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5 BLT variations from keto to vegan & all the deliciousness in between

Stacked BLT sandwich with avocado
Photo credit: Froggery/Getty Images

The classic BLT is one of the great culinary inventions of classic American cuisine, right up there with chocolate chip cookies and cheeseburgers. Its simplicity is a thing of beauty — and the fact that tomato season lines up perfectly with there’s-no-way-I’m-turning-on-the-oven season only makes it better. BLTs are a late-summer go-to in our house for dinner, lunch and sometimes even breakfast.

Now, I’m not suggesting you have to mess with perfection, but the BLT is such a good place to start. Here are five recipe ideas (not all of them sandwiches) inspired by the beloved combo of bacon, lettuce and tomato.

Fried green tomato BLT

Fried green tomatoes are a Southern classic, but deserve to be enjoyed everywhere. Although some heirloom tomato varieties are bright green when fully ripe, the green tomatoes I’m talking about here are actually just unripe tomatoes of any variety.

Unripe tomatoes rarely make it into grocery stores (in fact, retailers put a lot of work into making sure they don’t), but their tanginess is worth seeking out at a farmers market. If you grow tomatoes, this is a great way to get a jump start on enjoying your harvest, and to use up unripe tomatoes still on the vine at the end of the growing season.

This recipe scales up easily for a dinner party.

Fried green tomato BLT

Ingredients

  • 2 large green tomatoes (about softball size)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (or as needed)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Bacon
  • Lettuce
  • Mayo
  • 8 slices of bread

Instructions

  1. Core and slice tomatoes into 1/2-inch rounds and pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in bowl. Crack egg into another, beating lightly with fork.
  3. Dip each slice of tomato first in egg, and then in seasoned breadcrumbs.
  4. Allow dredged tomatoes to rest while you heat 1/4 inch of vegetable oil in deep skillet. The oil is ready when it has a slight shimmer and when a bit of batter bubbles up immediately.
  5. Fry tomato slices in single layer until golden brown. Set on paper towels to rest.
  6. Prepare BLT as usual, substituting fried green tomato for fresh.
Fried green tomato BLT sandwich
Photo credit: jatrax/Getty Images

BLT Mason jar salad

BLTs do not travel well. The perfect blend of crispy, creamy, warm and cool dissolves into sad and mushy in about 15 minutes (not that anyone ever waits that long to eat one). But if you want to take a BLT to work, this salad can make that happen.

To make a great Mason jar salad, be sure:

  • All elements are at room temp or cooler.
  • Greens are super-dry.
  • Greens are packed tightly at the top of the jar.

MORE: This shaved-asparagus salad is basically spring in a bowl

I scaled this recipe to make three salads so I can enjoy one every other day in a work week. Make as many or as few as you’ll enjoy in a week; they keep for several days. They’re delicious served with toast (if your office is equipped with toaster) or topped with croutons.

Tasty bonuses: The tomato marinates in the dressing as it sits, and the soft-boiled egg adds creaminess and plenty of protein to help you stave off 3 p.m. hangriness.

BLT Mason jar salad

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons ranch dressing
  • 1 cup chopped tomato or cherry tomatoes
  • 6 slices bacon, fried, cooled and chopped
  • 3 soft-boiled eggs
  • 3 cups lettuce, cleaned, dried and torn

Instructions

  1. Put 2 tablespoons (or to taste) ranch dressing at bottom of each of three 16-ounce-wide mouth jars.
  2. Add layer of chopped tomato to each.
  3. Add whole egg and top with chopped bacon.
  4. Fill rest of each jar with as many greens as you can pack in and seal jar tightly. Store in fridge.
  5. To eat: Empty contents of jar, greens first, into bowl. Toss to break open egg and distribute dressing.

Keto bacon cauliflower cups with sun-dried tomato mayo

Want to skip the bread but keep the BLT goodness? A salad isn’t your only option. Try these deliciously savory lettuce cups!

Keto bacon cauliflower cups with sun-dried tomato mayo

Ingredients

  • 6 slices bacon
  • 6 ounces chopped cauliflower
  • 2 or 3 sun-dried tomatoes
  • 4 tablespoons mayonnaise (to taste)
  • 1 head lettuce (little gem or butter is ideal)

Instructions

  1. Fry bacon in large skillet. Set to rest on paper towels, but retain bacon fat in pan. Slice bacon into bite-size pieces when cool.
  2. Sauté cauliflower in leftover bacon fat until golden brown.
  3. Finely mince sun-dried tomatoes and stir into mayo.
  4. Combine bacon and cauliflower. Divide mixture among lettuce leaves.
  5. Top with sun-dried tomato mayo.

Vegan king oyster mushroom BLT

Ok, ok, I know there’s no such thing as vegan bacon, but just because you want to eat more plants doesn’t mean you have to give up all things smoky-savory-chewy-crispy-delicious. And for me, the best meat substitutes aren’t made from a dozen unidentifiable ingredients, but from plants that hold their own and don’t have to apologize for not being meat.

MORE: Our vegan beer-battered fried pickles recipe is dangerously addicting

This mushroom BLT is a great way to enjoy more adaptogen-rich mushrooms, and who doesn’t love that? Plus, king oyster and trumpet mushrooms are some of the least expensive exotic mushrooms out there. If your grocery store doesn’t carry them, try an Asian grocery.

Tip: The mushroom fibers grow vertically, so a diagonal cut will make it easier to bite through while still holding together.

Vegan king oyster mushroom BLT

Ingredients

  • 6-8 ounces king oyster mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Several grinds black pepper
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (or as needed)
  • Vegan mayo
  • Two slices bread
  • Lettuce
  • Sliced tomato

Instructions

  1. Slice mushrooms on diagonal into long strips.
  2. Combine spices, soy sauce and maple syrup in medium bowl.
  3. Add mushrooms and turn to coat. Marinate for 20 minutes, turning as needed. (You can also do this in plastic bag.)
  4. Preheat oven to 350 F. Set heatproof cooling rack on foil-lined tray.
  5. Fry mushroom slices in oil until well-browned. Rest on paper towel.
  6. Move fried mushrooms to rack and bake for 3-5 minutes until crisp at edges.
  7. Prepare sandwich as usual, substituting fried mushrooms for bacon. Spread bread with favorite vegan mayo.
Homemade Vegan King Oyster Mushroom Bacon
Photo credit: bhofack2/Envato Elements

Roasted tomatoes with bacon-y greens

This one is just straight-up blasphemous in terms of the venerable BLT, but it still has all the right elements — and I think you might forgive me once you taste it. For this variation, use any dark, leafy green you like; spinach, Swiss chard and kale work beautifully. Serve with roasted potatoes for some true comfort food.

Roasted tomatoes with bacon-y greens

Ingredients

  • 4 fist-sized tomatoes
  • Salt
  • 8 slices bacon
  • 2 bunches dark leafy greens
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs

Instructions

  1. Slice tops off tomatoes and scoop out inside, like you’re making a jack-o-lantern. Salt and set upside down on paper towels to drain for about 20 minutes.
  2. Fry bacon in deep skillet, and chop when cool.
  3. Sauté greens in leftover bacon fat with garlic and salt to taste.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  5. Combine chopped sautéed greens, bacon and cream cheese in medium bowl and stuff tomatoes with mixture, topping with bread crumbs.
  6. Arrange on baking tray and bake for 30 minutes or until tomatoes are roasted and tops are golden-brown.

Want to try a new, unique take on bacon? Learn how to make our truffle bacon below.

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