Recipe Spotlight

For Better BLTs, Marinate Your Tomato Slices

Plus two other tips to make an almost-perfect sandwich even better.

Published Jan. 1, 2022.

I know what you’re thinking: A sandwich as simple as a BLT doesn’t need improving. It’s already perfect. Until I’d tried these three tips, I would have agreed with you.

Sandwiches are my favorite food group, and the BLT is one of the best. It’s the perfect combination of flavors and textures: the crispy, savory bacon; ripe tomato; and cool, crunchy lettuce, all dressed in tangy mayonnaise and bookended by two pieces of perfectly toasted bread. These tips elevate three of the main components of the sandwich and bring the whole thing to another level. 

Here are three ways to turn an everyday BLT into the ultimate BLT.

1. Marinate Your Tomato Slices

Make a supersimple, two-ingredient vinaigrette with two parts extra-virgin olive oil and one part red wine vinegar. Season it with some salt and pepper, whisk it all together, and coat your tomato slices with it. Instead of overwhelming the fresh tomato flavor, it makes it even more pronounced—even if you have less-than-perfect tomatoes.

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2. Doctor Up Your Mayonnaise

Mayonnaise is the perfect blank slate of condiments. Boost its flavor by stirring in some lemon juice, a pinch of cayenne, and chopped basil. 

And this seasoned mayo is great on more than just BLTs. After preparing our Ultimate BLT Sandwich, one recipe commenter wrote, "You cannot eat it any other way after tasting this. The mayo will be used on any sandwich that calls for mayonnaise and the tomatoes will always be marinated."

3. Only Toast One Side of Your Bread

As delicious as they are, BLTs are a structural challenge. If not constructed properly, the bacon slides free and the tomatoes slink out, leaving just soggy bread and sad lettuce. 

We found that toasted potato bread was the best bread for a BLT thanks to its subtle sweetness, but toast can be brittle; soft slices hold on to contents better. So we split the difference and toasted just one side of the bread. 

The broiler is the best tool for this: Adjust an oven rack six inches from the broiler element, place the bread on a baking sheet, and broil it until lightly browned on one side only. This only takes about a minute, so keep an eye on it. (Alternatively, you could stack two pieces of bread and toast them in your toaster oven.)

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