Not many things compare to a homegrown ruby red tomato at the end of summer. Although, I think fried green tomatoes might be a close second. I could make a meal out of them! If you love fried green tomatoes, then scroll down to find out how to make them fast and easy, but first… what kind of green tomatoes make the best fried green tomatoes?
What are the best tomatoes for frying?
It used to be when you’d go grocery shopping or plant tomatoes there were only a few varieties to pick from… all of them red. Nowadays with the resurgence of heirlooms, we have green, black, stripes, orange and yellow. So which ones are best for making your fried green tomatoes?
At first guess, you might go for the tomato that stays green once it’s fully ripened. That would be a poor choice. You want to pick any medium sized unripened tomato. If you have your own tomato plant, awesome!
Pick a load of them before you have too many on your hands or the bugs get them. They should be very firm and fairly dry when you cut into them. If you’re not growing your own, most superstores have plenty of hard, pale, and fairly unripe ones. These are excellent for frying.
Foolproof Triple Coated Fried Green Tomatoes
My grandparents were from Norcross, GA and always had fresh sliced tomatoes on the dinner table. As a kid, I didn’t like them because the high acidity burned my tongue. On a rare occasion Maw-maw would fry up a batch of unripened green ones, and boy, was I in heaven!
She always used cornmeal and her big black cast iron skillet. I find that cornmeal comes off easily and ends up burning in the pan when I’m doing a lot of them. That’s why I recommend using crushed Ritz crackers. Plus, if you give them a triple coat that will insure you’ve got a crispy golden crust every time.
How to Make Fried Green Tomatoes
- Set up your dipping station with 3 shallow bowls: 1 bowl of flour, 1 bowl egg bath (2 eggs plus 2 tablespoons water, beaten) & 1 bowl of crushed Ritz crackers with 1 tablespoon Italian dried herbs.
- Coat #1: Use medium sized firm green tomatoes. Slice them 1/2 inch thick and lightly salt and pepper them (this seasons them & helps draw out any excess water), dredge them through flour.
- Coat #2: Dip them in the egg mixture. This binds the crumbs to the tomato.
- Coat #3: Gently press the slices in a mixture of Ritz cracker crumbs and dried Italian herbs. I like to use Ritz crackers instead of bread crumbs because of their buttery flavor and crunchy flakey texture.
- Fry Time! Heat a large skillet over medium high with 2-3 tablespoons bacon grease or vegetable oil. Lightly fry them for 3-4 minutes on each side until they are a beautiful crusty golden brown.
- Remove them from the skillet and let them drain on paper towels.
- Serve them as an appetizer or side dish with your favorite dipping sauce like a creamy ranch dressing.
Why not fry a ripe tomato?
Even though they have wonderful flavor, fully ripen tomatoes are juicy and the tomato slices fall apart easily when they’re fried. they end up soft and seedy and spit oil everywhere! You will have a huge mess on your hands.
Young unripe tomatoes hold their shape. Plus the heat softens them and brings out their full flavor.
What to Serve with Fried Green Tomatoes
This is one of my favorite southern recipes especially paired with garlic aioli (aka homemade mayo). Or if you have a little Ranch dressing on hand, that’s pretty awesome too.
If you’re thinking about making this a meal, pair it with a cantaloupe salad with shaved prosciutto over a bed of arugula.
Complete your meal with an American South vibe with a tall glass of sweet tea or head over the pond to the Spanish-Portuguese boarder with a Vinho Verde wine. Personally, I opt for the Vinho Verde. It’s a light crisp wine that hints of green apple and citrus with a touch of effervescence.
How to Eat Fried Green Tomatoes
Oh sure, you can stack them high on a plate and drizzle them with a buttermilk dressing. You can’t go wrong with that! But why stop there? Use them in a toasted BLT for extra crunch and flavor. Or slip a couple onto a big juicy burger. They even make a great salad topper.
Another great twist you can try is pickling them. That sounds trickier than it is.
Simply slice the tomatoes and soak them in a brine made with 3 cups water, 1 cup white vinegar, 1 tablespoon salt and 2 tablespoons sugar. I use this same brine to pickle my jalapeño poppers. Let them soak for 2-3 hours, pat them dry and proceed with the recipe above. This gives them a bit more zip and extra tangy.
And of course… the movie
While this Southern classic definitely earns its fame by just being delicious, I’d be remiss not to give a shout out to Alabama’s Fannie Flagg and thank her for its huge popularity. In 1987, Ms. Flagg published the novel Fried Green Tomatoes, which would later be adapted into a major motion picture with an all-star cast like Kathy Bates, Jessica Tandy, Mary Stuart Masterson, and Mary Louise Parker.
Make a batch, watch the movie and make a great night of it!
Fried Green Tomatoes
Here's how to make Fried Tomatoes easy. Don't wait for all your tomatoes to ripen for this is a scrumptious summer treat. Dip these Fried Green Tomatoes in a homemade garlic aioli or Ranch dressing and make them extra special! | www.lakesidetable.com
- 3 large unripened green tomatoes
- 1 cup flour
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 cups Ritz cracker crumbs
- 2 eggs beaten
- 2 tablespoons dried Italian seasoning
- 1/2 stick butter
- 1/2 cup bacon grease or vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup herb chopped herbs such as: parsley, basil, thyme, oregano
Slice tomatoes in 1/2 inch slices and slightly salt on both sides. Let them rest on paper towels to draw out the excess water.
Add the butter and bacon grease to a skillet (cast iron works great!) Turn the stove to a low heat.
Prepare your Triple Coating Station with 3 shallow bowls: 1st bowl - Put your flour in one. 2nd bowl - Beat 2 eggs until just combined. 3rd bowl - Mix the Italian seasoning with the breadcrumbs.
Pat the tomato slices dry. Working with one slice at a time, dredge it through the flour. Shake off any excess flour. Dip it into the beaten egg. Then submerge the slice in the crumb mixture. Lay it on a clean paper towel. Repeat with the remaining slices.
When all the slices are laid out and triple coated, turn the skillet heat up to medium high. Be careful not to burn the butter. It it starts to smoke, turn the heat down.
After the butter has melted, in a clockwise pattern, start at the top and lay the tomato slices in the skillet. When the edges underneath start to turn golden brown, flip them over in the same order they went into the pan.
When they're golden brown that side (about 3-4 minutes), drain them on paper towels.
Transfer to a serving plate and sprinkle with chopped fresh herbs. Serve hot with garlic herb aioli (mayo) or Ranch dressing.
Instead of Ritz crackers, you can use Saltines or Panko bread crumbs. If crackers aren't handy, make your own breadcrumbs. Toast some bread, break it into pieces over a blender and pulse it on high until crumbs form.
Check out my aioli recipe for a quick dip that's super tasty.
For the chopped herbs, use your favorite! I like a mix of sage, chives, and parsley.