How to Make Fried Green Tomato BLT Sandwiches
Tangy green tomatoes meet buttermilk, crunchy cornmeal, and thick-cut bacon for a Southern-inspired treat
Article, recipe, and photographs by Marrekus and Krysten Wilkes of Cooks with Soul
BLTs are one of my favorite sandwiches. Thick-cut bacon and hearty bread make them a true classic. Adding in crispy, golden-brown fried green tomatoes takes this sandwich to the next level.
When I was growing up, fried green tomatoes were a big deal in the South, though not as well known in the rest of the country as they are now. My grandfather grew tomatoes in his garden, so we always picked some to fry before they fully ripened. The tang and saltiness from the green tomatoes add their own natural seasoning, and when you include some cornmeal and a few other spices, you truly have a special dish.
When my grandparents fried the green tomatoes, they came out crispy and golden brown. We never made sandwiches with them, but we would have them with eggs and bacon in the morning, cold cuts for lunch, and for dinner with fried chicken and a pot of purple hull peas.
I have always enjoyed fried green tomatoes, and when I started cooking, I wanted to come up with more unique ways to use them. One day I was in the grocery store and had a craving for a BLT sandwich. I went over to the produce section and there were some huge green tomatoes. The idea of frying them and pairing them with bacon and lettuce instantly popped into my head. Krysten had never had them before, so I knew I had to make them, since I love exposing her and the kids to foods I used to eat as a child.
Once I made the sandwiches they became an instant hit in our house. And now they can be in yours, too.
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What is a green tomato?
The tomatoes used in this recipe are not ripe green-colored heirloom tomatoes, but are regular tomatoes that are picked before they reach their full ripeness, leaving them with a firm texture and delicious tangy flavor. Whether you eat them alone or pair them with something else, you cannot go wrong eating green tomatoes.
Ingredients for Fried Green Tomato BLTs
Traditionally eaten in the South, fried green tomatoes are easy to make, and when you pair them with bacon and lettuce, you end up with a fantastic BLT.
Green tomatoes. The key to making this sandwich is the green tomatoes. They are the star of the show. You can find green tomatoes at your local farmers’ market or grocery store.
Thick-cut bacon. Something about having thick-cut bacon on these sandwiches makes every bite more filling. If you can't get it, feel free to use whatever bacon you and your family are fans of.
Flour. Dipping the tomatoes in a little flour adds another layer for the buttermilk and cornmeal to stick to.
Buttermilk, egg, and hot sauce. You’ll dip the tomatoes in this mixture twice. When I was taught how to make fried green tomatoes, hot sauce (I prefer Crystal) was always mixed in with the buttermilk.
Cornmeal and dry seasonings. I like to use a traditional yellow cornmeal for this recipe. The spice mixture — salt, pepper, and granulated onion and garlic — is pretty simple, but feel free to play around and add whatever spices you like.
Thick-cut white sandwich bread. Choosing the right bread is key to building the perfect BLT, and my preference is thick-sliced white bread. Just remember that you want a bread that will toast evenly and be able to stand up to the juiciness of the tomatoes and the crunch of the bacon.
Mayonnaise. I like to go traditional with mayo on my sandwich, but feel free to use mustard or whatever condiment spread you would like.
Butter lettuce. Large, soft butter lettuce leaves create the perfect coverage for the sandwich.
How to make Fried Green Tomato BLT Sandwiches
When cooking this recipe I like to get the bacon working first and while that’s cooking I get my tomatoes prepped and dredging stations set up. Then I build the sandwiches as I go and serve them nice and hot.
1. Cook the bacon
Cooking your bacon in the oven helps keep it from curling up and lets you get end-to-end bites of bacon in your sandwich. Be sure to cook your bacon until it is nice and crispy and then drain it on paper towels to absorb the grease. This will keep the bacon from making your bread soggy.
2. Bread the tomatoes
Next you want to slice your tomatoes. You don’t have to break out the ruler to make sure you are getting perfect ¼-inch slices. Feel free to cut them as thick or as thin as you want.
The breading for the tomatoes is super simple. I like to coat mine in flour first before adding them to the buttermilk mixture. This helps the buttermilk stick to the tomatoes and lets you get a nice even crust from the seasoned cornmeal. No matter what I cook that’s been breaded, I like to let it set up for a minute or two for the breading to stick.
3. Fry the tomatoes
Now it's time to fry. Being from the South, cast-iron skillets hold a special place in my heart. If you don’t have a deep cast-iron skillet, you want to use another deep heavy-bottomed skillet or Dutch oven. We are not deep-frying these, so you only need about an inch of oil heated to 350°F. Cooking the tomatoes goes fast, so don’t walk away from them. You want them to be golden-brown and crispy, and 4 to 5 minutes will do the trick.
4. Assemble the sandwiches
When building the sandwiches, you want to work in layers. I go with the bottom piece of toast, mayo, lettuce, tomatoes, and bacon, and then I crown it with another piece of bread coated with mayo. Having the lettuce on the bottom helps protect the toast from tearing and your sandwich from falling apart.
Get the recipe
Once you put these sandwiches together and take your first bite, I guarantee that the green tomatoes will jump right out at you and take your taste buds on an adventure.
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