The Vegetarian Tomato Mayo Sandwich is a ridiculously simple southern classic. It’s a fast and tasty meal option that will cool you off in the summer and fill you up in the winter.
When I first moved to the South, the thought of things like sweet tea and hot boiled peanuts were a big NOPE for me. I enjoyed my “regular” lemony iced tea and preferred ham and cheese heroes.
The thing about living in the south is that, after a while, it starts to chip away at your food habits bit by bit. Before you know it, you’re ordering a sweet tea to go with your hoagie.
It only took a couple of years before summer time = tomato mayo sandwiches for us. It has a special place in my frugal heart, because during lean times, this bad boy was a recurring star in our meal plan. It’s still my favorite way to stretch our grocery budget.
These are definitely a summer staple for us because not only are they dirt cheap to make, you can have dinner ready in five minutes and there are no dishes to clean.
If you you’ve never tried it, it may sound a bit strange. And the ingredient list will probably leave you thinking, “uh, did you forget to add a few things to your sandwich?” But the simplicity is the beauty of it!
🍽️ Why This Recipe Works
Cheap to make – This no-frills sandwich on 99¢ bread is one of the least expensive meals ever. Pair it with some fresh fruit, chips, and a pickle and you have the perfect meal.
Very few ingredients – Seriously! You only need four ingredients and the entire family will be happily munching away at this meal.
Low Calories – Because it’s not bogged down with a bunch of other stuff, it’s only 163 calories a serving. What a huge win!
It’s hard to believe how quickly and easily you can make this incredible sandwich. You seriously only need four ingredients, and you will be in food heaven.
Tomatoes: I find the best tomatoes to add to the sandwich are beefsteaks. They are the perfect size to fit on the white bread, and they’re loaded with flavor and nutrients.
White Bread: While traditional Southern tomato and mayonnaise sandwiches use white bread, swap it out for wheat bread if you prefer. Sometimes, I just get in the mood for some yummy white bread, and it’s perfect with a big fat slice of tomato.
Mayo, Salt, and Pepper: When it comes to the mayonnaise, salt, and pepper, just add as much or as little as you like. It’s all about preference when it comes to these three ingredients.
Step One: Slice up those juicy tomatoes into large slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Step Two: Add some mayo to the bread and add a tomato slice or two. Put the top piece of bread on and enjoy this yummy sandwich.
📌 Expert Tips
Get the largest, ripest beefsteak tomatoes you can find. And use cheap white bread. Nothing else will do! 😀
Salt your tomatoes. It’ll make the sandwich nice and juicy.
Try different types of tomatoes and see which is your favorite. Definitely grow your own or get them from the farmer’s market. The organically grown ones have a lot more flavor than the ones from the store.
To make this vegan, replace mayonnaise with a Vegan-Friendly substitute.
⏲️ Recipe FAQ
It’s a battle of the mayonnaises when it comes down to saying who started making this frugal sandwich first. It’s been reported to have been started in New York, South Carolina, and even Louisiana.
But if you ask me, it started because someone was looking for a super simple way to save some money and have a hearty and tasty meal for their family.
There are so many great options when it comes to the perfect tomato for a sandwich. The best choice for me is a beefsteak, but try any type of variety. Honestly, they would all taste great. The beefsteak is a larger tomato (perfect for sandwich sized slices) and it is on the sweet side. I noticed a big difference with the ones I bought from the farmer’s markets.
Cut the tomato in half through the stem and then lay the cut side on the cutting board to make slices. Putting the cut side on the cutting board provides a nice, secure surface for making additional slices. With my klutzy kitchen skills, it has probably saved me from accidents! 🤣
Typically, Roma tomatoes are used more for sauces and salads. They’re a smaller tomato with more pulp so they reduce better and are cut up into dishes nicely. However, they will work well in a pinch. Just know that they’re going to have a little bit different taste and texture than some of the other tomato choices out there.
Make your sandwich low carb by swapping out the bread for lettuce wraps. The versatility of this recipe is what keeps it great and so simple.
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Tomato Mayo Sandwich
- 1 each Large Beefsteak Tomato Ripe
- 4 slices White Bread
- tbsp Mayonnaise to taste
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Slice tomatoes into chunky slices. Each tomato should yield 2 to 3 slices, with the ends removed. Season liberally with salt and pepper.
- Spread mayonnaise on each slice of bread. Add a tomato slice to bread, and top with an additional slice of bread. You get the gist. I'm sure you know how to make a sandwich.
Otis Frimp says
I don’t know about this being a “Southern” thing but this classic sandwich is a thing wherever good tomatoes grow. Everyone I know does this: a slice or two of perfectly ripened Beefsteak tomato, sprinkled with salt to bring out the sweetness, slather mayo on bread and press down the top bread slice just a bit to get the juices to soak into the bread. White is traditional but a good light honey whole wheat is good too. Iced tea or a cold glass of milk to go with. You don’t need anything else. If you have some “seconds” tomatoes with scars on them, it’s a good use as you can trim around the dodgy bits and who’s to know.
I loved this growing up. We would always add a slice of American cheese in there as well. It’s definitely my favorite part about summer time!
I love a tamato sandwich! It reminds me of when i was little and practically lived with my grandparents (a tornado ripped our house to shreds and i was scared to stay in a new home for fear of it happening again). They’d grow (& still do) their own tomatoes and my grandma would make bread, they were so good! Thank you for reviving this memory.
To make it less messy, toast the bread first. The heat from the break warms the mayo and makes it perfect. Also, Duke’s mayo is the only way to go.