Fresh tomatoes are delicious all on their own, but they’re even better when cooked in a garlicky sauce, pan-fried, or infused with smoky flavor on the grill. Learn to make cooked tomatoes at home and explore new ways to savor them.
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Tomatoes are so much more than just a salad topper. This juicy, mouthwatering fruit may be a staple at salad bars and in pasta sauces, but it also shines all on its own, especially during tomato season. This year, take your fresh garden tomatoes and try grilling, frying, sautéing, or roasting them for a tasty new way to enjoy this summer favorite. Try out a few different methods for cooked tomatoes, and once you find your favorite, it'll quickly become a staple at your dinner table. Use this guide to learn how to cook fresh tomatoes until they're soft, bubbly, and completely irresistible.

grilled cherry tomatoes black grilling pan
Credit: Jacob Fox

How to Grill Tomatoes

Though you can enjoy tomatoes year-round, they're at their peak in summer. It's only natural to toss them on the grill the next time you're hosting a cookout!

Step 1: Prep Tomatoes

Preheat the grill. Meanwhile, cut tomatoes in half and brush with olive oil. Add a sprinkle of salt, pepper, or other seasonings as desired.

Step 2: Grill Tomatoes

Place tomatoes on the grill rack directly over the heat source (for a charcoal grill, grill tomatoes directly over the coals). For a gas grill with direct-heat grilling, close the lid while the tomatoes cook and only open to turn the tomatoes. Grill just until tomatoes soften (5 to 6 minutes), turning once.

If you want to grill smaller tomatoes, like cherry or grape, you'll need to learn how to grill tomatoes in a pan. The process is similar but instead of slicing the tomatoes, just toss them with olive oil and your desired seasonings. Then, place the tomatoes in a grill pan or cast-iron skillet. Grill for 5 to 10 minutes until the tomatoes are soft and slightly charred.

fried green tomatoes cooling rack sauce bacon
Credit: Andy Lyons

How to Fry Tomatoes

Fried green tomatoes are probably what first comes to mind when you think of frying tomatoes, but the same method will work just as well for red tomato varieties like roma tomatoes. Follow these directions for how to cook fresh tomatoes until they're tender on the inside with a crisp, crunchy coating on the outside:

Step 1: Prep Tomatoes

Cut 3 medium, firm unpeeled green (or red) tomatoes into ½-inch slices; sprinkle slices with salt and black pepper. Let tomato slices stand for 15 minutes.

Step 2: Make the Batter

In separate shallow dishes, place ¼ cup milk, ½ cup flour, 2 lightly beaten eggs, and ⅔ cup fine dry bread crumbs. In a skillet, heat ¼ cup cooking oil over medium heat.

Step 3: Fry Tomatoes

Dip tomato slices in milk, then flour, then eggs, then bread crumbs. Fry the coated tomato slices, half at a time, in hot oil over medium heat for 4 to 6 minutes on each side or until brown. (If tomatoes begin to brown too quickly, reduce heat to medium-low. If necessary, add additional oil.) If desired, season to taste with additional salt and black pepper.

sauteed red yellow cherry tomatoes pan striped red napkin
Credit: Andy Lyons

How to Sauté Tomatoes

Unless you're planning to cook down tomatoes into a sauce or homemade salsa, sautéing is best for smaller tomatoes. If you want to avoid losing any juice, you can cook them whole so they'll get soft and tender. Otherwise, if you choose to cut them in half or chop up a larger tomato, sauté only for a couple of minutes. Use these steps to learn how to cook tomatoes in a pan on the stove.

Step 1: Prep Tomatoes

Start with 2½ cups red grape tomatoes, yellow pear tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, and/or small yellow tomatoes. Cut tomatoes in half or in wedges; set aside.

Step 2: Cook Tomatoes in a Pan

In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add ¼ cup finely chopped onion, 1 minced garlic clove, and 1 teaspoon snipped fresh thyme; cook and stir for 2 to 3 minutes or until onion is tender.

Add tomatoes to the skillet and season with salt and black pepper. Cook and stir for 1 to 2 minutes or until tomatoes are just warmed. Remove from heat.

pan roasted tomatoes aluminum foil
Credit: Jason Donnelly

How to Roast Tomatoes

Roasted tomatoes have a uniquely delicious, almost caramelized flavor. As the tomatoes cook, their skins start to burst, creating a super yummy side dish or topper for meats. Roast small or large tomatoes; you can also add toppers to large, halved tomatoes like bread crumbs that will add a little crunch once cooked.

Step 1: Prep Tomatoes

Preheat oven to 450°F. Drizzle a baking pan with olive oil.

Toss 1 cup cherry tomatoes with additional olive oil, if desired, and season to taste with salt and black pepper. For larger tomatoes, cut in half crosswise and add a drizzle of olive oil or butter on top. Season as desired.

Step 2: Roast Tomatoes in a Pan

Place tomatoes in a baking pan and roast, uncovered. For large, halved tomatoes, roast for about 8 to 10 minutes or until tender. For cherry or other small tomatoes, roast for at least 10 minutes until tender. If you want the skins to burst to make a sauce, roast for at least 25 to 30 minutes.

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