Plan & Prep

Everything You Need to Make the Best BLT

updated May 2, 2019
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(Image credit: Guy Ambrosino)

For as long as I can remember, BLTs have been my most favorite sandwich. There was a brief period in high school and college where I tried to be a vegetarian and missed a few good years, but otherwise BLTs have reigned supreme in my life.

I tend to hold out all year for true BLT season to hit. Sure, a subpar one from a corner deli can satisfy a craving now and again through fall, winter, and spring, but absolutely nothing beats the glory of a BLT made at the height of summer, when tomatoes are at their very best. So now more than ever it makes sense to discuss the fundamentals of building the ultimate BLT. Here’s what you need to know.

First, Let’s Talk Bread

The bread is as important as the contents of a BLT. I personally prefer a soft multigrain or whole-wheat sandwich loaf for a nutty flavor, but if you prefer a white loaf, which is the most classic, then definitely proceed. The key here is that the bread must be fresh. Skip the pre-sliced, pre-packaged bags at the grocery store and opt for a freshly baked loaf from your grocery store’s bakery or from a local bakery.

Feeling adventurous? Bake the bread yourself!

Go for something that’s not too crusty, but rather soft and pillowy. Then toast the slices just slightly so you get a touch of crunch and char but hardly lose that softness.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

Then Comes Mayo

M is the letter missing from the acronym, but it’s a crucial element. A thick swipe should be applied to both slices of bread — use your favorite brand, whether that’s Hellman’s or Duke’s.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

B is for Bacon

Bacon just may be everyone’s favorite part of a BLT. Again, go for quality here. Thick-cut from the deli counter is lovely if you can find it — Whole Foods carries it. Cook it according to your preferred method until crispy. I love cooking it in the oven, as it’s the least messy method, but the stovetop, microwave, and even the grill will do the trick.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

L is for Lettuce

I believe large, soft leaves of romaine or butter lettuce are superior here, although I know there are others who swear by iceberg. I like the green flavor that the prior impart, rather than the watery crunch of the latter. Make sure the lettuce is fresh and nowhere near limp. If you can get it from the farmers market, even better.

(Image credit: Christine Han)

T is for Tomato

Here is what makes a summer BLT different from all the rest. Tomatoes are at their sweetest and juiciest at this very moment, which means they should be consumed by the bucketful. Go for hefty beefsteak or heirloom tomatoes and slice them thick.

More Tomato Intel You Need This Summer

How to Stack and Slice

After the swipe of mayo, I like to stack the ingredients as follows: bacon, tomato, lettuce, before finishing with the second mayo-swiped slice of bread. This way the tomato doesn’t cause the bread to get soggy. I also prefer to slice my BLT on the diagonal because it tastes better this way — it’s science.

A Note on Additions

Again, I have strong feelings here. A BLTA — that is a BLT with the addition of avocado — is not a true BLT. That’s a completely different beast and one that pales in comparison. Don’t even get me started on the addition of a fried egg, either. Stay true to what the classic sandwich entails, please, and I guaruntee you’ll be rewarded.

How do you like to build your BLT?