Mmmerica / Sandwich Recipes

Sandwich Recipes

Infographic of Sandwich

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Many cultures around the world have their own versions of the sandwich, from matzo sandwiches eaten at the first Passover to panini, shawarma, and kati rolls. The United States has an assortment of its own sandwich specialties, both regional and nationwide. This all-in-one meal can include ingredients from many food groups, including grains, protein, vegetables and dairy. Sandwiches are easy to make, usually requiring no cooking, and portable, making them the perfect lunch on the go.

The sandwich as we know it today is attributed to John Montagu, the Fourth Earl of Sandwich in England. Legend has it he was too involved in a round of gambling to pause for dinner. His servant brought him a meal that could be easily and neatly eaten while he played: two slices of bread with meat contained between them – and thus the sandwich was born.

In the United States, sandwiches became especially popular during the Civil War as an easy meal to pack and eat on the road. Since then, the sandwich has become an essential part of the American diet in diverse combinations. They are served at delis and restaurants around the country with sides like french fries, potato chips, salad, potato salad, and coleslaw.

Several great American sandwiches have already been featured in our previous articles on regional specialties, including the Philly cheesesteak, sloppy Joes and loose meat sandwiches, the Cubano, Italian beef sandwich, and the Thanksgiving leftover sandwich.

Subs, Hoagies, Heroes, and Grinders

Several varieties of sandwiches follow a very similar recipe: a long roll of bread, cut lengthwise and filled with sliced meats, cheese, veggies, and condiments like mayonnaise and mustard. Italian meats like salami, mortadella, and prosciutto top a baguette lined with cheese (to prevent the bread from getting soggy) along with shredded lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, and other vegetables. These sandwiches were created in the United States by Italian American immigrants in the Northeast and served at Italian delis and restaurants.

The submarine, or sub sandwich, has been a staple of Italian American communities in the Northeast, especially Massachusetts, since the nineteenth century. It probably earned its name during World War I, because of the oblong bread’s resemblance to Navy submarines. The name sub is one of the more common names for this type of sandwich, and is used across the country, probably in part because of the nation

The hoagie is Philadelphia’s version of this sandwich, which may be derived from the shipyard called Hog Island, which was frequently used during World War I. The hoagie became the official sandwich of Philadelphia in 1992, though it was probably first created in the state in the city of Chester in 1925. The bread of the hoagie is often hollowed out to make room for the many ingredients.

The Norristown, Pennsylvania version of the sandwich is called the zep, which is served on a round roll instead of a long one, and contains only one meat (usually salami), provolone, tomatoes, and onions. The zep is named after the zeppelin, the German aircraft carrier used during World War I.

New York City calls this sandwich the hero, which may have been derived from the Greek sandwich, called a gyro. Grinders are another regional variant of the sub sandwich, often made on Italian focaccia bread, and sometimes served toasted.

Po’ Boy

The po’ boy sandwich, shortened from “poor boy,” is the Louisiana version of the sub, first served around the Great Depression. The name may have come from the sandwich coming free with a drink at some restaurants. The po’ boy is a loaf of French bread, usually filled with fried shrimp or another type of seafood, and coleslaw. The po’ boy now comes in a variety of ways, including with beef rather than seafood, and covered in gravy. Traditional Cajun and Creole sides often accompany this sandwich.


Another New Orleans specialty is the Italian-influenced sandwich called the muffuletta, which was invented at Central Grocery in New Orleans in 1906. The muffuletta is a sandwich made on a round roll like focaccia, which contains an olive salad called Giardiniera (made from olives, celery, cauliflower, carrot, and olive oil), and filed with meats, like salami and ham, and cheeses.

Monte Cristo

The Monte Cristo is a French-influenced sandwich, found across the United States in many variations. Ham and cheese (usually Emmental or Gruyere) are sandwiched between two slices of bread, which are then dipped in egg or batter and fried in a pan. The process is similar to making French toast, and some varieties of this sandwich are dusted with powdered sugar like French toast.

French Dip

The French Dip sandwich, despite its name, was probably created in Los Angeles, California. The sandwich is served on a soft roll of French bread, topped with roast beef. The French Dip sandwich is served au jus, or with juice, which is a thin brown beef gravy. Some restaurants serve French Dip after dunking into the juice, rather than serving it on the side, giving the sandwich ample time to soak in the juices.


 The Reuben is a specialty claimed by both Nebraska and New York, and is a German-influenced hot sandwich made with corned beef, Swiss cheese, and sauerkraut on rye (or pumpernickel) bread. Thousand Island or Russian sauce is spread on the bread, and then the sandwich is grilled so the cheese melts, gluing everything together. A variation on the Reuben is the Rachel, which is made with pastrami instead of corned beef.

Grilled Cheese

A slice of American cheese sandwiched between two slices of American-style sliced white bread, buttered and broiled or fried in a pan make up this classic American specialty. The grilled cheese sandwich grew in popularity during the Great Depression as a cheap and delicious meal. This simple sandwich has become a traditional American comfort food, often eaten with a side of tomato soup on rainy days. Gourmet variations on the grilled cheese sandwich have arisen in recent years, which include different types of cheeses, like Swiss, cheddar, or brie.

Peanut Butter and Jelly

The peanut butter and jelly sandwich, often known colloquially as a PB & J, is another classic American sandwich. The peanut butter and jelly are spread on two slices of American sliced bread, usually white bread, but sometimes wheat, and then joined. Options for a standard peanut butter and jelly sandwich include crunchy or creamy peanut butter, several flavors of jelly or jam including strawberry and grape (the classic flavors), blackberry, and marmalade.

More complicated peanut butter and jelly sandwiches can include other ingredients, like honey or bananas. The fluffernutter sandwich uses peanut butter on one side and marshmallow cream on the other, for a sweet treat. The Elvis sandwich, named for the celebrity that loved to eat them, is made from peanut butter, bananas, and bacon.