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Apr 12, 2020

The Cuban Sandwich (The Cubano)

This Cuban Sandwich Recipe reflects the delicious sandwich from Florida, the birthplace of the authentic Cubano.

The Cuban Sandwich (The Cubano)

Making a Cuban sandwich requires a few extra steps, including roasting your own pork, but it is totally worth it.

I even made my own Cuban bread, or Pan Cubano de Manteca!

Cuban sandwiches are filled with mojo marinated pork, thinly sliced ham, Swiss cheese, dill pickles, yellow mustard, and salami. Then, the sandwich is buttered on the outside and grilled in a panini press. If you don't have a panini press, you can press the sandwich down with a cast iron pan, a brick wrapped in foil, or a frying pan filled with cans for extra weight.

I used a heavy cast iron pan to press down on the sandwiches while they were cooking.

The Cuban Sandwich (The Cubano) with a cast iron press

Evidently, there is a debate as to whether or not you should put salami in the sandwich. In Tampa, where there was also a large Italian community, they add salami.

The application of the mustard and the order in which you layer the ingredients is also taken very seriously. Should the mustard go on top or on the bottom?

The Cuban Sandwich (The Cubano) stacked

Tips for making the best Cuban sandwich.

First, do the best you can to layer the ingredients so that they edges align with the bread. I still had some of the ingredients slide around and peek out. Plus, the cheese on mine oozed out of the sides as the sandwiches were grilling.

If you want to make sure that your sandwich fillings stay neatly inside the bread, you can butter the outside of the bread, wrap it in foil, and grill it that way. I tried that with my second batch and it worked great at keeping the sandwiches neat, but I misjudged how brown the outside of the sandwich would get.

Hint: don't grill it any longer even if it's wrapped in foil. The foil wrapped sandwich is very portable too!

To layer the sandwiches, start with the ham, then the pork, then the salami, followed by the Swiss cheese and pickles. Spread the mustard inside the top half of the bread.

I went a little rogue and spread the bottom half of the bread with a mixture of mayo and Dijon mustard. I also added some pickled jalapeño along with the hamburger pickles.

The Cuban Sandwich (The Cubano) stacked and sliced

Ingredients in a Cuban sandwich. 

First, you will need to marinate a pork butt in a mojo sauce, which, in this case, is a mixture of olive oil, garlic, scallions, parsley, cumin, lime juice, orange juice, and salt and pepper. It's typically oil, garlic, citrus (or some kind of acid), and herbs.

Next, you will roast the pork "low and slow" in the oven. There will be enough pork so that you can serve the roast pork for dinner (it's wonderful with rice and veggies) and use the leftovers for these sandwiches.

After that, gather the following ingredients: salami (I used soppressata), deli ham (I used black forest), Swiss cheese, yellow mustard, hamburger pickles, and butter. If you want to go rogue, grab some mayo, Dijon, and pickled jalapeños.

The Cuban Sandwich ingredients

What kind of bread should you use to make a Cuban sandwich?

If you really want to be authentic, make your own Cuban bread. It is distinguished by its thin crispy crust and soft interior. Typically, it is made with lard for extra deliciousness.

If you are not a bread geek like me, you can also use Italian-style sandwich rolls with a thin crust. French-style baguettes are too crusty for this sandwich.

Cuban bread

I am completely in love with these sandwiches. And guess what? You can make these ahead of time, refrigerate them, and reheat them in the toaster oven. You can also freeze the grilled sandwiches! Just wrap them in foil, and then plastic wrap before freezing.

Between the pork, ham, salami, and the mustard, plus the pickles... this is one of my all-time favorite sandwiches. I recently discovered them when I went to Cuban restaurant for lunch. I ordered the Cubano and totally fell in love.

I just have to learn not to present the sandwiches upside down now that I know that the order of the ingredients is sacrosanct!

The Cuban Sandwich pressed

If you want to learn more, definitely check out the history of Ybor City, which is a Tampa neighborhood, to learn more about its heritage. These sandwiches are derived from mixto sandwiches from Cuba. The sandwich came to the US as a lunch for laborers in the cigar factories of the Tampa area (Cook's Country, Feb/Mar, 2020).

Ybor City, which many historians agree is the birthplace of the Cuban sandwich, has an annual Cuban Sandwich Festival.

The competition between "Tampa-style," with salami, versus "Miami-style." no salami, is fierce.

The Cuban Sandwich stacked

These Cuban sandwiches are totally worth the effort that it takes to make them. The roast pork is delicious. These sandwiches are wonderful as a main course. You could also cut them up into strips to serve them as appetizers.

More sandwich recipes you will love. 

The Cuban Sandwich pressed on plates

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Be sure to check out everyone's grilled cheese recipes! We are getting fancy with the grilled cheese!

This Cuban Sandwich Recipe reflects the delicious sandwich from Florida, the birthplace of the authentic Cubano.

Yield: 6 servings

The Cuban Sandwich

The Cuban Sandwich

This Cuban Sandwich Recipe reflects the delicious sandwich from Florida, the birthplace of the authentic Cubano.


For the Pork
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley leaves
  • 1 cup sliced scallions
  • 3 large garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 pound boneless pork butt
  • Salt and pepper
For the Sandwiches
  • 3 loaves Cuban bread (about 10 inches long each)
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 12 ounces deli sliced ham
  • 10 ounces Cuban roast pork
  • 6 ounces salami
  • 6 ounces sliced Swiss cheese
  • 18 dill pickle chips
  • 1/4 cup mustard
  • 2 tablespoons pickled jalapeños (optional)
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter


How to cook The Cuban Sandwich

To Make the Pork
  1. In a food processor, pulse the cilantro, parsley, scallions, garlic, cumin, lime juice, orange juice, and olive oil until combined. 
  2. Place the pork into a zip lock bag and add the marinade ingredients. 
  3. Coat the pork with the marinade and place the pork in the refrigerator overnight. 
  4. Heat the oven to 275 degrees F. Bring the pork to room temperature. 
  5. Place the pork into a large baking dish, fat side up, and season with salt and pepper. Discard the marinade. 
  6. Cover the pan with foil and bake for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours, until the pork reaches about 180 degreed F. 
  7. Remove the pork from the oven and let it rest for about 10 minutes. 
  8. Slice the pork and place the slices into a bowl. After skimming off the fat, add the juices to the bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve. 
To Make the Sandwiches
  1. Slice the Cuban bread lengthwise and then cut each crosswise. 
  2. Mix the mayo and Dijon and spread it on the bottom pieces of bread. 
  3. Divide and layer on the ham, pork, salami, Swiss cheese, pickles, and pickled jalapeño among the the breads. 
  4. Spread the mustard on the bread tops. 
  5. Melt a tablespoon of butter in a nonstick skillet over medium low. 
  6. Heat the oven to 200 degrees F and place a baking sheet on the center rack. 
  7. Place two of the sandwiches in the skillet and place a cast iron pan on top. 
  8. Cook until the bottoms are golden brown, about 5 to 7 minutes. 
  9. Brush the tops of the sandwiches with melted butter and flip them over. 
  10. Top with the cast iron skillet and continue to cook for another 3 to 5 minutes. 
  11. Transfer to the oven and repeat with the rest of the sandwich ingredients. 
  12. Cut the sandwiches in half to serve. 
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Would you like to comment?

  1. That Cubano looks absolutely perfect Karen. Happy Easter to you and yours.

  2. This is one of my husbands favorite sandwiches. I need to make him one soon!

  3. Totally worth making! Karen, this sandwich sounds delicious!

  4. I love, love, love a cuban sandwich and so many don't measure up. Looks like you've got it down here--can't wait to try it!

  5. I have never had one, but the layers of flavors sound fabulous to me.

  6. I had my first one in Colombia and was hooked. I am totally making this. It's making my mouth water just looking at it.

  7. Hi there, I found your blog via Google while searching for such kinda informative post and your post looks very interesting for me. se come

  8. I have read about the origin of the cuban sandwich in Florida and it originated in Ybor City in Tampa where the first settlers from Cuba settled in.In addition to this Ybor City is the only place in Florida where there are bakeries that make the authentic cuban bread for the cuban sandwich.Umlesd the cuban bread is made a certain way like it is made in Tamoa,You will not get an authentic cuban sandwich.You either have to go to Tampa or eat at the Columbia Restaurant to get a real delicious cuban sandwich.You can put all the right ingredients to make a cuban sandwich but if the bread isn't made a special way,then it will not be the same quality.


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