A classic homemade Cuban sandwich recipe (Cubano) with mojo-marinated pork, swiss, pickles, and lots of mustard. And also lots of butter, but let’s try to focus on the calorie-free mustard. Originally published April 16, 2015.

Cuban sandwiches cut in half and stacked on top of each other.
Table of Contents
  1. What is a Cubano Sandwich?
  2. Why you’ll love this Cubano Recipe
  3. Cuban Sandwich Recipe Ingredients
  4. How to make Cuban Sandwiches (Cubanos)
  5. Can I make this Cubano Sandwich Recipe in advance?
  6. Tips for making the perfect Cubano Sandwich
  7. Cuban Sandwiches variations
  8. How to serve Cuban Sandwiches
  9. Cubanos storage
  10. More amazing sandwiches!
  11. Cubano Recipe Recipe

The other day I was discussing eye color with Charlotte’s friend Milo, who is four:

“What color are your mom’s eyes, Milo?” Green.

“What color are your dad’s eyes?” Yellow.

“Humans don’t have yellow eyes.”

“My dad’s not human.”

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a cuban sandwich frying in a cast iron skillet.

Aside from making the decision to start doing actual background checks on Charlotte’s friends, I’ve been making Cubanos. Lots, and lots, and lots of Cubanos.

What is a Cubano Sandwich?

A Cubano sandwich is the solution to all your problems (at least it was for the guy in the movie Chef). Hailing from the Cuban population in south Florida, It’s a soft white roll with piles of marinated Cuban pork, swiss cheese, ham, dill pickles, and mustard, slathered in butter and grilled. If you’ve had one, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you’ve yet to try this absolutely smash hit of a sandwich then buckle up, because we are taking the highway to FlavorTown, population 2 (you and this Cuban sandwich). 

Why you’ll love this Cubano Recipe

Cubans are so unique and I just LOVE them. This is not a Pb&J, or a Subway sandwich, or even a quality BLT. This is a sandwich with the audacity to include zero vegetables (I mean, unless you count pickles) and it is not apologizing. I’m giving you the recipe for some to-die-for marinated mojo pork and then we’re adding quality ingredients to make the sandwich of your dreams. You could absolutely serve these as the main course at dinner and no one would complain because they are just so hearty and filling.

Cuban Sandwich Recipe Ingredients

Here’s a quick shopping list to help you gather your ingredients. See the recipe card below for the full ingredients and instructions!

  • Thinly sliced boiled ham
  • Soft baguettes (or hero rolls)
  • Yellow mustard
  • Swiss cheese

How to make Cuban Sandwiches (Cubanos)

Last week I shared the recipe for this Cuban Mojo-Marinated Pork, which is a totally awesome stand alone recipe. It is some of the tenderest, juiciest, crustiest meat I’ve ever had. But slap it on some buttery bread and smother it with swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard? Now we’re talkin.

a Cuban sandwich cut in half with orange slices, pickles, and mustard nearby.

I found the boiled ham in the lunchmeat section at the store. The recipe called for boiled ham, and after thinking to myself, “what the heck is boiled ham,” I asked someone in the meat department before even bothering to check. She led me right to this perfect little 6-ounce package that clearly says “boiled ham.”

toasted bread, spreading mustard on toasted bread with a pastry brush.
a package of boiled ham, an assembled Cuban sandwich buttered and ready for frying.

I must have had a really stupid look on my face, because she pointed at the other lunchmeat packages: “See, you’ve got your honey ham, your smoked ham, lots of different kinds of ham. This one’s just boiled.” I felt idiotic and relieved that I didn’t have to ask for more information on boiled ham. Apparently a two word description of EXACTLY WHAT IT IS isn’t enough for me.

a hand holding a Cuban sandwich with pickles, cheese, pork, ham, and mustard.

Here’s a quick overview of how to make these Cuban sandwiches. Scroll down to the recipe card for complete instructions!

  1. Heat a skillet over medium, and add the sliced boiled ham. Cook for about 1 minute on each side, or until brown spots start to appear. Remove to a plate.
  2. Brush or spread softened butter over the cut side of each roll. Add to the skillet and brown the cut side of the bread until it is golden and starting to toast.
  3. When the bread is toasted, spread with mustard. 
  4. Layer the pork, browned ham, Swiss, and sliced pickles. Top with the bread. Brush the top and bottom of the sandwich with butter.
  5. Grill the sandwiches in the same skillet, using another heavy skillet to press down the sandwich. Cook for about 3 minutes, then flip the sandwich, squish it again, and cook for another 2-3 minutes or so until the outside is crisp and golden and the cheese is melted.

Can I make this Cubano Sandwich Recipe in advance?

You can definitely get a head start on preparing these before you cook them. Prep all the ingredients, including frying the ham, and layer up the sandwiches as described in step 4. Just don’t butter the bread yet because that’s going to get messy. When you’re ready to cook, then you can butter the bread and grill the sandwiches. 

Tips for making the perfect Cubano Sandwich

Defining the perfect Cuban sandwich could start a war. I’m just going to give you my tips for how I love to make these!

  • Start with making marinated mojo pork. Yes, it takes time. No, you won’t regret it. 
  • Make sure to press the sandwich as you cook it. You’ll need a heavy skillet to set on top of the sandwiches so that the bread gets toasted and crispy. If you have a George Foreman grill or panini press you can totally use it instead, it’s just less traditional.
  • Use plenty of butter. See those photos? Butter, I’m telling you. This is not a health food sandwich. Go all the way.
  • Go heavy on the mustard. I mean, unless you hate mustard. But the ingredients in a Cubano have plenty of flavor and can stand up to a healthy helping of the yellow stuff. 

Cuban Sandwiches variations

I hear that in Tampa, some people like to use salami in their Cubanos; I’ve never tried it but I bet it would be good! I’ve also heard of people using garlic butter on their sandwiches, and all I have to say is, MORE GARLIC PLEASE. And when you’re looking for rolls for your Cubanos, you can consider using sourdough rolls or bolillo instead of soft baguettes or heroes. It just depends on your personal preference and what’s available in your area. 

How to serve Cuban Sandwiches

Cuban sandwiches are best served fresh off the pan. I’m rarely ambitious enough to add more to the plate when I’m making these (unless it’s some token baby carrots for my kids’ health), but you could totally serve them with black beans, corn on the cob, cole slaw, fried plantains, or even a fresh cucumber salad to balance things out. 

Cubanos storage

I recommend storing the individual ingredients for the Cubanos separately so you can grill up a sandwich when the mood strikes. However, if you do have an already-grilled leftover sandwich, you can absolutely wrap it up and store it in the fridge and warm it in the oven or microwave later. It won’t be as crispy but it will be delicious, and I would never turn it down.

Make yourself at least one Cubano soon, or 4 or 5 if you’re normal. If you get really ambitious, you could even buy a food truck and start selling Cuban Sandwiches across the nation. It worked in Chef!

Here is the Cuban Mojo-Marinated Pork I used in the Cubanos. Soooo good!!

More amazing sandwiches!

Classic Egg Salad Sandwich << do you ever forget about egg salad??

How to Make the Best BLT << BLTs are already good but we’re takin’ it to the NEXT LEVEL.

Jalapeño Popper Grilled Cheese Sandwich << if you like jalapeño poppers, you will LOVE these.

Curried Chicken Salad Sandwiches with Naan << chicken salad, but with curry. Oh yeah.

Steak Sandwiches from Cravings of a Lunatic

Monte Cristo from She Wears Many Hats

Bacon Brie Grilled Cheese Sandwiches from Simply Delicious

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Cubano Recipe

5 from 4 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 18 minutes
Total: 28 minutes
Servings: 6 Servings
A classic homemade Cuban sandwich recipe (Cubano) with mojo-marinated pork, swiss, pickles, and lots of mustard. And also lots of butter, but let's try to focus on the calorie-free mustard. 
 

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces thinly sliced boiled ham
  • Softened butter, for brushing
  • 6 six-inch soft baguettes or hero rolls, split lengthwise
  • Yellow mustard, for brushing
  • 3/4 pound thinly sliced Cuban Mojo-Marinated Pork, or store-bought roast pork
  • 8 ounces thinly sliced Swiss cheese
  • 3 half-sour dill pickles, thinly sliced (I used regular ol’ dill chips)

Instructions

  • Heat a skillet over medium, and add the sliced boiled ham. Cook for about 1 minute on each side, or until brown spots start to appear. Remove to a plate.
  • Brush or spread softened butter over the cut side of each roll. Add to the skillet and brown the cut side of the bread until it is golden and starting to toast.
  • When the bread is toasted, spread with mustard. Use as much as you like.
  • Layer the pork, browned ham, Swiss, and sliced pickles. Top with the bread. Brush the top and bottom of the sandwich with butter.
  • Grill the sandwiches in the same skillet, using another heavy skillet to press down the sandwich. Add cans or something else heavy if it’s not being pressed well. If you have a George Foreman or a panini press, use that. Cook for about 3 minutes, then flip the sandwich, squish it again, and cook for another 2-3 minutes or so. Keep an eye on it. You want to outside to be crisp and golden and the cheese melted.
  • Slice in half and devour immediately!

Notes

 
Source: People.com, who published the recipe from the chef who cooked for the movie “Chef.”

Nutrition

Serving: 1sandwich | Calories: 929kcal | Carbohydrates: 128g | Protein: 48g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 82mg | Sodium: 2308mg | Potassium: 606mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 373IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 518mg | Iron: 9mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Cuban
Calories: 929
Keyword: Sandwiches
Did you make this? I’d love to see it!Mention @thefoodcharlatan or tag #thefoodcharlatan!

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Comments

  1. I would have done the exact same thing at the grocery store! I’ve never thought to look for boiled ham… I usually like the honey-baked kind we get at Easter and leave it at that. ;) P.S. In case I’m in line for becoming friends with Char, my mom’s eyes are blue and my dad’s are hazel.

  2. So this is a cubano! Sounds amazing. And I would definitely look into Charlotte’s friends’ dad… I’m very curious as to what she thinks he is, since he isn’t human!

  3. Mmm these look so incredibly yummy! I remember I saw the movie Chef on the plane ride back from Paris and was positively starving by the end, and totally wishing I had one of these. I don’t know if this would work (maybe sans mustard) but warm cream cheese might be a nice addition too. If not, on the topic of sandwich recipes, there’s this deli near me that sells this sandwich called the Drakester and it’s basically hot turkey with melted pepper jack, cream cheese, roasted chili peppers, and I think mayo all on garlic sourdough. It’s amazing and I definitely recommend it as a hot sandwich variation to try! :D Thanks for sharing the recipe, Karen – can’t wait to make these!

  4. I think I might need to start a food truck and sell these, they look so good. ;) YUM!! And kids say the craziest things sometimes, lol!

  5. I’ll take four or five, please – because, you know, I’m normal. ;) This looks mouthwatering. PINNED!

  6. Haha yellow eyes. That’s pretty darn cute! ;) This sandwich is calling my name Karen! I want it and I want it now. It looks so yummy! I need to make this asap! ;-)

  7. haha kids crack me up with their comments!

    And man, these sandwiches! I am so hungry for dinner right now and this is not helping!!

  8. oh my gawd, I am dying. . this looks SO GOOD!!!!!! DAMN!!!!!!! I loved the movie Chef. . God love people magazine!

  9. Yellow eyes? Sounds like Milo’s dad is a cat or something. Haha! This sandwich? Too good Karen!

  10. Oh man. Ever since you mentioned cubano’s last week, I have been craving them. And now I am kicking myself I didn’t order it last night while out to eat as they have a pretty stellar one. But this one is gonna happen. Soon!

  11. I’ve been thinking a lot about Cuban grilled cheese sammies, and you made my dreams a reality. I’m gonna need at least two. Pinned.

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