Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Classic Southern Fried Green Tomatoes

Sliced green tomatoes, dipped in hot sauce and buttermilk, lightly battered with cornmeal and flour and fried.
Sliced green tomatoes, seasoned with salt, pepper, marinated in buttermilk, and dredged in a cornmeal and flour mixture tossed with Cajun seasoning, then fried - they are a true Southern Classic.

Southern Fried Green Tomatoes

Everybody likely remembers the movie Fried Green Tomatoes, based on the book by Fannie Flagg, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe. It certainly popularized the common green tomato for sure and lots of restaurants jumped on that green tomato wagon shortly after the movie was released.

"There's not a tomato safe
south of the Mason-Dixon line." Fannie Flagg.

But truthfully, fried green tomatoes have been around a long, long time and likely date back to the Depression, when folks would just about fry up anything and call it dinner. A batch of fried green tomatoes with a big glass of sweet iced tea and you had yourself a tasty and light dish for a hot summer night. That would be light as in not heavy, not light as in diet-light!

A southern delight!

Some folks claim that the idea of fried green tomatoes came somewhere out of the northern regions of our country and aren't even a "southern thing" at all! Well... I don't know about all that. We certainly have a much longer growing season down south, but really, no matter where or how they originated, I reckon you can't hardly hear those three words without at least thinkin' of The South, so it was a perfect name for a book and movie that depicted the ups and downs, ins and outs, and complexities of life in the south. I so love that movie and can't even guess at the number of times I have watched it.

Always best with fresh, green tomatoes picked straight out of the backyard garden.

Fried green tomatoes need to be served hot, preferably right out of the pan. They should be juicy on the inside, but crispy, crunchy and salty on the outside - never soggy! Serve with your favorite dipping sauce - a true Mississippi Comeback Sauce or remoulade sauce is wonderful, but if you're not feeling up to making a batch, try my husband's favorite and easy Lazy Man's KetMayo Sauce. Known as fry sauce around the country, it's super easy to whip up.

Check out more of my southern favorites on Pinterest!

Recipe: Classic Fried Green Tomatoes

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min |Inactive time: 30 min | Yield: About 4 to 6 servings

  • 4 small to medium green tomatoes, or more as needed, preferably right off the vine
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup or more cooking oil
  • 1 tablespoon bacon drippings or butter, or a combination
  • 1 cup buttermilk, or enough to cover
  • 1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce
  • 1 cup plain all-purpose cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup self-rising flour
  • 1 teaspoon Creole or Cajun seasoning (like Slap Ya Mama), or to taste, optional

Place a rack over a pan covered in paper towels; set aside. Slice the tomatoes into thick slices - about 1/4 to 1/2 inch. Season generously with salt and pepper and let sit for 5 minutes.

Heat cooking oil over medium high heat; you'll want about 1/2 inch of oil. Add a tablespoon of bacon drippings or butter. Set up a dredging station with one small bowl of buttermilk, beaten with the hot sauce, one shallow pan or pie plate with the flour and another with the cornmeal and Cajun seasoning.

Dip tomato slices in the flour, shake off, then pass through buttermilk, letting excess drip away before finally dredging in the cornmeal, coating both sides and edges. Place immediately into the hot fat, frying for about 3 to 5 minutes per side, or until golden brown, turning only once. Cook in batches so as not to crowd the pan. That will cool down the oil and make for greasy fried green tomatoes. Give them plenty of room to groove!

Drain on the rack, sprinkle immediately with a tiny pinch of kosher salt as they come out of the pan and serve right away. May also place into a low oven to keep warm if necessary. Continue with remaining slices, adding additional oil to the skillet as needed. Tomatoes should be crisp, not soggy.

Serve plain, with a dab of mayo, Mississippi Comeback Sauce, Lazy Man's KetMayo Sauce, Spicy Mustard Sauce, Rémoulade Sauce or your favorite dipping sauce.

Cook's Notes: May double dip in the buttermilk/flour mixture if desired, however this does make for a thick crust. If you don't have buttermilk, you can substitute regular milk, however, beat in an egg and add a little flour to the cornmeal to help the cornmeal adhere. May also omit the buttermilk or milk and use an egg wash by beating 2 large eggs with 2 tablespoons of water or milk.

To Bake: Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and line a baking sheet with foil for easier cleanup. Top with an oven safe rack and spray with oil. Prepare tomatoes as above, placing on baking sheet. Spray tops with oil or use an oil based cooking spray. Bake for 10 minutes, turn, spray and return to oven for about 5 minutes longer or until golden brown. I highly recommend these sprayers for oils. I've tried several but these are the best I have found!

To Air Fry: Preheat air fryer to 400 degrees F for 3 minutes. Prepare tomatoes as above. Spray basket with oil, place a single layer of tomatoes, without touching each other, into basket. Set air fryer for 5 minutes, spray with oil, turn over and spray again. Cook for another 3 minutes. To see my favorite oil sprayer click here.

Variation: It's not traditional, but try using 1/2 cup of cornmeal with 1/2 cup plain panko bread crumbs for a little extra crunch - so good!


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©Deep South Dish
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Check These Recipes Out Too Y'all!

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Posted by on June 10, 2009
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  1. If hubs will let me pull some off the vine...that sounds divine for dinner!

  2. We don't have tomatoes yet here in Utah but if we did -- yummo to the tummo. My mouth is just watering like you would not believe. These are one of my favorite treats. You would go and put the thought of them in my head -- now what do I do until our tomatoes come on?????

  3. Girl Please!! You know I just printed this recipe!! Hubby and I were just talking about frying some of our green maters.......

  4. I loved the movie, but I've never had a fried green tomato. Guess I have no excuse now. Thanks for the recipe. Have a wonderful day.

  5. Bella, maybe you can sneak one or two of 'em off to have a treat all by yourself. Doesn't anybody else do this behind yer hubby's back??? Anyone??

    Oh Bev... c'mon down here gal and I'll serve ya some right on up!

    Darla, you know all those maters hanging out there just waiting to ripen ... I could not resist!!!

    Mary, I just love them. I ate every single one of those in the picture for breakfast!! And truth be know, I coulda ate more... I know. I know. Just shameful...

  6. I agree, they should be crispy... and yours sure do! Yum :)

  7. I like them think and crispy. You did a bang up job on these!

  8. I received my Mississippi Cookbook in today's mail. I AM SO EXCITED! Can't wait to try some of these recipes. Thanks much!

  9. Karen & Katherine, you're absolutely right - CRISP is really the key.

    Bev, I'm so glad - be sure to let me know if you try anything in there!

  10. I love fried green tomatoes...and of course it always makes me think of the movie. That was probably the first time I'd ever heard of them (but I was pretty young when it was first released). These sound great!

  11. My family were all southerners and don't remember them ever making them. Don't know why. We used to go pickin tomatoes every season for canning too. Weird!!!! I will try these...

  12. I love that movie too! And you're right when you think of fried green tomatoes you think of the south. I have lots of tomato plants this year so hopefully i'll get to try this recipe. I got the cookbook today!! I can't wait to make something from it!! Thank You!!

  13. I have always wanted to try fried green tomatoes and yours looks absolutely delicious! Now if I only had a green tomato. My tomato plants just started flowering. Guess I'll have to be patient. Thanks for the recipe!

  14. I have never tried them...but wouldn't mind!

  15. I loved the movie but I have never tried the entree. Thanks for the recipie. Maybe I will try it sometime.

  16. I could just never bring myself to try one, it just seems bad to deep fry tomatoes. But my first husband's family loved them.

  17. True, it's definitely a YMMV thing - but me, I LOVE them!!


  19. I have some pinto beans, cornbread and I am going to fry green tomatoes to add to that for lunch today. Can't wait to try your recipe!

    I follow you on Facebook, but I am curious about the Mississippi Cookbook that several people have mentioned. Is it for sale on your site?


  20. I like to fry mine with Panko crumbs.

  21. Hi genkileslie! This is the more traditional way, but I love panko too and I'm so glad that it has become more widely available now. Thanks for stopping by - hope to see you again!

  22. My key ingredient... garlic salt on top. My mouth's watering!

  23. How do you keep the breading from falling off?

    1. Coating in the buttermilk is the secret for me - you can also double dip them back into the buttermilk and cornmeal, but it does make for a much thicker crust. Works pretty good when you use your hands and helps the crust adhere, but makes it harder to cut if you prefer not to use your hands.

  24. I love these! The first time I had these was in 2001 when my wife and I spent a week in Charleston, SC, on our journey from NY to the Fl Keys, aboard my tug boat. Little did we know, 4+ years later we’d be calling SC home. There is a God and he’s awesome!
    I tried something a little different. I made fried green tomato BLT’s on homemade sourdough bread. Oh wow! Everyone went nuts for them.
    If you want a crispier tomato, combine grape seed oil with the bacon fat. Grape seed oil has no real flavor of its own but will substantially raise the smoke point of the bacon fat. You’ll get the flavor of the bacon and the crispness of high heat all in one shot.
    Someone suggested pimento cheese with the fried green tomatoes. That sounds like it would make a great sandwich. Fried green tomatoes, some pimento cheese, a thin slice of red onion, all between two pieces of homemade sourdough bread and finished off in a Panini press. I’ve gotta try that!
    BTW; I’ve noticed that some folks are having trouble with their coating falling off. Try dunking them in flour first, shake it off well so that it’s just coated, (no clumps); then the buttermilk, then the coating. You’ll find that things stick better. After going pro, I discovered that egg wash, milk, cream, et cetera, really doesn’t stick to anything without a good foundation, flour.
    God bless.

    1. Thank you Chris - I always look forward to your comments!! I have been meaning to update this recipe with the flour/buttermilk/dredge for ages but never got around to it. Hopefully I won't forget again!

  25. I had to teach my Colorado-born hubby that fried green tomatoes are really a thing! Now we have them all the time. I love the buttermilk soak a lot better than the flour/eggs/cornmeal method. One thing that really help me to keep the breading from blowing off is to peel the tomatoes with a serrated peeler. It gives the edges of the slices a rough surface to grip. Now, I've not ever thought of pairing FGTs with pimento cheese, but I might need to whip up a batch to go with dinner tonight!

  26. Hi Mary. We love fried green tomatoes up North too, but we make them a little differently than you Southerners do. We slice ours thinner and dredge them in flour, egg wash, and flour, then pan fry them till golden brown. My mother will only fry hers in bacon grease, at our house we like Crisco shortening. Season both sides with salt and pepper while they are in the skillet. Same thing with Zucchini.
    Love your site and we make recipes from here all the time.

  27. Hi there, so I am trying your recipe this evening and I can't wait to see how they turn out. I have no doubts they'll be anything less then delishious. My husband and I have been patiently waiting for our tomatoes to get big and juicy since the day we planted them. We did a few the other day with his own southern recipe and now I'm going with yours. He didn't use the corn meal which is something I prefer so I'm excited for our dish tonight. I'll be following your page more often now that I've come across it. I love trying out new recipes.

    1. Isn't that the most difficult thing, waiting for those tomatoes to ripen and be ready?!! It's excruciating!! I don't think you can go wrong with just about any fried green tomato recipe, but I hope y'all enjoy this version too Deanna!


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