Tips for the Best Tomato Sandwich According to J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

We tried J.Kenji Lopez-Alt's tomato sandwich recipe and it completely changes the sandwich game.

A tomato sandwich on white bread
Photo: J. Kenji López-Alt

Don't let those late-season tomatoes go to waste — there is still time to make the perfect tomato sandwich before summer officially ends.

We tried J. Kenji Lopez-Alt's tomato sandwich and it was riddled with genius ideas that take the sandwich game to a whole new level. Here are all the chef's tips for making the best tomato sandwich ever.

1. Toast Only One Side of the Bread

Start with the way you toast the bread. Lopez-Alt offers a brilliant idea for combining the best of both worlds when it comes to the bread in a tomato sandwich: only toast one side. Toast your bread in a pan with a little butter, then put the toasted side of the bread on the inside of your sandwich. The toasted side can stand up to the thick tomato slices while the outside gives the soft bread feel of fresh bread. "There's something magical about the soft-on-soft-on-soft texture of straight-up white bread (toasted in butter on the inside), mayo, and tomatoes," says Lopez-Alt.

2. Use the Right Kind of Bread

"Just plain or squishy supermarket white bread is great for a tomato sandwich," explains Lopez-Alt, "but personally I like using Japanese-style shokupan for any sandwich that would normally work on white bread ... It's the sliced bread I grew up eating. It's still very soft and mildly sweet, but holds up better to the juiciness of tomatoes."

3. Sprinkle on the Salt

"Salt is essential on tomato, and I mean direct salt-to-tomato contact!" says Lopez-Alt. "Salt opens up our neural pathways and allows flavors to be transferred to our brains more effectively. Salt on a tomato doesn't just make it taste saltier, it makes it taste more like a tomato. We can actually perceive more tomato flavor when there's salt on it."

4. Use the Right Type of Tomato

"Any large tomato will work. The important thing is that you get it as ripe as possible and grown as close to you as possible. Tomatoes have the best flavor when they ripen most of the way on the vine, and a very ripe tomato is delicate — so delicate that it can't withstand the rigors of extended transport or storage. I'm not picky about what tomato I use for my sandwiches, I'm just picky about how ripe it is," say Lopez-Alt. But as it turns out, he does still have a favorite, "I do love a nice, dense purple cherokee or other heirloom beefsteak tomato."

5. Slice It Like So

"I like nice thick slices of tomato that have heft and juiciness that you can sink your teeth into, and I like a big stack of them."

6. Use the Mayo You Love

"Some people insist on their own favorite brand of mayo (Duke's-lovers in particular seem very mayo-monogamous). If you are devoted to a particular mayo, use that one. I personally typically reach for Kewpie or homemade, but I have no guilt in straying from home and spreading my bread with Hellman's or Sir Kensington's or even Miracle Whip now and then."

7. How You Cut Your Sandwich Matters

Kenji wraps up his tutorial for the perfect tomato sandwich with this important tip: Cut the sandwich in triangles because they taste better!

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