With a crispy flour and cornmeal crust, these easy-to-make, golden fried green tomatoes taste sweet and tender and totally addicting when dunked into my simple garlic aioli dipping sauce.
With a short growing season here in Utah, it feels like we just barely get our tomato harvest in full swing when it suddenly stops short. Before you know it, those plump and juicy red tomatoes we’ve been carefully cultivating for summertime BLT’s and the best balsamic-drizzled caprese salads, are facing the frost of fall.
Why Jack Frost? WHYYY? #shakesfistatsky
Not to go to waste, you’re left wondering what to do with the bounty of green tomatoes from the garden. Oh baby, fry those tomatoes up! Or, if you’re like me, this classic southern fried tomato recipe just might have you plucking your green tomatoes well before the late summer harvest, too.
What Are Fried Green Tomatoes?
Growing up in the West, I don’t think I’d even heard of southern fried green tomatoes before college. That’s when I first read the Fanny Flag book Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe. The tales of the book and Fried Green Tomatoes movie were enough to jump start my cravings. Nowadays, those cravings seem to perk as soon as I plant tomatoes in my garden every spring.
Fried green tomatoes use firm, unripened tomatoes. Look for green tomatoes that are lighter in weight than red tomatoes, since they haven’t developed their juice. The’ll likely be very light green in color.
Beefsteak, celebrity or early girl tomato varieties work well for fried green tomatoes. Heirloom green tomatoes will be juicier if using and may not hold up to the cooking process.
Don’t be too concerned if your green tomatoes begin to turn red in spots before cooking them. As long as they’re mostly green and firm, they’ll still cook fine.
Ingredients for Fried Green Tomatoes
Here’s what else is on your grocery list:
- Obviously you’ll need green tomatoes
- all purpose flour
- buttermilk (or substitute 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice with 1 cup milk)
- bread crumbs (use plain breadcrumbs)
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- cayenne pepper
- green tomatoes
- canola or grape seed oil (for their higher smoke point)
How to Make Fried Green Tomatoes
Fried green tomatoes don’t take much effort, just a little coordination.
A mix of cornmeal and bread crumbs provide the perfect crunch. A pinch of cayenne gives just the right bite.
Dip the tomatoes into dry, then wet, then dry. Dip in the flour, then the buttermilk, then the cornmeal / bread crumbs. It’s repetitive and oddly therapeutic.
TIP: Use one hand to do the dip and dredge or you’ll have two gummed up hands instead of just one.
How to Cook Fried Green Tomatoes
Use a cast-iron skillet or a heavy bottom skillet for frying the fried green tomatoes. I find cast-iron skillets hold the temperature more consistently than a regular skillet, and won’t discolor the pan.
Use a thermometer to monitor the oil temperature. My candy thermometer does double duty to make sure the oil hits 350 degrees for the perfect temp to create a golden crust. Too low of a temp will result in a soggy crust, and too high and you’ll scorch the suckers.
Don’t crowd the pan. Remember that as you add the coated tomatoes to the skillet the temperature will drop but will rise as the tomatoes cook.
What Do Fried Green Tomatoes Taste Like?
To me and my savory side, fried green tomatoes taste like candy. There’s something magical that happens to firm, green tomatoes when they’re coated in a cornmeal crust and fried:
- The sugars inside caramelize and sweeten.
- The golden cornmeal crust is crunchy yet light.
- They’re frigging delicious.
How to Freeze Fried Green Tomatoes
Like many fried foods, green tomatoes are a good candidate for prepping ahead, freezing, and cooking later.
- Slice the green tomatoes, then layer on a cutting board or cookie sheet that will fit into your freezer, lined with wax paper.
- Freeze the slices individually, then store the frozen tomato slices in a freezer bag.
- When ready to cook, DO NOT THAW.
- Prep the still frozen tomato slices by dredging in the flour, buttermilk, and cornmeal, and cook as instructed.
What to Serve With Fried Green Tomatoes
As an appetizer, I love these fried green tomatoes dipped with:
- 3-ingredient garlic aioli (recipe below)
- buttermilk ranch dressing
- Greek yogurt and cucumber tzatziki dip
- simple roasted tomato sauce is delicious too.
- creamy avocado salsa verde
Or, squeeze with lemon and eat in their own glory.
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a rating on this recipe below and leave a comment, take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
How to Make THE BEST Fried Green Tomatoes
For the Fried Green Tomatoes
- 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup cornmeal
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 4 green tomatoes , sliced into 3/8 inch slices, discard the bottoms and tops
- 2-3 cups canola or grape seed oil
For the Garlic Aioli
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1-2 cloves garlic , pressed
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- pinch kosher salt
For the Fried Green Tomatoes
- Scoop the flour onto a plate or in large bowl. Pour the buttermilk into another bowl. Mix the cornmeal, bread crumbs, kosher salt, black pepper and cayenne on another plate or in a bowl.
- Dip one tomato slice into the flour, tossing so both sides and all of the edges are coated. Dip in the buttermilk then dredge in the cornmeal bread crumb mixture, gently patting both sides so the coating adheres. Place on a wire rack and continue with the rest of the tomatoes.
- Pour enough oil into a cast iron pan to fill it about 1/2 inch from the bottom. Heat the oil to 350 degrees F. I test my oil's temperature with a candy thermometer.
- Fry the tomatoes in batches, about 4 to 6 at a time, flipping once so both sides are lightly browned.
- Drain the tomatoes on another wire rack that's set over paper towels. Repeat with the rest of the tomatoes.
- Serve the tomatoes hot with the garlic aioli sauce and a squeeze of lemon if you like.
For the Garlic Aioli
- Mix the mayonnaise with the other ingredients until blended. Refrigerate up to 2 weeks.
More Easy Crunchy Appetizer Ideas to Try
- 5-Ingredient Chipotle Chicken Taquitos
- Baked Zucchini Parmesan Crisps
- Crab Cake Poppers
- Crispy Parmesan Buttermilk Chicken Tenders (Baked and Air Fryer)
- Fried Mac and Cheese Balls Recipe
- Killer Garlic Fries with Rosemary
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