Although sliced bacon has been an international treasure for centuries, it didn’t take long for it to become popular sandwich fare. Because bacon is quick & easy to prepare and is conveniently- shaped, it made sense that it would be perfect to serve on bread. We also adore its savory, smoky sweetness that cannot be duplicated.
In the late 19th century, Americans were enjoying simple bacon sandwiches—often topped with veggies. It wasn’t until after World War II that the Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato sandwich came into our culinary spotlight. The tasty treat became a stellar dish in diners and restaurants across the country. People started to refer to the sandwich by its diner shorthand name, BLT—and a legend was born.
If you are a bacon aficionado like me, you take your BLT building seriously. Talk to other BLT fans, and you will discover a plethora of variations. A few restaurants and diners claim their version is the “original" BLT, and they have devoted customers. Other than the prerequisite bacon, tomato, lettuce, the rest of the sandwich depends on interpretation.
My favorite season to make BLTs is during the summer when homegrown tomatoes and lettuce are at the peak of freshness and availability. They are delicious as part of any meal or for a scrumptious snack. Just mentioning a freshly-prepared BLT tantalizes my taste buds! Go beyond the standard and let me share a few suggestions to take your BLT to another level of flavor!
It’s All About The Bread
Most classic diner BLTs are made on soft white bread toasted golden brown. For a tasty change, substitute plain white bread to a heartier variety. Try whole wheat, rye, pumpernickel, or my favorite—sourdough. No rules say that you must toast the bread. Experiment and see how the BLT flavors are subtly changed with different breads that are toasted or untoasted. Once, I toasted my BLT like a Monte Cristo sandwich and was thrilled with the results.
Lettuce & Tomatoes
Iceberg lettuce is the usual choice for the “L" in the BLT. Since I am not a big fan of iceberg, I like to elevate my sandwich with more flavorful greens. Consider building your BLT with peppery arugula, tangy baby spinach, or zesty micro-greens. Butter lettuce is also a tasty alternative.
Fresh tomatoes lends cool, zesty flavor notes that hallmark of an excellent BLT. Use the freshest tomatoes that you can find. My favorites are plump heirloom tomatoes that are locally grown. Try different varieties and see which suits your tastes best. I have made delicious BLTs with sundried and fire-roasted tomatoes. They add a delightful smokiness that complements the bacon. Consider my easy & tasty roasted tomato recipe! Or, top your BLT with my crunchy Southern Fried Green Tomatoes!
Oink! Don’t Forget the BACON
What would the BLT be without its main attraction? Your choices go beyond popular brands of thinly-sliced breakfast bacon. For a meatier bite, I often choose center-cut bacon in thick slices. Try different wood-smoked varieties and those with flavor infusions, like maple or honey. You and your family are sure to love my Candied Bacon recipe! Or, go international and prepare thin, delicate slices of Italian pancetta or Canadian bacon. Even if you don’t consume pork, you are not out of the game. Many upscale butcher shops feature hearty bacon-cured beef or lamb slices. The key is for your bacon choice to be crispy, juicy, and full of flavor for an outstanding BLT. Want a bigger, meat-forward sandwich? Top your bacon with ham or turkey. My Fried-Chicken BLT takes your dish to a new taste dimension!
Add a dab of mayonnaise or get creative
Original BLTs were usually served plain or on buttered toast. Someone got the tasty idea of using mayonnaise to dress the sandwiches. If you prefer mayo, try my simple homemade version. It is far superior to store-bought varieties. I also like to give my mayo a boost with various herbs & spices, like garlic or Sriracha paste. Don’t limit yourself to mayo. Experiment with salad dressings and globally-inspired condiments to create new BLT dressing favorites. Check out my recipe section for more fresh ideas, like my sweet & savory Balsamic Tomato Jam!
Over the top
You are only limited by your preferences and imagination when it comes to BLT toppings. Why not add your favorite cheese, like cheddar, mozzarella, or baby Swiss? Do a double decker BLT and incorporate different cheeses and toppings. Anything you enjoy on other sandwiches or burgers are just as good on a BLT. If you love Southern-style cuisine, consider topping your sandwich with my Homemade Pimento Cheese Spread! Incorporate any combination of globally-inspired flavors to create new BLT favorites.
I love that I can quickly assemble a BLT and serve it any time. They are perfect for a healthy breakfast on the run or for a satisfying packed lunch. I am sharing some of my tried & true BLT recipes for you and your family to enjoy. Whether your BLTs are classic diner-style or a unique international fusion, they are delicious and fun to make!