Buster began cooking as a wee pup by watching his mother fix the kibble. He was hooked. He loves preparing—and writing about—food.
A Classic Southern Dish
Yes, there really is a trick to making gorgeous fried green tomatoes.
I'm from the South and have fried hundreds of them. Fried green tomatoes are about the "how"—that is, the technique.
Read All of These Instructions Before You Start!
Don't let the length of this article scare you off. I've included the reasons for the techniques I suggest.
When these tomatoes are done right, they're incredibly delicious. But, when done wrong, you'll end up with something tasteless—and downright unattractive.
Too often, I read recipes that don't explain the "why" of making genuinely beautiful fried green tomatoes. If you'll read all the way through these instructions, you'll have fantastic fried green tomatoes.
- green tomatoes (they should be firm and feel heavy in your hand)
- black pepper
- 1 egg
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
- 1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup yellow cornmeal (you can use white cornmeal; I prefer yellow)
- canola (or peanut) oil
I haven't mentioned the amount of salt, pepper, and sugar, nor the amount of green tomatoes—this recipe can be used to fry just 2 or 3 tomatoes or to make enough for a crowd.
Step 1: Prepare and Batter the Tomatoes
- Slice your green tomatoes 1/3 of an inch thick. Some people slice them too thickly, which means that your batter will get soggy and they won't have a crisp exterior. Slice them too thinly and they're tasteless.
- Lay the sliced tomatoes on a foil-covered baking sheet (or simply lay foil on your counter) and generously add salt, pepper, and a pinch of sugar to each one.
- Let them sit for at least 15 minutes. You'll notice that the tomatoes will start to sweat liquid—this is what's supposed to happen.
- Pour the canola (or peanut) oil into your skillet to a depth of 1 inch, and turn your heat to high. Use a cooking thermometer to make sure you bring your oil up to 360°F. Having a high temperature before you put in your battered green tomatoes is really important; it's what makes them crisp, and it helps them to color really beautifully.
- Meanwhile, in a paper sack or gallon-size freezer bag, mix the flour and cornmeal.
- In a bowl, mix the egg with a fork, then pour in the buttermilk and mix.
- Put the slices of green tomato into your flour/cornmeal mixture and turn to coat. I usually do all of my tomato slices before moving on to the next step.
- See how the flour/cornmeal sticks to the tomatoes? This is because of the liquid that comes to the surface because of the salt and sugar.
- Now place the green tomato slices into the egg/buttermilk mixture, and then put them back into the sack to coat them with your flour/cornmeal mixture. Shake off the excess.
Step 2: Fry the Tomatoes
Once your oil has reached the right temperature (did I mention how important it is to get your oil heated to 360°F? It's important—really. The tomatoes need to fry quickly so the oil won't penetrate the tomatoes and make the batter soggy from the inside), you can fry them.
- Slowly lower the battered tomatoes into the oil. I usually put in about six at a time.
- Let them fry for several minutes (you'll see that the bottom has turned a golden brown), then carefully turn the slices over and let them continue to fry until they're golden on all sides.
Step 3: Set Aside, Fry in Batches, and Serve
- Using a slotted spoon, remove the fried green tomatoes to a plate that has been lined with paper towels.
- Do not cover the tomatoes. Covering them will cause the crust to soften and become soggy.
- Do not stack the tomatoes on top of each other until they have been on the plate for at least 10 minutes. Stacking them will cause the ones on the bottom to become soggy.
- Wait a minute or two for the oil to return to 360°F, then put in another batch of battered green tomatoes.
- Before you serve them, salt the fried green tomatoes again. Believe me, they really do need a second salting for flavor. You'll get raves!
Some people like to eat them with ranch dressing. I like to eat them with sour cream—or just as they are!
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
Frying green tomatoes is an art. Don't become discouraged if your first batch doesn't look like the photo. You'll have the best chance of success if you follow my directions to the letter.
Do You Really Need to Add Sugar?
Yes. Green tomatoes are very acidic, and the sugar will balance that tartness and give them a wonderful depth of flavor.
Why Do You Need to "Double Dip"? Most Recipes Say to Dip the Tomatoes Only Once.
Green tomatoes will extrude juices when frying. I've discovered that double dipping them in a batter (specifically, a batter with egg/buttermilk) creates a crisp exterior and a perfectly textured interior.
Why Is the Oil Temperature so Important?
Frying is an art. Really. Ask any chef. Of all the cooking techniques, I really believe that frying is one of the most difficult. If your oil is not hot enough, you end up with odd-looking tomatoes. If the oil is too hot, the outside will brown too quickly, and your tomatoes won't be cooked all the way through.
Isn't Frying Bad for You?
Well, I believe "everything in moderation." I fry foods every two weeks or so. I know some people who fry more often, and others who simply will not fry anything. Balance is important. Every once in a while, fried foods are delicious!
Enjoy this fantastic Southern dish!
Questions & Answers
Question: How do I store fried green tomatoes overnight without them getting soggy?
Answer: Fried green tomatoes are always best the same day they're made.
Storing them will cause them to become soft. It's impossible to avoid.
However, there is another option: after you've fried them and let them come to room temperature, they can be stored in the refrigerator until the following day. Lay them on a baking sheet and put into a 400-degree oven for about 12 minutes or so. This will crisp them again so they can be served.
Question: Why use cornmeal when making fried green tomatoes?
Answer: Cornmeal is commonly used in the South for fried green tomatoes because the flavor is complementary.
Question: Is there a way to fry green tomatoes in an air fryer?
Answer: I've never tried an air fryer, but it's certainly worth a try!
Deborah on February 16, 2018:
Try topping fried tomatoes with a little grated Romano cheese. Yummy
Mary M. on January 13, 2018:
I've been making these for years. This is a great recipe. What I do to keep my tomatoes crisp after cooking is laying them out on a metal grid bakers rack. It works perfect!
Judy Kasper on August 08, 2017:
Thx for the expaination! Will try these memories from my childhood again.
Buster Bucks (author) from Sonoma County, California on July 25, 2017:
I'm glad the recipe helped -- fried green tomatoes are one of the Great Foods of the World.
Thanks for writing to me.
Robyn on July 25, 2017:
i just want to say tyty. Ive tried fried green tomatos for years and it never worked. Batter always fell off. This was perrrr fect
Vicky Owens zumwalt on June 03, 2017:
Awesome recipe & easy
patrice on September 21, 2016:
I just made these fried green tomatoes tonight they were great.i followed instructions exactly (only change I made was I added some bay seasoning to the flour, cornmeal mixture).This is a keeper thank you!
Wards Girl on August 05, 2016:
Best i ever made, best i ever ate. Excellent!!!
Buster Bucks (author) from Sonoma County, California on February 26, 2016:
To keep them warm and crispy, heat your oven to 200 (low heat) and put the fried green tomatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet. Don't cover them (they'll become soft)
Maxine on January 13, 2016:
How can I keep these warm and crispy
Buster Bucks (author) from Sonoma County, California on August 30, 2015:
Robert Morgan from Hutchinson Island, FL - Myrtle Beach, SC - Gilbert AZ on August 30, 2015:
OMG... There goes my healthy diet... I had sworn them off. Now you have gone and done it. Thanks a million.
Buster Bucks (author) from Sonoma County, California on August 11, 2015:
Thank you Meredith!
Meredith on August 11, 2015:
Thank you for this resourceful and detailed recipe! I made them last night and will be putting your link on my blog soon!
Buster Bucks (author) from Sonoma County, California on August 08, 2015:
Hi Annie V!
Glad your fried green tomatoes beat out the ones in the MS restaurants. Whenever I see them on the menu, I always order them, but none have been able to match this recipe.
Thanks for taking the time to comment!
Annie V in Colorado on August 07, 2015:
My very first successful attempt at Fried Green Tomatoes is due to your recipe. My husband just complemented me saying, "These are better than the best restaurant (we visited ) in Vicksburg, MS." Yahooo! I did add more sugar to the raw tomatoes and more to the finished product to counterbalance the salt. It still wasn't "sweet" but brought out the flavor of the tomato with more enhancement.
Buster Bucks (author) from Sonoma County, California on March 30, 2015:
Thanks Chef Alexis! You've made my day.
Chef Alexis on March 30, 2015:
I absolutely adore this recipe! Made these for a cocktail party for 30! Rave reviews!!!! Thank You!
Buster Bucks (author) from Sonoma County, California on October 13, 2014:
You can't use butter or olive oil -- they have low burning temperatures. This means they would begin to smoke (and taste bad) as you fried your green tomatoes.
Peanut oil, canola oil -- and yes, coconut oil -- have high burning temperatures and so are great for frying foods.
chelsey on October 13, 2014:
Do you have to use peanut or canola oil? Or can you use butter, olive oil or coconut oil?
Buster Bucks (author) from Sonoma County, California on July 24, 2014:
Hi Pam B,
Thanks for taking a moment to tell me about your success! I live in the Wine Country and our tomato season is just beginning (our local tomato festival is in September) and so I will be making platters of fried green tomatoes soon.
Pam B on July 24, 2014:
Made these last night and they turned out GREAT. So glad I have a perfect recipe now! Thanks
Ilona from Ohio on January 26, 2014:
Those look fantastic- and I bet they taste just as good. Can't wait for this winter to end so I can grow tomatoes and try out your recipe :)
hensrfun on August 08, 2013:
I just made these and they were delicious! Thank you for taking the time to clearly explain each step. Your explanation of why each step is necessary was very helpful.
I will make these again!
Buster Bucks (author) from Sonoma County, California on July 15, 2013:
Yes, I think that cayenne is fantastic when added to the flour / cornmeal mixture. Vegetable oil works.
Enjoy your party!
Jess on July 15, 2013:
Hi there! I am making some Fried Green tomatoes for my boyfriend's Soul Food and Zombie Brew party, these look amazing!! Couple of small things as I am a new cook, could I throw in some spices to the flour/cornmeal mixture, like cayenne, paprika and garlic powder? I like a bit of a kick to my fried foods:) Also, can I use vegetable oil or is canola best? Thank you!
Susan from India on March 29, 2013:
This is something new for me. It looks very delicious. Will surely try this out. Thanks for sharing this great recipe.
Zone Dude on October 23, 2012:
I never even heard of fried green tomatoes until Fannie Flagg came out with her book. Took me all these years to get around to trying them. This past summer, I grew my first home garden and sprouted lots of tomatoes. I've still got some growing this late in the season and was wanting to use what I could before the first frost. Since there are so many green ones still on the vine, I thought I'd look up recipes for frying them... just to see what all the fuss was about.
That's when I came upon your recipe. I'm glad I did! Buster, those tomatoes were awesome! Turned out perfect... once I found the right temperature setting on my electric stove! The first bite reminded me of a steamed artichoke heart, only tangier. I will definitely be making these again before my tomato plants freeze! Thanks so much for the guidance!
Erin on September 17, 2012:
What a great recipe! I'm just finishing frying these babies up, and the batter is the best I've ever made. I added nutritional yeast and a little ground coriander to the batter mix for extra flavor; they're perfect! Thanks Buster.
Buster Bucks (author) from Sonoma County, California on August 23, 2012:
Fried Green Tomatoes are one of the great pleasures of life.
Thanks for taking the time to write!
Hallie on August 23, 2012:
Omigosh, these were AMAZING! Perfect on the first try to a HUGE hit... My buddy who was over for dinner actually took pictures of them! Thank you so much for taking the time to explain every step :)
Buster Bucks (author) from Sonoma County, California on August 15, 2012:
Yay! I'm glad your fried green tomatoes turned out perfectly. Thanks so much for taking the time to pass along the good news.
Jessica on August 15, 2012:
Hey! This recipe is wonderful!! I don't even really like tomatoes, and am VERY picky about eating fried green tomatoes. I followed your directions precisely; and they are even better than the only two restaurants in town that make them how I like them. These were the best fried green tomatoes I have ever put in my mouth!! I'm so proud that mine did turn out looking like the picture the first try! Thanks very much for sharing!!
Terri on July 15, 2012:
Hi Buster, I tried your recipe today and they came out perfect! Your very thorough instructions were so helpful. This was my first attempt at frying green tomatoes. My family LOVED it but now I will be doing this all the time. Thanks again!
Buster Bucks (author) from Sonoma County, California on June 08, 2012:
FGT are best when they're eaten hot.
If I were going to take them to a party, I would fry them really CRISPY ( don't burn them of course) then lay them in a single layer on a paper towel covered baking sheet and let them cool to room temperature.
Then I would remove them from the paper and carefully stack them in a cloth-lined bowl or basket.
Serve them with a dipping sauce like sour cream or ranch dressing.
Good luck and enjoy the party!
Anna Broome on June 08, 2012:
Can I transport them or do they need to be enjoyed right away? There is a Belmont Stakes party tomorrow and I want to cook fried green tomatoes but worry they will get soggy during the 30 minute drive.
Kelli on May 30, 2012:
Thanks Buster! I will be making them tonight so hopefully they turn out!!
Buster Bucks (author) from Sonoma County, California on May 30, 2012:
The temperature of the oil is what matters -- about 360 degrees. Using a fryer, rather than a skillet on the stove, is perfectly fine.
Kelli on May 30, 2012:
Can you put them in one of the fryers vs on the stove? Will it make a difference?
Beckie on November 08, 2011:
YUM! Sure beats my soggy (or burnt) past efforts. Thanks for sharing the why's!
Buster Bucks (author) from Sonoma County, California on October 30, 2011:
I've never tried freezing the battered (unfried) green tomatoes before, so I'm unable to answer your question.
If you try it, then you'll want to put them *immediately* onto a baking sheet, and into the freezer. Wait about 2 hours, then you'll be able to drop them into a gallon freezer bag, for easy removal later when you fry them.
If you try it, would you let me know how they turned out?
Wendy on October 30, 2011:
I was wondering if you could go through all the steps except frying, and freeze the slices to fry another day?
Ms. Jenn on October 04, 2011:
My Dear Buster,
this recipe is awesome! I fudged on the oil temp. m'bad? yes I am . a bit greasy. I loved them and so did my family. When is the cookbook coming?
chabias on September 19, 2011:
I have a TON of green tomatoes still in my garden and remembered seeing the link for this recipe in your instructions for canning tomatoes.
I've never had fried green tomatoes before, but hear they're wonderful if cooked properly. Hope to try this in the next few days.
Thanks for sharing, Buster!
Buster Bucks (author) from Sonoma County, California on September 11, 2011:
Thanks for taking the time to write to me! I hope you enjoy your fried green tomatoes.
Michelle on September 11, 2011:
I have never tried fried green tomatoes, but they look so yummy and crisp in the movie; I HAD to try them. Your recipe and directions are perfect. Thank you for providing such precise instructions. What luck to find you.
Buster Bucks (author) from Sonoma County, California on September 02, 2011:
I would pull off the stem, but leave them whole.
Since you won't have the moisture from a sliced tomato, I would put them into egg white, then into seasoned flour. Make sure your oil is really hot (360 degrees) so that your grape tomatoes will fry quickly.
I bet they're going to taste delicious!
Jennifer Mcgettigan on September 02, 2011:
I have a TON of grape tomatoes. I was wondering if I could just fry them whole or if i should cut them in half or cut off a bit of their top and bottom....any recommendations?
Buster Bucks (author) from Sonoma County, California on August 21, 2011:
Hi Victoria Lynn,
I love fried green tomatoes -- and plan to make some in the next few days.
Thanks for taking the time to write.
Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on August 21, 2011:
Awesome, useful, voted up! I love fried green tomatoes and make them from time to time. This recipe, however, will surely beat mine. Hope I can still get green tomatoes this late in the year, but, if not, I'll hang onto this recipe for later. Thanks!
Buster Bucks (author) from Sonoma County, California on August 18, 2011:
It really is a great recipe, and I hope you enjoy it.
Thanks for taking the time to write to me.
Joanne on August 18, 2011:
Thank you for posting this I have a batch of green tomatoes and I will try this recipe to the letter. they look delicious!
Buster Bucks (author) from Sonoma County, California on August 07, 2011:
Thanks for taking the time to let me know how your fried green tomatoes turned out!
Camille in Georgia on August 07, 2011:
I used your recipe last night and it was just perfect. I liked all the explanations also ;). Thank you
Buster Bucks (author) from Sonoma County, California on July 22, 2011:
Yes, you can use regular milk -- I have when I didn't have buttermilk handy. However, the tanginess of buttermilk really does improve the flavor of this dish.
Thanks for taking the time to write!
Leslie on July 21, 2011:
Your tips will come in handy. I haven't tried it yet but it all makes sense. i got my recipe from my mother in law and it is almost the same other than the sugar. And can you use regular milk instead of butter milk? Thank you for the recipe!!
Buster Bucks (author) from Sonoma County, California on July 08, 2011:
Like you, I really love fried green tomatoes. Thanks so much for taking the time to write. I'm delighted they turned out so well for you.
Summer on July 08, 2011:
All I can say is "AWESOME"! These were simply amazing. The best I've EVER had. We do fried green tomatoes every year for my birthday/4th of July dinner. I decided to find a new recipe because the ones we made were only so-so. I'm a believer and a lover of your technique and recipe. Thank you so much for sharing with us!
Buster Bucks (author) from Sonoma County, California on June 18, 2011:
I've never met a green tomato I didn't like fried...
So, to answer your question, I think all green tomatoes work wonderfully for this recipe.
Good luck with your fried green tomatoes -- and thanks for taking the time to write.
Bill Can Eat on June 18, 2011:
I have three new tomato plants that are full of large green tomatoes, any particular type of tomato you suggest? Also, I am a huge potato pancake lover and can tell by your frying smarts this will be great.
Buster Bucks (author) from Sonoma County, California on June 14, 2011:
Yes, they can be fried in the deep fryer. Make sure your oil is at 360 degrees before dropping in the battered green tomato slices.
I hope they turn out great for you!
Frank on June 14, 2011:
Can't wait to make these! Can they fry in a deep fryer the same way?
Buster Bucks (author) from Sonoma County, California on June 04, 2011:
I've never made my own saurkraut, but when I was a child I remember neighbors who did.
Thanks for letting me know how your friend green tomatoes turn out.
craig on June 04, 2011:
I can't wait to try this recipe. I usually just dip them in flour and fry them, then salt and pepper to taste. I recently started making my own saurkraut and have seen what adding salt to cabbage does to bring out the liquid, sounds like the same with tomatoes. Will let you know how the tomatoes turn out.
Buster Bucks (author) from Sonoma County, California on April 05, 2011:
I love the idea of serving fried green tomatoes at a Southern Ball. Unfortunately, I don't think they're going to work if prepared ahead. Because of the liquid in green tomatoes, they don't hold up... even if you tried to crisp them in an oven later. Fried foods really don't freeze well.
Yes, green tomatoes are simply regular "red" tomatoes that haven't ripened yet.
My only suggestion (and I admit it isn't a good one) is to hire someone to specifically fry green tomatoes so they can be served hot. This is an expense (and bother to set up) so... about 10 years ago I attended an event in Texas where they had a "fried green tomato bar" and it was a huge hit.
Good luck with your big event! Thanks so much for writing.
Jennifer on April 04, 2011:
Hi, thanks for your recipe, I can't wait to try it. I have a question or two though.. I am throwing a 'southern ball' fancy dress party for my 40th, and want to cook fried green tomatoes, of course! However, a few challenges.. A) I'm currently living in New Zealand (transplanted southern girl!) and am not sure how to get hold of green tomatoes. Are they simply unripe red tomatoes?! B) if I am cooking for a crowd (about 60 people) is there any way to prepare any of this ahead and freeze it? Even make them all up ahead of time and then thaw, and crisp them in the oven or will this just ruin them? If you have a chance to answer I'd be so pleased as you seem to have the expertise that I need!! Thanks.
Buster Bucks (author) from Sonoma County, California on January 24, 2011:
Allright! Thanks for telling me your success story.
GGG on January 23, 2011:
These are fabulous! At first my hubby did not want any tomatoes then after he saw how good they looked he changed his mind and he loved them! Thanks for sharing!
Duder on October 21, 2010:
Just made the recipe for fried green maters...
Never had them before, got a pile of green mater left over in garden.
Buster Bucks (author) from Sonoma County, California on October 07, 2010:
Thanks for taking the time to write, and I'm glad they turned out for you. I've ordered fried green tomatoes (they occur occasionally on California menus in the fall) and... well... they were fine but not as good as they could've been.
All the best,
fallenstar on October 07, 2010:
I'm a "Nahtherner" and I tried fried green tomatoes for the first time a month ago at a highly rated restaurant in Charleston. Your recipe was as good or better than the ones I had, and I didn't think that was possible. Thanks for taking the extra time to give explanations for the various steps. Thank you.
Buster Bucks (author) from Sonoma County, California on September 05, 2010:
I love that you figured out how to "pinch hit" with the cornflake crumbs when you ran out of cornmeal. You're a genuine cook!
Thanks for letting me know you made your husband a fried green tomato fan.
All the best,
Angelica on September 05, 2010:
Great recipe! I love that you included the techniques and the photos. I made these tonight, but ran out of cornmeal, so I used corn flake crumbs and they turned out amazing. My husband usually wants nothing to do with tomatoes, let alone green ones and he is now a lover of this southern classic because of you! Thanks!
Buster Bucks (author) from Sonoma County, California on August 25, 2010:
Thanks for taking the time to write. You've made my day!
All the best,
Jaimie on August 25, 2010:
These were BY FAR THEE best fried green tomatoes I have ever had! Everyone raved about them! My dad used to make them for me, he was from the South, and I sure wish he was still alive so I could make this recipe for him! I made a mayo/garlic dipping sauce for them, scrumptious~
Buster Bucks (author) from Sonoma County, California on August 24, 2010:
Hey Capt. Don,
Glad you enjoyed the recipe. Thanks so much for taking the time to write!
Capt. Don on August 24, 2010:
Wow! I really enjoyed your recipe. I thought I knew how to cook green tomatoes. Yours are the best.
Buster Bucks (author) from Sonoma County, California on August 13, 2010:
I love serving these at a dinner party. Thanks for letting me know how they turned out for you!
Barbie on August 13, 2010:
I used your recipe for fried green tomatoes last night for a dinner party, awesome! Thanks so much.
Buster Bucks (author) from Sonoma County, California on July 10, 2010:
Thank you for taking the time to let me know they turned out for you. I think aioli is an excellent dip for fried green tomatoes.
You've made my day!
Debbi on July 10, 2010:
eating these right now. Thank you, thank you, thank you. So perfect. Topped 'em off with a garlic herb aioli. First perfectly fried anything I've ever made thank you
Buster Bucks (author) from Sonoma County, California on July 10, 2010:
If you get a chance, drop me a line and let me know how they turned out for you!
Thanks so much for taking the time to write. It means a lot.
reddog1027 from Atlanta, GA on July 09, 2010:
From your how to can tomatoes hub, I zipped over here quick. I love fried green tomatoes but MY recipe is only so so. I can't wait to try my hand at these!!! This and your canning hub are now BOOKMARKED.
Sandy Mertens from Wisconsin, USA on March 02, 2010:
I will have to try this.
Buster Bucks (author) from Sonoma County, California on February 06, 2010:
For those of us on the West Coast, we're lucky we can have green tomatoes in the off-season (i.e. not in the middle of summer.)
Thanks so much for taking the time to write. Best of luck with your fried green tomatoes.
pasadena, ca on February 06, 2010:
awesome instructions!! i haven't tried the recipe, yet, but your procedures make perfect sense. Thank you for saving me from making tasteless and soggy fried green tomatoes (hopefully) for my first time trying to make them. I have some tomatoes in my garden that aren't turning red (probably because it's February) and I didn't know what to do with them. Now I do. Thank you!