Three-Ingredient Tomato Sandwich

Three-Ingredient Tomato Sandwich

This month, we’re sharing favorite summer recipes. From July to September, tomatoes are a magical thing, and tomato sandwiches are an easy way to take advantage. Today, Jenny and Andy from Dinner: A Love Story share their family’s go-to recipe…

Tomato Sandwich
by Jenny and Andy from Dinner: A Love Story

The best thing we’ll eat this summer will take us three minutes to minutes to make. It will involve only three main ingredients, a serrated knife, and not a single charcoal briquette. I’m talking about the tomato sandwich. Not the bacon-lettuce-and-tomato sandwich; not the grilled-cheese-and-tomato sandwich; not the tomato-mozzarella-and-basil sandwich: the tomato sandwich. Period. It is a thing of simple, summery, kid-friendly beauty: After enduring ten depressing months of the color-enhanced Styrofoam junk that passes for tomatoes at the Stop ‘N Shop, it’s like, from out of nowhere, the wind suddenly kicks up and the dark clouds part… and thank you, Jesus, blue sky punches through. Tomatoes! Real tomatoes! Flavor! Texture! Sweetness!

Over the course of the next ten weeks or so — between now and, say, mid-September, when tomatoes are at their meaty, juicy peak and the heirloom bin at the farmers’ market is positively en fuego – we’ll inhale as many of these as we can. One weekend, we ate them for lunch on Friday and Saturday, then as a quick dinner after a long day of driving on Sunday. And we ate them greedily, too, as though the supply was finite and they were about to run out — which, actually, they are. So we scarf what we can (always stopping to ask the kids as we devour them, “How good is this?”) and then suffer through the gray, mealy, tasteless months ahead… until we can do it all again.

Three-Ingredient Tomato Sandwich

Three-Ingredient Tomato Sandwich

Recipe: Tomato Sandwich

You’ll need:

Country white bread
Hellmann’s mayonnaise (yes, Hellmann’s; no other mayo will do)
Tomatoes of various colors and varieties, sliced
Sea salt and pepper, to taste

Take a few slices of a hearty white bread. (We like something with a little gravitas to it. We use something called Canadian White, which is available at T. Joe’s.) Toast them. Lightly coat each slice with mayo, but — this is crucial — be sure to do this while the toast is still warm. You want the mayo to get melty, you want to get the oil going, but you don’t want to mess with the awesomeness of the fruit. Now: arrange two or three slices of tomato on top of the toast. Let the kids pick the colors, mixing red, yellow and green, heirloom and non, Jersey and beefsteak, whatever. Sprinkle generously with salt and a couple of grinds of pepper. Some people also add some fresh basil here, but why risk destabilizing the atom? Why mess with perfection?

Three-Ingredient Tomato Sandwich

Three-Ingredient Tomato Sandwich

Thank you so much, Jenny and Andy!

P.S. More recipes, including a grown-up grilled cheese and a lazy egg sandwich.

(Photos by Yossy Arefi for Cup of Jo. Recipe courtesy of Dinner: A Love Story. This series is edited by Caroline Donofrio.)

  1. Livin Out Loud says...

    Looks amazing. I’m a Miracle Whip Lite girl. I love the sweetness against the acid. With onions and balsamic sounds wonderful. You’d need some protein for the kids for dinner, egg maybe…thanks, I’m salivating ))

  2. Simone says...

    The best sandwich I’ve had in forever!

  3. This looks like the perfect lunch!! Yum!

  4. Emma says...

    Just made these last night after drooling over the pictures for days. Seriously had to restrain myself from adding a drizzle of balsamic or olive oil, and I’m so glad I did—these were fantastic, exactly as written. I think this might have unseated the avocado as the “best thing on toast”

  5. Cori says...

    This reminds me of dinner as a kids when we would have BLTs – i would eat them without the B.
    Toast, Mayo, tomatoes and lettuce – yum!!!!!

  6. We made this weekend and it was so delicious. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

    – Allison

  7. Andrea Morandin says...

    Tomatoes,thinly sliced onions,dried oregano and vinager for me.

  8. Judy Clark says...

    Beautiful photography…..I only have one BUT….all my adult life (75 years) I believed Hellman’s was the best mayo until my southern son-in-law introduced me to DUKES….it truly beats Hellman’s hands down!

    • Awads says...

      that had to be a typo. it’s DUKE’S forever and always!!

  9. Kansas-Kate says...

    Not being a fan of mayo, I make a tomato tartine w/ chèvre or ricotta. But if you’re going to use mayo and not make it from scratch, try Duke’s. Not as sweet as other brands.

  10. Erica says...

    lol! I will need to pick up this ‘Canadian’ white bread next time I am across the border. I don’t recall any bread difference from when I lived in the U.S. for a brief spell as a kid. Coincidentally, the last time I ate white bread on the regular.

  11. This looks 100x better than a regular tomato sandwich oh my lord.

  12. Sandy says...

    I grew up on tomato sandwiches. But the best tomatoes “ever” are from Pennsylvania! Everything else is just a bonus! ??

  13. Sometimes the simplest things are the best. I am now craving juicy grilled tomatoes on toast!

  14. Leanne says...

    try tomato, basil and creamed honey – i can’t stop!

  15. Leanne says...

    Try tomato, basil, honey – i just can’t stop!

  16. I won’t partake in the mayo debate :-) I may not even use mayo, but Greek yogurt or feta cheese instead. But what a refreshing tomato sandwich! So simple and perfect.

  17. Lana says...

    After I read this post yesterday I ran to my kitchen to make it. Sadly, I only had pita bread. But it was fantastic. I then called my mom to tell her about it. It was the perfect lunch. Thank you for making my day.

  18. This is great for kids that are not into eating tomatoes!!! I will give this a try and I especially liked the idea of letting them pick different colors of tomatoes to make their own sandwiches!
    Thanks! I’m trying to get my youngest to eat tomatoes so this came to me with perfect timing!


  19. Sirena says...

    This is my favorite way to eat tomatoes! And being so pregnant this summer :-) makes this sandwich even more of a must in my kitchen. I’m making it without salt and it remains perfection!

  20. That looks absolutely delicious!

    My favorite simple sandwich is dark rye bread, cream cheese, green pesto, cucumbers, and a little balsamic vinaigrette. So fresh and delicious!

    Danika Maia

  21. I usually rub a bit of garlic on my toast along with EVOO but will now add heirloom tomatoes. Looks deeeelish!


  22. May says...

    Perfect! Love this sandwich.
    I remember as a kid fresh tomato and a loaf of Italian bread as a meal. Pull out the soft center, and wrap it around a chunk of tomato. Divine! You can even wipe the juice off your chin with the crust before wrapping that around a piece of tomato.

  23. That looks delish! Who doesn’t love a tomato sandwich in the summer?!

  24. Rachael says...

    Every morning for breakfast so far this week. Love!

  25. Laura C says...

    Hellmann’s is definitely the best mayo. I’ll try this recipe but you’ll try mine: no mayo but olive oil!!

    • i’ll try! i HATE mayo, but have an extraordinary amount of homegrown tomatoes coming my way this summer! i’ll go for olive oil instead. :)

  26. Ann says...

    If you’d had Duke’s, you would definitely agree that it’s better than Hellmans. But it’s hard to find outside the South. I missed it a TON during our 4 years on Montana.

    • I agree that Duke’s trumps Hellmans anyday! Let me know if you need me to mail you some ;)

    • Jen says...

      yes, Dukes is the best!

  27. Ha! I’m glad I’m not the only one who read this and thought, “Hellman’s?!? No, Duke’s!” As a Southerner, Duke’s is the only acceptable mayo period, and especially for a ‘mater sandwich.

    • Madeline says...

      Truth! Tomato sandwiches are generations-deep staple in our NC family, but Hellmanns is a BIG no-no. It’s always, and forever, Duke’s! So, so good.

    • Julia says...

      YES! When I saw the Hellman’s comment I had a visceral, gut reaction because this is a true southern sandwich and Duke’s is the only thing acceptable. ( I actually said NOPE aloud & made my dog jump)

  28. Kate says...

    In the Western part of the country, Hellman’s is branded as Best Foods. That was a shock to the system when I moved here from the South!

  29. Ivy says...

    Make your own mayo at home! It is so worth it.

    • I agree!! So worth it, so easy, and so cheap!! Seriously, I do it in the blender: egg, lemon juice, oil, salt, 30 seconds, done. You can even be crazy and add a fresh herb blended in there (um, do I hear BASIL?). You’ll never go back to “mayo” in a jar.

  30. Those pictures are gorgeous! It makes me want to make a tomato sandwich right now (even though I just ate lunch)! Trying to make the change to eating vegan, so I’d sub Vegenaise (which is surprisingly delicious). I’m reading The China Study and it’s making me want to completely overhaul my diet. I’m curious if anybody else here has read it, and what you think?

  31. SuSu says...


    I’ve noticed something has changed in the Hellman’s recipe. Can’t put my finger on it.

    • Ann says...

      Totally. Duke’s IS mayonnaise.

  32. Jess. says...

    I butter my toast before the mayo (or, anathema, skip the mayo), but that’s a dairy farmer’s daughter for you. Have you tried TJ’s Tuscan Pane? It’s so good, and already sliced! :)

  33. Pure perfection and oh so easy!Love basil and heirloom tomatoes….I might try it with goat cheese vs. the mayo to make it a tiny bit more filling! xo


    adorn la femme

  34. Ashley says...

    My mouth was watering through this post, now to the grocery! Mine will have bacon though. :) My mom lives on tomato, mayo and crispy bacon on lightly toasted (no brown, just crisp to the touch) sourdough throughout the summer – for breakfast and lunch!

  35. Kaitlin says...

    I seriously craved these all last summer while I was pregnant with my twins! I must have eaten them every day for weeks on end. I might have gotten a little teary when I was eating my last homegrown tomato of the season. Pregnancy hormones!!!!

  36. I’d say Sir Kensington’s mayo is definitely worth splurging for. But that’s just me! Looks delicious!

    • Meghan says...

      yes, Sir Kensington’s or Empire.

  37. This recipe looks delicious! I love tomatoes, especially during summertime. Do you use oregano on it? In Italy we put always oregano (or basil) on tomatoes :)


  38. lindsay marie says...

    I grew up eating this all the time, in northern California….but even better with toasted sourdough. we had the best tomatoes.

  39. E says...

    I can only imagine that preferring Hellmann’s is only because Dukes may not be available in your area? Regardless, a tomato sandwich with Hellmann’s mayo is better than no mayo at all! My favorite summer meal! Lovely post on a Southern staple.

  40. Mollie says...

    That sounds delicious! I also love this three ingredient sandwich: country white bread, avocado (smashed), and shaved French radishes; salt and pepper to taste.

  41. April says...

    this looks heavenly!!
    i would swap the mayo for a spreadable cheese like laughing cow! yum-O!!

  42. Jaclyn says...

    Damn right, Hellman’s is the ONLY mayo suitable. Also, I may have a farm share, and grow my own organic vegetables and my husband may be an avid home baker with sourdough ferments and whole grains filling our pantry but every summer, I just have to buy a loaf of WONDER BREAD to make the first tomato sandwiches on. That’s how granny does it, and you don’t question 95 years of southern wisdom, ya know?

  43. Adriana says...

    Also good with goat cheese and truffle oil ;)

  44. I would argue in strong favor of Duke’s mayo vs. Hellman’s. :-)

    • Carine says...

      Yes! Came to say the same thing. Duke’s is the correct answer.

    • Angela Stallings says...

      I also like Duke ‘s – I think it’s a Southern thing – but I’ll take Hellman’s with no complaints at all. The one thing for me is that we never toasted our bread, guess I’ll have to try it. As a kid, I remember my Mom keeping a covered dish of sliced and peeled tomatoes on the counter during summer. I remember it because tomato sandwiches were one of only two meals my fat little six-year-old fingers was allowed to make on my own. (The other was a PB&J.) We still make ours on Wonder Bread for the traditional taste. The only thing I’ve changed it using sea salt instead of the round blue box freshly ground pepper, of course. I will change things up by using home baked sourdough (because I can control the tartness) and adding Laughing Cow cheese. However, then the tomatoes aren’t the prominent flavor so it really depends on how small or precious your personal supply of summer tomato heaven is.

  45. Yum! This really is such a classic summer sandwich. Love it.
    Happy Summer!
    xx Lane

  46. CC says...

    I used to make sandwiches like this all the time. And I totally agree, Hellman’s mayo is the best. Also not cold mayo, room temp is much better.

  47. Emily says...

    My favorite sandwich of all time is this exactly but with slices of cucumber and a bit of dill sprinkled on. It doesn’t really feel like summer until I’ve had my first Cucumber & Tomato sandwich.

  48. Naima says...

    In the book Harriet the Spy, Harriet only eats tomato and mayonnaise sandwiches. If only she could see these…

    • Trish O says...

      Love this. Thank you for the memory. I had forgotten.

    • Yes! I was looking for a Harriet comment :) I ate tomato sandwiches every day of fifth grade because of that book (and also started spying on my neighbors, but that’s another story!).

    • I was coming here to say the same thing! Hooray for fellow spy girls and tomato sandwiches!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      now I’m dying to try it!

  49. LOVE tomatoes: that’s half the name of my blog ;) Would love to participate in your recipe round up!