TLT Sandwich

A vegetarian TLT sandwich inspired by the classic BLT sandwich. This version includes chipotle-marinated tempeh alongside oven-roasted cherry tomatoes, a bit of shredded lettuce, and a generous avocado slather on a thin slice (or two) of great bread.

TLT Sandwich

At this point in time, no other sandwich I make is more requested. Instead of a classic BLT sandwich, I make a TLT - tempeh, lettuce, and tomato. Not an original concept, but my secret is this...every component needs to be over-the-top flavorful. Roasted Tomatoes for TLT Sandwich
My version features chipotle-marinated tempeh alongside roasted cherry tomatoes, a bit of shredded lettuce and a generous slather of avocado on a thin slice (or two) of great bread. For anyone looking for a hearty, substantial, satisfying, nutritious, and meatless lunch - it's hard to beat .
Side View of Epic TLT Sandwich
You'll need to plan ahead a bit to marinate the tempeh and roast the tomatoes, but I promise it's well worth the effort, and if you make extra you'll have sandwiches for the week. Tempeh is easy to find in most Whole Foods Markets or natural food stores - here's a link to another favorite tempeh recipe in case you are interested in other ways of using it.
Side View of Epic TLT Sandwich

I enjoy this TLT sandwich on a big, ultra-thin slice of whole wheat walnut bread - toasted until crisp. You can go the traditional sandwich route, or enjoy it open-faced. And now I'm thinking that miniature versions of these might be great bite-sized party food? 

If you're game for more tempeh inspiration, don't miss out on these tempeh recipes. And be sure to pay special attention to this Spicy Tempeh Crumble Bowl, and this Tempeh Taco Salad

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TLT Sandwich Recipe

4.8 from 5 votes

I buy the Lightlife organic flax tempeh or the grain version. A bit of crumbled goat cheese might be good too.

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup shoyu sauce (or soy sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar (or maple syrup)
  • 3 tablespoons adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers
  • 8 ounces of tempeh, cut into 1/3-inch thick strips
Roasted Tomatoes:
  • 1 small basket of cherry tomatoes (2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar (or maple syrup)
  • scant 1/2 teaspoon of salt
To Assemble:
  • 1 small head of romaine lettuce, cored, then cut into 1/4-inch ribbons
  • 1-2 large avocados, mashed with a pinch of salt just before assembling
  • 4 or 8 extra-thin slices of hearty whole grain bread, well toasted
  1. Whisk together the 3 tablespoons of olive oil, shoyu, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar and adobo sauce. Pour 1/3 of the tempeh marinade into an 8x8 baking dish (or something comparable) - you want a dish that is just big enough to hold the tempeh in a single layer - this way it will be fully enveloped by the marinade. Pour the remaining marinade over the top of the tempeh, cover and keep in the refrigerator for a couple hours, overnight or until ready to use.
  2. While the tempeh is marinating, go ahead and roast the tomatoes. Heat the oven to 375F. Cut each tomato in half and arrange them in a large oven-proof baking dish. Mix together the olive oil, sugar, and salt and pour this over the tomatoes. Gently toss them a bit, making sure they all get coated, finishing with each tomato facing cut-side up. Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes or so, until the tomatoes are shrunken and sweet.

  3. When the tempeh is done marinating heat a large pan over medium-high heat and cook the tempeh slices for a few minutes on each side. You may need to do this in batches if you don't have a big enough pan. Set the tempeh slices aside until you are ready to assemble the sandwiches.
  4. To assemble each sandwich take one slice of bread and slather a generous layer of mashed avocado. Place a small helping of the shredded lettuce on top of the avocado, a few tomatoes, then a few slices of the tempeh, and more tomatoes. Enjoy either open faced or topped with another avocado-slathered bread slice.

Serves 4.

Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 10 mins
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Recipe Rating


Made these for lunch today and they were just so delicious! I always simmer my tempeh for about 10 minutes before using as it helps to remove some of the bitterness some brands have.5 stars


This recipe looks amazing—just like all your others! I am wondering what temperature to roast the tomatoes at? I apologize if I just missed the temp or if it is common knowledge. Can’t wait to try this recipe! Thank you!


    Thanks for the catch Wendy – I usually roast these at 375F.

    Heidi Swanson

Made this sandwich tonight, without the avocado but with lettuce from my garden. Absolutely delicious!
My boys had a kick out of the TNT title and while not fond of tempeh (I never was either!) absolutely loved the sandwich and had seconds.
I had double the recipe, fearing the huge appetites of the boys, but luckily I have leftovers for my lunch tomorrow and have frozen the rest of the tempeh in the marinade to see if it keeps well.Thanks for sharing the knowledge.


I never thought I’d find myself drooling over a picture of tempeh!!


This looks gorgeous. I have some tempeh marinating in the fridge and can’t wait to make the sandwich for dinner. Thanks!
P.S. You finally motivated me to finally open a can of chipotles in adobo and I can’t wait to use the leftovers.


Wow. I absolutely love the idea of this healthy sandwich. I am not really a meat eater at lunchtime, it just seems really unnecessary. The colours are so beautiful too.


As a poor college student in a not so health-conscious and veggie-friendly town (new orleans..) this looks REALLY appealing. I eat a lot of sandwiches for lunch and dinner because the options on campus are slim. I’ll have to show this recipe to my roommates, i’m sure they would love it! (i’m still trying to convert a tofu-skeptic and i think this could be the kicker)
I’ve been reading 101cookbooks for a really long time and i just want to say how much i love it! Even though at the moment i can’t enjoy the same lifestyle it’s really inspirational 🙂


Love the idea of roasted tomatoes on a sandwich. Yummmmmmm.


H: I often buy 2 or 3 packages of tempeh and put it in the freezer, just 40 second in the microwave defrosts enough to cut, marinate, saute. Then I don’t have to worry about getting them fresh. If I run out of tofu, behold, tempeh comes out of the freezer.
Eve: I also have Refresh and love it. On the same trip to Vancouver last year, I picked up another Canadian cookbook called Rebar Modern Food Cookbook from Victoria’s celebrated Rebar Modern Food vegetarian restaurant All healthy, inspired, flavorful food.
Tempeh: my easiest, tempeh stroganoff – slice and saute tempeh in some coconut oil with a little braggs amino (or soy sauce) for flavor, until golden brown on both sides. Then add cream of mushroom soup (I use Whole Foods from the hot bar). A little nutmeg if you like and it’s an almost instant meal with nutty brown rice and a salad.


I like the play on the BLT – I would definitely eat this! Those tomatoes look outstanding!


Yummy! I just made this, with a few substitutions. I spread garlic and mustard on the sourdough I used because I didn’t have avocado, and I used sambal oelek instead of adobo – because we don’t have canned chillies in Australia. And it was amazing. I’m going to go and make another one! Thanks!


I take the lazy way out and use Morningstar Farms “Bacon Strips” in a BLT. Our local farmers market has an excellent chipotle aioli – will have to run and get some this weekend and try it out!

shira Friedman

Ooooh, the TLT. This is getting me in a sandwich mood!

Lucy V

Perfect for my cute veggie husband and me too! This looks crazy-delicious!


That is the most gorgeous vegan sandwich I have ever seen. I also like the sandwich from the movie Spanglish and will use the tempeh from this to make a vegetarian version.


I think I’m going to bite the screen!
It looks delicious!


Perfect I have 6 pints of beautiful micro cherry tomatoes from the R.R. Apple Slow Food dinner. They are waiting for some xvoo love. Thanks for the post!!

Jen Carden

Looks good! I haven’t explored tempeh in awhile and this looks like a great use. I love BLTs and TLTs look like a fantastic twist on the classic.

Allen of EOL

I have been trying to roast little tomatoes but the results have been not so great, perhaps I have been setting the oven too high. I will try your method tonight.
Love, love, love tempeh. I want to make these sandwiches to pack for our trip to the Boston Area “Pignic” (which is a gathering for Guinea Pig owners and enthusiasts…to love and enjoy the piggies, not to eat them!).
Do you think they will travel well? Os should I pack the components separately and assemble right before eating?


What a great coincidence for me: I ate tempeh last night, sliced thin, marinated in an awesome marinade, then broiled, in a Mega Protein Salad from the tasty cookbook “Refresh” (from Canadian vegan restaurant Fresh), and said “this tempeh would be great in a BLT.” Lo and behold my inbox contained this recipe today. Thanks!!


I have never tried tempeh this way, but this sounds delicious!

Deborah Dowd

I don’t chime in about tasting Heidi’s recipes that often, but here’s one I really have to add praise to. I ate it about 5 minutes after the photo above was taken. It’s one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had. It’s certainly the best with veggie protein (tofu, tempeh, seitan, etc.). Even better than the tempeh reuben that was my previous favorite.
Getting the tempeh marinated nicely is important, but as the photo shows, those awesome tomatoes are key to the flavor. The right thickness of toasted crunchy bread is necessary for texture.


Hello all:
I went to my local health food store and they three different Tempehs ( Lightlife )
I got the garden veggie and made the sandwich,
It was wonderful the sauce was just lovely and theonly thing I added was I carmelized some onions and layered them with the tomatos.. this sandwich is going to be on my list it is a 5 star.
If it was not answered before Tempeh is a very compacked soybean product and really the flavor is mild and will take on the favor of your sauce if one is used.
Heidi keep ones like this coming!


Talking about tempe, it would sound graet, if you are in Hong Kong, Japan and specially Indonesia..tempe are the one of favourite food. simple way to proceed (white beans boiled into water then poured with very little yeast and put in side some like plastic bag or leaves specially banana leaves store in the normal temperature between 15C – 25 for one night) you can cook it in the way you like…it is very delicious…someone like to try it?
I’v been tried this kind of sandwich, it’s just relly perfect taste…well done Heidi…

Nuria U. Terrenal

What a gorgeous photo!! Makes my mouth water just looking at it. And I’ve never had tempeh before. I just recently acquired a wheat allergy and had just started to read about tempeh. I’ve had avocado,tomato,lettuce, cucumber, sprout sandwiches before and LOVE them. thanks for the inspiration to try tempeh. Love your blog and photos too.


Avocados are so amazing on sandwiches! and slow roasted tomatoes…delicious!!!


This sandwich looks great, I’ve never had tempeh before.


Doesn’t that make it a TLAT? 🙂
I love tempeh, but stopped buying when I learned who owns Lightlife. Doesn’t anyone else make it??


sorry, i accidentally pressed the wrong button. to continue the recipe:
boiled the tempe in water with the mixture, add salt. once the water gone, fry the tempeh, or just leave it as it is


Definitely looks mouth-watering. Being an Indonesian, I love tempeh and often put it in between my sandwich. your recipe reminded me of another way we prepare tempeh. If anybody wants to try it: slice the tempe about 1/2 inch. Use a blender (or mortar as we do here) to mix these: shallot, garlic, corriander (seed), brown sugar


Dang that looks good and I don’t even know what tempeh is. I’m going to have to check it out. I love a toast, whole grain, veggie, avocado-ey sandwich!
I love your blog.
I may have commented a few days ago, but I made the banana cookies and love them. I even froze a bunch in balls of dough and they are good just as an unbaked frozen treat (since they have no egg they can be eaten raw!) Your friend did a great job on these.


This looks absolutely delicious! Suddenly bagged lunches everyday isn’t such a horrible thought. Now, to find some tempeh…


This looks fabulous. I’ve ventured to try a Tempeh Reuben but that’s about as far as my sandwich experiments with tempeh go (though I do love it on its own!). Looking forward to trying this.


This looks wonderful! I’ve been a long-time fan of tempeh, and who wouldn’t love it with all these other sumptuous extras? You’ve inspired me to blog about tempeh again VERY soon! 🙂

The Secret Ingredient/Season to Taste

Good lord, this looks amazing! Lately, I’ve been obsessed with adding chipotle chilis to, well, pretty much everything, and I keep homemade chipotle vegenaise on hand for emergencies. Unfortunately, I’ve been eliminating soy from my diet due to thyroid issues, but I’ll have to give this sandwich a try with seitan. Thanks for the yummy recipe 🙂


Though I’m an omnivore, I’ve been experimenting w/meatless sandwiches lately (OTHER than my standard tomato & cream cheese sandwich). This looks incredible, though I’ve never tried tempeh before. I also agree that avocado is a MUST on any _LT sandwich, whether it be bacon, chicken, etc. Can’t wait to try this!


Forget mini versions, I’d like to come to the party and eat the full sized version. That looks really, really fantastic!!!

The Wind Attack

This photograph makes you want to jump into the photo and eat everything!!
I love it . . . when a sandwich comes together!

Apres Ski

This looks really great. I might take it even further with a fried egg.


I just made a loaf of bread using your cornbread recipe (which came out more like chive bread than corn bread, but no worries). It toasts marvelously, by the way, and I could see it being tasty with this recipe!


I made this tonight, it was excellent! I can’t wait to have another sandwich tomorrow.


I have made the Vegetarian Times version of this sandwich hundreds of times and I love it more each time. Next time I am totally going to roast the tomatoes first, great idea.


WOW the photograph of that sandwich is mesmerizing.


I have never had tempeh, what does it taste like? Is it like tofu?? I may have to branch out and try something new!

Jennifer von Ebers

Even as an omnivore, I love tempeh. But, I get into a rut and end up serving it the same way again and again. This could get me out of my rut, and also use up some of the tomatoes overflowing in my garden. Thanks Heidi!

Jen (Modern Beet)

I haven’t made tempeh in a long time, and this may just be the recipe I need to get my rear into tempeh eating again.
And I ADORE avocado on BLTs. Nothing beats it, except the tomatoes. 🙂

Fit Bottomed Girl

Oooh, wow! You had me at avocado! I’ve ever tried tempeh, but I’ll give anything a spin at least once. Might be good with your cumin/curry guac recipe too. Yum.


This looks mouthwatering. Will definitely make it sometime this week. What a great idea. Thanks.


I had a tempeh reuben today at a roadside cafe in the Finger Lakes region of N.Y., where I currently live. It was delicious, mainly because as Heidi said in her post, each component was very flavorful. Big slices of soft rye bread baked that day, homemade saurkraut, lightly marinated tempeh, and a zesty vegan russian dressing – I held off on the swiss cheese but it would add another flavor dimension. With a cherry ginger ale and some tamari almonds on the side – it was a perfect lunch respite from work! Now I have to try a TLT…


I last ate tempeh in Indonesia in 1984 and have not forgotten the taste. Thank you for reminding me! I will go look for it at Wholefoods. Tks again and TC


Can I use regular full sized tomatoes? If so should I change the cooking time? Thanks for the great looking recipe!


    Not the same Stefe – the cherry tomatoes make the magic here.

    Heidi Swanson

Wow, Heidi, this is my fave sandwich too, though I must admit that I do a much-simpler version with Lightlife Smoky Tempeh strips (aka Fakin Bacon), lettuce, tomato, and vegan mayo on multigrain bread. — I LOVE the idea of roasting the tomatoes first, and a schmear of avocado just sounds divine. Can’t wait to make YOUR version!


Sarah and Jennifer Von Ebers: Tempeh is made from soy beans, but has a very different taste and texture from tofu. I can’t think of anything to compare the texture to, but it’s much less squishy and silky than tofu, more like slightly firm beans (maybe edamame?) It also has a bit more flavor than tofu, but still soaks up marinade well. It makes a good meat-substitute in sandwiches like this, stir fry, etc. I’m a vegetarian, but my boyfriend is an omnivore, and while he shys away from tofu he loves tempeh. Tempeh isn’t very expensive – just buy a pack and give it a try!


WOW! My husband-to-be and I were just talking about ways to save money and NOT eat out all the time. This is a great remedy — sandwiches for lunch and dinner!! Thanks again, Heidi, for all of your genius 🙂


I ate a lot of temphe growing up in Japan. The taste of it can vary by the marinades and flavorings you add to it. It is pretty resourceful for those who want to avoid meat.

Mr. Ruff

That looks fabulous I have not cooked with tempeh in a while will try tomorrow
when my husband is at work he doesn’t like to try fun new foods, but my kids do, we have a really nice health food store here in MN so this is a great reason to go there. What types of balsmic do you use? I have tried some of the favored ones like fig etc
Thank you


Thanks, Heidi! I just drooled on my keyboard! 🙂


This looks really good. Anything with avocado is a hit in my home. Thanks.

Mr. Ruff

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