Cuban Sandwich Cubano
Cuban Sandwich Cubano

How to make the BEST traditional Cuban sandwich, aka Cubano, at home! Layers of mojo marinated roast pork, ham, cheese and pickles make this sandwich special. Serve toasted grilled bread sandwich hot or cold!

The Cuban sandwich, better known as Cubano, starts with soft, slightly sweet Cuban bread. Heaps of heavily seasoned roast pork and sliced ​​ham alternate with layers of Swiss cheese and pickles. The sandwich is cemented together with yellow mustard and a garlic buttercream. I mean it’s practically a full meal you can eat while walking? Sign me up for all of this.

Miami vs. Tampa Cuban Sandwiches

When I want to liven up a house party, I ask my friends who makes the best Cuban sandwich. One friend is from Miami and the other is from Tampa and both believe their city makes the best Cubano.

The difference between the Miami and Tampa Cubano variants is minimal. It’s in one ingredient: salami.

If you eat a Cuban sandwich in Tampa, chances are it has salami in it, and in Miami it doesn’t. The Tampa contingent believes that salami adds another layer of salt to the sandwich, which (in their opinion) does what makes them superior. The Miami side is simply best.

The second I ask the question, my friends start comparing everything that makes their sandwich the best! It’s great fun and even better if I can get one of them to make a sandwich to prove it!

Where did the Cuban sandwich come from?

The funny thing is the sandwich isn’t from Miami or Tampa. It is believed to be a Cuban creation brought to Florida by travelers and immigrant workers.

The hard workers needed a lunchtime meal that would sustain them through their work day, but also one that wasn’t overly fussy and could be lugged around with them while they worked. The people of Key West jumped at the idea, and Cubano made its US debut.

The original Key West version called “Mixto” or Mix includes a whole bunch of other things like shredded lettuce and tomatoes. Far too picky for me!

Since the Cubano was created for eating on the go, I don’t think it should be frilly. I’m sorry, Key West.

What is Cuban bread?

The basis of the Cuban Sandwich is the slightly sweet, soft but still crunchy Cuban bread. It is similar in shape to Italian bread but has a crunchier crust like a French baguette.

Cuban bread tastes sweeter than you think. It’s that little bit of sweetness that adds an extra dimension of flavor to the Cuban sandwich.

If you don’t have a Cuban or Hispanic bakery where you can buy Cuban bread, you can make this pan sobao bread from my personal blog meaning and edibility, or just use Italian bread. Ultimately, you want to choose bread that is easy to mash.

What’s the best ham for Cubano sandwiches?

When I delve deeper into the Cubano, I prefer to use Black Forest ham. It is cured with more seasonings and spices than a cooked, sliced ​​ham or even a Virginia ham.

If you can’t find Black Forest ham, then my second choice is smoked ham. We want to build a flavorful Cubano, so let’s add flavor at every step!

What’s the best roast pork for Cuban sandwiches?

Only two types of roast pork should be used in a traditional Cubano: mojo marinated pork (Cuban pork) or pernil (roasted pork thigh or shoulder).

These Latin American roasts are packed with heady flavors of garlic and herbs. The richly seasoned, slow-roasted pork peeks through the saltiness of the pickles and Swiss cheese in a way you’ll miss if you skip this step.

I think what I’m trying to say is: The roast makes the Cubano.

If I’ve made a roast pork for Sunday night, I’ll make this with the leftovers. You can be sure of that.

What if you don’t eat pork?

Can you make an authentic Cubano without roast pork? In short, no.

However, if you have a dietary restriction or aversion to pork, you can make a version of a Cubano with shredded chicken and sliced ​​turkey, using the same mojo marinade to flavor the poultry.

No panini press? No problem!

Cuban sandwiches are heated on a panini press, which most of us don’t have lying around (I know I don’t have).

My frugal ingenuity led me to build my very own press using two heavy cast iron skillets. I just nest one inside the other and let both heat up on my stove. When it comes time to cook my cubanos, I squeeze the sandwich between the two hot pans and bam! Panini press huh?

You can mimic a panini griddle by pressing your sandwich on a regular griddle under a cast-iron skillet (or similarly heavy skillet), foil-wrapped brick, or burger press. Of course, if you have a panini press, use it, you lucky soul.

While most Cuban sandwich makers wrap their sandwiches in foil before toasting, I find that a bit unnecessary when eating them right away. I mean sure if you want super gooey cheese it will help but just wanting to access my sandwich and messing around with foil just isn’t enough for me.

Make-ahead tips for Cubanos

Parts of the Cubanos can be assembled in advance.

  • You can make the garlic butter schmear, toast the bread, and assemble the sandwich’s pork, ham, and cheese layers up to 4 hours before serving. Toasting the bread now helps ward off soaking.
  • Wrap the sandwich in foil. It keeps the bread from getting stale and makes things less messy. Store your wrapped sandwiches in the refrigerator. Take them out half an hour before cooking to take the chill out of them.
  • When ready, unwrap the sandwiches and add the pickles, mustard, and garlic butter, toast and squeeze.

What do you serve with Cubanos?

Cubanos are usually served with a side of plain chips and sometimes a crunchy dill pickle. Again nothing special.

I’m sure when those hard-working folks who stopped for a Cubano on their way to work ate their sandwiches for lunch, they realized they weren’t hot, but they enjoyed them anyway. This proves to me that Cubanos can be served hot or at room temperature. This makes them ideal for large crowds or as party fare.

Try these other great sandwich recipes!

  • Grilled cheese sandwich with sauerkraut on rye
  • Grilled cheese sandwich with mozzarella, peppers and arugula
  • Croque Monsieur ham and cheese sandwich
  • Grilled Chipotle Chicken with Avocado Sandwich
  • Cauliflower Steak Sandwiches with Pepper Aioli
  • Pan Bagnat (French Tuna Sandwich)

Cuban Sandwich (Cubano)

preparation time
15 minutes

cooking time
10 mins

total time
25 minutes

up to 12 sandwiches


  • 1 (1-Lb) loaf Cuban or italian bread

  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened

  • 1 small clove Garlic, crushed

  • 2 tablespoon yellow mustard

  • 8th ounces thinly sliced Swiss cheeseabout 10 slices

  • 1 lb shredded roast porkheated until warmed through

  • cut dill picklesas needed

  • 10 slices Black Forest or smoked ham


  • Potato Chips

  • dill pickles


  1. Heat your pan or griddle:

    I like to use two cast iron skillets on top of each other and press the sandwich in between. To use this method, place both pans (one on top of the other) over medium-high heat and allow to heat.

    If using a panini press, set it to medium-high heat. The pan or griddle shouldn’t be blazing hot, but it should give off enough heat to slowly toast the bread.

    If you’re not using the double pan method or a panini press, just use whatever you need to weigh the sandwich down — a brick wrapped in foil, your spatula, whatever you have.

  2. Toast the bread:

    Halve the bread loaf horizontally. If you’re using a skillet, you may also need to slice the loaf vertically to fit your pan and portion the sandwich out.

    Toast both halves of the plain bread, cut-side down, until the surface is lightly golden brown. This step reduces the soggyness that often occurs after the mustard and pickles are added.

  3. Do it, then spread the shame:

    While the bread is toasting, mix together the butter and chopped garlic until smooth. Once the bread slices are toasted, spread the garlic butter on the cut side of one of the bread halves. Then spread the mustard on the cut side of the other piece of bread.

  4. Layer meat and cheese:

    Top the mustard side with a layer of Swiss cheese, followed by a handful of the reheated roast pork. Add another layer of Swiss cheese, followed by a layer of pickles and the ham. Top the ham with the remaining cheese and cover the sandwich with the other piece of bread.

  5. Grill the Cubano:

    If you really prefer melty cheese, wrap your Cubano in aluminum foil before grilling (this is entirely optional).

    If using the 2 pan method, once both pans are heated through, raise the top pan. Place the sandwich in the bottom pan and the top pan directly on top of the sandwich. Otherwise, weight the sandwich down using your preferred method.

    Grill the Cubano on one side for 5-6 minutes before gently flipping the sandwich and grilling the other side for another 5-6 minutes. If using a panini press, grill for a total of 6 minutes or until cheese is melted.

    When the cubano is done, it should have a flat, crispy, slightly dark brown surface on top and bottom, and the cheese should be melted.

  6. Surcharge:

    Take your sandwich out of the pan or griddle. Cut your sandwich according to the number of guests you plan to serve and serve with a handful of fries and a pickle or two.

    LEFTOVERS! Leftovers should be wrapped in foil and refrigerated. They can be reheated by cooking as above.

nutritional information (per serving)
357 calories
19g Fat
21g carbohydrates
26g protein
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Hello everybody, Even if you're limited on time and money, I believe you can prepare wonderful food with everyday products. All you have to do is cook cleverly and creatively!