Have you ever tried fried green tomatoes? If you haven't, you're in for a treat. They are delicious and a lot of fun to make.
Since fried green tomatoes are popular in the South, you might have guessed a Southerner invented it, but legend has it that a northern farmer's wife did. She was picking her unripe tomatoes before an early frost came, and was wondering what she could do with all of them. The thought of breading them and frying them popped into her mind, and a terrific recipe was born.
Why This Recipe Works
- The green tomatoes are cut in ¼ inch uniform slices to give them a good crust-to-tomato ratio.
- Draw out excess moisture and balance the tartness by sprinkling the green tomatoes with salt and sugar.
- Blot off excess oil with paper towel to cut down excess grease, then sprinkle on salt for improved flavor.
- Keep finished slices warm in a 200°F oven on a baking tray while you are frying up the rest of the green tomatoes.
The ingredients for our fried green tomato recipe are easy to find, and the summer is the best time to get fresh green tomatoes.
- Vegetables: We used fresh green tomatoes from a grocery store, but you can also check at your local farmer's market. If you have a tomato plant in your backyard, this is ideal.
- Dairy: We used buttermilk and an egg.
- Oil: We used peanut oil for the best taste and high smoke point.
- Dry Goods: We used self-rising cornmeal and all purpose flour. If you need to substitute the cornmeal, use panko breadcrumbs.
- Sweetener: We used granulated white sugar, but you can also use monk fruit.
See recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
How to Make
Gather all the ingredients for the fried green tomato recipe.
- Slice the green tomatoes using a steady hand and a very sharp chef's knife.
- Spread the green tomatoes out on paper towel-lined trays and sprinkle with kosher salt and granulated sugar. Allow them to sit for 20 minutes so they can sweat.
3. Prepare the flour mixture for breading by dumping the salt and white pepper into the flour.
4. Whisk until well combined.
5. Beat the egg and buttermilk together with a fork.
6. Dip each sliced tomato in the flour mixture, the egg mixture, and finally the cornmeal. Place on a towel lined baking tray. Repeat with the rest of the tomatoes. If you want to freeze them, this is where you would stop to flash freeze them on a tray.
7. Heat up the peanut oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat to 360°F. You can test the oil to see if it's the right temperature by sticking the handle of a wooden spoon into the hot oil; if the oil starts to bubble around the handle, it's ready. Watch our video in the recipe card to see this step.
Cook 4 slices at a time for 2 minutes on each side. Keep your eye on them, so they don't get to brown. When they are the right color, carefully flip them over with a metal spatula or tongs. Once done, place them on a baking tray, and sprinkle with salt (optional) while the slices are still warm.
8. While you're busy cooking up the rest, keep the fried green tomatoes warm in a low oven (200°F) on a baking tray. Serve while still fresh and enjoy eating the fried green tomatoes plain or with your favorite spicy dipping sauce.
Most chefs agree that a serrated knife is best, but if one isn't around, use a sharp chef's knife.
These are both cooking techniques. Dredging occurs when a moist ingredient is pulled through a dry ingredient to coat it. The breading process continues with a wet ingredient like a beaten egg or buttermilk, and then finishes with a dry ingredient like breadcrumbs or cornmeal. These techniques help to keep the moisture in the food during the cooking process.
If you don't own a thermometer that can give a good reading in a tiny amount of oil, use these techniques.
Wooden Spoon Test: stick the handle of a wooden spoon into the hot oil, if the oil starts to bubble around the handle it's ready.
Drop of Batter: If the oil is just right, it will fry up the batter.
White Rice: drop in a grain of rice, when it's 360°F, it will float to the top. If it isn't hot enough it will sink.
Unripe or green tomatoes are firmer and have less moisture, so they hold their shape better in hot oil than ripe, red tomatoes.
Fried green tomatoes taste amazing with a dipping sauce like Chick-fil-A sauce, lemon wedges, or a sweet onion relish. Fried green tomatoes can also be used in sandwiches like this grilled pimento cheese sandwich, and are part of the traditional Southern vegetable plate. They taste wonderful with a poached egg in a breakfast sandwich.
Other ways you can use green tomatoes are in dill pickles, relishes, tomato pie, salsa verde, ketchup, and soup.
- Make Ahead: Fried green tomatoes tastes best when made fresh, but you can do some prep work ahead of time.
- Leftovers: Store any leftover fried green tomatoes in an airtight container in the fridge for up three days.
- Reheat: Place the fried green tomatoes in hot oil and fry them to reheat them.
- Freeze: Yes, you can freeze fried green tomatoes that haven't been cooked yet. Flash freeze them first in a single layer on a baking tray then carefully stack them in a freezer friendly container. When ready to use thaw in the fridge and fry them up.
- Test the temperature of the oil by using the handle of a wooden spoon. You'll see tiny bubbles when ready.
- You can freeze slices of green tomatoes or battered green tomatoes on baking sheets, then transfer to freezer bags to enjoy fried green tomatoes year round.
- Peanut oil was used for the fried green tomatoes because of the flavor it provides and because it has the highest resistance to burning.
Other Southern Recipes
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Fried Green Tomatoes
Prepping the Tomatoes
- Line two large cookie sheets with paper towel.
- Rinse and slice the tomatoes, then spread out the slices on the paper towels.
- Sprinkle the tomato slices with salt and sugar, and let them sit for a few minutes. This process is called sweating. The salt draws out some of the water so the breading won't be as mushy, and the sugar helps counteract the tartness.
Dredging and Breading the Tomatoes
- Get out three bowls. Fill the first one with flour mixed with salt and white pepper. Fill the second one with a beaten egg and buttermilk, and the last one with self-rising cornmeal.
- Dredge and bread the tomato slices one at a time. Coat both sides and the sides of each slice in the flour, then the egg/buttermilk, and finally in the cornmeal, using a fork or your fingers to flip the slice. Be sure to shake off any extra flour or cornmeal.
- Place the breaded tomatoes back on the paper towel lined cookie sheets.
Frying the Tomatoes
- Preheat the oven to 200 F and get a large baking sheet ready for the finished fried green tomatoes to keep warm.
- In a 10-inch cast iron skillet, heat 1 to 1 ½ cups of peanut oil over medium-high heat. The oil is ready when there are bubbles around the end of a wooden spoon. Make sure the oil level is shallow, since you don't want to submerge the slices. If the oil is bubbling too much, or smoking, turn the temperature down.
- Using a metal flipper, carefully lower 4 tomato slices into the hot oil. You don't want to overcrowd the skillet, as it will lower the temperature of the oil. Turn the heat down to medium.
- Cook the tomatoes for 2 to 3 minutes per side, until nicely browned. Flip the slices using metal tongs, being careful not to splatter oil.
- Once the tomatoes have nicely browned, use the metal tongs to move them to a baking tray. Optional, while they are still warm, sprinkle salt on both sides of the tomato slices.
- Keep the batches of fried green tomatoes warm by placing them on a cookie sheet in a 200 F oven.
- Serve the fried green tomatoes hot or warm. You can serve them plain, with a spicy dipping sauce, lemon wedges, or a sweet onion relish. Fried green tomatoes are also used in grilled sandwiches, and are part of the traditional Southern vegetable plate. They also taste great with a poached egg in a breakfast sandwich.
- Don't have a thermometer? You can test the temperature of the oil by using the handle of a wooden spoon. You'll see tiny bubbles when it's ready.
- Want to enjoy this year round? Freeze slices of green tomatoes or breaded tomatoes on baking sheets, then transfer to freezer bags.
- Peanut oil has the highest resistance to burning and provides the best flavor for fried green tomatoes.
Serving sizes and nutritional information are only an estimate and may vary from your results.