The Be-All-End-All Tomato Sandwich—& 4 Ways We Couldn’t Leave it Alone

When we offered a defense of simple recipes (some might call them “recipes”) a couple weeks back, we didn’t take into account one particularity of those recipes in question: By many accounts, overloaded tomato sandwiches are not tomato sandwiches at all.

The Simple Tomato Sandwich That Stirred Up Some Controversy

The Simple Tomato Sandwich That Stirred Up Some Controversy by Sarah Jampel

Turns out, there’s just as much—if not more—consternation involving tomato sandwiches that are needlessly complicated. The beauty, many adamantly believe, is in the minimalist maximalism. It is more because it is less.

But while we respect the classic and salute the simple, we simply couldn’t help ourselves. We let the tomatoes go straight to our heads!

Photo by

James Ransom

There’s the don’t-touch-it Southern tomato sandwich on the very left, yes, and then four others that are a little berserk. They’re not competitors, though—they’re disciples. They follow the same carby-creamy-tomatoey-salty formula, but they’re eccentric. You probably wouldn’t want to eat them standing over the sink; some might even ask that you bring out a fork and knife.

There are plenty of staunch and smart 3-ingredient-tomato-sandwich defenders out there. Listen to James Beard Award-winning cookbook author (who we thank, especially, for these Genius Deviled Eggs) Virginia Willis when she says that her

hands-down, absolute favorite way of eating a tomato in summer is served sliced on white bread with mayonnaise. No chiffonade of basil or tender leaves of oregano. No artisan sourdough bread. No extra virgin olive oil. No hand-pounded garlic aioli. No hand-harvested sea salt. No lemon zest. Not even a slice of crisp, applewood-smoked bacon. Out, out, damn spots of cracked Tellicherry pepper!

Or to Julia, writer of I Believe I Can Fry, who understands that while

it might be hard to fight the urge to add other ingredients like mustard or cheese or pickle slices, [r]esist the urge. Don’t add lettuce or bacon—this is a tomato sandwich, not a BLT. […] I’m sure these changes/additions make some damn fine sandwiches, but it won’t make a Southern tomato sandwich. Just sayin’.

Just feel the FOMO laid on thick in the headnote of the 5-star rated Food.com recipe: “If you’ve only used tomatoes as an accessory in your sandwiches, and not as the Featured Ingredient, you are truly missing summer as it was meant to be tasted.” A smack straight to the stomach.

Ready, set, sandwich! Photos by

James Ransom

So the cards are stacked against us. Tomatodirt.com lists four known tomato sandwich debates (peeled versus unpeeled, thickness of slices, bread type, mayo type), and now we’ve added many, many more. Some of the sandwiches above are even best open-faced. (And is an open-faced sandwich really a sandwich at all? …Is anything sacred?)

So make, try, and enjoy a simple-as-can-be tomato sandwich. And then, if you’re with us (we repeat: tomato sandwich police will never know), you can experiment with a few more elaborate versions, too:

We’re not the only loopy ones: Ever since tomatoes cropped up at markets, we’ve been seeing them slapped on and between slices of bread on our (Not)Recipes app, and you’re doing wacko things, too: adding dried thyme; using seedy breads, and even pumpernickel; throwing on some mozzarella cheese; swapping mayo for pesto… Quite a few of you add avocado.

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Food52
Food52about 1 year ago37

Caroline Lange has a low tolerance for standing by the stove in July (her kitchen, alas, is not air-conditioned). That, plus an abundance of tomatoes and a friend’s homemade bread, means the best summer dinner: Good toast, Hellman’s mayo, thick tomato slices, and a shower each of salt, pepper, thyme.

  • mayo
  • salt
  • tomato
  • bread
  • pepper
  • thyme

1 comments

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Food52
Food5211 months ago32

Do you smash your avocado before or after applying it to the bread? Since this bread was so fresh, we had to do pre-mashing, but that’s perfect for incorporating salt, mint, and lime juice. Those tomatoes are Garden Peach heirlooms. Look like little fuzzy peaches but, once cut, reveal their tomato-y selves.

  • lime juice
  • avocado
  • peach
  • tomato
  • mint
  • bread
  • salt

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Sarah
Sarahabout 1 year ago3

Famers market no cook dinner:

Sliced tomatoes in good olive oil, salt and a roughly chopped clove of garlic. Eaten on freshly baked whole wheat sunflower and flax seed bread from the cute bakery guy at the farmers market.

  • garlic
  • sunflower
  • wheat
  • flax seed
  • bread
  • tomato
  • olive oil
  • salt

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Abby S
Abby Sover 1 year ago16

Leftover arugula pistachio pesto on thick slice of wheat bread. Fresh mozzarella and tomato, broiled. Arugula and avocado with maple Dijon lemon vinaigrette.

  • pesto
  • avocado
  • mozzarella
  • lemon
  • arugula
  • pistachio
  • wheat bread
  • tomato
  • vinaigrette

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Mani Lea
Mani Leaabout 1 year ago65

Way to hot to cook = open-faced tomato sandwiches: toasted sprouted grain bread, pesto, mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes, avocado, basil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
☀️??#summer #notarecipe #simpleanddelicious

  • avocado
  • basil
  • sprout
  • mozzarella
  • tomato
  • bread
  • pepper
  • pesto
  • salt

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Ma'ayan Plaut
Ma’ayan Plautabout 1 year ago28

Tomato sandwiches are all about proportions.

Sourdough, thick tomato slices, mayo, white cheddar, white pepper, lemon salt.

  • salt
  • white pepper
  • mayonnaise
  • lemon
  • tomato
  • white cheddar
  • sourdough

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Kayla Williams
Kayla Williamsover 1 year ago14

Ricotta toast 2 ways:

Tomato + balsamic

Honey + cayenne

  • ricotta
  • cayenne
  • honey
  • tomato
  • balsamic

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Food52
Food5212 months ago38

Summertime tomato dinners for 1 also translate into breakfast the next day. Crisp up some thick-sliced seedy bread in a pan with a little mayo on one side, let ’em go for a few minutes, and remove. Let cool slightly, and then add a little more mayo to the non-crisped side and pile on slices of fresh Jersey beefsteaks, then sprinkle on Maldon salt and a few turns of freshly-ground black pepper. Eat most for dinner but save a little for breakfast; it’s just as good cold.

  • black pepper
  • tomato
  • bread
  • maldon salt
  • mayo

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Laura Albanese
Laura Albaneseabout 1 year ago41

Avocado toast for dinner anyone? I slathered this with #vegan mayo (Hampton Creek Just Mayo), homemade pesto, smashed avocado and halved cherry tomatoes. Couple cranks of salt and pepper take it to the top ?

  • avocado
  • mayo
  • cherry tomato
  • pepper
  • pesto
  • salt

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Lia Albini
Lia Albiniabout 1 year ago10

Easy and delicious weeknight dinner — roasted tomatoes, herb goat cheese, toasted sourdough and fresh purple basil from the garden.

  • goat cheese
  • herb
  • tomato
  • purple basil
  • sourdough

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Alexis deBoschnek
Alexis deBoschnek12 months ago15

Lightly toast thick, country bread, slather in mayo, top with heirloom tomatoes, sprinkle with flaky sea salt and pepper and call it a day.

  • tomato
  • sea salt
  • country bread
  • pepper
  • mayo

1 comments

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Joy Belamarich
Joy Belamarich11 months ago35

Straight summer lovin’. Ciabatta, hellman’s, heirlooms, s&p, basil from my backyard.

  • tomato
  • basil
  • ciabatta

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Food52
Food5212 months ago49

Contributing Editor Lindsay-Jean Hard’s tomato sandwich is just as easy as that other tomato sandwich we were all talking about last week (link below), but there’s no arguing that it’s delicious.

She toasted bread (pumpernickel, the same size as her tomatoes), smeared it with cream cheese, added tomato slices, and sprinkled them with flaky salt and fresh chives.

  • chives
  • pumpernickel
  • bread
  • salt
  • cream cheese
  • tomato

2 comments

Luckily, our appetite for tomatoes is such that we’ll happily alternate between the super-classic and the super-creative until the changing seasons stop us.

You buy a tomato with the intention of making a sandwich. What’s your next move? Tell us in the comments below.

This article was originally published in 2016, but we can’t get enough tomato sandwiches, so we’re sharing it again.

This article was written by Sarah Jampel from Food52 and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.