In Florida, Beach Bread Is A Unique Staple With Endless Variations

Outside of Florida, asking for beach bread may garner a few questioning glances from waiters and chefs, but on the state's southwest beaches, the cheesy dish has a serious reputation. While photos of beach bread may look like slices of French bread pizza or cheesy garlic bread, beach bread is often served with the addition of blue cheese dressing. Granted, Floridan chefs take liberties with it, but a smooth swipe of blue cheese set on top of buttered, cheesy bread that is then crowned with an assortment of chopped and diced ingredients is a difficult comfort dish to beat. 

Though the exact origin of beach bread is unknown — and let's face it, cheese and bread isn't exactly a novel combination of food ingredients — we're sure glad beach bread exists. Whether or not you live by a body of water, you, too, can serve up this tempting treat at home.

Ingredients used to make beach bread

While the very first beach bread might have been a more simplified recipe made from old hoagie bread, cheese, and garlic, the snack has become a considerably more elaborate affair. Crunchy pieces of sourdough are adorned with a medley of cheeses, and homemade loaves are topped with diced vegetables and served with sides of marinara sauce. Beach bread can present differently from restaurant to restaurant, and the variations add to the dish's charm.

The best beach bread begins with a deliciously toasted baguette or hoagie, and while French pizzas are typically slathered in sauce, beach bread doesn't necessarily call for it. Beach bread is instead coated with garlic, butter, and cheese, then topped to the chef's content with meats, additional cheeses, and a variety of vegetables. With sprinkles of chives and fresh herbs, this is an easily customizable dish that can be enjoyed by landlubbers and beachgoers alike.

How beach bread is served

At PierSide Grill in Fort Myers, beach bread has been served for several decades, and as many as 30 to 60 orders can be sold in a single day. The orders can be split among friends as an appetizer or snack or can be enjoyed as a proper lunch or dinner. When sliced into thinner strips, pieces of beach bread can be dipped into your favorite sauces and dips. Marinara sauce, ranch, and blue cheese dressing can all serve as delicious accompaniments to the satisfyingly cheesy bread.

If you're making your own beach bread at home and find yourself with more servings than what you can eat in a single sitting, you can wrap beach bread tightly and store the snack for up to two days. This approach can also be helpful if you're planning to host a beach-themed party, want to surprise your guests with a unique treat to try, and are looking for ways to cut down on pre-party preparations.

Variations of beach bread

From minced green onions and diced tomatoes to swashes of crab and artichoke spread, beach bread knows no limits when it comes to toppings. Green olives, bacon, and jalapenos have been added to recipes, and cooks choose from artisanal bread to store-bought loaves to serve as the foundation for the cheesy dish.

Top Italian bread with garlic butter, diced tomatoes, queso fresco, mozzarella, and bacon for a satisfying dish, or layer nuts and cured meats on top of seeded sourdough. No toppings are off limits when it comes to dressing up beach bread, so feel free to experiment at home and let guests make their own slices with the toppings you provide. Beach bread can become as fancy or as fast as you like and can be prepared at any time of the day, so let your imagination run wild — and pretend you're sitting with your feet in the sand as you take your first bite.