfect way to preserve fresh summer tomatoes for the cold winter nights.
- Vegan, gluten-free, and nut-free recipe. The best part about this cherry tomato confit recipe is that it caters to a wide range of dietary preferences without compromising on flavors!
- Perfect for make-ahead and freezing. Once I make a large batch of tomato confit, I portion and freeze them (great alternative to canning!) Then, I can just pull them out as needed to top off my avocado toast, or Korean street toast, or throw them on a good pesto pasta!
📋 Ingredients and notes
You'll need cherry tomatoes, olive oil, whole garlic cloves, fresh basil leaves, dried oregano, fresh thyme sprigs, salt, and pepper.
What type of tomatoes should I use?
I have used whole cherry tomatoes in this recipe, but you can use almost any type of tomato as long as they're fresh, ripe, and juicy! For a quick look at the different types of tomatoes, check out the infographic below. This is purely a preference thing, but I like cherry, vine, or Roma tomatoes for my confit. You can also use heirloom tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes, or grape tomatoes.
Other notes and variations
- Extra-virgin olive oil. You're basically going to submerge the tomatoes in oil. So to get the best results I try to use extra virgin olive oil for tons of flavour and health benefits (studies show that cooking tomatoes in good quality olive oil breaks down lycopene, a key component that is hypothesized to help reduce the risk of cancers, and makes it more available to your body).
- Herb variations. I love using basil, oregano, and thyme together since it really brings the full Mediterranean suite of flavors to the tomato confit. But you can use other herbs such as fresh rosemary (or leave them out) to your preference. If you don't have fresh herbs, you can add dried herbs (like dried basil) later.
📖 Make the best cherry tomato and garlic confit!
Preheat your oven to 250°F, or the lowest temperature your oven can go!
Add tomatoes (I like keeping the green parts since they help hold the structure, but you can remove this before you bake if you wish!) and a few cloves of garlic.
Season liberally with sea salt and black pepper, and then drizzle the tomatoes and garlic with enough olive oil so it covers them entirely.
Bake for about 1.5 to 2.5 hours until the sides of the tomatoes are blistered (but they should still retain their shape).
Remove the green parts and peel the garlic (if you didn't already). Your tomato confit is ready!
👩🏽🍳Top tips and FAQs
The main difference between the two lies in the amount of oil used. Roasted tomatoes are typically lightly drizzled with oil. However, tomato confit involves cooking the tomatoes in a lot of oil! This preservation method slows down the process of caramelization and helps retain structure.
Oh, the joys of being able to cook with confit oil! I love using it in place of cooking oil when I normally cook. I also love using it in salads and salad dressings as it adds a delicious, complex flavor (e.g., to massage kale in this kale salad, or to drizzle over some fresh and luscious tomatoes in this Caprese salad).
You can substitute the thyme, oregano, or basil with dried versions if you prefer. However, those are typically more potent - so season cautiously (no more than a half teaspoon each).
Yes. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over low-medium heat. Add the tomatoes, thyme, oregano, salt, and pepper to the saucepan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are soft and slightly browned, about 1 hour. Remove the tomatoes from the heat and let them cool slightly.
🍴 What to serve with tomato confit
Oh my, where do I even start?! My favorite way to eat this is straight out of the jar, but with that out of the way, here are a few delicious ways to eat cherry tomato confit:
- Top your toasts. I love adding these preserved tomatoes to my avocado toasts, any type of crusty bread, or even some of my more elaborate sandwiches (like this Korean Gilgeori toast).
- Top your pasta. Tomato confit and basil pesto are a match made in heaven. I also love using this with other kinds of pesto pastas (like my broccoli pesto with whipped ricotta at the bottom).
- Top your salads. Tomato confit tastes great with almost any salad. I've thrown them on my Caprese salad and into my tortellini salad (even added it to my mango salsa once!)
Store: Once the tomato confit is done cooking, you can transfer it to an airtight, sterilized container and store it in the fridge for a couple of weeks (up to 1 month). I prefer to store it in an airtight jar. Make sure to cover completely with olive oil so there's no chance of oxidation from the air. I find it never lasts more than a week or two in my house.
Freeze: I first portion the confit into individual, freezer-proof ice cube trays. In this case, you can freeze the tomato confit for 1 to 3 months. Freezing it this way is a great alternative to pressure canning!
Note: The olive oil will harden (regardless of storage in the fridge or freezing) so make sure to bring them up to room temperature before you eat them. If freezing, bring the portion you want to eat into the fridge the night before, and then to room temperature. Throw them straight into sauces!
Other Summer Recipes:
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- 1 lb cherry tomatoes, substitute with Roma or vine tomatoes
- 4 garlic cloves
- ¼ cup olive oil, extra virgin preferred
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme, check notes for dried herbs
- 2 sprigs fresh oregano, check notes for dried herbs
- 12 basil leaves
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Preheat your oven to 250°F
- In a deep baking dish, add 2 sprigs of fresh thyme and oregano and 10-12 fresh basil leaves. Add 1 lb of cherry tomatoes and ~4 garlic cloves. Season generously with sea salt and black pepper.
- Pour ¼ cup of olive oil over the tomatoes and make sure the tomatoes are covered with olive oil.
- Bake at 250°F for 2.5 to 3.5 hours - when done, the tomatoes will appear blistered but still retain the shape.
- If you haven't already removed the green parts of the tomatoes and the garlic peels, remove those.
- Transfer the confit into a sterilized airtight glass jar, cover with olive oil (you can top up if there isn't enough oil) and store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks!
- Types of tomatoes. You can use almost any type of fresh, juicy, ripe tomato in this tomato confit. I prefer using cherry tomatoes since it doesn't require additional prep time! However, you can use vine or Roma tomatoes - just halve them!
- Fresh versus dried herbs and variations. I find that the combination of basil, oregano and thyme (or lemon thyme) gives me the best approximation to the Mediterranean flavors I used to love in tomato confit (when I lived in Italy). I prefer fresh herbs since you can chuck them into the storing jar but you can substitute with dried herbs (approximately half a teaspoon each). You can also add red pepper flakes or other herbs of your choice.
- Storing: You'll want to make sure the tomato confit is not exposed to air - so once you transfer to an airtight container, cover with olive oil until the top is fully covered. Then store in the fridge (potentially up to a month, but ideally 2 weeks).
- Freezing: You can portion this into individual freezer-safe containers (or better yet, ice cube trays!) to freeze up to a couple of months. Make sure to thaw (since olive oil will harden in the fridge or freezer).