This savory Southern Tomato Pie is made with summer-ripe tomatoes, fresh basil leaves, and topped with a tasty cheese & mayo topping!
The Best Tomato Pie Recipe
I wish I could hand you a slice of this savory southern tomato pie to enjoy while you read this post. The flaky crust encases thick slices of tomatoes, layers of chopped basil leaves and green onions, and a cheesy topping made with freshly grated mozzarella and cheddar cheeses mixed with tangy mayo.
It might sound like a strange dish if you haven't tried it before, but Tomato pie is such a beloved dish in the South that it shows up on many lists of foods that are iconic or well known from the Southern states, which is why Southern tomato pie is the first recipe representing Alabama in a new series I am calling American Eats. This is where I plan to explore the USA through some of it's most popular regional foods, one state and one plate at a time.
American Eats: Favorite Foods from the 50 States
I have a bucket list goal that probably many of you have as well, or have at least thought about, to one day visit every state in the USA. I'm actually well on my way, since I was born in the Midwest (Nebraska), and have lived on both coasts (California and New Jersey), with moves to Idaho, Utah, and Missouri along the way and lots of roadtrips and other travel in between.
The unique perspective that comes with having lived in these different areas of the country has really influenced my cooking in a lot of ways and I had this idea that I could share some of the most well-known, iconic foods from each of the 50 states as a way of exploring America from the comfort of my kitchen, even if I haven't been able to travel there in person yet!
The goal is to share 3-5 of the most popular foods that are beloved by each state, starting with Alabama and ending with Wyoming. America is a delicious country, and I will be making and baking my way through some of America's favorite foods trying to knock off a couple of states each month.
This is what America eats, and it's going to take me a while to get through every state, but I'm super excited about this project and hope you will be excited to follow along and try some of these dishes too, even if they are new to you.
First up: ALABAMA!
What is Tomato Pie?
One of the best parts about summer eating are the loads of fresh homegrown tomatoes that ripen on the vine and have almost a natural sweetness to them. They are so juicy and flavorful all on their own, and I'm always looking for ways to enjoy them at their best, like in a grilled caprese panini, but I think this tomato pie might be my new go-to recipe for those first amazing tomatoes of the summer!
When I was researching the foods Alabama is known for, I kept coming across Tomato Pie. It's actually made throughout much of the South (like many dishes, you will find that they cross state-borders and are attributed to more than one state), but it seems like Alabamans have a particular love of this dish.
It's a lot like a savory tart, except deep-dish style since a classic tomato pie is made in a pie pan.
You could make an heirloom tomato pie using summer heirloom tomatoes, or just use Roma or Beefsteak tomatoes if that is what is growing in your garden. As long as they are fresh and flavorful, any variety of tomato will work.
We served this delicious cheese and tomato pie as a side with grilled chicken for dinner, but it would be great as a light lunch served with a salad on the side.
What makes Tomato Pie Southern?
No one really knows where this recipe originated. Some speculate it is a mash up of recipes being passed down using the abundance of summer tomatoes found in the South.
Now don’t confuse this with tomato pie which is more Italian style and cooked in a deep dish. Southern tomato pie uses good southern ingredients like peak-of-the-season tomatoes, good classic mayo, herbs, buttery pie crust, delicious cheese blend, that all come together for a perfect summer potluck meal.
Ingredients needed for this recipe for Tomato Pie
- Unbaked pie crust - this is the BEST pie crust and so easy!
- Tomatoes - Nothing beats fresh garden tomatoes but Heirloom, roma, plum, or beefsteak tomatoes will be fine to use, especially if they are growing in your garden. As long as the tomatoes are fresh and flavorful, any variety will work.
- Fresh Basil Leaves - I love keeping this pie easy and classic with just a handful of fresh basil leaves to give it a nice herby flavor.
- Green onions - Really the onions could be optional (some wouldn’t dare leave it out) and you could use any onion really but I loved the combination of flavor with the green onions and tomatoes.
- Minced garlic clove
- Cheese - Grated mozzarella cheese and cheddar cheese are the perfect combo for a cheesy ooey gooey layer.
- Mayonnaise - To make a true Southern tomato pie, use Duke’s Mayo. Unfortunately for the rest of us, Duke’s mayo is not widely available nationwide so any type of real mayonnaise will work. We like Hellman's Best.
- Fresh ground black pepper
How to make Southern Tomato Pie
- Use an unbaked pie crust to line a deep dish pie plate . You can make a pie crust from scratch or just use a store-bought one if that's easier for you, then par-bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees F. to help prevent against a soggy crust bottom once the tomatoes are added to it.
- Slice the sliced tomatoes and sprinkle with a little salt to draw out excess juices. After 10-15 minutes of draining on paper towel, blot the tomato slices with more paper towel to remove additional moisture, then they are ready to go into the pie without creating a puddle of water at the bottom that would result in a soggy crust.
- Alternate layers of sliced tomatoes with a mixture of chopped green onions, fresh basil leaves, and a little garlic. Some recipes call for bacon or other herbs besides basil, but I think this simple, classic approach is perfectly delicious.
- Top with a mixture of shredded cheese and mayo. Really, you could use just about any cheese - fontina, gruyere, or colby jack would all be good - but I stuck with half mozzarella and sharp cheddar.
- Bake for 30 minutes in a 350 degree F oven. The cheese will get all melted and start to brown on top and the crust edges should turn golden brown so you know it is done.
What to serve with Tomato Pie (Southern style)
Southern tomato pie can be served as the main dish or set right alongside broccoli salad at a summer potluck. If tomato pie is supporting a main dish, things like fried chicken, pulled pork, or shrimp would go great. You can also serve it with fresh green beans, a nice green salad, grilled corn on the cob, fettuccine alfredo, baked beans, fresh bread, and the list could go on! So many good things!
How to store Southern Tomato Pie
Like most pies, this one is best served the same day. If it sits too long the crust can get a bit soggy. You can store the leftovers in the fridge covered with tin foil or plastic wrap for up to three days. Just remember the longer it sits, the soggier it will get.
How long is tomato pie good for?
This southern tomato pie is best when served the same day. Similar to other pies, the longer it sits the soggier the crust can get. I would recommend eating this pie the day it is served or storing it no longer than three days.
Can you freeze tomato pie?
Personally, I would not recommend freezing this pie. The tomatoes can get mushy and the mayo mixture can start to “break” apart. The crust will also get soggy once thawed. Some pies freeze great, this one does not.
Tomato Pie Recipe Southern FAQs
When you search for tomato pie, most often the results will be Italian tomato pie or pizza pie. There are so many different variations of tomato pie but traditionally it’s baked on soft, crusty, thick focaccia bread in a square pan and topped with a tomato sauce seasoned with Italian herbs. Now Southern tomato pie is completely different. In contrast, it’s baked in a pie shell with layers of tomatoes and onions topped with a mayo, cheese layer. So good!
A tomato pie by any other name would taste just as delicious but you could get away with calling this a savory tomato tart, but this dish is not to be confused with pizzas sometimes referred to as Italian tomato pie farther north in states like Philadelphia or New Jersey.
More tomato recipes
- Tomato Basil Bruschetta
- Four Cheese Pizza with Tomato Basil Arugula Salad
- Grilled Caprese Panini
- Fresh Authentic Pico De Gallo
- Homemade Tomato Basil Soup
I hope you will join me on this culinary tour of the USA. Leave a comment below with a shout-out to your home state and let me know if you have suggestions for regional dishes you think I should cover!
Did you make this recipe?
Let me know what you thought with a comment and rating below. You can also take a picture and tag me on Instagram @houseofnasheats or share it on the Pinterest pin so I can see.
Tomato Pie Recipe (Southern Style)
- 1 unbaked pie crust
- 4-5 tomatoes, sliced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 10 fresh basil leaves, chopped (about ¼ cup)
- ½ cup chopped green onion
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
- ¾ cup mayonnaise
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Heat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with a few layers of paper towels. Slice the tomatoes and lay on the paper towels in a single layer, then sprinkle with the salt to draw out the tomato juices. Let sit for 10-15 minutes, then use fresh paper towels to pat-dry the tomatoes and remove move of the excess juice so the pie doesn't turn out soggy.
- Roll out pie crust and use it to line a pie plate. Crimp the edges and poke holes in the bottom of the crust using the tines of a fork. Par-bake the crust for 10 minutes. Since this won't bake all the way before being filled, it shouldn't shrink too badly, so there is no need for pie weights in my experience.
- While the crust bakes, combine the basil, green onion, and garlic in a bowl and stir. In a separate bowl, combine the mozzarella cheese, sharp cheddar cheese, mayonnaise and season with freshly ground black pepper. Stir to combine.
- When the pie crust has baked for 10 minutes, layer half of the tomatoes on the bottom of the crust, then sprinkle with half of the basil-onion mixture. Layer the remaining tomatoes on top and sprinkle with the remaining basil-onion mixture. Spread the cheese mixture over the top of the pie.
- Decrease the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, then return the pie to the oven and bake for 30 minutes, uncovered, until the cheese begins to get lightly brown on top. Let rest for 10 minutes, then slice and serve warm.
More States I Have Visited in my American Eats Series
Alabama • Alaska • Arizona • Arkansas • California • Colorado • Connecticut • Delaware • Florida • Georgia • Hawaii • Idaho • Illinois • Indiana • Iowa • Kansas • Kentucky • Louisiana • Maine • Maryland • Massachusetts • Michigan • Minnesota • Mississippi • Missouri • Montana • Nebraska • New Jersey • New York • Oregon • Puerto Rico • South Carolina • South Dakota • Texas • Utah • Wisconsin