The Ultimate BLT Sandwich

The Food Lab

Unraveling the mysteries of home cooking through science.

The Ultimate BLT Sandwich

[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

A BLT is not a well-dressed bacon sandwich. A BLT is a tomato sandwich, seasoned with bacon. From this basic premise, all else follows. Indeed, a better name for the BLT might well be the Tomato Club, for it is the perfect tomato, not the bacon, that is the rarest, the most ephemeral, the most singularly delicious ingredient. A BLT is not a democracy. It is not a committee meeting. It is a dictatorship, and the tomato is King, Queen, and Supreme Leader. In the BLT universe, the Prime Directive is that all other ingredients shall be at Her Majesty's service, their only role to prop her up and enhance her best qualities.

Here's how I make mine.

Why It Works

  • Slow-cooking the bacon renders its fat, while helping it to cook evenly and crisply.
  • Toasting the bread in bacon fat adds an extra layer of flavor.
  • Seasoning the tomatoes directly with salt and pepper enhances their flavor.
  • Shredded iceberg lettuce provides structure, sweetness, and crunch.
  • Yield:Makes 1 sandwich
  • Active time: 20 minutes
  • Total time:20 minutes
  • Rated:

Ingredients

  • 3 strips thick-cut, naturally cured bacon (see note above)
  • 2 slices high-quality sandwich bread, such as shokupan
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) homemade or store-bought mayonnaise (see note above)
  • 1 1/2 cups finely shredded iceberg lettuce (see note above)
  • 4 thick slices ripe tomato (see note above)
  • Coarse sea salt, such as fleur de sel or Maldon
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. 1.

    Place a griddle or skillet over medium-low heat. Add bacon and place a bacon press, skillet, or masonry trowel on top of it to keep it flat as it cooks. Cook until lightly browned on first side, about 5 minutes, then flip, cover again, and continue cooking until bacon is browned on both sides and fat has rendered, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer bacon to a paper towel–lined plate and set aside.

  2. 2.

    Place bread on same skillet or griddle and toast in bacon fat over medium-low heat, swirling occasionally, until evenly browned on first side. Flip and brown second side.

  3. 3.

    Lay toasted bread on a work surface and spread mayonnaise on both top faces. Divide lettuce evenly between both pieces of bread. Layer tomato slices on one piece of bread and sprinkle generously with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper.

  4. 4.

    Break bacon slices in half and layer them onto the sandwich in 2 layers of 3 half-slices each, alternating the orientation of bacon in each layer for more structural stability. Close sandwich and cut in half diagonally. Serve immediately.