The Ingredient Swap You Should Try For The Most Flavorful BLT

Substitutions are a lifesaver when you're in the middle of cooking a specific dish. Imagine being in the cooking zone and then finding you lack a key ingredient. Panic ensues, you tear apart your pantry or fridge and lament neglecting to create a mise en place (per Webstaurant Store). Fortunately, not only are there many handy swaps for these common culinary quandaries — there are some that may actually serve to improve the dish and reach a point of perfection that the original ingredient could not.

For example, it might seem that a simple sandwich like a BLT (whose name is literally the three ingredients between the bread slices) wouldn't be possible without its signature bacon, lettuce, and tomato. Making it is pretty self-explanatory, but it's worth noting that the BLT hasn't had to change since it surfaced in 1920s British cookbooks (per George's Burgers). That doesn't mean we shouldn't make a good thing even better. There are several easy ways to make this crunchy classic even more crave-worthy, and everyone from home cooks to celebrity chefs knows what to do.

BLT with creamy Italian dressing

Answering a question posed by one Redditor on what ingredients home cooks often swap out during their cooking, one user shared "I use creamy Italian dressing instead of mayo. Try it when you're making a BLT sandwich. It's next level," (per BuzzFeed). This will produce a festival of appealing tastes and textures similar to creamy BLT pasta salad, like Better Homes & Gardens' recipe or a creamy Italian pasta salad – but without the work of boiling pasta, grating cheese, and chopping anything beyond lettuce and tomato.

In case you haven't tried it, creamy Italian dressing is like its oil and vinegar-based counterpart, but with mayonnaise and sometimes other unctuous additions like sour cream, as in Food Network's creamy Italian dressing recipe. It adds an herbal dimension to the sandwich to complement its salty, smoky bacon, rich thick-cut tomato, and cool and crisp lettuce. Making your own at home is easy, and both cheaper and healthier than buying bottled stuff, which can contain excess fat, sugar, and unnecessary ingredients. For extra points, make your own mayo — it's better than store-bought!

Bacon, lettuce, tomato, and then some

The spread is just one way to up your BLT game. Some celebrity chefs go all out with their BLT recipes. According to Insider, Bobby Flay's rendition uses fried red tomatoes and shrimp salad. Ree Drummond combines mayo with the adobo from a can of chipotle peppers for a spicy, smoky kick — then double-stacks the sandwich for a Monster BLT. Not everyone enjoys "crunchy water," so why not try peppery arugula, like in Giada De Laurentiis' Smoked Salmon BLT? Or add avocado as Ina Garten does in her California BLTs, lending a buttery richness to the sandwich that's perfectly on-brand for her famous comfort cooking.

Other BLT substitutions/additions include fried egg (of course Gordon Ramsay would agree), fresh basil and/or butter (a la Martha Stewart), cheese, and onion. Tips for making the perfect BLT include using quality mayonnaise and clean, thoroughly-dried lettuce, says Garten. Ripe, juicy, in-season tomatoes – particularly beefsteak varieties — are best, and good bread, often toasted, is mandatory. While some may argue that with anything original swapped out, it's longer a true BLT — but consider it a simply delicious foundation to build upon.