24 Creative Summer Sandwiches
Take your lunch up a notch with easy international and classic sandwich recipes
Let's face it: most of us have been at home for a while now, and though we're slowly easing out of sheltering in place, we're still looking for innovative ways to feed ourselves and our families. Lunch options, especially, seem to get lost in the shuffle. But if, like me, you're tired of the traditional peanut butter and jelly and ham and cheese options, don't fret, because there are a lot of delicious, creative sandwich combos to choose from!
Think classics, like the best BLT or a fully loaded club sandwich, or a fresh take on a Mexican torta or Vietnamese banh mi. Some of the sandwiches are easily portable so that you can take them with you when transitioning between home and the office, while others will make any lunchtime at home feel special.
It's hard to know where summer 2020 will take us — whether it's long days working from home, returning to the office, or a local picnic or weekend road trip — but however it plays out, there's a sandwich that can satisfy any situation.
Jump ahead to:
Classic sandwiches with meat or fish
How long has it been since you built a serious sandwich piled high with cold cuts and cheese, summery vegetables, salmon, or tuna? Time to treat yourself!
“Ultimate” because you’re starting with summer’s best ripe heirloom tomatoes, seasoning them only with salt and pepper, laying in crispy thick-cut bacon, and sandwiching the works with a nice slather of mayo.
You’ve got a major hunger coming on. Satisfy it with a triple-decker sandwich loaded up with bacon, ham, and turkey, plus two kinds of pesto, avocado, and cheese.
Instead of the same-old grilled cheese, make it pizza-flavored, with marinara, mozzarella cheese, and pepperoni. You’ll build the sandwich on a sheet pan and set a second, hot sheet pan on top to bake like a big-batch panini.
As parks slowly start to open back up, these pressed sandwiches are the perfect accompaniment for a casual family outing. Simply pile Italian meats like soppressata (a sometimes-spicy dry sausage) and prosciutto, sliced cheese, and fresh basil leaves between pesto-slathered ciabatta bread, wrap it in plastic, and press the entire sandwich beneath heavy objects in the fridge overnight, allowing the flavors to mix. Then cut it into about a dozen mini sandwiches, and you'll have plenty to go around.
Another take on the pressed sandwich concept, this one features grilled eggplant, sliced mozzarella cheese, goat cheese, red peppers, prosciutto, and homemade pesto spread, all stuffed between slices of ciabatta bread that’s then pressed together and chilled. Later, chop it into transportable, snack-size portions that you can carry with you wherever you go.
Unlike a pressed picnic sandwich that’s served cold, the substantial Cuban sandwich is loaded up with both roast pork and ham, plus cheese, mustard, and pickles, and then cooked in a panini press until warm and crusty. The sandwich has been popular in south Florida since the early 20th century and may date back to the 1500s in Cuba.
Serve these up for a hearty weekday lunch. They're easy to pre-assemble and then pop in the oven when you’re ready for a warm Italian sub filled with meats (salami, pepperoni, and ham), mozzarella, and optional giardiniera, a pickled blend of veggies like cauliflower, celery, and carrots. Be sure and coat the inside of each roll with a mix of dry Italian seasoning and butter before baking for extra flavor and crustiness.
Just tuck a couple of slices of your favorite garlic summer sausage into store-bought or homemade pretzel buns along with apricot jam and mustard and manchego cheese (or asiago and Parmesan), and bake them into warm, melt-in-your mouth slider sandwiches.
Fresh figs are a delicacy, soft and honey-flavored, with a lush texture that conjures up thoughts of lingering summer afternoons and flora-filled gardens. Pair them with salty prosciutto, peppery arugula, and a creamy cheese (tangy goat cheese or buttery mascarpone) and roll them together for a portable lunch to enjoy in the backyard — or wherever you’re headed.
It's a choose-your-own-adventure smorgasbord with these healthy summer sandwiches, bringing together smoked salmon with whatever ingredients you have on hand. Served open-face, they’re easy to make and a definite eye-pleaser on any lunch table. To create the perfect sandwich, Fed Up Foodie provides a list of potential breads (bagels, sourdough...), cheeses (cream, goat...), and toppings (asparagus, heirloom tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs...), and even suggests strawberry slices or pomegranate seeds to offset the saltiness of the salmon.
In this summery tuna sandwich, Greek yogurt takes the place of the usual mayo, the tuna is water-packed, and the wrapper is a whole-wheat tortilla. Fresh veggies seal the (healthy) deal.
Vegetarian sandwiches and vegan sandwiches
The traditional hand-held meal can still be plenty creative and filling without including meat or in some cases, even cheese.
Here’s another take on a grilled cheese sandwich, but with pesto as well as fresh mozzarella cheese and summer tomatoes. If you don’t have a panini grill you can use a skillet.
Created at the Central Market in New Orleans in 1906, the classic muffuletta is known for its Sicilian combination of meat, cheese, and especially olive salad. In this version the meat gets a pass and the olives are augmented with grilled eggplant, roasted peppers, fresh basil, crisp lettuces, and regular or vegan mozzarella.
A sandwich to please vegans, vegetarians, and meat-lovers alike, this recipe brings together a rich, homemade maple whiskey barbecue sauce with extra-firm tofu to soak up the flavor. Grilling tofu is surprisingly easy, but pan-frying works well, too. Grilled onions and peppers take the flavor up a notch.
Another sandwich recipe to satisfy all types of diets and palates, this one utilizes jackfruit — a vitamin-packed and fiber-rich tropical fruit that has the stringy consistency of pulled pork when cooked. Yummy Mummy Kitchen suggests using canned jackfruit, which is more readily available and easier to manage than fresh. Just place it in a slow cooker with spices, veggie broth, and BBQ sauce (and a bit of optional beer for added flavor). Once the jackfruit is ready to pull apart, stir in some protein-rich cannellini beans, and serve it all up on buns with coleslaw and avocado.
Think of this as a plant-based tuna salad with a twist: protein-heavy sandwiches that sub in chickpeas for fish, and crunchy walnuts for the usual celery. Rather than mayonnaise, there's a healthy helping of Greek yogurt mixed with Dijon mustard, honey, and scallions for a creamy texture and zesty taste.
Favorite international sandwiches
Stir up thoughts of oversea travels (and travels inside the U.S., where you'll find versions of the recipes here) with these flavorsome summer sandwiches.
Pair the sweetness of peach slices and fresh basil with a slightly salty Thai peanut sauce for some grilled vegan goodness. Slices of sourdough or a pullman loaf — a soft, square white bread — work especially well for this recipe.
From Nice in southern France, the home of salade Niçoise, comes a sandwich with similar key ingredients of tuna, hard-boiled eggs, and olives. Bon Appétit’s refreshing version throws in fresh fennel, cucumber, and arugula.
Kirbie’s Cravings was inspired by the soft and fluffy egg salad sandwiches sold in both Japan and Los Angeles to make her version, with hard-boiled eggs, kewpie mayonnaise (a sweeter, creamier version of American-style mayo, which is a fine sub) and pieces of soft-cooked egg. You can bake your own Japanese shokupan milk bread if you’re feeling ambitious, or use any favorite white sandwich bread.
The crusty style of Mexican sandwich called a torta gets stuffed here with roasted chicken breasts seasoned with two kinds of dry chili, pickled jalapeños, and a zippy cilantro lime mayonnaise.
Versions of Vietnamese banh mi have proliferated the past few years as the fresh and lively sandwiches have gotten popular. This one, from Australia, combines spicy ground pork (aka “pork mince”) meatballs with crunchy carrot, cucumber, and cilantro.
Instead of deep-frying falafel balls, bake patties in a hot oven in a little oil. Tuck them into pita bread with a tahini drizzle, sour pickles, and cucumber as they do in Israel (where the creator Chrissy Teigen’s co-author, Adeena Sussman, lives).
Simple, pan-grilled Indian sandwiches filled with sliced cucumber, tomato, and onion are plenty exciting when you include a key ingredient, fresh green chutney (hari chutney).
Chicken sandwiches are coated in panko and sauteed for a Japanese-style crispy coating, but then get a smear of spicy mayo that’s reminiscent of Nashville chicken.
Explore more sandwich ideas
Still dreaming about favorite sandwiches? On Yummly you'll find oodles of options for classics like cheesesteak, chicken salad sandwich, Monte Cristo, roast beef, and turkey sandwiches. Even your PB&J and classic grilled cheddar sando can be more exciting.