Cuban Sandwich Recipe

A traditional Cuban sandwich recipe (aka El Cubano) is a delicious pressed sandwich made with sliced ham, roasted pork, Swiss cheese, dill pickles, lots of butter and mustard all on crispy bread – it’s great to serve all year round and for any outdoor activity!

A close up of a cuban sandwich, showing the pork and ham with a glass of beer in the background.

TRADITIONAL CUBAN SANDWICH RECIPE

Talk about your grown up grilled ham & cheese.

The Cuban Sandwich is one of my husband’s absolute favorites. Any time he brings home a pork shoulder or butt, I know the aroma of mojo and grilled bread will soon be in the air. I can’t help but get a little excited. Cubanos are so delicious!

Two cuban sandwiches sitting on a wooden cutting board.

How Did The Cuban Sandwich Get Its Name?

The Cuban Sandwich supposedly originated in Cuba in the 1800s, but the credit is shared with Miami, Florida where the people of Cuba often and easily traveled to. This sandwich is believed to have been a common lunch for cigar factory and sugar mill workers in Cuba and Key West. It moved North with the cigar business to Tampa, Florida in the mid-1880s.

By the 1960s, they were all over Miami when the city saw an influx of Cuban immigration due to Fidel Castro’s rise to power. Nowadays, there are variations of the sandwich all over the country, but the basics remain the same.

An overhead shot of a cuban sandwich.

What Is In A Cuban Sandwich?

  • Cuban Bread – It all starts with the bread. Look for a long, soft loaf of white bread. They can be found in any Hispanic bakery, but in a pinch opt for a loaf of long French or Italian bread.
  • Roasted Pork – Using homemade roasted (mojo!) pork in the sandwiches is preferred, but most delis sell a sliced version that will also do if your cravings get the best of you!
  • Sliced Deli Ham – Feel free to use your favorite kind of ham.
  • Cheese – Swiss is tradition, but Provolone and Gruyere are other suitable options if you prefer them.
  • Dill Pickles – Gotta be dill.
  • Mustard – Classic yellow. None of that brown or Grey stuff.
  • Butter – The more, the better. You’re gonna need napkins for this sammie!

A Cuban Sandwich with a toothpick in it, a beer, fries and a pickle.

How To Make My Traditional Cuban Sandwich Recipe

  1. Cut a loaf of Cuban bread in half lengthwise, and flip both halves so the cut side faces up.
  2. Spread mustard both halves of bread, the smear one half with some butter. How much is completely up to you…but if you don’t need napkins when you eat it, you didn’t use enough.
  3. Layer the Swiss cheese on both halves of bread – this creates your “glue” for the meats and pickles.
  4. Place layers of ham and pork on the buttered half, then carefully top with pickles and the top half of bread.
  5. Smear more butter all over the outside of the sandwich, then wrap it in aluminum foil, press it, and grill it up! You can cook it on an outdoor or indoor grill, panini press, “plancha” griddle, or between two cast iron skillets.

Two halves of a cuban sandwich stacked.

More sandwich recipes to try:

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A Cuban sandwich cut in half

Cuban Sandwich

An authentic Cuban sandwich (aka El Cubano) is a delicious pressed sandwich made with sliced ham, roasted pork, Swiss cheese, dill pickles, lots of butter and mustard all on crispy bread - it's great to serve all year round and for any outdoor activity!
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Course Lunch or Dinner
Cuisine Cuban
Servings 4 sandwiches
Calories 901kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 loaf Cuban bread (8”-12”) sliced lengthwise
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter softened
  • ¼ cup yellow mustard or to taste
  • 1 pound ham sliced
  • 1 pound roasted pork sliced
  • 8 ounces Swiss cheese sliced
  • 2 dill pickles sliced lengthwise

Instructions
 

  • Spread the mustard on the inside of both halves of bread. Spread 2 tablespoons of butter on the inside of the bottom half of the bread.
  • Layer the Swiss cheese on both halves of bread. Place a layer of ham and then pork on the buttered half, then carefully top with pickles and the top half of bread.
  • Spread the remaining butter all over the outside of the sandwich, then wrap it in aluminum foil and press down gently. (Cut the sandwich in half and wrap separately if cooking on the stovetop. Leave sandwich unwrapped if using panini press.)

On the Grill:

  • Heat your grill to high and close the lid. After 15 minutes, lower the heat to medium-high.
  • Place the wrapped sandwich on the grill, then set a heavy, heat-resistant object like a grill press or cast iron pan on top. Close the lid and grill for about 5 minutes, then flip and repeat.
  • Remove the sandwich from the grill and unwrap it. Return it to the grill and grill for 2-3 minutes per side, or until crispy and golden brown.

In a Panini Press:

  • Butter both sides of the panini press and press sandwiches with medium pressure until crisp on both sides, 8-10 minutes.

On the Stovetop/Griddle:

  • Preheat a large cast iron skillet, or griddle over medium heat.
  • Place the wrapped sandwich on the skillet/griddle, and use another skillet or heavy object to press it down with as it cooks. Flip and repeat until sandwich is crispy and hot.
  • Cut the sandwich at an angle into smaller portions and serve while warm.

Notes

If you can't find Cuban bread, a french loaf would be an appropriate substitute.

Nutrition

Calories: 901kcalCarbohydrates: 33gProtein: 72gFat: 52gSaturated Fat: 26gCholesterol: 224mgSodium: 2230mgPotassium: 907mgFiber: 2gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 885IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 510mgIron: 4mg
Keyword cuban sandwich

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Traditional Cuban Sandwich photo collage

 

Erica

Erica is a Florida-bred, Dominican-wed, nerdy foodie with an eye for pretty photos and incurable wanderlust, who learned everything she knows in the kitchen and about life from her Nana. She discovered her love of food at a young age and launched The Crumby Kitchen in 2014, where she shares her kitchen triumphs with a bit of sass and panache.

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  1. “Authentic” Cuban sandwich? You might want to do some research, as the “mixto” does not come from Cuba, and there is almost no connection to Key West at all. If you said Miami, I could understand the mistake but there is no historical connection to Key West. And the mixto was being made in Ybor City when Miami was still swampland. They use tomatoes, and lettuce on their “Cuban sandwiches” in Key West. So if you were making an authentic Key West Cuban it would have those ingredients. The version you are making is the Miami version. But a true authentic mixto has salami on it..hence the name mixto. It was only ever called a Cuban by Saxons who saw Cubans making and eating them. This is also true for what we know as Cuban bread. Also invented in Ybor City, and the only true Cuban bread comes from the LaSegunda bakery in Ybor City, who ships their bread to Miami and Key West for the sandwich makers there. All that being said, they ate all delicious, even if not all are truly “Authentic”!