With a crispy flour and cornmeal crust, this easy-to-make, golden-fried green tomatoes taste sweet and tender and totally addicting when paired with my simple, creamy 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. Not to go to waste, you’re left wondering what to do with the bounty of green tomatoes from the garden. Don’t delay, 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. This simple Southern fried green tomatoes recipe makes for the perfect summer appetizer or side, but these ‘maters are also perfect between two slices of buttery, toasted white bread for an epic fried green tomato grilled sandwich. For 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. They’ll likely be very light green in color.
What is so Special About 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. I think what’s so special about fried green tomatoes (other than how brief their window is) is their slightly sour taste and firm texture, which are a delicious contrast to the salty fried breading. They’re such a treat.
What’s in These Fried Green Tomatoes
Here’s what you’ll need to make these:
- green tomatoes—Beefsteak, celebrity, or early girl tomato varieties work best for frying
- all-purpose flour
- buttermilk—some people use an egg mixture for dredging their tomatoes, but I prefer the rich and tender flavor of buttermilk (and its thick coating, which helps the breadcrumb mixture adhere better). If you don’t have any buttermilk, you can substitute 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice with 1 cup of milk).
- breadcrumbs (use plain breadcrumbs)
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- cayenne pepper (paprika, or even creole seasoning would also be yummy)
- canola, grapeseed, or vegetable oil (for their higher smoke point)
How to Make Fried Green Tomatoes
Fried green tomatoes don’t take much effort, just a little coordination. Before you get started, make sure you choose the right green tomatoes. Beefsteak, celebrity, or early girl tomato varieties work best for frying. Heirloom green tomatoes will be juicier if used and may not hold up to the cooking process.
Here’s how to make these fried green tomatoes:
A mix of cornmeal and breadcrumbs provides the perfect crunch. A pinch of cayenne gives just the right bite. Whisk your dry ingredients together.
Dip the tomatoes into dry, then wet, then dry. Dip in the flour mixture, then the buttermilk, then the cornmeal/breadcrumbs. 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°F for the perfect temp to create a golden brown 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. Fry your tomatoes in a single layer and remember that as you add the coated tomatoes to the skillet the temperature will drop but will rise as they cook.
Note: 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.
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
Why Fry Green Tomatoes and Not Red Tomatoes?
Green tomatoes (because they’re younger and firmer) stand up better to frying than red tomatoes, which are too soft and delicate and will likely not hold together for frying.
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 so yummy
- creamy avocado salsa verde
- A remoulade sauce would also be delish
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
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup buttermilk
- ½ cup cornmeal
- ½ cup bread crumbs
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne
- 4 green tomatoes , sliced into ⅜ 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 breadcrumb 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 ½ inch from the bottom. Heat the oil to 350°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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