How To Make a Better Sandwich

Friday 8 February 2019

There is not a lot of cooking going on here at the moment with our cooker being out of service!  We have an engineer booked to come and have a look at it on Monday, and God willing, he will be able to fix it!  Fingers crossed! Cookers are big ticket items!  In the meantime after  figuring out what it would cost to eat out for five days, we purchased a counter-top hot plate, which will be great for heating up soups, scrambling eggs, etc.  I don't think there will be any real cooking going on, but you never know.  Today we had some delicious Roast Beef, Horseradish and Baby Rocket Sandwiches, along with some Deli potato Salad and Cheese Slaw.  They went down a real treat.  I thought I would take this opportunity to share with you my rules and tips on how to make a better sandwich.

I can tell you that the whole time I was growing up, I never had a horrible sandwich made by my mother.  Mom made the best sandwiches and I learnt a lot from watching her.  Even a humble sandwich of white bread and Heinz sandwich spread was a feast. 

How many times have you been disappointed with a purchased sandwich . . .  dry bread . . .  lack of filling . . .  tasteless filling, etc. Too many times for me to count, in my experience.  I don't know how they can get something which is so simple so very wrong, but more often than not they do! 

Making your own Sandwiches doesn't really take a lot of effort or time. There are a few rules to follow however, which will help to make your sandwiches/butties/sarnies to be the best darned ones on the block!  These are my tips and secrets, and now they can be yours too! 

Any sandwich worth making, or eating is worthy of only the best ingredients. If you start with the best, you are well on your way to a fine eating experience.  I like to use quality bread, and the freshest bread that I can.  I also like to use interesting bread.  Sour Dough loaves, whole grain breads, seeded buns,  French Baguettes, and even the humble sliced white bread can make for a really great sandwich if you start with the best and the freshest you can find.  Today I used fresh store baked Croissants.  The starch/bread/wrap is one of the key factors in your sandwich.  Why stint on quality, when to do so can make a huge difference between making a sandwich, or making a SANDWICH!  Just make sure that the bread you choose is sturdy enough to stand up to the filling you are going to use.  Quality and care can make a huge difference between a sandwich that isn't worthy and a sandwich that will hold up to a journey and be able to stand for several hours prior to eating.

Fresh meats, fish, or cheeses . . .  fresh vegetables . . .  quality condiments, all of these things go a long ways towards building a better buttie.  Do NOT stint on any of these items.  

Choose the right bread for the right filling.  Chewier, crustier bread works well with study fillings, softer bread works best with soft fillings.  For instance serving an egg salad on a very chewy crusty bread doesn't work. By the time you have chewed through the bread, half of your filling is escaping from the edges and falling into your lap. Not all breads and fillings are created equal.  Texture is important. On a softer bread you might be able to get away with more filling, but on a super crusty bread this can be disastrous. Be judicious about balance between your choice of bread, your filling and the amounts you choose to use.

So now you have gathered all of your ingredients, and they are the best, and balanced, and you are ready to begin . . .  in all truth, even with all of these factors in place, you can still ruin a sandwich by not treating it properly.  Spread any sandwich which is going to have a wet filling generously with butter, or mayonnaise, and right to the edges of the bread.  This helps to provide a barrier which can prevent a soggy filling from soaking into the bread.  It also helps to prevent dry corners which will only end up being discarded in the trash, uneaten.  Don't be chintzy with any of your condiments really, but do remember there is a fine line between just enough and over the top.  You also don't want them to overwhelm the sandwich.  So a thin even spread of butter works well, and then any other condiment you are using, bearing in  mind that strong flavours need to be used sparingly or they will completely take over and can even create an inedible sandwich.  When I first moved here to the UK, I had no idea of how really strong English Mustard was.  I was slathering it on my husband's sandwiches just like regular American Mustard.  It was only once he told me that it was blowing his head off I realised that less was actually more. 

When using sliced meats and cheeses, I find that they work much better when thinly sliced.  It is easy to layer them, and you can create something much more visually beautiful. They are also easier to bite through, when they are thinly sliced.  Also layer them evenly so that you don't end up with more in the middle than you do at the edges.  I like to put any vegetables on first, after the mayonnaise or horseradish or mustard, chutney, etc.  

Make sure your vegetables are washed and dried.  I slice tomatoes super thin and then layer, it is the same with cucumbers, or pickles, lettuces or any other vegetables.   I often use my  Essential 5-in-1 vegetable shredder to slice my vegetables. It is  a really handy tool to have in the kitchen.  Easy to use, clean, store and maintain.  I love it and use it a lot.  You can find out more here

If you are taking your sandwiches on a journey, either to school, or work, or even on a picnic, you will want to make sure that you have cut them into manageable shapes and sizes. I like to cut them either in half diagonally or horizontally, depending on where I am going with them.  If I am going on a picnic, cutting them in half horizontally makes them much easier to pack.  

If I am eating them at home, cutting them in half diagonally is perfect, and if you are using them for a tea party, removing the crusts and then cutting them into smaller sized shapes is best, not much more than two bite size. 

If you are packing them to go, make sure that you wrap them well in either greaseproof/waxed paper, plastic cling film, or even bees-wax wraps (best for the environment) to help to keep them fresh. Make sure you store them in a sturdy container or box to help prevent them from being crushed.

If you have some really wet ingredients/add-ins you might even want to store them separately, ready to add to the sandwich at the last minute.  That way you can be really sure that your sandwiches won't be soggy. 

If you are making sandwiches ahead to serve for something like a tea party, I cover them with damp paper towels or tea towels.  Just wet the towels with cold water and then squeeze out as much of the water that you can.  Lay the towels gently over the top of the sandwiches, covering them completely, and store in a refrigerator, until you are ready to lay them out, uncovering them only at the last minute.  They will stay fresher longer.

By choosing the right ingredients, layering them proportionately, and with care, you can always be assured that you are going to have a great sandwich, that everyone will be able to enjoy.  Look for a balance in flavours and structure.  Its never pleasant to eat a sandwich that is falling apart as you are eating it, or whose fillings are slipping out the sides and back.  Its also not nice to eat a sandwich whose flavour is completely over-powered by the strongest flavoured ingredient in the mix! By following these simple hints and tips you can be sure that every sandwich, even a simple one,  is a feast to be enjoyed!  Bon Appetit! 


  1. All really useful advice thank you. The only thing I would add is don't buy sliced bread! If you aren't good at slicing bread then buy smaller loaves, they are less wobbly. Buy a good bread knife, it should be gently serrated rather than looking like a huge saw. Learn how to sharpen it, there are some excellent small but simple sharpeners out there, less frightening than a steel.

    I gave up buying sliced "plastic" bread as these days they seem to be rushing the production process too much so that the bread smells of vinegar because it is still trying to ferment.

    1. Great tips Karen. I use a serrated knife as well. Have you noticed that most bagged sliced bread doesn't go stale anymore, it goes mouldy! YUCK! Oh, also you can get a bread cutter knife that has a dedicated slice size already in it! xo

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks Monique! I do so love fresh croissants! xo

  3. Sorry about your oven Marie. I could eat those sandwiches for a while though. I looked up your recipe for cheese slaw. I have never heard of it and have yet to find a good coleslaw recipe. I may have found it. Can't wait to make it. Good luck with the engineer!

    1. Thanks very much Sue. My mom taught me how to make great coleslaw! She made the best! Hope you enjoy this version! xo


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