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Fried Green Tomatoes

Green Tomatoes for Sale at Local Farmer's Market

Green Tomatoes for Sale at Local Farmer’s Market

Fried Green Tomatoes

Have you failed to savor this traditional Southern favorite? If so, you may want to reconsider and start frying a mess of these beauties while we’re right at the peak of spectacular summer produce.   Thanks to novelist, Fannie Flagg, for modeling her book Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café, Random House 1987, after Birmingham’s Irondale Café, which her great aunt operated for nearly 40 years. Owner, Jim Dolan says his crew cooks about 135 pounds of fried green tomatoes a day. The book and movie helped the dish’s popularity – visitors come from all over the country to sample this Southern specialty.

The first recipe is from Southern Living 2003 Annual Recipes and is considered a classic. However, you might want to give the second one a try, also from Southern Living Annual Recipes, June 1999. The point is, a good southern recipe will make you a believer!

Fried Green Tomatoes with Aioli Sauce

Fried Green Tomatoes with Aioli Sauce

Golden Crispy Fried Green Tomatoes 


1 large egg, lightly beaten

½ cup buttermilk

½ cup all-purpose flour, divided

½ cup cornmeal

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

3 medium-size green tomatoes, cut into 1/3 inch slices

Vegetable Oil

Salt to taste


  1. Combine egg and buttermilk; set aside.
  2. Combine ¼ cup flour, cornmeal, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper in a shallow bowl or pan.
  3. Dredge tomato slices in remaining ¼ cup flour; dip in egg mixture, and dredge in cornmeal mixture.
  4. Pour oil to a depth of ¼ to ½ inch in a large cast-iron skillet; heat to 375˚. Drop tomatoes, in batches, into hot oil, and cook 2 minutes on each side or until golden. Drain on paper towels or a rack. Sprinkle hot tomatoes with salt.


Blue Willow Fried Green Tomatoes

From the Southern Living Test Kitchen, this recipe garnered its best marks. The Blue Willow Inn reports that their fried green tomatoes are consumed like there’s no tomorrow in Social Circle, Georgia. 


1 ½ cups self-rising flour, divided

1 ½ cups buttermilk

2 eggs

1 teaspoon salt, divided

1 teaspoon pepper, divided

3 green tomatoes, each cut into 4 slices

2 cups vegetable oil


  1. Whisk together 1 tablespoon flour, buttermilk, eggs, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper in a small bowl.
  2. Stir together remaining flour, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper in a shallow bowl.
  3. Dip tomato slices in buttermilk mixture; dredge in flour mixture.
  4. Heat oil in heavy 10-inch skillet to 350˚. Fry tomato slices 2 ½ minutes on each side or until golden.
  5. Drain tomato slices on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt. Serve fried tomatoes immediately.

Yield: 6 servings

Note: For an extra treat, make up a batch of Spicy Aioli and use as a dipping sauce for these yummy gems.

Spicy Aioli


2/3 cup mayonnaise

2 cloves garlic, pressed

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

½ teaspoon cayenne


  1. Mix mayonnaise with garlic, lemon juice, mustard, and cayenne.
  2. Cover and chill to store.

Yield: Makes 2 cups


Pictures by Ann and Linda


Green Tomato Primer

Green tomatoes are usually seen at the beginning and the end of tomato season.  Sometimes they get harvested at the beginning when you just can’t wait another minute to have a tomato, and when the weatherman announces the first frost of the year, the rest of the harvest comes inside in a hurry.

If it’s been a good year, that leaves you with lots of tart green balls; some may continue to ripen, but they usually don’t have the depth of flavor and sweetness of those that finish on the vine.  But it’s a pity to compost all that hard work and potential goodness.  So what do you do?

Above: 13 cups of green tomatoes were harvested  for Green Tomato Recipes. The ripe tomatoes were eaten.

Above: 13 cups of green tomatoes were harvested for Green Tomato Recipes. The ripe tomatoes were eaten.

This primer will hopefully help you better understand your green harvest and give you some ideas – along with some recipes – to help you use it all up deliciously! Green tomatoes are tart and hard.  If you have green cherry tomatoes, you may even find them a little bitter (I think that’s from the greater amount of skin to pulp than you have on a larger tomato.)  To mellow the flavor of the tomato, you could cut, dice or slice it (you want to expose the interior), salt it, cover it and let it sit overnight in the refrigerator.  The next day (or the day after that) when you go to use it, drain and rinse it, and it will still be tart, but it won’t turn your face inside out. Green tomatoes can be substituted reasonably easily in recipes that call for:

  • tart apple
  • lemon
  • kumquat
  • tamarind
  • fresh cranberries

Cherry green tomatoes would work especially well as substitutes for kumquats and cranberries if the shape is important.  So if you already have a recipe you enjoy that uses one of these ingredients, go ahead and substitute green tomatoes for it! Below is a list of flavors that would complement green tomatoes, if you enjoy improvising:

  • almonds
  • walnuts
  • hazelnut
  • coconut
  • coconut cream
  • sesame oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • tea
  • vanilla
  • rose water
  • ginger
  • sugar (brown, white)
  • thyme
  • rosemary
  • coriander
  • allspice
  • cardamom
  • cloves
  • cinnamon
  • nutmeg
  • mustard
  • caraway
  • bay leaf
  • chile pepper
  • garlic
  • onion
  • bitter greens
  • corn
  • butter
  • cheese (ricotta, parmesean, cream)
  • chicken
  • turkey
  • duck
  • beef
  • game (venison)

A flavor combination:

  • beef + coconut milk + green tomato 

Other recipe ideas:

  • cornbread with green tomatoes and jalapenos
  • almond thumbprint cookies with candied green tomatoes (or green tomato jam)
  • coconut pie/tart crust with a green tomato filling
  • green tomato jam and coconut milk in your favorite vanilla ice cream recipe (substitute the coconut milk for some or all of the milk and cream)
  • dehydrate and powder the tomatoes to add to any recipe for a little extra tartness
  • added to soups or stews
  • the classic: fried green tomatoes! 

The following recipes were designed for a small batch of green cherry tomatoes, where 1 cup weighed approximately 5 ounces.

Above: Green Tomato Recipe Sampling at The Demonstration Garden

Above: Green Tomato Recipe Sampling at The Demonstration Garden

If your tomatoes are full-sized, you may choose to dice or slice them, and in addition, you have the option of peeling the skins to reduce the acidity, and some of the bitterness.

Hungry for Lila  Rose’s Green Tomato Recipes? Click Here.

Lila Rose

Pictures by Starla

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