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Pan Fried Green Tomatoes

soul food southern style fried green tomatoes

I grew up down South in Arkansas eating fried green tomatoes every summer. I say every summer because it wasn’t until I grew up that I learned that you can slice and freeze green tomatoes. Every summer, I’d start on a journey to see who had frying tomatoes.

Once I found a steady supply, I’d eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There were a couple of times I was desperate for fried green tomatoes that I tried frying red tomatoes that weren’t quite ripe. It didn’t work out. Needless to say, it turned out to be a soggy and greasy mess.

Frying green tomato is a simple process with a few ingredients. The most important part is the tomato. You need to start with a tomato that is green throughout. I’ve seen tomatoes I thought were green, but once you cut into them, they’re pink inside. These types of tomatoes aren’t really good for frying.

If you don’t fry them hot and fast, the breading will fall off from too much moisture.  When I moved back to the Mid-west, frying green tomatoes weren’t as popular as down South.  Nowadays, you can find them in a few local restaurants and even Captain D’s serves fried green tomatoes.  They aren’t as good as homemade, but it’s a quick fix for when you’re in a pinch.

What do fried green tomatoes taste like?

Well, they have different tastes because there are different types of tomatoes.  I’ve eaten very bitter fried green tomatoes and some that were so rich and velvety that I questioned if it was even a tomato.  For the most part, they’re acidic, crunchy, and salty.  If the tomatoes are really bitter, you can counter that by making a creamy mayo-based sauce.

How to make fried green tomatoes in the oven

I know what you’re thinking, but aren’t the tomatoes supposed to be deep-fried.  You would be surprised at how good oven-fried tomatoes are.  No, they’re not like the original pan-fried or deep-fried, but if cooked right, they’re not bad as a lower calorie and lower fat alternative.

When cooking fried green tomatoes in the oven you want to slice them a little thinner and cook in a very hot oven.  After the tomatoes are breaded, place them on a baking sheet sprayed with oil and then spray the tomatoes liberally.  Cook for about 10 minutes and turn.  Spray them again and let the tomatoes bake until golden brown.

What goes with fried green tomatoes?

I personally don’t need anything to accompany them.  Fried green tomatoes can stand alone as a snack.  Eat them like you would a plate of french fries.  They are good with condiments like aioli, shrimp remoulade, and sweet pepper jams.  If you’re looking to pair them with the main dish, fried chicken is always a winner.   We often ate them with fried catfish and serve the tomatoes on the side like fried okra or fried pickles.

How are fried green tomatoes made?

They’re typically coated in egg, milk, and either cornmeal, flour, or breadcrumbs.  I keep my fried tomatoes simple with cornmeal, flour,  salt, and pepper.  Adding egg and milk puts too much breading on the tomato and excess moisture.  The breading has to cook longer which makes your tomato mush.

A fried green tomato shouldn’t have a ton of breading because the tomato itself shouldn’t be sliced too thick.   It’s also very important that you drain them well on paper towels.  If not, the tomatoes will be soggy.

soul food southern style fried green tomatoes

Southern Fried Green Tomatoes

Crispy Southern-style fried green tomatoes.
Prep Time 8 minutes
Cook Time 7 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 4


  • 2-3 medium green tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 cups cold water optional see notes
  • oil for frying


  • Start by slicing the tomatoes about 1/2 inch in thickness.
  • Place the tomato slices in the cold water
  • In a large bowl combine the cornmeal, flour, salt, and pepper and mix well
  • Preheat a heavy skillet or pan large enough for deep-frying to 375 degrees
  • Dredge all of the green tomato slices in the cornmeal and flour mixture.
  • Fry for 3 minutes on each side or until tender and golden brown. Drain on paper towels


The tomatoes are usually ready to flip when the top of them stop bubbling or most of the moisture has cooked out of the tomatoes and the breading on top is no longer soft. If you turn too soon, the breading on the top will fall off. Shake the excess water off before dredging. You may or may not need water. If your green tomatoes contain a lot of water, there is no need to put them in water.

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