14 Ways To Add Crunch To Your Sandwiches

Few foods come close to matching the perfection that is sandwiches. After all, which other dish combines bread, meat, cheese, and vegetables in a self-contained vessel? Besides ticking the boxes for taste and convenience, sandwiches are endlessly versatile. By switching up the bread, filling, or condiments (or all three), you can create an entirely different meal experience with little to no effort. If we haven't made it clear already, we're strong advocates for the humble sandwich. And yet, we often feel like something's missing from our favorite recipes.

It wasn't long before we realized that crunch was the absent element. With a few exceptions, sandwiches lack texture. While calling them mushy would be a stretch, the bread and fillings don't exactly give us that satisfying snap when we bite into them. Determined to achieve sandwich perfection, we experimented with incorporating crunchy elements into our usual sandwiches. This comprehensive list covers a wide range of options, from timeless potato chips to crisp apple slices. Read on to discover all of the other unexpected crunchy sandwich additions worth trying.

Chips are the original crunchy sandwich add-in

Unless you're a complete crunchy sandwich newb, you've probably tried adding chips to your favorite turkey mayo or tuna salad. If you haven't, stop reading and don't come back until you've eaten a chip-stuffed sandwich. Whether you keep it simple with plain salted chips or opt for something bolder like jalapeño, chips add an irresistible crunch that most sandwiches sorely lack.

In need of some inspiration? Allow us to share some of our favorite chip and sandwich combinations. Sky-high pastrami pairs well with ground pepper chips. The ground pepper brings out the peppery notes of the pastrami without overpowering it. Savory Reubens go well with dill pickle chips because the vinegar of the chips is in the same flavor family as the sauerkraut.

Up to this point, we've talked exclusively about adding potato chips to sandwiches. But it's important to remember that they aren't the only chips on the block. For example, pita chips add an extra layer of crunch that potato chips just can't match. In the same vein, tortilla chips hold up well to guacamole-heavy creations. As these examples show, you can't mess up when accessorizing your sandwiches with chips. In fact, the only mistake you can make is not doing it.

Raw vegetables add something healthy

We know you're probably sick of hearing people lecture you about eating enough vegetables, but we feel compelled to hammer the point home. Vegetables help stabilize your appetite, lower your risk of heart disease, and aid in cancer prevention. Health benefits aside, raw vegetables are a healthy (and tasty) way to add crunch to all of your favorite sandwich combinations. While many vegetables can be eaten sans cooking, we recommend sticking to varieties that are at their healthiest when raw. This includes red or green bell pepper, arugula, and spinach.

If you're still not feeling excited about adding some veggie accents to your next lunch, then maybe some of our recommendations can change your mind. We're big fans of adding raw leeks to our grilled cheese sandwiches as they provide a sweet, unexpected bite to what can otherwise be a pretty one-note sandwich. For the tuna salad lovers out there, experiment with adding red onions, shallots, fennel, or cabbage to your typical recipe.

Banana chips are an unconventional ingredient

No offense to peanut butter and jelly, but peanut butter and banana is where it's at. Flavor-wise, the sweetness of the bananas complements the rich saltiness of the peanut butter. When it comes to texture, the soft bananas mash perfectly into the stickiness of the peanut butter. While this combo is about as close as you'll get to sandwich nirvana, it does lack the satisfying crunch we look for when biting into a sandwich.

Thankfully, the remedy is a simple one. Rather than slicing up ripe bananas for your PB&B, use banana chips instead. If you're not ready to completely sever ties with your beloved fresh bananas, then consider a half-and-half mix of ripe banana and banana chips. You'll still get the same mushiness, but you'll also add some much-needed bite to this soft sandwich. Banana chips are widely available in supermarkets, but if your local store doesn't carry them, you can make your own banana chips at home.

Cheese puffs for those who can't get enough cheese

Adding a slice (or two) of cheese to a sandwich is second nature for most of us. In fact, we're willing to bet that you don't think twice before adding a slice of Swiss cheese to your prosciutto or some cheddar to your turkey sandwich. Thanks to its rich, complex tasting notes, cheese has become an essential ingredient in just about every sandwich recipe we can think of. While there's no denying that most of us love cheese, some of us take this obsession to the next level.

If you count yourself as a member of the latter group, then cheese puffs are the ideal crunchy sandwich add-in. Not only do they provide the texture you're after, but the double hit of cheese is sure to satisfy even the most intense cheese cravings. Like potato chips, cheese puffs come in a variety of shapes and flavors. Traditional puffs add extra volume and a light crunch to your sandwich, while the crunchy varieties give you something dense to sink your teeth into. As for flavor, keep it simple with standard cheddar or try something off-the-wall like Cheetos' Ghost Pepper Puffs.

Apple slices give crunch and sweetness

Here's a little riddle for you: If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, what do apple slices do for your sandwiches? Impossible riddles aside, we're here to tell you that sliced apple is the crunchy ingredient you didn't realize your sandwiches were missing. Whether you choose to add a tart Granny Smith or a sweet Honeycrisp, you'll be amazed how much this simple ingredient changes the taste and texture of your sandwich.

Pairing sliced apples with other sweet ingredients is an obvious place to start. We like adding a few slices to our peanut butter and jelly for a new take on a classic. Or you can skip the jelly altogether and allow the natural sweetness of the apple to shine through. Once you've gotten your bearings, experiment with adding apples to savory sandwiches. Apple grilled cheese will change the way you look at this childhood staple, while the grown-up combination of sausage, apple, and manchego will appeal to your more sophisticated taste buds.

Crispy bacon makes a sandwich

You probably don't need us to tell you that adding bacon is a surefire way to upgrade your sandwiches. From a flavor perspective, bacon adds salt, fat, and even a bit of sweetness to whatever it touches. In addition to its unbeatable flavor profile, bacon contributes crunchiness to all kinds of sandwich recipes. Just look at BLTs and club sandwiches; neither would be as satisfying without the added crunch from the crispy bacon.

But don't limit yourself to the recipes you grew up with. Expand your horizons by making a benedictine and bacon sandwich. This Kentucky favorite combines a cucumber and cream cheese spread with pickled red onions, bacon, and fresh dill for a crunchy sandwich that's the definition of lunchtime goals. To ensure the perfect level of bacon crunchiness, cook strips for four to five minutes in a pan. If you like an extra bit of crunch, cook for five to six minutes. In the oven, bacon reaches optimal crispiness in 10 to 20 minutes.

Pickled veggies provide gut-healthy crunch

You're probably no stranger to pickles on sandwiches. Whether you choose gherkins, dill, or sweet and sour, everyone can agree that pickles are an essential ingredient for all types of sandwiches. Without pickles, Cuban sandwiches would turn into overly rich messes, Italian subs would lose their signature zing, and corned beef on rye just wouldn't hit the same way. Their briny flavor adds an appealing level of flavor complexity, but it would be a crime to ignore the satisfying crunch they provide.

Still, as much as we stan pickles, they're not the only crunch-worthy pickled vegetables out there — not by a long shot. For something accessible, try pickled red onions. They add sweetness and crunch to grilled cheese and roast beef sandwiches. Or how about carrots? Pickling makes their subtle starchiness come alive, yet still leaves a pleasant crunch. Ever-versatile radishes lose some of their bitter pepperiness when pickled, making them excellent crunchy additions to vegetable sandwiches.

Chunky nut butter is a no-brainer

The argument between creamy peanut butter and crunchy peanut butter is truly one of the great food debates of our time. We're not here to choose sides, but we will say that if adding crunch to your sandwiches is the goal, there's no competition for the crunchy variety. Crunchy peanut butter adds an extra dimension to otherwise mushy peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. It also provides much-needed texture to other sweet sandwiches like peanut butter and banana or peanut butter and honey.

But crunchy peanut butter is just the tip of the crunchy nut butter iceberg. These days, you can find crunchy almond butter, crunchy cashew butter, and even crunchy sunflower seed butter. Regardless of the variety, these nut butters are jam-packed with generously-sized nut pieces for that extra hit of crunchiness you've been after. If commercial crunchy nut butter still isn't crunchy enough for you, you can make your own, ensuring you leave a quarter or even half-nut pieces in the final product.

Pretzels are an easy crunchy addition

You might have heard of adding pretzels to cupcakes for some added saltiness and crunch, but this versatile little snack food deserves a place at the top of your crunchy sandwich ingredients list. Not only are they inexpensive and widely available, but they're also low in calories and sodium, making them an easy addition to whichever sandwich you happen to be making.

To recapture the familiar flavors of your youth, we recommend layering some plain twists on top of your turkey, mayo, and cheddar sandwich. If you're looking to break out of your comfort zone a bit, cheese-flavored pretzels are a salty way to add crunch to your weekly roast beef. Sourdough pretzels are an excellent way to emphasize the flavor of sourdough bread while providing some more crunch. Or how about adding buttery pretzels to a radish and butter sandwich for an extra dose of richness with crunch?

Include pork rinds for ultimate indulgence

Just like there are those who can't get enough cheese, there are some people who never say no to more meat. If that sounds like you, you've probably tasted all kinds of meat-heavy sandwiches like Italian subs or club sandwiches. While these varieties pack in all kinds of meaty goodness, there's an unfortunate upper limit when it comes to the amount of meat you can add to a sandwich. At some point, you simply run out of room.

Luckily, there's a crunchy sandwich add-in that will meet all of your meat needs. Here, we're talking about incorporating pork rinds into your next sandwich. Made from pork skin that's boiled and dried before frying, pork rinds are some of the crunchiest, most flavorful sandwich additions we've ever had the privilege of trying. They pair well with sandwiches that already contain pork meat (like pulled pork), but they also add new meaty dimensions to BLTs and Buffalo chicken sandwiches as well.

Potato sticks finally find their place

If you're anything like us, you've probably walked past the tubs of potato sticks a hundred times without ever buying them. Sure, the concept sounds intriguing — crispy potato-chip-like niblets that fit in the palm of your hand — but they're also kind of a pain to eat. In order to grab them, you've got to transform your hand into one of those arcade claw machines. And just like the fluffy teddy bear that escapes from your grasp every time, potato sticks are notoriously elusive.

But after all of this strife, we've finally found the perfect use for them: as crunchy sandwich add-ons. Like their potato chip cousins, potato sticks provide salt and crunch to whichever type of sandwich you add them to. At the same time, their small size means it's a lot easier to sprinkle them evenly over the entire surface of the sandwich. That means the end to annoying crunch gaps. Given their tendency to slide, we recommend layering them on top of a condiment, rather than on top of the sandwich filling.

Popcorn equals crunch and volume

Popcorn is one of those snack foods that's infinitely versatile. You can dive into the buttery variety during a movie, bake it into bars, or mix it with chocolate, pretzels, and dried fruit for a funky take on trail mix. But one popcorn use you might not have tried is adding it to your sandwiches. In addition to adding crunch, popcorn gives volume to all of your favorite sandwich recipes.

Opt for the plain or lightly salted varieties if you want to keep things simple. However, if you're a rebel who loves to experiment with unique flavor combinations, why not try a new flavor? For instance, try mixing chili powder and cumin to make spicy popcorn (perfect for livening up your usual chicken or turkey sammie). Or you could sprinkle Italian seasoning and parmesan cheese over popcorn to create a tasty Italian sub addition. We like both of these combinations, but our ultimate favorite is ranch-seasoned popcorn. Something about the combination of dill, garlic, and onions makes the flavors in the popcorn pop (pun intended). Ranch popcorn pairs well with chicken salad, but feel free to add it to any type of sandwich your heart desires.

Roasted chickpeas are protein-packed balls of crunch

Instead of mashing chickpeas into oblivion to create the perfect creamy hummus, try roasting them instead. Roasted chickpeas are delicious, protein-packed morsels that add an insane amount of crunch to whatever they touch. You can even find pre-roasted chickpeas in the grocery store. Flavors range from sea salt to barbecue, so you're sure to find the perfect match for your favorite sando.

Store-bought roasted chickpeas are helpful in a pinch, but if you want ultimate control over the ingredients, making your own is the way to go. We're big fans of maple za'atar chickpeas and think this variety would pair exceptionally well with a chicken and avocado or falafel sandwich. Spicy roasted chickpeas, made with paprika, cumin, onion powder, and garlic powder, provide a nice bite (and crunch) to tuna or chicken salad. Whichever pairing you select, it's important to layer the chickpeas onto your sandwich as soon as they've cooled. That's because using freshly roasted chickpeas is essential for maximum crunchiness. Wait too long and you'll miss out on their ultimate crunch potential.

Kale chips let you sneak in vegetables

These days, it seems like everywhere you look people are trying to sneak vegetables into places they don't belong. Pasta, pizza crust, and waffles are just a few of the new food territories vegetables have invaded. While we're not sure about the ethics behind sneaking vegetables into food, we do believe eating more vegetables is beneficial in maintaining overall health.

To that end, we've been looking for ways to add more vegetables to our favorite recipes. Sandwiches, with their versatility and simplicity, are a natural place to start. We've already talked about raw and pickled vegetables, but what about dried vegetables? More specifically, kale chips. The high amounts of protein and fiber in kale chips will help keep you full, something that's not always the case with sandwiches. Besides that, they're tasty and pack a crunch wallop few ingredients can touch. Lightly salted is the most basic serving suggestion, but we reach for salt and vinegar kale chips over and over again. Try adding a few to a fried fish sandwich and see just how much the vinegar from the kale chips helps cut through the fishy richness.

Static Media owns and operates Tasting Table and Mashed.