Cuban Sandwich (Cubano)

Here's how to make the BEST Traditional Cuban Sandwich, a.k.a. the Cubano, at home! Layers of mojo-marinated pork roast, ham, cheese, and pickles make this sandwich outstanding. Serve toasted grilled bread sandwich hot or cold!

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 4 hearty portions or 8-12 smaller portions depending on cuts

Ingredients

  • 1-pound loaf Cuban or Italian bread
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 small clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 8 ounces thinly sliced Swiss cheese, about 10 slices
  • 1 pound shredded pork roast, heated until warmed through
  • sliced dill pickles, as needed
  • 10 slices Black Forest or smoked ham

To serve:

  • Potato chips
  • Dill pickles

Method

1 Heat your skillet or griddle: I like to use two cast iron skillets nested on top of one another, pressing the sandwich in between. To use this method, place both skillets (one on top of the other) over medium heat and let them heat through.

If using a panini press set it to medium heat. The skillet or griddle shouldn’t be screaming hot, but it should radiate enough heat to toast the bread slowly.

If you aren’t using the double pan method or a panini press, just use anything you have to weigh the sandwich down – a foil wrapped brick, your spatula, whatever you have will do.

2 Toast the bread: Slice the loaf of bread in half horizontally. If you’re using a skillet, you may have to cut the loaf cut the loaf vertically as well so it fits in your pan and make the sandwich in batches.

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

A loaf of french bread being sliced horizonally with a chefs knife. One hand rests on top of the loaf. Shredded pork, a glass container of mustard, a small glass bowl of mayonnaise and a partial plate of sliced pickles is visible above. A cast iron skillet is set on a bunsen burner. Half of a loaf of french bread that has been lengthwise is being toasted to make the best cuban sandwich. A plate of sliced ham and sliced cheese is visible on the right side, along with a wooden cutting board and the other half of the french bread.

3 Make, then spread, the schmear: While the bread is toasting, stir together the butter and minced garlic to create a schmear. Once the slices of bread have been toasted, spread the garlic butter onto the cut side of one of the bread halves. Then spread the mustard on the cut side of other piece of bread.

A wooden cutting board is set on a marble background. French bread is cut into quarters and toasted. A hand is using a spoon to spread mayonnaise on the center piece of bread. Bowls of shredded pork, sliced ham, yellow mustard, sliced swiss cheese, mayonnaise and sliced pickle are set above. Toasted french bread is cut into quarters and set on a wooden cutting board. The middle pieces are spread with mayonnaise and the outer quarters are spread with yellow mustard. Bowls of shredded pork, sliced ham, yellow mustard, sliced cheese, mayonnaise and sliced pickles are set above.

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

A hand is placing sliced cheese on one quarter of a traditional cuban sandwich. One quarter has two slices of swiss cheese and two quarters are spread with yellow mustard. The sandwich is set on a wooden cutting board set on a marble table top. Bowls and plates of shredded pork, sliced ham, yellow mustard, sliced cheese, mayonnaise and sliced pickles are set above. Hand is placing sliced pickles on top of sliced cheese and french bread. One top of the sandwich is covered with mustard and another part of bread has sliced swiss cheese on it. A glass container of yellow mustard is visible in the top left corner. Best cuban sandwich is being assembled on a wooden cutting board set on a marble countertop. Hand is placing shredded pork, along with picles and cheese on french bread. Two tops of the bread are covered with yellow mustard and bowls of pork, mustard, mayonnaise and pickles are visible. Sliced french bread set on a cutting board with a hand placing sliced ham on the sandwich, along with pickles, cheese and pork. Second half of the sandwich is visible in the right corner.

5 Grill the Cubano: If you prefer really melty cheese, wrap your Cubano in aluminum foil before grilling (this is totally optional).

If using the 2-skillet method, once both pans are heated through, lift the top pan up. Place the sandwich into the bottom pan and place the top pan directly onto the sandwich. Otherwise, weight the sandwich down using your preferred method.

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

When ready the Cubano should have a flat, crispy, slightly dark brown, top and bottom, and the cheese should be melted.

Cast iron skillet on a stove with a traditional cuban sandwich pressed between another cast iron skillet. Toasted bread, mustard, pork and cheese showing. Pressed cuban sandwich set in a cast iron skillet. Pork, cheese and pickle peeking out the side.

6 Serve: Remove your sandwich from the skillet or griddle. Slice your sandwich according to the number of guests you need to serve and serve the sandwich with a handful of chips and a pickle or two.

LEFTOVERS! Leftovers should be wrapped in foil and stored in the refrigerator. They may be reheated by cooking the same as above.