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Vegan Fried Green Tomatoes (Stovetop OR Air Fryer)

These scrumptious vegan fried green tomatoes have a deliciously crispy coating on the outside and tender, perfectly cooked green tomato on the inside. Dip them into my tangy, slightly spicy vegan remoulade sauce, and let your taste buds sing!

In this post I’ll show you two ways of making this vegan fried green tomatoes recipe: in the air fryer (2 types) and in a skillet on stovetop.

Vegan fried green tomatoes

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What are fried green tomatoes?

Fried green tomatoes are a timeless summertime delicacy in the US. Most people believe that this recipe originated in the South.

However, when I did a bit of research, I found out that the earliest recorded fried green tomato recipes could be traced to the American Midwest.

It’s no surprise: the weather in the Midwestern states cools off before the last tomatoes in the garden get a chance to ripen. At that point frying them up is a great way to avoid wasting the last bits of the harvest.

When the famous Fried Green Tomatoes movie with Kathy Bates and Jessica Tandy came out in 1991, the fried green tomato recipe forever solidified its reputation as a Southern classic.

Why are fried green tomatoes such a big deal? Because they’re GOOOOD!

Just think of tender, slightly tangy tomato slices enveloped in a crunchy coating made with either cornmeal or breadcrumbs, all fried to crispy perfection – what’s not to love?!

Better yet, when you serve them with a tangy, slightly spicy vegan remoulade sauce, the whole experience takes you straight to the flavor heaven!

Fried green tomatoes are quite versatile: they make a great appetizer or a side dish, can be layered with other veggies in sandwiches. If you cut the tomatoes into smaller pieces before cooking, they can make a lovely alternative to veggie nuggets or salad croutons.

What kind of tomatoes are used to make fried green tomatoes?

As a rule, large tomato varieties like Beefsteak, Early Girl, Better Boy, Big Daddy (got a family theme going here ?) will work well because you can get 3-4 thick cross-cut slices out of each tomato.

The tomatoes need to be picked before they start ripening. Immature tomatoes have a firmer texture that helps them hold their shape during cooking.

Besides, unripe tomatoes haven’t developed all their juices yet. They aren’t going to be so moist that the breading would slide off before you fry them.

Keep in mind that there are some heirloom tomatoes varieties that stay green even when they’re ripe, like Cherokee Green, Chef’s Choice Green, Aunt Ruby’s German Green. These aren’t going to work for fried green tomatoes.

How do you tell if a green tomato is ripe or not? You’ve got to feel them: ripe green tomato will be soft, while unripe red one will be hard. (Source)

Vegan fried green tomatoes in air fryer or on stovetop

See the web story for this recipe over here.

Where to find green tomatoes for frying

If you have a garden, the easiest way to find green tomatoes is obviously to grow them yourself.

Don’t have a garden? Take a trip to your local farmers market during the tomato season in the summer to see if any green tomatoes are available.

If your grocery store sources some of its produce from local farms, you might find your luck there like I did a few days ago.

How to make fried green tomatoes vegan

Traditionally fried green tomatoes are made by dipping tomato slices in a thick liquid (think beaten eggs or buttermilk), then covering them with breading (cornmeal, panko breadcrumbs, flour, or a mix of any three).

The thickness of beaten eggs or buttermilk prevents the liquid from sliding off, plus it allows each tomato slice to pick up more breading for a crunchier fried green tomato.

In my easy recipe for vegan fried green tomatoes, I use regular non-dairy milk (like almond milk). However, milk alone would be too thin to pick up and retain the cornmeal.

That’s why before I dip a tomato slice in milk, I first flour it on all sides with all-purpose flour. The flour absorbs and retains the milk much better than the surface of a “naked” tomato slice would.

After that, I place each green tomato slice into a dish with cornmeal to cover the tomato on all sides.

Since the floured surface has “plumped up” after the tomato was dipped in milk, it easily picks up – and retains – plenty of cornmeal.

The result after cooking? The crispiest, most toothsome vegan fried green tomato ever.

Need this recipe to be gluten free? Use all-purpose gluten free flour instead of regular flour.

Looking for a nut-free option? Use soy or oat milk (preferably unsweetened) instead of almond milk.

Fried green tomatoes vegan recipe

What’s the best way to cook vegan fried green tomatoes?

The traditional method of cooking fried green tomatoes is (shocker!) frying them in a cast iron skillet or a similar thick-bottomed frying pan. I use and love this 12-inch Ninja frying pan.

A fairly thin layer of vegetable oil works well, however, I prefer using avocado oil thanks to its high smoke point.

Thanks to the popularity rise of air fryers in the recent years you can now find a lot of recipes for air fryer fried green tomatoes (say that five times fast ?).

I like my large capacity air fryer with removable racks because it can fit twice as much food as the regular, basket-style air fryer. The model I use has been discontinued, but it’s similar to this one.

Which cooking method is the best for fried green tomatoes?

I tried both air frying and stovetop cooking methods when testing my vegan fried green tomato recipe. Find out which one I liked best in this video on my YouTube channel:

How to Make Vegan Fried Green Tomatoes (Stovetop + Air Fryer)

(See ingredient amounts and other tips in the printable recipe card below.)

Slice the green tomatoes into thick slices, about 1/3 – 1/2 inch thick.

Set up the dredging station. Measure out the flour, then mix in paprika, dried thyme, granulated garlic, granulated onion, salt, and pepper. Put the mixture in a shallow bowl.

Measure out the milk, and pour it into a small bowl. Measure out the cornmeal, and put it on a large platter. Prepare another large platter or a baking sheet for the breaded tomato slices.

Bread the tomatoes. Working with one tomato slice at a time, place it into the flour mixture, making sure to coat each side.

Next, dip the the tomato slice into the milk, then immediately transfer it into the cornmeal to cover well on all sides. Set on the prepared platter or baking sheet until needed.

Prepare a cooling station for the cooked tomatoes: line a baking sheet with a paper towel, then set a cooling rack on top.

Stovetop Instructions:

Preheat a large skillet on medium heat. Add 3-4 Tbsp high heat oil (I use avocado oil).

Once the oil is hot, place 3-4 breaded tomato slices into the skillet (make sure not to overcrowd it, or the tomatoes won’t crisp up properly).

Cook 4-5 min, or until the bottom of each tomato slice looks golden brown. Flip the tomatoes, and cook 4-5 min more.

Repeat with the rest of the tomatoes. Add more avocado oil to the pan between the batches, and reduce the heat if it starts getting smoky.

Remove the cooked tomatoes from the skillet, shaking off the excess oil. Set them on the prepared cooling rack.

Air Fryer Instructions:

Lightly rub the surface of each breaded tomato slice with some avocado oil (or spray them with an oil spray like this one). Flip them, and do the same on the other side.

If you have a traditional basket-style air fryer: place 3-4 oiled breaded tomato slices on the bottom of the frying basket.

Make sure there’s plenty of room between the slices. If the basket is overcrowded, the tomatoes may not fry properly.

Place the frying basket into the air fryer. Cook at 400°F for 10-12 minutes, or until the cornmeal coating firms up on the bottom.

Flip the tomatoes, then cook 5-7 min more, or until each slice looks golden brown, and the breading is firm all over.

If you have a large capacity air fryer with removable racks (I use one similar to this model): place 3 large/4 smaller tomato slices onto each rack. Set up the racks in the air fryer.

Cook at 400°F for 10-12 minutes, or until the cornmeal coating firms up on the bottom. Repeat with the rest of the tomatoes.

Set the cooked tomatoes on the prepared cooling rack. Serve with vegan remoulade dipping sauce.

Vegan Remoulade Sauce:

Measure out the vegan mayo. Finely chop the capers.

Add capers + the rest of the ingredients (hot sauce, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, paprika, granulated garlic) to the mayo. Mix well until everything is incorporated. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.

Vegan fried green tomatoes air fryer

What to serve with vegan fried green tomatoes

My favorite way to serve vegan fried green tomatoes is with a side of my delicious Cajun-style vegan remoulade sauce (recipe below).

The savory flavor of chopped capers, the zestiness of lemon juice, and the light “kick” from hot sauce and Dijon mustard go amazingly well with the slightly tangy taste of cooked green tomatoes.

Use this vegan remoulade as a dipping sauce when serving fried green tomatoes on their own, or add it as a creamy spread to sandwiches (vegan fried green tomato BLT with tempeh bacon anyone?).

Don’t want to make remoulade sauce? Feel free to experiment with any of your favorite dips – think vegan ranch, cucumber tzatziki, unsweetened plain non-dairy yogurt.

Or, go in a different direction with sriracha aioli, sweet chili sauce, etc.

More summer-inspired vegan recipes:

Easy Vegan Dill Potato Salad

Easy Italian-style Macaroni Salad (mayo free)

Kale and White Bean Salad with Ginger Miso Dressing (oil free)

Check out my vegan appetizers and side dish recipes page to find more recipe ideas for delicious vegan appetizers and sides.

Yield: 4 servings

Easy Vegan Fried Green Tomatoes (Stovetop + Air Fryer)

Best way to cook vegan fried green tomatoes 1

These easy vegan fried green tomatoes are deliciously crispy on the outside, and melt-in-your-mouth tender on the inside. Two cooking methods: stovetop and air fryer (for 2 air fryer types). Plus, a recipe for my flavor-loaded vegan remoulade sauce for dipping. Dairy free, egg free recipe, with gluten free and nut free options.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Additional time 5 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 large unripe green tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (use soy or oat milk for nut-free)
  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour (or all purpose gluten-free flour if needed)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1/2 tsp granulated onion
  • Salt, pepper to taste
  • High-heat oil (I use avocado oil), as needed for frying

Vegan Remoulade Dipping Sauce:

Instructions

Prepping the Tomatoes:

  1. Slice the green tomatoes into thick slices, about 1/3 - 1/2 inch thick.
  2. Measure out the flour, then mix in paprika, dried thyme, granulated garlic, granulated onion, salt, and pepper. Put the mixture in a shallow bowl.
  3. Measure out the milk, and pour it into a small bowl. Measure out the cornmeal, and put it on a large platter. Prepare another large platter or a baking sheet for the breaded tomato slices.
  4. Place a tomato piece into the flour mixture to coat on both sides. Next, dip it into the milk, then transfer into the cornmeal to cover well on both sides. Set on the prepared platter or baking sheet until needed. Repeat with the rest of the tomatoes.
  5. Prepare a cooling station for the cooked tomatoes: line a baking sheet with a paper towel, then set a cooling rack on top.

Stovetop Cooking Instructions:

  1. Preheat a large skillet on medium heat. Add 3-4 Tbsp high heat oil (I use avocado oil).
  2. Once the oil is hot, place 3-4 breaded tomato slices into the skillet (make sure not to overcrowd it, or the tomatoes won't crisp up properly).
  3. Cook 4-5 min, or until the bottom of each tomato slice looks golden brown. Flip the tomatoes, and cook 4-5 min more.
  4. Repeat with the rest of the tomatoes. Add more avocado oil to the pan between the batches, and reduce the heat if it starts getting smoky.
  5. Remove the cooked tomatoes from the skillet, shaking off the excess oil. Set them on the prepared cooling rack.

Air Fryer Cooking Instructions:

  1. Lightly rub the surface of each breaded tomato slice with avocado oil (or spray them with an oil sprayer bottle like this one). Flip them, and do the same on the other side.
  2. If you have a traditional basket-style air fryer: place 3-4 oiled breaded tomato slices on the bottom of the frying basket. Make sure there's plenty of room between the slices.
  3. Cook at 400°F for 10-12 minutes, or until the cornmeal coating firms up on the bottom. Flip the tomatoes, then cook 5-7 min more, or until each slice looks golden brown, and the breading is firm all over.
  4. If you have a large capacity air fryer with removable racks (I use one similar to this model): place 3 large/4 smaller tomato slices onto each rack. Set up the racks in the air fryer. Cook at 400°F for 10-12 minutes, or until the cornmeal coating firms up on the bottom. Flip the tomatoes, then cook 8-10 min more, or until each slice looks golden brown, and the breading is firm all over.
  5. Repeat with the rest of the tomatoes. Set the cooked tomatoes on the prepared cooling rack. Serve with vegan remoulade dipping sauce.

Vegan Remoulade Sauce:

  1. Measure out the vegan mayo. Finely chop the capers.
  2. Add capers, hot sauce, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, paprika, granulated garlic to the mayo. Mix well until everything is incorporated. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

3 tomato slices

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 339Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 0mgCarbohydrates: 28gFiber: 3gSugar: 8gProtein: 4g

Please note that the provided nutritional information data is approximate.

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author avatar
Alina Zavatsky - Vegan Runner Eats
Alina first made a switch to a vegan diet in 2013 to optimize her athletic performance as a marathon runner. Eventually she embraced veganism as a way to be kinder to fellow living beings and the environment. Alina hopes that this blog helps its readers on their path to becoming vegan and making this world a better place.

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