5 Ingredients or Fewer

My Best Tomato Sandwich

October  4, 2022
9 Ratings
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 3 minutes
  • Makes 1 sandwich
Author Notes

The tomato sandwich is, in my opinion, both under and over-appreciated, depending on the camp you fall into. Some just don't appreciate the magic of a perfect tomato sandwich, while others, like me, think about it more often than is technically healthy. (I figure if fantasizing about tomato sandwiches is among the worst of my vices, I’m probably okay.) When tomato season is in full swing I tend to have a tomato sandwich for lunch at least three days a week.

It’s nothing fancy, but over the years I tweaked until I came up with the tomato sandwich that best suits my taste: two pieces of whole grain toast spread with mayo and stuffed as generously as possible with slices of ripe tomato, plus some salt and coarsely ground black pepper. —Merrill Stubbs

Test Kitchen Notes

Ah, summer love. Intense as the rising temperatures, it inspires joy, angst, optimism. It’s the season when we embrace our passions and new beginnings, no matter how fleeting they might be.

And for our very own Merrill Stubbs, that summer lovin’ means tomato season. Her love letter addressee? Tomato sandwiches.

Back in 2010, Merrill shared a straightforward recipe that allows tomatoes to shine. It’s just three ingredients—two pieces of whole grain toast spread with mayo and stuffed as generously as possible with slices of ripe tomato. Oh, and some salt and coarsely ground black pepper.

Yes, it’s really that simple. And thank goodness, because love is complicated enough. —Katie Macdonald

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
My Best Tomato Sandwich
  • 2 slices dense wholegrain bread with lots of seeds (my favorite is Eli’s Health Loaf)
  • 1 medium beefsteak tomato (New Jersey or otherwise), perfectly ripe
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons mayonnaise
  • 1 pinch kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper
  1. Toast the bread to your liking (I like mine nice and crispy, but I know some prefer a lighter toast). Let it cool for a bit while you core and cut the tomato into 1/8-inch slices. Slather one side of each piece of toast with about a teaspoon and a half of mayonnaise (more or less if you like) and layer as many of the tomato slices as you can on top of one one piece of toast. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Top with the other piece of toast, cut in half (vertically or diagonally – the choice is yours, so go wild). Eat immediately, with a side of napkins to catch the tomato/mayo juices that will undoubtedly dribble down your chin.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Mary-Elizabeth Travale MacDonald
    Mary-Elizabeth Travale MacDonald
  • Deb Hessler-Miller
    Deb Hessler-Miller
  • keithcancook
  • John England
    John England
  • Winness

111 Reviews

Mary-Elizabeth T. June 29, 2023
Can confirm. It is that easy and that transcendent.
Cracker June 28, 2023
This is wonderful. My childhood memories of growing up in the deep South include a “chunked up”ripe beefsteak tomato, a generous dollop if Duke’s mayo, grind of pepper, and crumbled saltines all combined in a big iced tea glass. Eating this cool dish on a summer day was heaven. I can still see Aunt Annie Mae serving this on her porch. 😁
xiao November 21, 2022
Jack July 28, 2022
Here in North Carolina, Cherokee Purples have become the go-to homegrown heirloom in the last few years, maybe because they have a North Carolina connection. (Google it.) When I was a kid, my mom would peel and slice 3-4 homegrown tomatoes every day during the summer and leave them on a dish in the kitchen, for people to eat throughout the day. The sandwich from my youth, which I ate every day, was that pretty awful, homogenized white bread they used to sell back in the 50's (we used Sunbeam), Dukes mayonnaise (I don't think there was any other kind available), and a bunch of tomato slices. Sixty some years later I have given up some of my childish ways and use good sourdough or whole grain bread, and add fresh mozzarella. I still peel my tomatoes, however, and I still eat tomato sandwiches every day.
LeighBee July 28, 2022
I'm growing those for the first time this year. They are delicious.
Deb H. July 12, 2022
YUM!!!! Sometimes the most simple is the most joyous and delicious! Nothing better than a perfectly ripe tomato...on great toasted bread and my fave mayo!
pinky.ross74 February 18, 2022
Three ingredients (apart from seasoning); two proceeded foods, one natural... Five star recipe... The quintessence of American (healthy) cuisine ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
keithcancook August 21, 2020
Add potato chips,I prefer ruffles with ridges,push it down and eat over the kitchen sink...mmmm
Virginia March 10, 2020
One of my favorite tomato sandwiches is one made on a baguette, drizzle with olive oil and red wine vinegar, add slices of tomato, mozzarella and basil. Wrap in plastic wrap for a while and enjoy, really delicious. Will need to try this one.
Merrill S. March 12, 2020
And I your version -- sounds incredible!
Nick K. December 17, 2019
Duke's Mayonnaise. Been making these for the last several summers and only just THIS SUMMER did a friend tell me to switch to Duke's Mayonnaise.

I go very lightly toasted white sandwich bread, s&p the tomato, and generously spread Duke's on both slices. Simple, heavenly.
Merrill S. March 12, 2020
Duke's IS the best, I agree.
John E. August 22, 2019
The original southern recipe is simple. Bread (not toasted), mayo, ripe tomatoes and salt. Add pepper if you like. While everyone may like to add things, once you do you’ve created something different. If your tomatoes are great, you don’t need anything else.
Winness July 24, 2018
I love mayo on one slice and yellow mustard on the oher (don't judge; I'm 70 and have been eating this sandwich since I was 6). If I have lettuce on hand, it goes in, but never cheese!
Donna T. July 15, 2018
The great basil is a must with tomato. I place basil leaves in place of lettuce on my sandwich. Use as many leaves to your taste. Of course mayo with crusty 7 or more grain bread or on a plate with good olive oil or mayo sans bread for the low carbo crew. Tomato demands basil
Fawn B. July 3, 2018
My favorite sandwich. But I rub fresh garlic on the hot toast first. So so good.
beejay45 August 20, 2017
Growing up in California I was blessed with a really long tomato growing season. My family reserved tomatoes for either eating warm, right in the garden, or almost exclusively for Mom's homemade tomato sauce (which went on the homemade ravioli). Don't hate me. I never had a tomato sandwich until I was an adult and had no more garden of my own. A friend brought some fresh bounty in from her garden, and showed me that there were other ways to eat fresh tomatoes. ;) I'm in the untoasted white bread, mayo and tomato camp, though.

This was a particularly welcome post, since I just got a couple of fresh grown tomatoes to play with.
tamater S. August 6, 2017
Such an easy lunch for guests, or weekends when my partner's home: chunks of ripe-red tomatoes on bite-sized chunks of rustic bread, held together with mini-skewers, (in other words, not those horrid splintery things that are only good for applying glue to crafts). Salt & pepper of course, and optionally, a thin dusting of dried oregano or very thin cut basil. Drizzle olive oil if the bread wasn't mayo-ed. Sides could be anything from parm-curls, to (not too hard!) hard cooked eggs, tins of tiny smoked oysters, olives, cheeses, etc.
A screen-bowl protects all from flying critters. Too many fab optional accompaniments to mention really, but options are parm-curls, olives or a bowl of tamponade with little spoons, and cheeses.

For just myself, any - and maybe every - day of the week when the toms are just a reach away for the picking, it's a sandwich EXACTLY as Merrill Stubbs makes 'em.
frankie August 24, 2016
I agree, this is one of my all time favorite sandwiches. Down here is Louisiana the season is also short, from early June through the 4th of July, and they absolutely must be home grown tomatoes. So simple, yet so delicious. I eat them just about every day when I can.
Cathryn Z. August 21, 2016
100% agree, ripe homegrown tomatoe, mayo and a good bread toasted with salt and pepper is the Nirvana of summer tastes. We have been living on them. Breakfast lunch and dinner. Such a short season...so catch it all.
Regina August 14, 2016
My Aunt Elva used to make us the best white bread, mayonnaise, beefsteak tomato and Kraft Velveeta sandwiches. So simple, but I can't duplicate the taste or experience of eating this as a child hungry for lunch.
kschurms June 9, 2016
People keep comments about what they would add to this recipe, but that's missing the point! It needs nothing, it's perfect as it is
Betty J. September 10, 2015
Very very sad--the heirloom tomatoes in our community garden are gone for the year. I've already ordered my seed for next year from Baker Seeds. looking so forward to such a short season.