Ripe, juicy tomatoes for lunch.
Here’s how to make a Southern tomato sandwich, a recipe that makes one of summer’s great simple meals.
The “Other” Tomato Sandwich Recipe
If you google “tomato sandwich” or “tomato sandwiches,” the most popular result will be an Italian Caprese sandwich. Fair enough. It is hard to beat the combination of ripe tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, and a drizzle of olive oil on bread.
But I would hold up a classic Southern tomato sandwich to any other kind of tomato sandwich any day of the week. Less common than a caprese but just as satisfying, when done right, it’s one of the great pleasures of summer. All you need is good sandwich bread, the very best, ripest tomatoes you can find, good mayo, and an appetite.
How to Make a Tomato Sandwich: Recipe Notes
Tomato sandwiches are a late-summer favorite in the South, and becoming more popular throughout the country for good reason. It’s a nearly effortless sandwich, and takes advantage of seasonal produce in the best way.
Because the only ingredients in a tomato sandwich recipe are 1) sandwich bread, 2) fresh tomatoes, and 3) mayonnaise, it is essential that the ingredients all be top quality.
- The sandwich bread: You need soft, good-quality sandwich bread, preferably white sandwich bread (though I do cheat and use whole wheat sometimes)
- Tomato slices: One large, ripe heirloom tomato — picked fresh in tomato season — will be enough for two sandwiches. Make sure the tomatoes have not been refrigerated; it can make them mealy.
- The mayonnaise: Duke’s is the South’s most popular brand. Hellmann’s mayo is the other good choice. For a good read about mayos, check out this Food52 mayo taste-testing article.
- A pinch of salt and pepper: You won’t need much, but a little pinch will bring out a little extra tomato flavor.
Should I Toast the Bread?
Strictly speaking, a traditional Southern tomato sandwich recipe calls for plain sandwich bread, no toast. But toasting the bread has become a somewhat popular option, in the vein of a B.L.T., so if that speaks to you, then I say go for it!
No matter what, enjoy. A fresh sandwich is the ultimate late-summer meal.
More juicy recipes you’ll love:
- Melted Tomato Bruschetta
- Fried Green Tomatoes
- Burrata With Roasted Vine Tomatoes
- How to Make the Best Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Southern Tomato Sandwich
- 1 large, ripe heirloom tomato of the best quality
- 4 slices fresh white sandwich bread (sometimes I cheat and use whole wheat)
- 3 to 4 tablespoons good-quality mayonnaise, or to taste
- Pinch salt and pepper
- Slice the ripe tomato into 1/2-inch thick slices. Sprinkle each slice with a little salt and pepperPRO TIP: I always use a serrated knife to cut tomatoes.
- Slather the bread slices with mayonnaise. Stack tomato slices equally on half the bread. Top each tomato stack with the remaining bread, mayo-side down.
- Slice each tomato sandwich in half and serve immediately.