Cooking Basics

How to Build a Better Sandwich

Elevate your sandwich game with these simple tips.

Published Feb. 23, 2018.

You know how to make a sandwich. But do you know how to make a better sandwich? It’s easy to get stuck in a ham-and-cheese-with-mayo rut. Here are a few simple ways to get the most out of your sandwich, using basic techniques and common ingredients you likely already have in your kitchen.

Add Sauce to Your Sandwich

Try using a sauce as inspiration rather than as a last-minute add-on. Think about the flavors in the sauce, and build accordingly: Using a bright, tangy herb sauce? Skip the pickles. Spreading your bread with tzatziki? Try out some Greek-inspired sandwich fixings to match. Even a simple homemade mayonnaise can take your sandwiches to the next level. It’s a great way to use up leftover salad dressing, pesto, barbecue sauce, and more. We like to put condiments and spreads, about 2 tablespoons per sandwich, on both slices of bread.

Consider Other Bread Options

Interesting loaves like ciabatta and olive and nut breads can certainly add unique flavor and texture to sandwiches, but pita, flour tortillas, Japanese milk bread, and lavash are also great alternatives. To keep a sandwich from becoming too big and unwieldy, use 3 to 4 ounces of meat and an ounce of cheese per sandwich. We also like to toast bread for sandwiches (use the oven to toast enough for four sandwiches at once); toasting boosts flavor and can help prevent your sandwich from becoming soggy.

Flour TortillasJapanese Milk BreadPita

Get Out of a Pickle

Sure, you can use jarred pickles to add that burst of flavor to your sandwiches, but for something a little different and impressive, try a tangy relish or chutney to add punch and crunch.

Use Different Greens to Top Your Sandwich

Lettuce is a standby sandwich addition to provide a crisp texture, but it doesn’t do much for flavor. Using different greens, like arugula, spinach, and watercress, and fresh herbs can enhance even the simplest sandwich. No matter what you choose, however, be judicious—they are there to lend texture and accentuate the main ingredient, not overwhelm it.

Draw Inspiration from Your Crisper Drawer

Radishes, cucumbers, fennel, and sprouts are good alternatives to sliced tomatoes. Sliced fruits like apples or pears also make a nice addition to sandwiches that call for something sweet.

Sandwiches, Sauces, and More

The America's Test Kitchen Bookstore

Looking for more ways to create the perfect sandwich? Make your own bread with our IACP award-winning Bread Illustrated and then prepare a flavor-packed sauce with the recipes in our new release Just Add Sauce. Visit our Bookstore to find those cookbooks and more.  
Visit the ATK Bookstore

What's your favorite sandwich combination? Let us know in the comments!

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