Last Updated on November 2, 2023 by Carne Diem
Origin: Cuban, Taste of the Islands
Method: Grill or StovetopJump to Recipe
In the world of sandwiches few are more iconic that the Cuban sandwich. Created by Cuban immigrants in South Florida, this sandwich is loaded with succulent roast pork, ham, cheese, pickles and mustard. For our Grilled Cubano we finish off the sandwich by grilling it over a live fire for an out of this world grilled/smoky flavor.
While we have enjoyed Cuban style sandwiches for years, we really fell in love with the sandwiches during a recent trip to Key West. The medianoche and Cubano sandwiches at local establishments like Sandy's Cafe really showed us how fantastic such a simple sandwich could become.
Table of contents
Making Homemade Grilled Cuban Paninis
Ingredients for a Homemade Cubano Sandwich
For your Cuban sandwich you will need high quality bread, roast pork, ham, mustard, pickles, and swiss cheese. Optionally you can also add lettuce, tomato, and/or mayo.
The Bread- All great sandwiches start with great bread. Traditionally Cuban bread or rolls are used for a Cubano. If you can't find them you can substitute a high quality Italian or French loaf. You want to choose a bread with a crunchy exterior and a soft interior for a traditional Cubano. We love to pick up fresh bread from one of the local bakeries in the area. High quality ingredients really are key to making a stand out, great tasting sandwich.
Ham- For the ham we prefer a thick sliced smoked ham, but feel free to use your favorite. Depending on our appetite we often make sure to pile up the ham on our sandwiches. The sandwiches are also a great way to use up leftover smoked ham.
Pork- Probably the most important ingredient in a Cuban sandwich is the roast pork. We frequently use left over roast pork from our Smoked Pernil- Puerto Rican Roast Pork Shoulder, or Caribbean Roast Pork Sandwich, but you can use your favorite roast pork recipe. Any mojo style roast pork works great. While not traditional, we have even made a great Grilled Cubano with left over pulled pork, such as our Eastern North Carolina Pulled Pork.
Pickles- No Cuban style pork sandwich is complete without pickles. Again use high quality pickle slices. The crunchier the better.
Cheese- Traditionally Swiss style cheese is used on Cuban style sandwiches. This is what we chose to use on our Grilled Cubano as well. Cuban style cheese like Queso Cubano, or other mild cheeses may be used as well.
Assemble the Sandwich
To assemble the Cuban sandwich slather both sides of the bread with mustard. If using a French or Italian loaf, slice into sandwich sized portions. Top the bottom half of the bread with the ham, pickles, and pork. Place the cheese on the top half of the bread, along with the lettuce and tomato if you are using them on your sandwich.
Place the top on the sandwich and press down slightly to flatten, and prepare your grill.
Making a Cuban Style Sandwich on your Grill
Making a Grilled Cuban Panini is an easy and fun way to make the Caribbean sandwich. If you have GrillGrates, these work especially well for making the grilled pork and ham sandwiches.
Heat a grill or smoker to medium high heat, about 400 degrees. Place the sandwich directly on the grill and press down with a press, heavy spatula or cast iron pan. Cook for about 2-3 minutes then flip and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes on the other side. Ideally the bread should be nice and crusty on the outside while warm and soft on the inside.
Serving the Grilled Cubano
Serve the sandwich warm along with some Cuban black beans or Brazilian Feijoada and a pickle spear.
Do you have a favorite variation of the iconic sandwich? We would love to hear about it so please leave a comment or tag us on social media. For more great sandwich recipes be sure to try some of our favorites:
- Baltimore Pit Beef : Maryland Style Roast Beef Sandwich
- Tempura Pork Tenderloin Sandwich
- Grilled Picanha Sandwich
- Cajun Crawfish Po' Boy With Spicy Remoulade
- New York Chopped Cheese Sandwich
- Grilled Muffaletta: New Orleans Deli Sandwich
- Dutch Oven Crumbly Burger: Maid Rite Style Loose Meat Sandwich
- Louisville Hot Brown: Kentucky's Turkey Sandwich
Frequently Asked Questions
The primary difference between the two Cuban style sandwiches is the bread used. Cubano sandwiches are served on a crunchy style bread, while medianoche style sandwiches are served on a sweeter, soft style bread, typically made with egg dough..
A typical Cuban sandwich consists of a crunchy bread with mustard, pickles, ham, cheese and roast pork.
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Grilled Cubano Paninis
Note: The amount of ingredients needed will depend on the number of sandwiches you are making. This is an estimate for making 4 sandwiches.
- 4 Cuban Rolls or Other High Quality Bread Such as a French or Italian Loaf
- 8 Slices Ham
- 2 Cup Roasted Pork
- 1 Cup Mustard
- 8 Slices Pickles or 16-20 pickle chips
- 8 Slices Swiss Cheese
- 8 Leaves Lettuce optional
- 8 Slices Tomato optional
- ½ Cup Mayo optional
- Halve your bread, and if using a loaf bread like a French or Italian loaf cut into sandwich sized portions. Slather both sides of the bread with yellow mustard.
- On the bottom half of the bread top with the ham slices, pickles, and then the roast pork. On the top half of the loaf top with the mayo, if using, then the Swiss cheese and optional lettuce and tomato.
- Place the top on the sandwich and gently press down on the sandwich to flatten slightly. Heat a grill or smoker to medium high heat (about 400 degrees).
- Place the sandwich directly on the grill over direct heat. Place a press or cast iron pan on top of the sandwich to press it down. Cook for about 2-3 minutes, then flip the sandwich and cook an additional 2-3 minutes.
- Remove and serve warm.