13 Ways To Upgrade Your Tomato Sandwiches

tomato sandwich
tomato sandwich - Bhofack2/Getty Images

A tomato sandwich is a classic, and like many staple meals, its beauty lies in its simplicity. If you talk to most folks from the South, there's only one way to make a this dish: You need store-bought white sandwich bread, mayonnaise (preferably Duke's), salt, pepper, and the ripest tomatoes you can get your hands on. To some, adding anything else is sacrilege. But what if you're bored and looking for a change?

Well, don't shout about it on the streets of Mississippi or Georgia, but from experimenting with different bread and tomato varieties to using alternative spreads and seasonings, there are plenty of ways to upgrade your tomato sandwiches. We aren't suggesting a radical change, just small upgrades to elevate this iconic dish. After all, variety is the spice of life — as are actual spices — and trying new things in the kitchen is our jam. So, next time you're whipping up lunch, remember these 13 ways to upgrade your tomato sandwiches.

Read more: 41 Must Try Hot Sandwich Recipes

Give Cottage Cheese A Chance

cottage cheese in clay bowl
cottage cheese in clay bowl - edchechine/Shutterstock

Bored of mayo in your tomato sandwiches? Or perhaps you just want a change of pace. Well, it might be time to give cottage cheese a chance. Once seen as nothing but a low-fat, tasteless relic of the past, cottage cheese is having a resurgence — thanks, in part, to TikTok. People on the platform have been promoting the dairy product, and have elevated it to new heights of cool.

With its lumpy curds and watery consistency, cottage cheese might not be the most beautiful ingredient out there. But it's creamy, high in protein, and tastes great in a tomato sandwich. Instead of spreading mayo on your bread, try a generous helping of cottage cheese instead. While you can use the reduced-fat variety, you're going to get a far superior flavor from the full-fat version, making that our first choice. Want a smoother consistency? Try blending your cottage cheese. While salt and pepper provide a robust layer of seasoning, a sprinkling of fresh herbs adds even more to the table.

Get Creative With Bread

loaf of sliced challah
loaf of sliced challah - Liudmila Chernetska/Getty Images

Some people will tell you that store-bought sliced white bread is the only option for tomato sandwiches. But while we respect that level of purity, we beg to differ. There's a big, wide world of bread out there to experiment with.

Let's start with options that are similar to sliced white, but bring a little something extra to the table. You could opt for a white bloomer with a fluffy middle and slightly crisp exterior. Or, if you want the softness that comes from white bread with some additional sweetness, consider using enriched bread such as brioche or challah. A white sourdough loaf is a bit chewier than store-bought white bread, but still makes an excellent tomato sandwich.

If you want to venture into international waters, you could make your tomato sandwich with a French baguette or with fluffy, herb-topped focaccia. While flatbread territory moves further away from a classic sandwich, you could stuff tomato and mayo into a pita, or wrap it up inside naan.

Alternatively, you might want to go with a more robust bread, such as rye bread, pumpernickel, or whole wheat. It might not have the soft fluffiness of store-bought white bread, but that's a plus for some people. Ultimately, if it's bread, you can make a tomato sandwich with it, so choose a loaf you love.

Choose The Right Tomatoes

heirloom tomatoes
heirloom tomatoes - Magic cinema/Shutterstock

Choosing the perfect tomato is a simple way to upgrade your sandwich. This ingredient should be the star of the show, so subpar offerings can ruin the entire dish. If you've been picking up tasteless, anemic orange-red tomatoes from the grocery store, basically any decent alternative will be an upgrade. It's important to choose tomatoes that are perfectly ripe. You'll find especially good offerings at a farmers market during peak tomato season.

There are many tomato varieties, so learning which ones are best for sandwiches is a decent place to start if you're stuck. Generally, large slicing tomatoes are what you want. While smaller cherry and grape varieties can be tasty, they easily fall out of a sandwich, making them a less-than-ideal choice. Heirloom tomatoes tend to be the most flavorful. They're often bred for flavor rather than simply because they grow easily and produce abundantly, which is the case with some of the more flavorless supermarket varieties.

Brandywine tomatoes are among the best for sandwiches because they're large enough that you only need a couple of thick slices, and they have an amazing, intensely tomatoey flavor. The mortgage lifter tomato is another great variety. We love how big, juicy, and flavorful it is, especially cut into thick chunks. A lesser-known but delicious option is the black krim. It has a reddish-purple hue and complex, slightly tart flavor that has smoky and acidic notes.

Sprinkle On Some Furikake

bowl of furikake
bowl of furikake - Bhofack2/Getty Images

Salt and pepper are often the only seasonings you'll find in a classic tomato sandwich. And we get it; they're good at what they do. Sometimes they're all you want. But other times, you crave a bit more intrigue. Here's where furikake gets its turn to shine.

First off, what is furikake? It's a Japanese seasoning blend that's usually sprinkled over rice. While there are a number of furikake variations, the type you'll find in stores generally consists of dried seaweed, bonito flakes, sesame seeds, herbs, sugar, and salt.

So, it brings the savory element that you'd get from plain salt, but amps it up a bit. It's full of umami flavors, especially in the seaweed and bonito flakes. It somehow makes the tomato taste even more tomatoey. Don't ask us how — just test it out for yourself. It might seem like an odd addition to some, but it's a variation worth trying when you want some extra oomph from your tomato sandwich.

Whip Up A Tofu Spread

silken tofu
silken tofu - Natashabreen/Getty Images

A tomato sandwich variation we love is using a tofu spread instead of mayo. You can blend silken tofu with garlic, herbs, and any other seasonings of your choice to create a super creamy spread that you wouldn't believe is vegan. The beauty of silken tofu is that its neutral taste serves as a vehicle to let other flavors shine through, allowing for experimentation. Maybe you want to add fresh basil to create a pesto-like spread, or sun-dried tomatoes to amp up the tomato flavor.

The texture of silken tofu is great, too. After all, the clue is in the name — it really is silky smooth, and can be whipped up in seconds. If it comes out too thick, you can add soy milk or oil a little at a time to thin it down.

A tofu spread is a perfect alternative to mayonnaise in a tomato sandwich for anyone who's vegan or can't eat eggs. However, it's also delicious in its own right. We appreciate its versatility, and love the creaminess it brings to the dish. Of course, if you are looking to avoid eggs and want the classic flavor of mayonnaise, you can find a range of vegan, egg-free mayos on the market.

Try Spreading On Some Labneh

bowl of labneh
bowl of labneh - MOUTASEM PHOTOGRAPHY/Shutterstock

Give your tomato sandwich a delightful twist by replacing the mayonnaise with labneh. This Middle Eastern fermented dairy product is made by straining yogurt to remove most of its whey, making it thicker, creamier, and tangier. Labneh is similar in texture to Greek yogurt but even richer, and can be considered somewhere between a cheese and a yogurt.

People usually eat labneh as a spread or dip, often drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with herbs or spices like za'atar. Both of those ingredients, or even a dash of sumac, certainly wouldn't go amiss in a tomato sandwich. You can even up the Middle Eastern inspiration by encasing your sandwich in lavash bread or pita.

Labneh's creaminess melds beautifully with the fresh acidity of the tomatoes, but it also has a complex tanginess that makes the sandwich even more delicious. If you're looking to pick up this product, you can buy it from most Middle Eastern grocery stores.

Experiment With Hummus

bowl of hummus
bowl of hummus - Fcafotodigital/Getty Images

It might stray too far from the original for some, but adding hummus to a tomato sandwich gives it a flavorful upgrade. Good hummus should have a bright zing of lemon and a subtle kick of garlic, both of which pair beautifully with fresh tomato. While the spread can be overpowering on its own, thick slices of fresh tomato provide a balance that softens it.

It's important to think about the texture of the hummus you use. Some varieties are extremely smooth and creamy, while others have a chunkier, slightly grainy consistency. There's no right or wrong answer here. However, the creamier hummus works especially well in a tomato sandwich, as it more closely replicates the texture of mayo.

You can make your own hummus or buy it from the store. Of course, it's easier to buy it ready-made, but the beauty of homemade hummus is that you can tailor it just how you like it. If you plan to make it yourself, you might want to check out our expert-approved hummus tips.

Marinate Your Tomatoes

tomatoes drizzled with olive oil
tomatoes drizzled with olive oil - Freshsplash/Getty Images

If you want to make the best Southern tomato sandwich, marinating your tomatoes is a worthy upgrade. While the best tomatoes are beautifully flavorful, anything short of perfect can give you a lackluster sandwich. Plus, even great tomatoes can benefit from a little extra flavor. That's why we salt tomatoes and season tomato-based sauces.

Our tomato sandwich recipe involves a marinade of vinegar, olive oil, shallots, garlic, fresh basil, and fresh chives. However, you can tailor your marinade ingredients to suit your preferences. You might add chili for a kick, or liquid smoke for extra depth of flavor. There are so many possible variations, so think about what kind of flavor profile you're trying to achieve and go from there.

When you're ready, simply coat the sliced tomatoes in the marinade ingredients, and leave them to soak while you prepare the rest of the sandwich. For the strongest flavor, you can prepare ahead of time and leave the tomatoes marinating for a few hours.

Make A Pickle Juice Mayonnaise

jar of pickles in liquid
jar of pickles in liquid - Jazzirt/Getty Images

While standard mayonnaise is the go-to option for most tomato sandwiches, pickle juice mayonnaise offers a deliciously tangy alternative. If you want to make pickle juice mayonnaise from scratch, the method involves adding egg yolks, pickle juice, and mustard to a bowl and whisking before slowly drizzling in oil to create an emulsion. Didn't realize that making your own mayonnaise was that simple? Well, now you do. Of course, not everyone who wants to whip up a quick sandwich has the time or inclination to make even an easy mayonnaise. As an alternative, you can simply stir a little pickle juice into ready-made mayo. Add enough so you can taste it, but not so much that the mayonnaise becomes too thin to stay inside the sandwich.

Keep in mind that different brands of pickles have their own juice flavors. Some are sweet and sour, while others are heavily vinegary. Some are infused with dill, while others rely on alternative aromatics, such as onions and peppercorns. It doesn't matter which you choose, as long as you like it.

Add Cream Of Tartar

cream of tartar in bowl
cream of tartar in bowl - Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Cream of tartar is the secret ingredient you need to upgrade your tomato sandwiches. While it doesn't taste of much on its own, it acts as a flavor enhancer to make your tomatoes even more flavorful.

The best tomatoes have a balance of sweetness and acidity. Cream of tartar is acidic, and therefore adds a zingy brightness to tomatoes. As a bonus, it also won't make them soggy with extra moisture or bring a distinct flavor, like lemon juice or vinegar would.

To fully enhance the flavor of your tomatoes, you should make a seasoning blend from salt, pepper, sugar, and cream of tartar. Sprinkle this blend over your tomatoes, and you have the perfect balance of sweetness, tartness, and saltiness, with some extra flavor from the pepper. The beauty of this mixture is that it makes subpar tomatoes taste pretty darn good — and it makes perfectly ripe tomatoes even better.

Use A Flavored Salt

bowl of smoked salt
bowl of smoked salt - Juanmonino/Getty Images

If you're a tomato sandwich traditionalist, you might believe that any seasonings beyond salt and pepper are just wrong. But what about flavored varieties? Sometimes known as gourmet salts, these products come in various types. For starters, you have herb-infused salts, which are flavored with things like rosemary, thyme, basil, or sage. There are also citrus-infused salts, which are blended with the zest from fruits such as lemons, limes, or oranges. This adds some extra sharpness to tomatoes, enhancing their existing profile.

If you like a more robust taste, you might consider a smoked option, which is made by smoking sea salt over wood chips. Different types of wood chips can influence the final flavor, such as hickory, mesquite, or applewood. There are also spicy salts infused with chili peppers, truffle salts, seaweed salts, garlic salts, and more. Whichever you opt for, it will bring extra depth to your tomato sandwich with minimal effort. You could even buy a selection of various flavored salts and experiment to find your favorite.

Switch Fresh Tomatoes For Fried Green Tomatoes

fried green tomatoes in skillet
fried green tomatoes in skillet - Rudisill/Getty Images

Switch fresh tomatoes for fried green tomatoes in your sandwich and you'll combine two Southern staples. Simply slice the tomatoes, coat them in a seasoned cornmeal mixture — often these dredges are made with cornmeal, flour, salt, and pepper, sometimes with added spices like paprika or cayenne — and then fry them until they are crispy and golden brown on the outside, and tender on the inside. What you get is a tangy, slightly tart tomato with a crunchy, flavorful coating. Who wouldn't want that inside a sandwich?

After cooking, you can simply assemble your meal as you typically would — spread on some mayo, and layer the fried green tomatoes inside. Alternatively, switch out the mayo for some remoulade, which is a sauce commonly served with fried green tomatoes. Recipes vary, but it's generally made by mixing mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, lemon juice, Creole seasoning, and sometimes sour cream.

Create A Caprese Sandwich By Adding Mozzarella

Caprese salad
Caprese salad - Rudisill/Getty Images

Turning a basic tomato sandwich into a Caprese sandwich is a delicious way to upgrade it. All you need is some form of mozzarella and basil. For the best results, however, avoid dry, shredded, or sliced varieties. Mozzarella that comes as a large ball packaged in liquid has the right flavor and consistency for this type of dish.

To make a Caprese sandwich, slice your cheese into rounds, and do the same with your tomatoes. Now, move on to the basil element. It's fine to use fresh leaves, but if you want to get fancy, you could make your own basil pesto. For even more decadence, mix your pesto with some mayonnaise for an indulgent sandwich spread.

Just keep in mind that this isn't the kind of classic tomato sandwich that does well on store-bought white bread. It lacks the necessary flavor, and is likely to turn soggy from the moist mozzarella. Instead, use a hearty Italian bread, such as focaccia or ciabatta.

Read the original article on Mashed