Recipe Review

Is Candied Bacon the Secret to the Best BLT? I Tried It to Find Out.

updated Aug 19, 2021
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Ben Weiner

Tia Mowry became a household name as one half of the Sister, Sister duo back in the mid-’90s. But it wasn’t until Tia’s Cooking Channel show, Tia Mowry at Home, that she showcased her skills in the kitchen. While I’d never tried one of Mowry’s recipes before, when I saw her over-the-top BLT recipe, I wondered if I’d been missing out.

Mowry’s unique recipe includes an herby mayonnaise, sweet and spicy candied bacon, green leaf lettuce, and fresh tomatoes stacked on a chewy ciabatta roll. As I imagined each individual element, my mouth began to water, but how would the sandwich taste when assembled all together? Here’s what happened when I went into the kitchen to find out.

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

How to Make Tia Mowry’s BLT Sandwich

You’ll start the sandwich preparation by mixing spices and sugar for the candied bacon. Stir light brown sugar, ancho chile powder, paprika, and cayenne pepper together in a small bowl. Sprinkle the seasoning over strips of thick-cut bacon, then gently press it in. Roast the bacon until the sugars sizzle and the bacon is browned. Once cooked, drain on a paper-towel lined plate, cool, then cut the slices in half.

To make the herb mayo, pulse garlic, cilantro, parsley, and chives in a food processor until chopped. Add mayonnaise, mustard, lemon zest, salt, and pepper, then process until combined. Spread the mayo onto the cut sides of a ciabatta loaf, then stack 2 tomato slices, green leaf lettuce, 4 pieces (2 halved strips) of bacon, and sliced avocado onto the bottom half of the bread. Top with the other piece of ciabatta and serve.

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

My Honest Review of Tia Mowry’s BLT Sandwich

When it comes to BLTs, there are two camps: classic and over-the-top. Tia Mowry’s sandwich falls squarely in the second category. Individually, I adore each of the elements of this sandwich. Candied bacon? Yes. Store-bought mayo dressed up for the occasion? You bet. Buttery avocado and chewy ciabatta bread? Tell me more!

Unfortunately, the cacophony of flavors in this sandwich completely contradicts the beauty of a summer BLT. The tomato, which should be the star, was completely ignored — a little salt or a shower of black pepper would have highlighted the flavor. Although I’ll admit that I left it in the oven for slightly too long, the thick-cut bacon was chewy and not crisp. The combination of ancho chile powder, paprika, and cayenne pepper overpowered the subtle smoky bacon flavor, and fought against the freshness of the herb mayonnaise. Chewy ciabatta bread is one of my favorites for sandwiches, but the texture was too tough for the soft avocado and juicy tomatoes.

Credit: Patty Catalano

If You’re Making Tia Mowry’s BLT Sandwich, a Few Tips

  1. Scale back the spices: If you love the idea of a candied bacon BLT, simply sprinkle the tops of the bacon slices with light brown sugar and a pinch of cayenne, or try this version. The paprika and ancho chile powder are too overpowering for this sandwich.
  2. Choose the bacon wisely. For chewy bacon, stick with the thick-cut variety, but if crispy bacon is what you prefer, go with regular slices. Just remember the cooking time will be shorter for standard-cut bacon.
  3. Make sure ciabatta bread is fresh. Ciabatta bread has an inherently chewy and open crumb, which can translate to tough if your bread isn’t absolutely fresh. If you can, buy your ciabatta from a bakery that makes the loaves fresh each day.

Overall rating: 6/10

Have you made Tia Mowry’s BLT Sandwich? Let us know in the comments!