Traditional Southern fried green tomatoes are a little luxury of summer that we adore. Thick sliced green tomatoes are first dredged in buttermilk then in a cornmeal flour mixture, and finally fried to golden perfection. Do this in a skillet, in a deep fryer, or in your air fryer, but don’t miss out!
fried green tomatoes stacked high!
I’ve never met a tomato I didn’t love, and that goes for tiny cherries, bold heirlooms, classic reds, and of course firm tart green tomatoes. When I got a bunch in my CSA box this week I knew just what to do. Like peach cobbler and homemade lemonade, fried green tomatoes are on the must-make list every summer.
what are green tomatoes?
Green tomatoes are simply unripe tomatoes, they are not a specific variety. They’re green and very firm, in fact they don’t give at all when you squeeze them. These meaty tomatoes aren’t juicy, but they have a tart, citrusy flavor and are more acidic than ripe tomatoes. You wouldn’t want to eat them raw, but they’re fabulous fried up with a crispy golden cornmeal crust. In this recipe their firm texture holds up and that famously tart flavor is just perfect.
Note: there are heirloom varieties of tomato that are green when ripe, but that’s not what we want here.
gather your ingredients
- green tomatoes ~ medium and large tomatoes work best, and they should feel hard to the touch.
- buttermilk ~ look for cultured buttermilk in the milk section of your grocery store.
- yellow cornmeal
- all purpose flour
- baking soda
- cayenne pepper
let’s make it!
- Slice your green tomatoes nice and thick, about 1/2 inch. Why so thick? You want your tomatoes to maintain their firm texture while they cook, and thin slices will tend to soften before the crust can crisp up.
- Pour cultured buttermilk into one bowl.
- Whisk together cornmeal, flour, salt, pepper, paprika, and cayenne pepper in another.
- Dip the tomato slices into the buttermilk, then dredge in the cornmeal mixture.
- Fry in hot oil until golden on each side.
- Enjoy hot with your favorite sauce.
4 ways to fry green tomatoes
You have a few choices when it comes to frying tomatoes, and I’ll list them here. I recommend either of the first 2 (skillet or deep frying) for the best and most authentic results.
- IN A SKILLET, the old fashioned way. Add about 1/4 inch vegetable oil to your pan and heat until it reaches about 350F. Fry the tomatoes in batches so you don’t crowd your pan. Cook until golden on one side, then flip and do the same on the other.
- IN A DEEP FRYER, heat the oil to 350F and, again working in batches, fry the tomatoes until golden. This should take about 2 minutes, and there is no need to flip.
- IN AN AIR FRYER: This will vary from machine to machine, but generally set your fryer to 400F and spray the interior with oil. Place your coated tomatoes in the basket and spray lightly with oil. Cook for about 3-4 minutes, until golden, then flip, spray, and cook for another 3-4 minutes until golden on the final side. You will have to spray the tomatoes somewhat liberally in order for them to get crisp and golden.
- IN THE OVEN, spray a baking sheet with an oil sprayer (not a commercial spray) and heat in the oven as it preheats to 425. Place the tomatoes on the hot baking sheet and spray well with the oil. Bake for about 3 -4 minutes, or until golden on the bottom side, then flip and cook another 3-4 minutes until golden on the other side. You will have to spray the tomatoes somewhat liberally in order for them to get crisp and golden.
we live for summer tomatoes
- Heirloom Tomato Caprese Salad
- Basil Marinated Mozzarella with summer tomatoes
- Tomato and Parmesan Risotto
- Tomato Toast with Basil Mayonnaise
- Bloody Mary Gazpacho
- Heirloom Tomato Bruschetta
Fried Green Tomatoes
- 3 large green tomatoes, or about 8 half-inch slices of firm green tomatoes
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
- 1/2 tsp baking soda (optional)
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, or more to taste
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- vegetable oil for frying
optional lemon horseradish mayo
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- prepared horseradish, to taste. I used 2-3 teaspoons.
- squeeze of lemon juice
- Thickly slice your tomatoes to make 8 slices, 1/2 inch thick each.
- pour buttermilk into a shallow bowl.
- In another shallow bowl whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking soda, if using, cayenne, paprika, salt, and pepper to combine.
- Heat several inches of oil in a deep fryer or Dutch oven to 350F. If using a skillet, heat about 1/4 inch oil in a large skillet until shimmering. Note: if using a skillet you'll have to add more oil as necessary.
- Dunk the tomatoes in the buttermilk,
- Then dredge in the cornmeal mixture to coat well.
- Fry the slices, working in batches, until golden on one side, then flip and cook until golden on the other side. This should take about 2 minutes in the deep fryer, and perhaps a little longer in a skillet, depending on how hot your oil is.
- Drain the tomatoes on paper towels and serve hot, with your favorite hot sauce, or my horseradish dipping sauce.
to make dipping sauce
- Blend the ingredients together with a fork and taste to adjust.
Questions and Reviews
Thank you for this excellent but true recipe. Reminded me of my Grandma’s. Sometimes the best things are not the fancy 17 step recipes!
Love fried green tomatoes. I peel them, either before slicing or after, to help the breading stick better. I also pat them dry, on one side i spread with softened goat cheese , dredge in flour, then buttermilk and corneal mix.
I’ve never tried them with goat cheese, can’t wait!
Excellent recipe! I needed to make my own buttermilk but it was great. Am having trouble signing up for your emails. Am older don’t do Facebook, Twitter etc. any ideas?
Hi Sally ~ glad you liked these! Here’s a link to sign up for the emails, you’ll also get a link to my free e-book.
These are a summer staple in MD, but we like to top them with another summer staple MD Crab Dip for a wonderful appetizer.
omg you’ve just got my mouth watering, that sounds amazing and I’ve never heard of it!
Luv fgt when they can be found at F/M in Cali,we like to salt the slices to drain some of the liquid out and to help the breading stick to get crispy.Really want to try the lemon horseradish mayo,sounds good.
Hi Sue, just thought I’d let you know that you have a little typo in your opening paragraph. It says thick sliced onion instead of tomato. Just thought you might want to know. These look interesting. May just have to give them a whirl!
Fixed it and thanks Lola ~ and yes, you neeeeed to make these 🙂
Your intro in the email is still showing as onions. That being said, this would be a good coating for homemade onion rings!
I know, it was a typo, but you’re right!