TLT with Chipotle Mayonnaise

This is my favorite sandwich, hands down. It’s nutritious, spicy, simple and delicious! I first had a version of it in Madison, WI back in 2000. I religiously frequented the restaurant where I had it and always walked away with a huge smile, shocked that a simple sandwich could make me so happy. Ever since creating my own version I have convinced many that being vegan isn’t all that bad. The secret to the marinade is the liquid smoke. My life changed once I discovered that magical little ingredient. I generally prepare this marinade if I have time to kill when cooking a completely separate meal and let the tempeh sit in the fridge marinating until ready to use. I have also made this sandwich with extra firm tofu instead of tempeh. The result is a smokier, crispier more bacon-like flavor. I decided I preferred the ‘meatier’ texture of the tempeh but it’s awesome either way.

Tempeh Lettuce Tomato Sandwich (TLT) with Chipotle Mayonnaise

6 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
1 tbsp vegan worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp grapeseed oil (or other neutral tasting oil)
1/2 cup of warm or boiling water
1/2 tsp liquid smoke
1 package of tempeh ( I prefer turtle island’s spicy veggie tempeh), cut into 15 strips (divide into fifths then slice into thirds)

1. Bring water to a boil in a medium sized sauce pan. Reduce heat and add sliced tempeh and poach for 10 minutes to increase digestibility and the ability to absorb a marinade (optional).
2. Mix all marinade ingredients together in an airtight container. Add sliced tempeh and marinate for minimum 30 minutes, preferably overnight.

Servings per sandwich:
2 Slices of toasted bread (I use spelt or sprouted wheat)
1 roma tomato, sliced
2 romaine lettuce leaves, rinsed and torn into small pieces
2 tbsp Chipotle mayonnaise (recipe listed separately)
5 slices of marinated and fried tempeh
salt and pepper (optional)

1. Once tempeh is marinated, heat 2-3 tbsp of oil in a cast iron (or non-stick) pan over medium high heat
2. Add tempeh and cook until browned (about 5 minutes) then flip and brown the other side
3. Once cooked, place on plate lined with a paper towel to absorb excess oil
4. Spread chipotle mayo on both sides of toasted bread
5. Layer 5 slices of tempeh on one slice of bread then top with the lettuce pieces and sliced tomato. Add a dash of sea salt and fresh ground pepper to the tomatoes, if you prefer
6. Top with the other slice of bread and cut in half

Total Prep Time: 10-15 minutes to prepare marinade, 10-15 minutes to prepare sandwich
Servings: Marinated tempeh can make up to 5 sandwiches


  • If you prefer tofu, simply slice tofu into thin, 1-inch wide pieces and fry in the same way
  • I’ve made this by baking instead of frying the tempeh and it comes out great
  • When out of chipotle mayo I’ve had this with plain mayo and it’s quite tasty served that way as well



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s