Got more fresh tomatoes than you handle? If so, it’s time to make a tomato sandwich! But not just any tomato sandwich. Using top quality bread and super flavorful chili crisp lime mayo transforms the classic tomato and mayo sandwich into something special.
So you’re at the market, it’s August and the crates are overflowing with tomatoes. There are green ones, pink ones and tomatoes as red as a fire truck. They’re big, they’re sweet and they’re ripe. In fact, they’re probably so ripe that they’ll go bad if they don’t get eaten right away.
But let’s face it – you can only make so many tomato salads without getting bored. Salsa is a good option but you can only eat so much of that too. The same goes for gazpacho. You could also make tomato sauce but only if you have time for the labor intensive endeavor. It’s summer. You’re hot and you’re hungry for a cool summer lunch.
Enter the classic tomato sandwich.
Can you really make a sandwich with tomato slices as the star? You bet. Think about something as simple as pizza marinara (the one without the cheese). Essentially, that Neapolitan pizza style is just bread and tomatoes with some spices, like dried oregano, added for good measure.
In the United States, the classic southern tomato sandwich is a simple affair with tomatoes seasoned with salt and pepper, mayonnaise (traditionally Duke’s) and white sandwich bread. The Japanese place their fresh tomatoes and mayo inside slices of brioche or milkbread. They also up the ante by adding furikake, a umami-rich seasoning blend of seaweed, salt, sesame seeds, dried fish and MSG.
For our recipe, we decided to travel a different, yet no less auspicious, road toward tomato sandwich bliss. Considering our love for chili crisp, we decided to create a flavorful chili crisp lime mayo that makes ripe tomatoes sing like a coloratura soprano at a summer opera at the Arena di Verona.
Tomato Sandwich Ingredients
Our tomato sandwich recipe requires the following ingredients:
Not to be Captain Obvious here but middle summer into early fall is the best time for making and eating tomato sandwiches. This is the peak season for tomatoes and when they taste best.
The key is buy the best available tomatoes. We asked the merchant at our local farmers market which were the best tomatoes and she recommended Portuguese heart tomatoes (not to be confused with the famous Portuguese oxheart variety). So that we use in this recipe.
You can use any tomato that suits your fancy – yellow tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes, plum tomatoes, German green stripe tomatoes, Brandywine tomatoes, etc. The key is to use tomatoes that are fresh, ripe and flavorful.
Don’t use cherry tomatoes since they would fall all over the place.
While we slice our tomato about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick for this recipe, you can go thicker if that’s what you prefer. Once you slice the tomatoes, you’ll want to lightly sprinkle the slices with salt to achieve maximum flavor.
Don’t skip this recipe if you don’t have access to brioche.
You can use white, wheat or artisan sourdough bread to make your tomato sandwich instead. However, we’ve found that toasted brioche provides ideal richness and structure against the mixture of tomatoes and creamy mayo.
Using a store bought mayo is just fine as a base ingredient for this sandwich topping. We like to us Hellmann’s but you could alternatively use Duke’s or even Kewpie mayo. If you’re super ambitious, you can also make your own mayo from scratch.
Lao Gan Ma Chili Crisp
Our love for chili crisp’s distinct umami flavor, crunchy texture and light piquancy is nothing new. We’re crazy about the spicy condiment which doesn’t overpower the tomatoes in this recipe. In fact, it enhances them.
There are many chili crisp brands on the market these days but we still love the old faithful standby – Lao Gan Ma Chili Crisp. You should be able buy a jar at your local Asian market or you can buy a jar from Amazon.
Fresh Lime Juice
While fresh tomatoes and brioche provide plenty of sweetness to a tomato sandwich, we found that a good tomato sandwich needs sour acidic flavors to counter that sweetness.
Fresh lime juice provides a tangy element without overwhelming the tomato’s unique flavor.
Fresh Chopped Chives
Chives provide a unique vegetal crunch as well as a biting allium flavor in the finished mayo. They also enhance the tomato sandwich’s appearance.
White Pepper And Salt
You don’t need to add much if any salt to the chili crisp lime mayo since there’s plenty of salt in both the mayonnaise and the chili crisp. The same goes for freshly ground white pepper.
However, don’t skimp when lightly salting the tomato slices. This step fully develop their flavor before you place them on your sandwich.
How To Make a Tomato Sandwich With Chili Crisp Lime Mayo
The beauty of this sandwich is that the ingredients provide flavor balance without overwhelming each other. And the sauce! It’s essentially a remoulade, i.e. a mayonnaise-based sauce with spices and fresh herbs.
You’ll want to start with the sauce by mixing the chili crisp with the mayonnaise.
Add lime juice and mix until smooth. Add the chopped chives and stir until incorporated..
Spread the mayo on two slices of toasted bread per sandwich. We spread the mayo on the top and bottom sandwich slices (on the inside, of course) and you should do the same.
Evenly pile the tomato slices between two bread slices.
Stop to admire your completed tomato sandwich before taking the first bite.
Warning – once you take the first bite, your sandwich will be quickly gone. It’s that tasty.
Tomato Sandwich FAQs
A tomato sandwich is essentially tomato slices placed between two slices of sandwich bread. We like to make our tomato sandwiches on toasted brioche and we also add chili crisp lime mayo.
This classic tomato sandwich recipe requires tomatoes, mayonnaise and bread. We ramp up the mayo with chili crisp, fresh lime juice and chopped chives. Feel free to add bacon to your tomato sandwich if that’s how you roll.
While nobody knows who created the first tomato sandwich, it’s fair to say that the sandwich became popular in the American south where eating southern tomato sandwiches is a summer ritual for more than a century.
While you can technically eat a tomato sandwich at any time of the year, summertime is the time when tomatoes reach their prime from July to September.
Yes, tomato sandwiches are vegetarian. However, adding mayonnaise keeps them from being vegan. The same goes for brioche which contains eggs and milk.
Tomato sandwiches are as healthy as you want them to be. However, be aware that mayonnaise is high in both calories and saturated fat.
Yes, tomato sandwiches can be messy. But that’s part of the fun of eating a sandwich filled with juicy tomato slices.
Tomato Sandwich with Chili Crisp Lime Mayo Recipe
- 1 tomato, sliced
- 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon Lao Gan Ma chili crisp
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 4 slices of toasted brioche - 1/2 inch thick
- 1 tablespoon chives, finely chopped
- salt to taste
- white pepper to taste
- Mix mayonnaise, chili crisp, lime juice and chives in a mixing bowl. Season to taste with salt and white pepper.
- Season tomato slices lightly with salt.
- Spread finished chili crisp mayo on all four slices of the brioche toast.
- Place 2 to 3 slices of tomato on the two slices of brioche. Top the tomatoes with the other slices.
- The recipe can be doubled or halved.
- The recipe works best with fresh tomatoes in peak season.
- We recommend using Lao Gan Ma brand chilli crisp; however, you can substitute your favorite chili crisp brand.
- The chili crisp lime mayo is highly versatile. You can serve it with cooked shrimp, chicken, salmon or even a crudité platter.
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Spicy Chili Crisp (Chili Oil Sauce) - 7.41oz (Pack of 1)
Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls (Set of 6) Stainless Steel Mixing Bowl Set - Easy To Clean, Nesting Bowls for Space Saving Storage, Great for Cooking, Baking, Prepping
John Boos Block Chop-N-Slice Maple Wood Edge Grain Reversible Cutting Board, 18 Inches x 12 Inches x 1.25 Inches
Hellmann's Real Mayonnaise Squeezy (750ml)
Shun Classic 8” Chef’s Knife with VG-MAX Cutting Core and Ebony PakkaWood Handle; All-Purpose Blade for a Full Range of Cutting Tasks with Curved Blade for Easy Cuts; Cutlery Handcrafted in Japan
Cuisinart C77TR-8BD Triple Rivet Collection 8" Bread Knife, Black
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About The Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on their website 2foodtrippers. Since launching the site in 2012, they’ve traveled to over 40 countries in their quest to bring readers a unique taste of the world.
Original Publication Date: August 19, 2023