Fried Green Tomatoes

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Anyone dining out in the South during the summer months knows that when you spot fried green tomatoes on the menu, you order them.

Total Time:
25 mins
Yield:
4 to 6 servings

Crunchy, tangy, and endlessly snackable, this beloved appetizer is as easy to make as it is to eat. Yet despite its status as an iconic Southern recipe, the mention of Fried Green Tomatoes typically yields a number of questions, both about the recipe and where it came from. Here, everything you need to know about the crispy starter, plus how to make, serve, and store them.

What Are Fried Green Tomatoes?

Fried Green Tomatoes are exactly as they sound: slices of green tomato dredged in a cornmeal mixture and fried until golden brown. Upon mention, many people think of the 1991 movie of the same name starring Kathy Bates and Jessica Tandy. The film Fried Green Tomatoes takes its name from the novel the movie is based on, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café by Fannie Flagg.

The movie, which takes place in Alabama, is the main reason people associate Fried Green Tomatoes with the South—the recipe actually originated in the Midwest and northwest, according to food historian and Southern Living Contributing Barbecue Editor Robert F. Moss, and was likely brought there by Jewish immigrants. But once the Oscar-nominated film brought the dish into the mainstream, its popularity exploded—especially in the South.

Fried Green Tomatoes
Victor Protasio; Food Stylist Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Stylist Christina Dailey

Are Green Tomatoes Just Unripe Tomatoes?

For the purposes of this recipe, yes. You want to use large, unripe tomatoes that are pale green all over and very solid to the touch. There is a type of tomato that is green when fully ripe, but it has vertical stripes or other variations in its coloring and will feel soft when you press it.

Fried Green Tomatoes Ingredients

If you have a well-stocked Southern kitchen, you likely have all the ingredients to make this recipe besides the tomatoes. Here's everything you need.

Egg and Buttermilk
This mixture provides some tanginess, plus ensures that the cornmeal crust sticks to the tomatoes.

Flour
Flour serves two purposes: It gives the tomatoes an initial coat so that the egg mixture hangs on, plus it's mixed in with the cornmeal to thicken the outer crispy coating.

Cornmeal, Salt, and Pepper
These ingredients, plus half the flour, make up the tomatoes' crunchy crust.

Green Tomatoes
Look for large round ones that you can cut into equal slices.

Vegetable Oil
You'll need a mild, neutral oil for frying. Vegetable is best, but canola or peanut oil will work, too.

How to Make Fried Green Tomatoes

To make fried green tomatoes, you'll first slice the tomatoes into slices roughly 1/3-inch thick. Then you'll assemble your three dredges: plain flour; egg and buttermilk; and flour, cornmeal, salt, and pepper. Dredge your tomato slices in that order until they're completely covered.

dredging fried green tomatoes
Victor Protasio; Food Stylist Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Stylist Christina Dailey

Next you'll fill a cast-iron or electric skillet with ¼- to ½ inch of oil (you don't want your tomatoes to be completely submerged) and heat it to 375°F. Fry only a few slices at time, turning just once, until the cornmeal coating is golden brown, then drain them on a paper towel before enjoying.

How to Serve Fried Green Tomatoes

Fried Green Tomatoes should be served fresh, immediately after frying and draining. You can eat them as-is, drizzle with hot sauce, dip in a savory dressing like buttermilk and chive or green goddess, or make a Fried Green Tomato BLT.

How to Store Fried Green Tomatoes

While it's unlikely you'll have any leftovers, especially if you're serving a crowd, you can store Fried Green Tomatoes in the fridge for a day or two and then re-fry them in a skillet or reheat in an oven or air fryer. We don't recommend freezing them after cooking, though you could freeze the dredged tomatoes and fry them up just before serving.

Editorial contributions by Alyssa Sybertz.

Ingredients

  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

  • ½ cup all-purpose flour, divided

  • ½ cup buttermilk

  • ½ cup cornmeal

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • ½ teaspoon pepper

  • 3 green tomatoes, cut into 1/3-inch slices

  • Vegetable oil

Directions

  1. Mix together egg and buttermilk; set aside. Combine 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, cornmeal, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper in a shallow bowl or pan. Dredge tomato slices in remaining 1/4 cup flour; dip in egg mixture, and dredge in cornmeal mixture.

  2. Pour oil to a depth of 1/4 to 1/2 inch in a large cast-iron skillet; heat to 375°F. Drop tomatoes, in batches, into hot oil, and cook 2 minutes on each side or until golden. Drain on paper towels or a rack. Sprinkle hot tomatoes with salt.

    Fried Green Tomatoes
    Victor Protasio; Food Stylist Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Stylist Christina Dailey
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