Traditional Cubano Sandwich

Traditional Cuban Panini
The Spruce
  • Total: 30 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 15 mins
  • Servings: 4 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
815 Calories
45g Fat
26g Carbs
75g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 815
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 45g 57%
Saturated Fat 18g 90%
Cholesterol 238mg 79%
Sodium 1956mg 85%
Total Carbohydrate 26g 10%
Dietary Fiber 1g 5%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 75g
Vitamin C 2mg 8%
Calcium 600mg 46%
Iron 4mg 21%
Potassium 949mg 20%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

A Cuban sandwich, known as a Cubano, is a grilled ham-and-cheese sandwich variation that was created in Florida—Key West and Tampa—by Cuban immigrants who needed a filling and easy-to-carry lunch. Two versions of the sandwich exist: Salami is added in Tampa, whereas the Key West version keeps it to just pork and ham only. Miami features Cubanos of both styles and the three cities dispute who has the best renditions of the sandwich. The combination of flavorful, juicy pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, mustard, and Cuban bread makes this dish an undeniable hit.

Although versions vary, the essential ingredient is the roasted pork, traditionally marinated in a mojo sauce redolent with orange juice, lime juice, garlic, oregano, and cumin. As pork is the star of the show, pay attention to the pork you're using, and take the time to make the Cuban version if you can. If not, use high-quality sliced pork, leftover grilled pork, or roasted pork.

Our easy recipe will bring to your table a crunchy, tangy, salty, creamy, and decadent sandwich that's a whole meal in itself. Serve it hot or cold and treat your guests to accompanying yuca chips or fufu plantains, although the sandwich alone will be enough to get you a round of applause.

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Ingredients

  • 1 loaf Cuban bread (French or ItaIian bread can be substituted)

  • Garnish:

    1 tablespoon yellow mustard

  • Garnish:

    1 tablespoon mayonnaise

  • 1 pound cooked ham (cooked, sliced)

  • 1 pound pork (roasted, sliced)

  • 1/2 pound Swiss cheese (sliced)

  • 6 dill pickles (sliced)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Cubano: A Traditional Cuban Sandwich recipe ingredients
    The Spruce
  2. Heat a griddle or frying pan over medium heat.

  3. Cut the loaf of bread into quarters and slice each quarter in half horizontally.

    Cubano: A Traditional Cuban Sandwich recipe
    The Spruce
  4. Spread the mustard and mayonnaise on the bread. Use one condiment per slice of bread, but be sure each sandwich has both.

    Cubano: A Traditional Cuban Sandwich recipe
    The Spruce
  5. Assemble each sandwich by layering the ham, sliced pork, cheese, and dill pickles.

    Cubano: A Traditional Cuban Sandwich recipe
    The Spruce
  6. Lightly coat the cooking surface of a griddle or frying pan with cooking spray. Place the sandwiches on the hot surface.

    Cubano: A Traditional Cuban Sandwich recipe
    The Spruce
  7. Put a clean, heavy skillet on top of the sandwich to flatten it. The goal is to press the bread down to about 1/3 of its original size. Leave the skillet on top of the sandwich and grill for 1 to 2 minutes. If you don't have a heavy skillet, use a brick wrapped in foil.

    Cubano: A Traditional Cuban Sandwich recipe
    The Spruce
  8. Lift the heavy skillet, turn the sandwich over and grill on the other side. Place the skillet back on top. For the sandwich to be ready, the cheese should be melted and the bread golden brown.

    Cubano: A Traditional Cuban Sandwich recipe
    The Spruce
  9. Slice each sandwich in half diagonally.

  10. Serve and enjoy.

What Is Cuban Bread, and What to Use Instead?

Cuban bread is a white bread similar to Italian or French bread in texture and shape. Besides flour, water, yeast, and salt, Cuban bread has lard or vegetable shortening in its ingredients. Some Hispanic or Latin markets might have true Cuban bread, but if finding it is difficult, the Cubano will come out equally tasty if you use a fresh baguette or a loaf of Italian bread.

Substitutions and Add-Ons

With Miami, Tampa, and Key West debating over who has the tastiest, truest Cubano sandwich, many versions have popped up claiming to be the best. Here are some tasty variations on the classic:

  • Simply butter: Some purists use butter instead of mayo and mustard.
  • Veggies: Others add lettuce and tomatoes after the sandwich has been grilled.
  • Salami: Italian immigrants might have added salami into the Cubano, a welcomed and salty addition.
  • Over-the-top: Although not traditional, some like to add slices of crunchy bacon when assembling.