Good old-fashioned BLTs are just about the easiest – and possibly most delicious – sandwich around, and this Tofu BLT brings vegans and vegetarians into the mix!
The Story Behind the Recipe
When I became a vegetarian a dozen or so years ago (where does the time fly?!), I just sort of gave up on BLTs. I mean, without bacon, they’re just a lettuce and tomato sandwich. And frankly, I have eaten a few of those. Not the best.
Then I laid my eyes on the Skillet Seared Tofu recipe in Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Suppers cookbook, and a world of vegan BLT possibilities opened up.
Anyone who cooks much with tofu is probably vaguely annoyed, like I am, with the fact that you usually need to press it. I’m just not a fan of the extra time and fuss-factor that goes into doing so. So this method intrigued me off the bat – no pressing! Just slice your tofu, saute it up, and spoon a little sauce over the top. Done and done!
It wasn’t long after discovering this delicious method of cooking tofu that I went to the bacon place with it. I wouldn’t go so far as to call this “tofu bacon,” but it definitely has that salty-smoky-sweet goodness that you find with bacon, and just like bacon, it pairs perfectly with juicy tomatoes, crisp lettuce, creamy mayo, and crusty bread in these vegetarian BLTs … er, TLTs.
(By the way – a few years after sharing this recipe, I did go to the Tofu Bacon place with this method. And it’s a staple around here.)
I thought about adding some avocados to the picture or mixing some chipotle with the mayo (or coming up with something other than mayo altogether), but ultimately, I decided to stick with the classic. It works for a reason! Well … except with tofu instead of bacon.
For the Smoky Seared Tofu:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 14-ounce block extra-firm tofu, cut in 1/4-inch slices (no need to drain)
- Pinch kosher salt
- 1/4 cup Tamari or low-sodium soy sauce* (for gluten-free choose a GF Tamari)
- 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
For the sandwiches:
- 8 slices of your favorite crusty artisan bread (toasted) (for gluten-free use your favorite GF sandwich bread)
- Smoky Seared Tofu
- 2 large ripe tomatoes (sliced)
- 8 green leaf lettuce leaves (washed and dried) (butter lettuce is another fabulous choice)
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise (vegans use a mayo alternative such as Vegenaise)
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Set a large saute pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the olive oil. When the olive oil is hot, add the tofu along with a pinch of salt. The tofu will hiss and jump around a bit, so watch out! Cook, flipping occasionally, until golden brown on both sides, 8-10 minutes. While the tofu cooks, mix the Tamari, pure maple syrup, and smoked paprika in a small bowl. When the tofu is done, reduce the heat to low and pour the Tamari mix over the top. Cook, flipping occasionally, until the sauce has reduced and thickened, about 1 minute. Transfer the smoky seared tofu to a plate.
- Toast the bread then smear each piece with mayonnaise, as little or as much as you like – 2 teaspoons to 2 tablespoons or so. Top four pieces of bread with tomatoes; sprinkle with a touch of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the tofu, then pile with the lettuce. Top with remaining slices of bread. Cut in half and serve.
Delicious! This recipe really captures the bacon flavor. Would’ve served four if my husband and I hadn’t devoured all the tofu after our first sandwich. So yummy. Thank you!
I’ve had the same problem with the tofu – it’s hard to keep my mitts off! So glad you like the recipe!
Is there a cheaper alternative to the maple syrup that could be used for the sweetener? Pure maple syrup, no matter how much I want to get it, is out of my price range right now.
this is great! i was looking for new ways to use tofu instead of the typical stir-fry, scramble, throwing it in some ramen, etc. never thought to use it in a sandwich like this. turned out amazing, i always have these ingredients on hand so this will be a new staple. thanks!
If I made the tofu bacon prior to a camping trip do you think it would last? if so for how many days? We will have a skillet to warm it up on while camping.
I often make more than I need for one sandwich and keep it in the fridge (or even the freezer) to eat later on. It’s still great! I’d say it does well for 3-4 days in the fridge.
Delicious! I eyeballed the amounts and used braggs. I was searching for a tofu breakfast patty recipe, and this worked perfectly. Paired it with a toasted everything bagel and melted chao cheese.
Delicious. Easy to prepare. Came out perfect, looked like recipe photo. Will make again!
Wow! We all just decided to go vegan and were a bit sad to lose bacon in that decision. I searched for alternatives, found this recipe and just made avocado TLTs. This is an extremely good replacement for bacon. I am so happy I found this. Thank you Thank you Thank you!
I’m so glad you like it! It’s my fave replacement for bacon so far too – and I love that it’s so easy!
Woah! Try these!!!
Oh my goodness, this was so delicious. I’m glad I read the comments before and bought 2 blocks of tofu because one block of this tofu bacon was gone in a day! I even ate it for breakfast, lunch and dinner one day. Amazing recipe!
Ha, I have to make extra “bacon” too! 🙂 So glad you liked it.
This is the first time I have tried a “bacon” recipe, and it was SO good!!! My mother and I made it for our girls day and we both went back for seconds! Amazing recipe, where simplicity is a staple in my household, this has found its way into my recipe book! Thank you so much!
Do you think this is a good starter tofu recipe? I’m looking to eliminate meat and eggs from my diet while still cooking them for my family. I’d love some advice if you have any as well as links for other recipes that would be good for a beginner. Thanks in advance and for all that you do on the site. It’s awesome!
These are DELICIOUS. I had to use pancake syrup in place of pure maple syrup, but the tofu is still so good; the savory, bacon-y flavor comes through unexpectedly well. Even better, this recipe is very easy to make. I’ll definitely be cooking it again.
Adding a little avocado makes them even better!
Thanks so much for your review! I’m so glad you liked this recipe – it’s one of my faves. Cooking tofu this way was such a revelation for me! So easy. 🙂
I recently went vegan and have been missing my turkey sandwiches. This recipe filled the gap. Turned out delicious. Thank you kindly for sharing!
I’m so glad you like this one, Abbie! Happy holidays!
This. Recipe. Was. AMAZING!! On my husbands first bite he got a funny look and said “my body is SO confused right now” because it tasted so much like a BLT and the tofu bacon tastes ridiculously similar to bacon. I’m still a little in shock to be honest. Also, we are vegan, so I doctored up our follow your heart mayo with some lemon, white vinegar, and salt and it really jazzed the whole thing up. 5 stars for this recipe! Thank you for bringing “bacon” back into our lives
I’m so glad it was a hit for you guys! That makes me happy. 🙂 That jazzed up mayo sounds delicious – trying that next time. Thanks!
You do realize that “just use bacon instead of tofu for the meat-eaters in the house!” means, in a cutesy way (using an exclamation point!), that you’re directly advocating murdering a pig while at the same time conveniently creating a larger audience. Why are still willing to sell out animals? Aren’t you vegan yet??
My home consists of meat-eaters and a vegetarian (me). My blog reflects that; it’s no more calculated than that. (And you’re incorrect; the larger audience is actually with 100% vegan recipes, not one-dish-two-ways recipes like this one). You might be happier visiting a 100% vegan blog.
So easy and delicious!
This is a great recipe and very easy. The tofu is delicious, and the sandwich tastes just like a BLT. Thank you so much for sharing it!
Love this sandwich! I use multigrain panini buns and
I always add 1-2 teaspoons of liquid smoke as well.
Love the idea of adding liquid smoke to the tofu! Thanks so much for the review, so glad you like it! 🙂
Made this but also added some avocado and dijon mustard. Very easy and low effort!
I gave this to friends at a picnic and also to my non-vegan mum to try. Everyone loved it and many asked for seconds.