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Southern Tomato Sandwich

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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.

tomato sandwich recipe

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.

Tomato sandwich recipe ingredients

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.

authentic tomato Sandwich on board with tomatoes and mayo

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.

Fresh tomatoe slices in brown bread on a plate

More juicy recipes you’ll love:

Tomato Sandwich Recipe

Southern Tomato Sandwich

The only, and best, tomato sandwich recipe you need: a simple and classic Southern combo of thick-cut ripe tomatoes, good mayo, and soft sandwich bread.
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time0 minutes
Course: dinner, lunch, Snack
Cuisine: American, Southern
Keywords:: lunch, southern food, summer, tomato recipe, tomato sandwich, tomato sandwich recipe
Servings: 2 sandwiches
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Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • Slice the ripe tomato into 1/2-inch thick slices. Sprinkle each slice with a little salt and pepper
    PRO 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.

9 comments

  • Samantha

    5 stars
    It just isn’t summer without one! This recipe is just right.

  • Deb Polson

    Make these all the time. My all time favorite sandwich. Sometimes, not often, I add some lettuce and bacon. ???

    • Unpeeled

      I LOVE bacon with this! Great call. Aren’t these sandwiches just so simple and good? I hope you enjoy some extra-juicy ones this summer!

  • I love this sandwich and have been making it forever. Born and raised in the north, we love the sandwich also. I do use Dukes mayonnaise however?. I have a beautiful farm fresh tomato in the kitchen right now waiting to be used tomorrow at lunch. Prefer soft white bread but whole wheat is all I have right now so I’m going to give that a try. I know it will be delicious!

    • Unpeeled

      Mmm…I love that you are in the tomato sandwich club! Isn’t it the best? You are right; soft white bread is the ultimate way to go, but I find that soft whole wheat is good, too. I think the key is a soft sandwich bread. Thanks for writing about this!

  • 5 stars
    Delicious. Very true to the Southern way of eating tomato sandwiches. You need the soft bread, for sure!

  • 5 stars
    Delicious and messy! One bite and tomato juice ran down my chin, lol!
    My southern mother and grandmother often made these for us kids in the summer, but this is the first time I tried it with pepper – that really adds a bit of zing to the sandwich.
    I usually eat only dense, whole-grain, seeded homemade breads, but for this sandwich soft, white bread is the way to go. And don’t skimp on the mayo!

    • Unpeeled

      Hi, Jane! So glad you enjoyed it. This is hands-down one of my favorite ways to eat tomato, period. And I am completely with you on the bread. Normally, I eat really crusty, artisan multigrain bread. But this is one sandwich that really does need the soft sandwich bread. Enjoy and happy summer!

  • I have been eating this sandwich since I was a child. Every Summer I chomp at the bit waiting for the tomatoes to get ripe enough to have my Tomato Sandwich on untoasted bread.

5 from 3 votes

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