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How to Make a Killer BLT without Mayo

Love the classic combination of bacon, lettuce and tomato, but not so fond of the mayo that somehow finds its way in? Here’s how to make a BLT without mayo.

A BLT sandwich on a white plate.

Driving down I-95 last weekend, with my kids in the back seat and music on the radio, I realized it had been so long since I’d last been on the highway that I couldn’t pinpoint the time. Was it two months ago? Three? I didn’t recall, and it was pretty clear that I’d stayed pretty local for too long.

How’d that happen? When did I become so complacent about our whereabouts? Why hadn’t we headed south or west or perhaps even north in so long? I always say that the best cure for feeling stuck — whether it’s in writing or work or life — is to get out and do something different. So why wasn’t I taking my own advice?

Clearly, I need to get out more — it’s important. Changes of scenery reinvigorate us, refreshing our perspective and making our world a little more colorful. As a writer, this is a key element to my ability to string words together in an effective, creative, interesting manner.

That ride south was good for me — and for all of us. It disrupted my perspective, which I needed so much. We often think of disruption as a bad thing — something that creates a roadblock in our path. But disruption can be a good thing too. It forces us out of our comfort zones, and beyond the borders of the figurative boxes we create. It opens our eyes and stops us from becoming complacent, which is an enemy to all things creative.

Speaking of disruption, it isn’t just good for perspective. It’s also good for other elements of our lives — including the food we eat. It’s okay to disrupt the way people think a certain food should be. Tuna sandwiches can be made with vinaigrette. Cereal can be eaten dry. And BLT’s? They don’t really need the mayo to be amazing.

Wait. What? No, really I mean it. BLT sandwiches have long been a favorite of mine, but I never use mayo. After all, what does BLT stand for? Bacon, lettuce and tomato. There’s no mayo in the name — and it’s not as essential as you might think.

Instead, I make them my own way, and it’s delightful. Here’s how to make a BLT, sans mayo.

Start with Good Bread

This shows bread slices on a wooden cutting board. Using good bread is a key step in how to make a BLT

Much like the foundation of anything — buildings, homes, relationships, careers — a killer BLT begins with a good foundation. For mine, I like a good, crusty bread with a chewy interior. It should be firm enough to stand up to the other ingredients but airy enough not to make the sandwich weighty.

The bread shown here is made by a local baker, Massimo’s Bakery. I love how crusty and flavorful their breads are. I buy loaves of this at a local grocer, Tiller & Rye, that stocks a lot of local products. You might not have a Massimo’s or Tiller & Rye near you (they are local purveyors, after all), but you hopefully do have a good local bakery that makes bread just right for your BLTs. Drop in and see, and be prepared to slice your own — it’s better that way anyway.

You’ll need a bread knife, which is serrated with a rounded end for this. Slice the pieces thing — about 1/2-inch thick works for me.

Spread it Lightly

Butter is a good sub for mayo. Here buttered bread slices are shown.

Wait, what’s that? A sub for mayo? Why not?

Remember: we’re disrupting the norm with this sandwich. So skip the mayo, if you use it, and instead spread that bread with a thin layer of softened salted butter. The better the butter, the better the sandwich. (I still usually use Kate’s Homemade Butter.)

Butter? Yes. A thin layer of butter adds a pleasant richness to this sandwich, giving it more depth. Just try it.

Go for the Thick Cut Bacon

This shows the ingredients for a BLT on a white cutting board: tomatoes, lettuce and bacon. Sliced bread sits on a wooden cutting board nearby.

Regular thinner bacon is great with your morning eggs, wrapped around dates for an appetizer and crumbled on a salad. But for a BLT, reach for the thick-cut bacon. Meatier, bolder and less likely to crumble when you hold the sandwich, it’s perfect for this sandwich. And you don’t need a lot of it: I use two to three slices in my BLTs, which is just right to add the salty, smoky richness to this sandwich.

Hint: want perfect bacon without the mess? Bake it.

Balance is Key

This shows a BLT without mayo on a white plate with German potato salad and a pickle.

So you have your bread, your butter and your bacon, what now? Well, a BLT isn’t a BLT without lettuce and tomato. A few thin slices of tomato (about 1/4-inch thick) and some crisp lettuce round out this masterpiece. Now, I know it’s tempting to go big on the bacon, but the key here is balance — you want a little of each to create a sandwich with perfect harmony.

How do you like your BLT? 

How to Make a Killer BLT without Mayo


Tuesday 14th of November 2023

I don't like mayo in any sandwich. Butter for me please.


Friday 17th of February 2023

Never mayonnaise ...... I use horseradish instead. Sometimes I'll use the milder horseradish sauce.


Saturday 19th of November 2022

That’s a simple statement. “After all what does BLT stand for?”

If someone says ham sandwich, does that mean ham and 2 slices of bread? It does in your world.

If you make a pot roast for dinner, do you make just the meat and nothing else? Or do you always say I’m making a pot roast with carrots and potatoes and onions and garlic, etc.

That statement as condescending and an accurate. It really irritated me.

Sarah Walker Caron

Monday 28th of November 2022

You got all that from one sentence? Wow. There's more power to my words than I ever imagined. Who knew, LOL? Seriously though, I hope your day improved after leaving this comment and that whatever it is that's really bothering you has resolved itself.


Wednesday 15th of April 2020

With Italian bread and ranch dressing in place of mayo ^.^ .


Monday 6th of April 2020

During these times of experimental goodness, my BLT no mayo (condiments in short supply/out) will be tasty! Have artisan bread and lightly salted butter. Dance until your feet ache, sing until your throat is sore, and love until nothing hurts anymore!

Sarah Walker Caron

Tuesday 7th of April 2020

This comment warmed my heart. Hope you had a great BLT -- without mayo!