An easy version of a Cuban sandwich, also known as a Cubano. This delicious sandwich starts with a slightly sweet bread, and offers layers of flavor with seasoned pork roast, sliced ham, swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard. It is seriously delicious, and my go to sandwich!
There is just something about a Cubano that I can’t resist. Maybe it is the hearty, savory, flavor packed punch in every bite, or maybe because it is something so simple that is also just so good!
After ordering a lot of Cuban sandwiches across Florida (on a recent trip), I decided I better go home and make my own version. And like everything here at EZPZ, I wanted to make sure it consisted of easy to find ingredients, and simple techniques so anyone can duplicate this deliciousness.
What You Need to Make Cubano Sandwiches
The beauty of the Cubano is the layers and layers of flavor, so each ingredient should be chosen for the flavor it adds, making the selection of each ingredient paramount to the success of the sandwich as a whole.
There is some debate over how to make a cubano, and I have to say, for me, the best Cuban sandwich is the one with easy to find ingredients and nothing too complicated. So here is what you need to make this delicious deli style sandwich:
- Diced dill pickles– Chose your favorite brand of dill pickles. Sour pickles is the staple of this sandwich, so chose wisely.
- Banana peppers– This takes this sandwich up a notch, and so do not skip it.
- Potato sandwich rolls– Traditional Cuban sandwiches use a sweet Cuban bread, but I couldn’t find it. So to get the best outcome I subbed Potato Rolls. If you can find the Cuban sweet bread, switch to that.
- Mayonnaise– Make your own homemade mayo, or buy a quality brand. I like Hellman’s.
- Yellow mustard– Again, chose a quality mustard.
- Deli ham– I like the Black Forest ham for this recipe as it tends to have the best combo of spices and seasonings. But any cured ham will do.
- Cold roast pork- Roasted pork leg or shoulder is traditional for a Cubano. I love a good mojo marinated pork for these sandwiches, but the beauty of a sandwich is the ease, so use whatever roast pork you have on hand.
- Swiss cheese– Do not sub for a different cheese, the flavor from the swiss cheese compliments everything very well.
- Unsalted butter– Yep! What isn’t better with butter?
What Is Cuban Bread?
Cuban bread is the foundation of a good Cuban sandwich. It is slightly sweet, soft, a little crusty, and similar in shape to Italian bread and tends to have a crispy crust like a baguette.
Unfortunately, without going to a speciality store or bakery, I couldn’t find Cuban bread in my local grocery store. So, what I did was try a bunch of other bread options to try and find one that would approximate the flavor as well as the texture, to give my Cubano the best end results.
A potato roll is the ticket here. It is soft, slightly sweet, has some density, and some crust, making it perfect to hold up this hearty sandwich.
What’s the Best Ham for Cubano Sandwiches?
Again, big fan of use what you have. However, cured ham is the best option for this recipe. I love a good Black Forest ham. And suggest having the deli slice it for you. Black Forest ham is cured with more seasonings and spices, and adds more dimension of flavor than a boiled ham. Smoked ham is another great option.
What’s the Best Roast Pork for Cuban Sandwiches?
Traditional Cuban sandwiches either have a mojo marinated pork roast or Pernil, which is roasted pork leg or shoulder. It is typically boldly seasoned with garlic and other herbs, and slow roasted. When selecting the pork for your Cubano, consider the flavor it will add.
How to Make Cubans
Making a Cuban is easy. Once you have assembled your ingredients, it is all about the layering. So start with quality ingredients, and layer, layer, layer. You want layers or saltiness and savory deliciousness, when combined, the flavors are bold, distinct, and delicious. You won’t want to stop eating.
Tip: if you want a Tampa style Cubano, add some salami. Otherwise, leave as is.
Step One: Spreads
The first step in a great Cubano is layering the spreads. You want to place mustard on the bottom bun, and mayo on the top. This is the foundation for all the other layers. The layers are thoughtful and deliciously placed, so pay attention.
Step Two: Layer Ham and Roast Pork
On top of the yellow mustard, place your ham and roast pork. There is some debate about whether the pickle mixture should go between the layers of ham and pork, but I prefer it on top, where the cheese can melt into the various crevices and hold it all together. However, feel free to adjust the layer to your preference.
Step Three: Pickle and Pepper Mix, Cover in Cheese!
You are going to take diced pickles and diced banana peppers and mix them together, then use them to create the next delicious layer in this sandwich.
Then cover that with Swiss Cheese!
Step Four: Brush Top
Now that your sandwich is assembled, the top bun in place, it is time to make it really special by squishing it all together. But first, you want to brush the top with butter.
Step Five: Heat and Squish
We are ready for the pan. You have layers and layers of flavor, and you could stop here and just eat it, but the real magic happens when you heat everything up and squish it all together. So it is now time to put it into a sandwich press like a panini press, or into a large skillet.
No Panini Press? No Problem!
Cuban sandwiches are traditionally heated on a panini press, which squishes all the lovely layers together to give you a flavor explosion in each bite. However, if you do not have one, there are options.
What I did was place my sandwich in a heavy cast iron skillet, and top it with a second heavy cast iron skillet or pot.
Nestle them together, and heat them both up on the stovetop. Then add the sandwich to one, and place the other on top. Your Cubano will be sandwiches between two hot pans, and it will act just like a press. Other options include a foil-wrapped brick, or a burger press, or really anything you can heat up, and set on top. Do not let the lack of a panini press stop you from making a Cuban.
Once both sides are nice and toasted, and it is flattened, and squished together, slice it in half and enjoy! Seriously, it is so good.
This recipe is so perfect for a lunch at the park, or an easy dinner, and I love pairing it with:
Tips and Tricks
Making this recipe is Eazy Peazy…
- Tip One: The Best Ingredients Make the Best Sandwich
Because this is a no fuss recipe, and you are mostly just assembling things in the correct order, the quality of your ingredients really matters here. So pick your favorites and the highest quality you can for the best results.
- Tip Two: Gather First
This is a quick process, and you want to layer, finish assembling, and cook quickly so nothing gets soggy etc. The best way to do this is while your pans or press heats, you assemble everything else you need, then once hot, layer! Having everything ready will make for a better end result.
- Tip Three: Make your Own
I purchased roasted pork to make this super easy, but it is also great when you make it on your own, simply cook it to 145 degrees F so it stays tender and juicy for your sandwich.
- Tip Four: Customize
I Love making recipes my own, and have tried this recipe with a variety of pickles, from sweet and hot, bread and butter, and dill. Substituting different pickles can change the flavor profile, and make it even more fun. Don’t be afraid to mix things up a little for your personal preferences.
Where Did the Cuban Sandwich Originate?
Like the name suggests, the Cuban sandwich was said to have been brought to Florida by immigrant workers, and has now become the unofficial sandwich of Tampa and Miami. You can seriously find these sandwiches everywhere. And they can come with some variations or differences. For example, the Tampa Cuban often has Salami on it as well. I like to keep it pretty simple.
The Key West version is a little different. It is called a “mixto” or mix, and boasts lettuce, tomatoes, etc. I prefer the basic version, and skip those frills, but you do you!
Make Ahead and Storage
How to make this recipe ahead of time: because this is a hot sandwich, I think it is best fresh off the panini press. However, when it was originally brought to the US by immigrant workers, it was done so as a way to have a hearty meal that kept well all day. So it is something that you can make ahead, especially if you use a crusty bread that won’t get soggy.
However, this is not a recipe you want to make too far in advance, or freeze and reheat. It is quick, and easy. So if you want to prep ahead, get your ham and roast pork ready ahead, but assemble and cook just before serving.
Other Great Recipes:
- Easy Chicken Club Sandwich
- Sandwich Bread
- Fried Egg and Avocado BLT with Cheese
- Italian Hero Sandwich
- Easy Slow Cooker French Dip Sandwiches
- ⅓ cup dill pickles diced
- ⅓ cup banana peppers diced
- 4 potato sandwich rolls
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 ½ tablespoons yellow mustard
- ¼ pound deli ham sliced thin
- ½ pound cold roast pork sliced thin
- ¼ pound swiss cheese sliced thin
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- Combine the pickles and peppers in a small bowl. Set aside
- If not pre-sliced, slice the rolls in half and spread the top half with mayonnaise and the bottom half with mustard.
- Layer ham, roast pork, pickle mixture, and Swiss cheese on top, in that order. Or, place pickle mixture between the ham and the roast pork.
- Place the tops of the rolls over everything and use your hand to press down to flatten the sandwiches.
- Heat the large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat for 4 minutes. Meanwhile, heat a large pot or dutch oven on a separate burner over medium low heat for 4 minutes.
- Or Skip the above step and preheat a panini press.
- Brush the tops of the sandwiches with melted butter and place them in the heated skillet buttered side down. Brush the bottom rolls with the remaining butter and use the preheated dutch oven and press it down on the sandwiches for 15 to 20 seconds, as this acts as a sandwich press. Just be sure to use hot pads so you don’t get burned. After the 15-20 seconds, stop pressing, but leave pot on top of sandwich.
- Cook until the first side is golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the pot, flip the sandwiches over, replace the pot on top of the sandwiches, and cook until they other side is also golden brown, another 3 to 4 minutes.
- Remove from pan, slice in half, and serve warm!
Our recipe card software calculates these nutrition facts based on averages for the above ingredients, different brands, and quality of produce/meats may have different nutritional information, always calculate your own based on the specific products you use in order to achieve accurate macros for this recipe.
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