Recipe Review

I’ve Made Countless BLTs This Summer — This Is Hands-Down the Best Recipe

updated Sep 2, 2021
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Ben Weiner

Southerners have always embraced eating seasonally and simply, and there are few dishes that speak to that philosophy better than the classic BLT. So as I was deciding what recipes to include in our BLT recipe showdown, I knew I had to see what Southern Living magazine had to say on the topic.

Southern Living’s “The SL BLT” is as easy as they come, but what caught my eye was their simple upgrade to store-bought mayonnaise. Would the garlicky spread turn this simple sandwich into the ultimate summer BLT? I went into my kitchen to find out.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Ben Weiner

How to Make Southern Living’s BLT

You’ll start this sandwich by preparing the ingredient that takes the longest: the bacon. Cook the bacon in a skillet until crisp, then transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Next, stir mayonnaise, grated fresh garlic, and black pepper together, and lightly toast white sandwich bread. Spread the garlic mayo evenly onto the slices of bread.

Layer a large lettuce leaf onto one of the slices of bread, tearing to fit if necessary. Top with 2 (1/4-inch-thick) tomato slices, then season the tomato with salt and pepper. Top with bacon, then close the sandwich with the other piece of bread. Slice the sandwich in half and serve.

My Honest Review of Southern Living’s SL BLT

When I start dreaming of summer on cold February days, this is the sandwich I imagine: Golden slices of white bread slathered with mayo and stacked with crunchy lettuce, smoky bacon, and juicy red tomatoes. It is the simplicity of the sandwich that makes it such a classic, and I love that Southern Living’s recipe doesn’t mess too much with the basics.

I was surprised that I preferred both the flavor and texture of hearty white sandwich bread to the chewier options from other recipes I tried. I used regular sliced bacon, not thick-cut (the recipe doesn’t specify which to use), and it cooked up crisp and ripply. As for the lettuce, the recipe gives the option for Bibb, romaine, or iceberg. I prepared with romaine, as others I tried specified the softer Bibb or crunchier iceberg. Romaine proved to be the best of all — cool, crisp, and fresh-tasting.

The proportions of this sandwich were perfect: It boasted the right amount of bacon, tomato slices that were neither too thick nor too thin, a generous slather of garlicky mayo, and the cool crunch of lettuce. This is the only BLT my summer needs.

Credit: Patty Catalano

If You’re Making Southern Living’s BLT, a Few Tips

  1. Use your favorite mayonnaise: While I’m partial to Duke’s mayonnaise, I know everyone has their favorite brand. With so few components to the sandwich, each individual ingredient makes a statement, so it’s best to use the mayo you like best.
  2. Grate or mash garlic into a smooth paste. Use a Microplane to grate the garlic so that it blends seamlessly into the mayonnaise. Or, use the side of your chef’s knife to mash it into a paste.
  3. Make a big batch of the mayo. The garlicky mayonnaise really makes this sandwich sing. I used 1 clove of garlic for 2 tablespoons mayo, but you can use as little or as much garlic as you like. I’d recommend making a double (or triple!) batch of this flavorful mayonnaise and stashing it in the fridge so that assembling the sandwich can be even quicker.
  4. Hearty breads need not apply. White sandwich bread makes the best BLTs — especially when the outside is light golden while the interior remains soft. The tomato juices and garlicky mayo seep into the bread without leaving it soggy. Plus, you don’t have to tear into it with your teeth (squashing the ingredients in the process) as you do with chewier breads.

Overall rating: 10/10

Have you tried Southern Living’s BLT? Let us know in the comments!