Slices of green tomato are tossed in buttermilk and fried in a flour and cornmeal batter to crunchy golden-brown perfection and then paired with the Southern favorite, Mississippi “comeback sauce”.
Fried green tomatoes make a great easy appetizer or are the perfect swap in your favorite BLT sandwich. I add a bit of hot sauce to my buttermilk for quick seasoning. For some reason this recipe is much more popular in the South.
Green tomatoes are actually unripe tomatoes! They are picked early and are much more firm and dense than ripe tomatoes and have a tangy flavor. Sometimes they are picked before they ripen, but many are ones that did not ripen by the end of the season.
Green tomatoes have a slightly tart, acidic flavor. Their firm, almost crisp texture is often compared to green apples. Since they aren’t juicy like other tomatoes, they are perfect for frying. While green tomatoes are in season year round, they are more widely available (especially outside of Southern states) in summer and fall.
Key ingredients in this recipe
Tomatoes – More specifically, green or unripe tomatoes are used in this recipe. Ripe regular tomatoes or heirloom tomatoes are too juicy and when battered and fried would turn to mush so they don’t make a good swap.
Buttermilk – The typical American buttermilk is low-fat and ideal for adding a tangy flavor. It’s also quintessential in Southern cooking. I give the tomatoes a quick soak in the buttermilk before tossing in the cornstarch and flour breading.
Eggs – The egg makes for a fluffier coating and helps the batter mixture adhere to the firm tomatoes.
Hot sauce – Hot sauce is as a seasoning in the buttermilk mixture. I recommend using a vinegar-based hot sauce for this recipe. My favorite is Crystal Louisiana Hot Sauce though Tabasco also works well.
Cornmeal – Cornmeal is made from dried corn and is extremely versatile. Look for a stone ground coarse cornmeal for this recipe. The coarse grind gives the batter more texture.
All-purpose flour – The flour is combined with the cornmeal to lighten up the breading for the recipe. It also works to evenly coat it since the cornmeal is denser.
How to make fried green tomatoes
Prepare the tomatoes. Cut the green tomatoes into ¼” slices.
Make the dredge. In one large mixing bowl whisk together the buttermilk, egg and hot sauce. Next, in another medium mixing bowl whisk together the cornmeal and flour, then season with salt and pepper.
Let the tomatoes soak in the buttermilk. Add the tomatoes to the buttermilk mixture and let sit for about 10 minutes. This helps to tenderize the tomatoes and adhere the coating.
Heat the oil. Add enough oil to a large cast iron skillet to fill 1” up the side of the pan. Heat the oil to 375ºF.
Batter and fry the tomatoes. Working in batches, add tomatoes to the cornmeal batter and coat on both sides, pressing gently to adhere the cornmeal. Then, shake excess batter off the tomatoes and add to the skillet, frying until golden brown on both sides, about 3 to 4 minutes total.
Drain. Remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Repeat with the remaining tomatoes until all have been fried.
Make the sauce. In a small bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, sriracha, ketchup, oil, onion, garlic, Worcestershire, mustard and pepper until combined.
Serve. Add the tomatoes to a plate and serve hot with the sauce for dipping.
What is comeback sauce?
Comeback sauce or Mississippi comeback sauce is a tangy condiment similar to a mix between Thousand Island dressing or remoulade and spicy mayonnaise. It’s made from mayonnaise, chili sauce (I use either sambal or sriracha), ketchup, a bit of vegetable oil, Worcestershire, onion, garlic and creole mustard. This classic Southern sauce was created in Jackson, Mississippi and also pairs perfectly with fried food. Try it over these beer battered Baja fish tacos.
This sauce tastes best if made ahead of time and refrigerated, covered, overnight. The sauce can be made a week in advance.
Tips for frying
Take breaks in between batches so the oil can come back to the desired temperature. Every time food is added to hot oil the temperature decreases drastically. Allowing time for it to heat back up again results in an even fry among batches.