3 Rules for Making the Absolute Best Tomato Toast

published Aug 19, 2023
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photo of tomato toast with mayonnaise, sliced tomatoes, and smoked salt on a blue cutting board
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Debbie Wee

When tomatoes are in season, tomato toast is the only thing I want to eat. I’ll eat it for breakfast or lunch (some days, I’ll even eat it for breakfast and lunch) or as a snack. Over the years — and with some tinkering on my end — I’ve mastered the art of the best tomato toast. 

The next time you’re making one (or two) for yourself, follow these three rules for the perfect tomato toast.

1. Always choose mayo (never butter).  

Hear me out on this: You should only be swiping your bread with mayo, not butter. Its creamy tang is the best counterpoint to sweet, acidic tomatoes and crisp, toasted bread. I’m partial to Hellman’s (I grew up in the northeast), but Kewpie and Duke’s will do the job just as well. And don’t be afraid to go heavy with it. I always find the more, the better — especially when it comes to tomato toast.

2. Don’t use sandwich bread. 

Sandwich bread, even when toasted, is inherently floppy. For this, you’ll want a sturdy slice of toasted country-style bread (sourdough works great too) that’s at least 1/2-inch thick. This ensures that yours can stand up to the combined weight of the tomatoes and mayo — anything less and you’ll risk a tomato toast that’s likely to collapse on itself. 

3. Take it to the next level with smoked salt. 

While I’m typically allergic to keeping items in my pantry that are single-use, I make an exception when it comes to tomato toast. Here, Penzey’s smoky seasoned salt — an umami-packed combination of coarse sea salt, smoked paprika, sugar, black pepper, onion, and garlic — takes every tomato toast (or, really, any savory toast) to the next level. 

Like mayo, I tend to go heavier with salt because I firmly believe the more you add, the better your tomato toast will be. (If you’d rather stick with regular salt, pick a coarse salt like flaky or kosher, over a fine one, for sprinkling on top).