Jessica B. Harris' Southern Fried Green Tomatoes


It might not be the only way to enjoy green tomatoes, but it is the best.

Southern Fried Green Tomatoes
Photo: Greg DuPree; Food Styling: Rishon Hanners; Prop Styling: Christine Keely
Active Time:
20 mins
Total Time:
20 mins

"Fried green tomatoes are a Southern breakfast staple, often gracing the table alongside sausage, bacon, or country ham. But they can also show up at other times of the day. JoAnn Clevenger, the owner of New Orleans' Upperline Restaurant, created a modern Creole classic by using them as a base for shrimp rémoulade," writes culinary historian Jessica B. Harris. Harris has tweaked her recipe for iconic Southern Fried Green Tomatoes over the years—adding a quick soak in buttermilk to hold the cornmeal dredge—but notes that most versions of the dish contain the same key elements.

The best fried green tomatoes are crispy, lightly coated slices of tangy green tomatoes, fried in vegetable oil or bacon grease. Frying in bacon grease will yield a distinctly meaty, smoky flavor; for the best of both worlds, simply add a bit of bacon grease to your vegetable oil. Make sure your oil is hot before adding slices (they should sizzle when hitting the skillet) to keep the coating crispy and not greasy. The brown paper bag method of dredging the tomatoes is a distinctively (and utterly charming) Southern approach. These fried green tomatoes get a nice, golden crust, and will be ready for any number of sauces, toppings or accompaniments.

"My favorite way of eating them is in a BLT sandwich," writes Harris. "Just pile the fried tomatoes on thinly sliced sourdough bread slathered with mayonnaise or aïoli, and add a few leaves of butter lettuce and some slices of crispy bacon. Voilà!"

Fried-Green-Tomato BLT
Greg DuPree; Food Styling: Rishon Hanners; Prop Styling: Christine Keely


  • 4 large unripe green tomatoes, cut into ¼-inch-thick slices

  • 1 cup whole buttermilk

  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour

  • ¼ cup fine yellow cornmeal

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • ½ teaspoon black pepper 

  • Vegetable oil or bacon drippings, for frying

  • Cooked bacon or sausage


  1. Place tomato slices and buttermilk in a medium bowl; set aside. Combine flour, cornmeal, salt, and pepper in a small brown paper bag; set aside.

  2. Add vegetable oil or drippings to a large cast-iron skillet or other heavy skillet to a depth of ½ inch. Heat over medium-high until the oil shimmers. Meanwhile, remove 3 or 4 tomato slices from buttermilk, letting excess drip off; add to flour mixture in paper bag. Close bag, and shake gently until tomato slices are well coated.

  3. Place coated tomato slices in hot oil. Fry until golden brown on both sides, turning often to avoid sticking, about 4 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

  4. Repeat coating-and-frying process with remaining tomato slices. Serve hot with bacon or sausage.

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