Fried Green Tomatoes are crispy on the outside and tangy and juicy on the inside. They are a fantastic appetizer all on their own, or you can use them to make salads, serve as a side, or use to top sandwiches and burgers!
Our garden is always overrun with tomatoes. We use them for southern tomato pie, pico de gallo, tomato basil bruschetta, and Georgian chicken stew with tomatoes, to name just a few of the many tomato recipes we love. But picking some of the tomatoes early to make fried green tomatoes means we don't have to wait for all of them to completely ripen before we can start enjoying them!
Like so many people not from the South, I've long had curiosity about fried green tomatoes. Where do you find a green tomatoes? (Hint: in your garden or farmer's market, almost never at the store). What do they taste like? Are they really as popular in the South as we think? Does green tomato pie really taste like apple! (Answer: Yes!)
For those of us not raised or living in the South, fried green tomatoes are popular all over in the southern states, not just in Alabama where the popular movie, Fried Green Tomatoes, from the early 90's was based. We saw them on menus in Georgia and South Carolina and tried them multiple times.
I think most people think of them as end-of-the-season fare when it gets too cool for tomatoes left on the vine to ripen, but we actually love eating them earlier in the summer as a way of dealing with a bumper crop of tomatoes!
So many questions about green tomatoes!
The first time I had fried green tomatoes, I was not prepared for what they would taste like. Fried green tomatoes have a slightly sour (but not in a bad way), tangy flavor that is complimented by the fried, crunchy coating. The acidic green tomatoes mellow out when cooked and the firm to the point of being crunchy texture softens but doesn't turn to mush.
Yes, green tomatoes are just regular tomatoes that have not yet matured on the vine. You mostly see green tomatoes at farmer's markets later in the season, especially if there have been cool temps or an early frost that makes it so the tomatoes won't ripen fully on the vine.
You can pick tomatoes early before they have the chance to ripen, which is what we often do to "thin out" our tomato crop. As much as we love fresh tomatoes, we reach a point of oversaturation of tomato dishes each summer and using them green is such a nice change of pace!
Any tomato variety will work as long as you pick them while they are unripe. The trick is to wait for them to grow to their full size but pluck them before they fully mature and start turning from green to yellow or red. Just don't confuse heirloom varieties that are actually supposed to be green in the first place. Those will still work for fried green tomatoes, but you need to squeeze them to make sure they are still firm and unripe so they don't fall apart while breading and frying them.
While I didn't love fried green tomatoes the first time I tried them, they definitely grew on us. Now both Paul and I love them! The girls are still wary of "green tomatoes" but are coming around. We had these for lunch one day when I realized our four tomato plants were out of control, and were surprised to realize how much we enjoyed them because we had remembered feeling only "meh" about them during our travels! I guess it just goes to show that home-grown tomatoes always taste best, even if they aren't ripe!
Serve your fried green tomatoes with a dipping sauce. Ranch is always delicious, but these would also be good with fry sauce or any homemade aioli that you like.
How to make fried green tomatoes
- Wash and slice the tomatoes into ¼" thick discs using a sharp knife. Lay them out on a cutting board or baking sheet and season with salt and pepper.
- Place flour in a shallow pan or pie plate. In a separate shallow pan or pie plate, combine breadcrumbs, cornmeal, salt, pepper, onion powder, and smoked paprika. Whisk together the buttermilk and egg in a bowl.
- Dredge each green tomato slice in flour first, shaking off any excess. Then dip it in the buttermilk and egg mixture, coating both sides. Finally, dredge the tomato slices in the cornmeal/breadcrumb mixture and set aside. Repeat with all of the tomatoes.
- Heat about a ½-inch layer of oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until it is around 375 degrees F. A good way to tell the oil is ready is to stick the handle end of a wooden spoon into the oil. If the oil starts to bubble around the handle, it's ready for frying. Fry the green tomatoes a few at a time until golden brown and crispy on the outside. It should take about 2 minutes per side. Be sure to flip partway through.
- Drain on a wire rack while frying the remaining tomato slices. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.
More summer produce recipes
- Corn Fritters
- Lemon Poppy Seed Zucchini Bread
- Fresh Strawberry Pie
- Grilled Peaches with Ice Cream
- The BEST Zucchini Bread Ever
- Grilled Mexican Street Corn
- Grilled Summer Vegetable Quesadillas
- Fried Yellow Squash
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Fried Green Tomatoes
- 3-4 unripe green tomatoes sliced into ¼-inch thick discs
- ½ cup flour
- ½ cup buttermilk
- 1 egg beaten
- ½ cup cornmeal
- ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus additional for seasoning the tomatoes
- ½ teaspoon black pepper plus additional for seasoning the tomatoes
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- Pinch of smoked paprika
- vegetable oil for frying
- Wash and slice the green tomatoes into ¼-inch thick slices. Arrange flat on a baking sheet and season with salt and pepper on both sides.
- Place the flour in a shallow dish or pie plate. In another shallow dish or pie plate, combine the cornmeal, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, onion powder, and smoked paprika. Whisk the egg and buttermilk together in a medium bowl.
- Dredge the tomato slices in flour first, shaking off any excess. Then dip the tomatoes in the buttermilk mixture. Finally, dredge in the cornmeal/breadcrumb mixture and set aside on a baking sheet or cutting board. Repeat with all tomato slices.
- Heat about 2 cups of oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat until the oil reaches 375 degrees F or the oil immediately bubbles around the handle of a wooden spoon when you stick it into the hot oil. There should be about ½-inch of oil in the pan.
- Fry the tomatoes for 2 minutes on each side until golden brown and crispy, then remove to a wire rack to drain. Work in batches so as not to crowd the pan.
- Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.
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