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



Spicy BBQ Tempeh

I made this the other night with garlic mashed potatoes and miso gravy. Yum! It was really simple to throw together and had just the right amount of spice. I bet this would be good in a sandwich as well.

Spicy BBQ Tempeh

1 package tempeh, cut in half lengthwise and then cut into quarters for a total of 8 pieces
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup hot water
2 tbsp grapeseed oil (or any neutral oil)
1 tbsp spicy chili paste, such as sambal oelek ground fresh chili paste
1/4 cup bbq sauce
1/2 tsp liquid smoke
1/2 tsp garlic and onion powder mixture or 1/4 tsp of each
1/4 tsp marjoram
1/4 tsp cayenne (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375
2. 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.
3. Mix the rest of the ingredients and set aside.
4. Drain tempeh and add marinade to the sauce pan on medium heat. Add more water or soy sauce if tempeh is not mostly covered. Simmer for 10 minutes.
5. Place tempeh and marinade in an oven-proof glass baking dish, spread out as much as possible
6. Bake in oven for approximately 45 minutes, turning once, until the marinade has been absorbed

Total Prep and Cooking Time: 1 1/2 hours
Serves 2-4


  • I lined my baking dish with parchment paper to make clean up easier
  • You could also marinade this overnight before baking for a deeper, richer flavor