This Easy Crispy Fried Red Tomatoes or Fried Green Tomatoes recipe creates crunchy, golden brown, shallow fried green and red tomatoes with cornmeal, cheese and more! You’ll love this fried tomato recipe!
You may have heard of fried green tomatoes before. I had only heard of them from the movie that was based on the book called Fried Green Tomatoes At The Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg.
A great book, a great movie and as I now know, an incredible snack and appetizer. Fried tomatoes also taste amazing in sandwiches! Specifically a bacon, lettuce and fried red tomatoes sandwich.
If you have never tried a fried green tomato or fried red tomato, I really believe it should be on your bucket list if it’s not already. No kidding!
Honestly, before I made them I wondered, “Can you fry red tomatoes?” Of course, the answer is YES! They are a fabulous experience. Fried tomatoes taste like no other. Can you tell how much I love this easy fried green tomatoes recipe?
As a BONUS, I’m including a copy of the original recipe I used to make my first Bacon, Lettuce and Fried Green Tomato Sandwich.
This fabulous recipe is what made me fall in love with fried tomatoes in sandwiches. No promises, but it might just happen to you too.
Easy Fried Green Tomatoes Recipe
Working with unripe green tomatoes is a lot different than using the ripened red ones. So why am I talking about fried green tomatoes when the recipe is for fried red tomatoes too?
It’s simple really, and I’ll help you understand the difference between the two and help you determine which are the best tomatoes for sandwiches.
Green tomatoes are fresh off the vine before they have had time to ripen.
These unripe green tomatoes are much firmer, hold their shape and fare better when in hot oil. They are less likely to fall apart when frying than ripe, red tomatoes are.
These tomatoes are not to be confused with ripened green tomatoes called “heirloom.” They are green when ripe but far too juicy and seedy to fry.
Be warned, their liquid will cause hot oil to spit everywhere if you try to fry them.
However, heirloom tomatoes are great when you want to add a little something different to your favorite meal or salad. They’re just not right for this easy fried green tomato recipe.
I highly recommend using plum or Roma tomatoes as they are much less watery and more fleshy or meaty. These tomatoes basically maintain their firmness after coating and frying better than any other tomato.
Have a look for them. You will be so glad you did.
Recipe for Fried Green Tomatoes
The key to making a great recipe for fried green tomatoes or fried red tomatoes is to remove as much moisture as possible from each tomato slice.
As I already mentioned, the liquid in the tomato will cause hot oil to spit everywhere if you try to fry them.
The only way to avoid the spitting oil is to force the tomatoes to dry out and release their liquid pre-frying.
How to easily dehydrate both red and green tomatoes
Both red and green tomatoes require a slightly different length of draining time, as you would expect.
Ripe red tomatoes are much juicier than green tomatoes and require more time to release their liquid.
You can easily use a wire rack lined with paper towels.
Allow your red and green tomato slices to sit, evenly spaced on the rack, and drain.
You need to flip your red or green tomatoes at the mid way point and pat the tops gently with a paper towel before you begin your dipping.
That is it!
This is definitely an easy fried green tomatoes recipe or fried red tomato recipe too!
What Kind of Tomato to Use for Fried Red Tomatoes?
Beefsteak, vine ripened or other heirloom varieties have far too much water to hold up in the dipping and frying process. Stay away from these.
Romas or plum tomatoes are just the right size, density and firmness which makes them perfect for this dish. Great choices!
They maintain their wholeness even after dipping and frying. They’re a solid tomato with lots of meat and they don’t get soggy.
The first time I tried to make fried tomatoes, I used big ripened beefsteak and the results were just disastrous. They just fell apart and turned to mush when I made them, so after a few attempts, I learned the key to the whole thing.
The type of tomato makes all the difference. Plum/Romas are where it’s at.
Now there is just the problem of excess water left in the tomato and how to dry it out.
I have to give thanks to Cook’s Country who found a way to bring out the water from the tomato’s meaty flesh and got this tasty coating to stick.
Fried Tomato Recipe
This easy fried green tomato recipe is the best I have ever tried. For a long time we used panko instead of cornmeal. I have to say that overall I prefer this cornmeal version.
I just love this crispy coating.
After that you dip the plum tomatoes in an egg and buttermilk mixture and then dip into a flour, cornmeal, grated Parmesan and cayenne mixture.
This crunchy, cheesy coating will not disappoint.
Also, the great thing about frying with this coating is that it creates a nice, crispy texture on the outside of the tomato while leaving the inner juiciness intact.
It’s a mind-blowing combination that I’m sure you will love.
For us it’s a once in a while treat as we don’t fry that often. Every now and then Ken gets a craving for this fried tomato recipe so I pull out the skillet and make them for him.
The Secret to Firm and Crunchy Fried Tomatoes
Use plum or Roma tomatoes (as seen below) as they are less watery and more meaty. They stay fairly firm after coating and frying.
Remove as much moisture as you can by taking a wire rack and lining it with layers of paper towel.
Place the tomato slices evenly spaced on the rack and let them drain. Flip. Pat the tops lightly with a paper towel before dipping.
The secret to the crispy crunch is the double dip. Dip the tomato slice in the egg/buttermilk mixture and then dredge in the cornmeal mixture. Dip again into the buttermilk mixture and once again into the cornmeal mixture.
The results are sure to impress.
Ingredients in Crispy Fried Red Tomatoes
- red tomatoes, Roma or plum tomatoes (sliced ½ to ¾-inch, anything smaller will not hold up)
- green tomatoes, cored and sliced ¼-inch thick (4 or 5 usually)
- parmesan cheese
- garlic powder
- pepper or cayenne pepper
- fresh basil for serving if desired
- lemon wedges for serving if desired
How to Make Crispy Fried Red Tomatoes
Find a large wire rack to lay tomatoes on.
Make sure to line with at least three layers of paper towels to absorb the water.
Sometimes I even use as many as five!
Now you want to slice the tomatoes about ½″ thick and evenly space the slices on the lined wire rack.
Sprinkle the tomatoes evenly with garlic powder and let drain for at least 20 minutes for green tomatoes and 40 minutes for red tomatoes.
You want to make sure to flip them half way through draining.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with some parchment paper and place to the side.
In a shallow dish, whisk buttermilk and eggs together.
In a second shallow dish combine cornmeal, flour, Parmesan, salt and pepper.
Before cooking the tomatoes, you want to gently pat the tops with some paper towel. This will remove any leftover water.
Working with one slice at a time, dip tomato in the buttermilk mixture.
Now you want to coat it in the cornmeal mixture.
Drag and flip the tomato in the cornmeal, pressing firmly to adhere. Pay extra attention to the sides as you want the tasty crisp to cover the whole slice.
Repeat and transfer to the lined baking sheet. You don’t have to double dip but I highly recommend it. This prep step can get a bit messy but the end result is so worth it!
In a large non-stick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmers or a drop of water flicked on the surface dances.
Add as many tomato slices as will fit comfortably and fry for two to four minutes per side or until golden brown.
Flip tomatoes with a fork or spatula or whatever is easiest! I like to flip the tomatoes with a fork but you could use a spatula or pincers as well. With the pincers you have to be careful not to remove the delicious crunchy coating.
Remove and finish frying the rest of the tomatoes.
You shouldn’t need to but you can add more oil as necessary. Just remember to let the oil heat up before adding any dipped tomatoes to fry in it!
Transfer finished tomatoes to a plate/platter.
Crispy fried red tomatoes can be served with Remoulade, aioli, sour cream or tartar sauce, a fresh lemon wedge and fresh basil.
The end result is a delicious plate full of crispy, crunchy bites with an amazing a burst of juiciness when you bite into them.
You will just love them.
Best Fried Green Tomato Sandwich EVER
I mentioned earlier that I was going to include a recipe for my favorite sandwich that requires fried tomatoes.
This Bacon, Lettuce and Fried Green Tomato Sandwich recipe is a definite keeper.
Here is the file of the recipe for you to copy or print.
This was basically the recipe we used for frying tomatoes before we started using this one.
It uses panko breadcrumbs and served us well for years. Even though we now prefer the cornmeal version made and pictured in this post, make no mistake, this old recipe is definitely worth a try.
I have listed ingredients for four sandwiches in the recipe but I encourage you to adjust amounts to suit your personal tastes.
Use as much or as little bacon as you desire. I have listed 12 slices but I am sure my husband always adds more. My son too.
Green tomatoes definitely work best in our favorite fried green tomato sandwich recipe.
Cheese. I love cheese and include it in this wonderful sandwich.
We always toast both halves of the buns first. Then we add a slice of cheese to both toasted halves.
You can add cheese to only one half if you prefer. Just melt halves with cheese on them under your broiler.
I have included this little lettuce trick I learned years ago. Shred the lettuce and toss it in mayo.
Then add it to the top of your sandwich.
Sometimes we add hot sauce to the mayo and other times we will add mustard, ketchup or barbecue sauce to the mayo instead.
Add until you reach your desired taste.
Doing this makes good sandwiches fantastic!
Bacon, Lettuce, and Fried Green Tomato Sandwich
Preparing the tomatoes
- 3 green tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons table salt, divided
- ¾ cup mayonnaise
- 1 – 2 tablespoons hot sauce (start with one and then add more, little by little if desired) OR
- Blend in some barbecue sauce, mustard or ketchup, until you get the taste you’re looking for
- 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
- 1.5 cups panko bread crumbs
- 1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
- 4 large eggs
Making your Sandwich
- 1 ½ – 2 cups peanut or vegetable oil for frying
- 4-8 cheese slices
- 4 large buns, split and toasted with cheese slices on each half or one half
- 12 slices cooked bacon, halved, or more to taste
- 2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce, roughly ½ cup per sandwich
Remove the cores from your tomatoes and slice off the round top and bottom. You want your tomato to sit flat at your workstation and for your slices to be as even as possible.
Slice your tomatoes into twelve slices that are about ¼ inch thick or slightly less. You will likely have some green tomato leftovers).
Prepare a rack with a triple or quadruple layer of paper towel on top of it. Place your tomatoes on top, as evenly spaced as possible.
Sprinkle one side with a pinch of sugar and a shake of salt. Cover with a paper towel.
After 30 minutes, flip your tomatoes. Add an additional pinch of sugar and a sprinkle of salt on every tomato slice.
Allow to sit for another 30 minutes, covered with a paper towel.
Replace the paper towel while flipping your tomatoes, if necessary.
While tomatoes are sitting, whisk mayonnaise and hot sauce together in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
Whisk flour, panko, Old Bay seasoning, and ½ teaspoon salt together in your biggest bowl.
Beat eggs inside a shallow bowl or dish.
Pat the tops of your tomatoes dry with the paper towel cover and discard.
Transfer tomatoes to flour mixture and toss until coated.
Remove coated tomatoes from the bowl in batches and place on a rimmed baking sheet.
Note: You will be dipping your tomatoes in the panko mixture again so try not to waste too much of it moving the tomatoes on top of your rimmed baking sheet.
Working with one tomato slice at a time, shake off excess panko mixture back into the large bowl.
Dip tomato slices into your egg and allow excess to drip off.
Return tomato slice to panko mixture, pressing firmly until coating sticks.
Carefully return coated tomatoes to the baking sheet.
Prepare a large platter or plate with a triple or quadruple layer of paper towels and set safely beside the stove.
Next, using a 12 inch skillet, over medium high heat and add oil.
Allow oil to heat to 350 degrees.
Fry tomatoes in batches until golden brown and crispy. Usually about 2 minutes per side.
If oil becomes hotter than 350 degrees, reduce heat as necessary.
Using a pair of tongs, transfer fried tomatoes to your prepared platter until ready to serve.
Using a rimmed baking sheet, place split buns on top and toast under your broiler for a few minutes or golden brown.
If you love cheese like we do, place a slice of cheese on each bun half, after your buns are toasted, and return buns to the oven to melt the cheese.
If you only want to include one slice of cheese, remove half of your toasted buns, being mindful of the number of tops and bottoms.
Place half of your buns back in your oven for a few minutes under your broiler to melt the cheese.
Remove buns with melted cheese from the oven.
At your workstation, lay your buns out.
Toss your shredded lettuce with ⅓ cup of the mayo mixture in a bowl.
Divide lettuce mixture evenly among all of your sandwiches, on top of cheese, to prevent your bun from becoming soggy, followed by halved bacon slices, and 3 fried tomatoes, overlapping slightly in the center.
Spread a heaping spoonful of mayo to the other bun half.
Cover top of sandwich and serve.
Fried Green Tomatoes Recipe
There they are, all with the deep, dark golden crust and a flavor that goes to the next level. It’s all I can do to keep from eating them all right out of the skillet.
Many people regularly enjoy fried GREEN tomatoes but after you try some fried RED tomatoes I am confident that they will soon become your favorite too.
The taste of summer with a delicious golden crust. Your friends and family will love them too. Simple and easy, they can be served as an appetizer, a side dish or just as a snack.
The end result is amazing, dare I say spectacular! A wonderful way to enjoy tomatoes, especially the next day once they’re reheated in the oven.
Crispy Fried Red Tomatoes Video
Crispy Fried Red Tomatoes
- large skillet
- rimmed baking sheet
- 10 plum tomatoes, ends trimmed, sliced crosswise, ¼ - ½ inch thick
- 1 ½ pounds green tomatoes, cored and sliced ¼-inch thick (4 or 5 usually)
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 3 large eggs
- 2 cups cornmeal
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 2 ¼ cups parmesan cheese, grated
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- ¼ cup minced fresh basil for serving if desired
- Lemon wedges for serving if desired
Red Tomato Preparation
- Grab a wire rack and cover it with a triple layer of paper towels. I sometimes use an extra layer.
- Space your RED tomato slices out, as evenly as possible, on your rack.
- Sprinkle all of the tomato slices with garlic powder.
- Allow tomatoes to drain for around 40 to 45 minutes in total, flipping each tomato at about the 20 minute mark.
Green Tomato Preparation
- Place all of your sliced GREEN tomatoes on top of a rack, covered with paper towel.
- Sprinkle tomato slices with garlic powder.
- Allow to let sit for 20 minutes total. Flip slices at 10 minute mark.
Frying your Tomatoes
- Using a ball of paper towel lightly pat down on tops of your tomatoes to remove any extra liquid.
- Take a rimmed baking sheet and cover it with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a medium sized shallow bowl combine buttermilk and egg using a whisk.
- Using another shallow bowl or even a plate, combine cornmeal, flour, Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper.
- One tomato slice at a time, dip in buttermilk mixture, dredge in cornmeal mixture, pressing down so the cornmeal sticks to all sides of your tomato slice. Repeat if desired. I always do.
- Place each double dipped tomato on to your rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Repeat until all of your tomatoes are dipped and done.
- Heat oil in your large skillet over medium high heat until shimmering or a drop of water flicked in it dances.
- Add coated tomato slices to your skillet in batches and fry until a golden brown color, 2 to 4 minutes per side.
- Flip tomatoes with a fork or whatever you think is easiest!
- Transfer to platter and sprinkle with basil if desired.
- Serve with lemon wedges and enjoy!