Southern tomato pie is perfect summer comfort food, with garden fresh, peak season tomatoes and basil topped with a creamy cheese mixture and baked until golden brown in a flaky pie crust shell. Delightful with a green salad for a light dinner or serve as a side at your next summer gathering!
When my mom gave me her friend’s handwritten tomato pie recipe from the early 90’s, I thought this is weird. But she said my dad made it often and everyone always asked him for the recipe. So I decided to give it a try. My dad rarely made a culinary flop.
This is a classic southern food dish, sometimes called Kentucky Pie or Alabama Pie or simply tomato pie. Lynn, who passed this recipe on to my dad, hailed from Chicago so not sure where she came up with it. I just know it screams summer goodness, perfect for those late summer ripe tomatoes and fresh garden basil.
WHAT IS TOMATO PIE?
It’s a savory pie made with chopped fresh tomatoes and basil, topped with a creamy mayonnaise-cheese mixture, then baked in a flaky pie crust shell until golden brown. Slice and serve it like a pie, warm or room temperature, as the main dish or side.
There are variations with added onion or bacon and different cheese choices, or layered sliced tomatoes instead of chopped, but it’s essentially the same concept. A savory way to use summer tomatoes and a beloved preparation in the south.
Here’s what you’ll need to make this old-fashioned tomato pie:
- Fresh tomatoes and basil which are peak season in August, either at the market or in the garden.
- A deep dish pie shell which is frozen store-bought, easy and convenient and perfect for this recipe.
- Mayonnaise use a good quality one, like Hellmann’s or my favorite, Dukes. And Duke’s would be the southern choice!
- Shredded cheese I like sharp cheddar and mozzarella, equal amounts of each.
HOW TO MAKE THIS RECIPE
- Bake the pie shell for about 15 minutes until lightly browned.
- Roughly chop the tomatoes, lightly salt and drain. Thinly slice the basil, known as chiffonade.
- Mix together the mayonnaise and cheeses.
- Place tomatoes in baked pie shell, add basil, salt and pepper.
- Spread mayonnaise-cheese mixture over the top and bake.
- Let cool for at least 20 minutes or longer, slice and serve warm or room temp.
RECIPE NOTES AND TIPS
- Draining the chopped tomatoes to remove excess juices helps keep the pie from being too watery. I toss several times in the colander and then use paper towels to press down on the tomatoes to drain even more.
- You can use any cheese combination you like but sharp cheddar should be one of them. Lynn used a taco blend, along with sharp cheddar, in her recipe. I like mozzarella.
- Speaking of cheese, grating it yourself is best, it tastes and melts better. That said, prepackaged shredded will work just fine.
- Variations include adding onion and or bacon. You can put some chopped sweet onion in the bottom of the pie shell first, or sauté the onions, cool and add it to the cheese mixture for the topping. Same with some crisped chopped bacon, or sprinkle the bacon on top.
- Three to four tomatoes is plenty, you want about 3 or 4 cups of chopped tomatoes. You could bulk it up a little with some seasonal sweet corn (cut off the cob kernels) or even some diced eggplant.
- The pie needs to cool before slicing, at least 20 minutes, preferably longer. It’s good served warm or room temperature.
I’m so glad my mom passed this classic southern tomato pie recipe on to me. It made me think of my dad and Lynn, and all the good times they had gathered around good food and company. I was totally surprised by how tasty this summer savory pie is.
It’s just perfect this time of year with all the late season tomatoes still coming in. For a light dinner with a green salad, for entertaining as a side dish or starter, for lunch… whenever! xxo- Kelly🍴🐦
Another late summer recipe you might want to try is this Grilled Mexican Street Corn recipe, aka elote. It’s perfect for sweet corn season and backyard barbecues.
Southern Tomato Pie
- 1 9-inch frozen deep dish pie shell
- 3 large ripe tomatoes, cut into chunks about 3 to 4 cups
- ¾ cup good quality mayonnaise I like Duke's
- 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella
- Large handful of fresh basil, chopped or thinly sliced (chiffonade) about ¼ cup
- Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 400ºFollow package directions to bake pie shell; prick bottom all over of sllghtly thawed shell, bake for 10 to 20 minutes until browned.
- Meanwhile, place tomatoes in colander and sprinkle with salt. Let drain, tossing several times. Then with paper towels, press down to blot up even more of the liquid.
- In small bowl, mix together mayonnaise and cheeses until combined well.
- Turn oven down to 375º Place tomatoes in baked pie shell, add sliced or chopped basil and gently mix. Season with salt and pepper. Top with mayonnaise-cheese mixture and spread evenly over the top.
- Bake in center of oven for 30 to 40 minutes until golden brown on top. Cool at least 20 to 30 minutes or longer. Slice and serve, warm or at room temperature.
- Make sure to drain the tomatoes, extracting as much juice as possible.
- Grate the cheese yourself, it melts better. That said, prepackaged shredded cheese will work, too.
- Serve warm or at room temperature, make sure to let it cool at least 20 minutes or longer.