15 Spreads You Should Use On Your Sandwich

The humble sandwich is one of the most versatile meals out there. It's been around for centuries, so there are plenty of unique sandwiches to satisfy any craving imaginable. You can quite literally tuck anything between two slabs of bread and call it a sandwich — meat, fish, vegetables, even fruits and jams. Named after the 18th-century English politician John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich, sandwiches are one of the culinary world's most beloved and iconic players, renowned for their delicious ease. 

And just because sandwiches are typically considered a simple meal, it doesn't mean they need to be boring. A good spread is one way to turn your average sandwich into an elevated, gourmet-level meal that'll leave you wanting more. Aside from adding various flavor profiles and depth, spreads add texture and moisture so that any bread, meats, or vegetables you use aren't dry and hard to swallow. Are you ready to elevate your humble sandwich into something decadent? Here are a few of the best spreads to use on your next sandwich.


There's no denying that pesto alla Genovese is one of the most popular pasta sauces out there, but the creamy, bright green sauce also works great as a sandwich spread. Hailing from Genoa, a city in the northern Liguria region of Italy, pesto is made from five simple ingredients: fragrant basil, pine nuts, rich olive oil, cheese, and a pinch of salt. It's usually made by hand with mortar and pestle that gives the sauce a deliciously grainy texture. The word "pesto" actually hails from the Italian word "pestare," which means to crush.

And while pesto alla Genovese is traditionally made with basil, there are tons of variations. The sauce can be easily made with avocado, kale, spinach, or even pistachios to appeal to any palate and dietary restriction, and its versatility can elevate even the simplest of sandwiches. And, because pine nuts are expensive, they can be substituted with budget-friendly options such as walnuts or almonds. With a pleasantly salty kick to it, a classic basil pesto goes well with meats like turkey, chicken, and bacon — a traditional pesto or avocado spread can easily upgrade your average BLT into a delicious meal.

Chipotle mayonnaise

With a smooth and smoky kick, chipotle mayo delivers the loud, bold flavors of Mexican cuisine in just one delicious bite. The sauce is made from chipotles in adobo, a smattering of spices such as paprika and garlic powder, cilantro, lime juice, thick sour cream, and a dollop of mayonnaise. The sauce is already used in various ways: drizzled over tacos, slathered on smoky chipotle burgers, and as a dipping sauce for fries. And to add to its arsenal, the blended Mexican sauce also works great as a spread to brighten up a humble sandwich.

Chipotle mayo specifically compliments meats such as chicken and turkey, which gives these classic sandwich fillers another brighter dimension. These meats, which can often be dry and bland, come to life with a dollop of this subtly spicy spread and can be further balanced out with slices of avocado, which add additional texture and moisture to your sandwich.

Fig jam

Jams aren't just for scones and toast, they also work wonders as spreads for sandwiches. Fig jam in particular, made from sweet and ripe figs, adds just the right amount of sweetness to a savory sandwich, specifically one with cheese. The sharp sweetness of the fig contrasts delightfully with smoother cheeses such as Brie or Camembert, which is why fig jam is often served alongside cheese boards.

Pair your fig jam with lean meats like turkey meat, roast beef, or even some salty Prosciutto di Parma, considered to be Italy's King of Hams, to achieve that delicate sweet-savory contrast. Add in some arugula for a bit of spice, and top it with some melted slices of Brie for a milder, buttery note, or with Camembert for a stronger and earthy aroma, to create a decadent sandwich with a perfect sweet and savory balance. For a touch of complexity, you can also add a drizzle of balsamic vinegar for a hit of smokiness and tart sweetness.

Honey mustard mayonnaise

Zesty, tangy, and creamy with just the right amount of kick to it, honey mustard mayo is a star spread, and not just for sandwiches. It's often found as a dipping sauce for pretzels, notably during Oktoberfest, or brushed onto cuts of barbecued pork and chicken. And, with a flavor profile balancing sweet and savory, it also pairs delightfully with cheeses — which is also why honey mustard deserves a spot on your next cheese board.

Made with honey, Dijon or yellow mustard, mayonnaise (although some substitute it for olive oil) and a smattering of spices including garlic, onion powder, and paprika, there's no doubt the spread packs quite the flavorful punch. With sweetness from the mayo, zestiness from the mustard, and creaminess from the mayonnaise, its versatility lends itself well to a number of sandwiches. However, its explosive blend is perhaps better suited to bringing classic and perhaps duller deli meats such as turkey, chicken, and ham to life.


Originating from the Middle East, hummus, roughly translated to "chickpea" in Arabic, is a creamy sand-colored spread that has been conquering taste buds since it was first invented in the 13th century. It's typically made with mashed or pureed chickpeas, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, spices, a pinch of salt, and tahini, a ground toasted sesame paste. While the latter is an essential ingredient for a traditional version of the spread, you can also experiment and sweeten up your hummus by swapping the tahini for peanut butter.

Hummus is arguably one of the most popular dips to serve at parties, and for good reason. It pairs particularly well with baked pita chips or raw vegetables. And, because of its nutty flavor, hummus is an ideal spread for healthy and light veggie-based sandwiches. While the idea of a sandwich filled with only greens may seem boring and dry, adding a dollop of this spread is guaranteed to elevate even the dullest of vegetables into something truly tasty. Use the hummus for a bold, earthy undertone, add cucumbers for freshness, mashed avocado for texture, spring greens and bell peppers for crunch, and thinly sliced red onions for just the right hint of spice.

Cream cheese

A spread that needs no introduction, cream cheese is as varied as they come. With flavors ranging from traditional options like plain, onion and chive, and garden vegetables to more unorthodox samplings like strawberry, caviar, and pumpkin spice, cream cheese can be found stuffed between New York-style bagels, added to frosting slathered on carrot cake, or even stuffed into certain sushi rolls.

Cream cheese is an ideal mix with lox, in which salmon is cured, or smoked salmon, in which the fish is cured and then smoked. A particular staple of New York City, the saltiness of the salmon pairs perfectly with the creamy richness of the cream cheese, particularly plain or onion and chive flavors. Add a sprinkling of dill weed for texture and an understated citrus-like taste, as well as some thinly sliced cucumber medallions for crunch and freshness, and you'll have a perfectly balanced, refreshing sandwich on your hands.

Sun-dried tomato pesto

A cousin to the classic pesto alla Genovese, sun-dried tomato pesto recalls sunny Mediterranean days spent lounging on warm beds of sand. Referred to as "pesto rosso" in Italian, literally meaning red pesto, it's made with the same ingredients as pesto alla Genovese, including garlic, olive oil, parmesan cheese, and pine nuts — except that sun-dried tomatoes replace basil leaves as the sauce's main character.

Sun-dried tomato pesto pasta is a popular dish, and the sauce can also be used as a layer for crispy bruschettas topped with finely chopped basil leaves. Boasting a deep red color, granulated texture, and a rich, nutty flavor that balances notes of sweet and savory, the spread is delicious smeared onto a roasted vegetable panino, or a grilled vegetable chicken sandwich for those seeking a protein option. It's even delicious slathered onto a grilled mozzarella sandwich to provide an earthy balance to the cheese's light saltiness.

Green chutney

Green chutney is a classic Indian staple. Creamy, and with a color ranging from moss green to jade, it's commonly associated as a dipping sauce for samosas, Kathi rolls, roti, and dhokla, a spongy savory snack. The three ingredients green chutney traditionally uses are cilantro, green chiles, and mint. When combined, all three ingredients lend the chutney its distinct green flavor, while adding hints of spice and depth.

While the sauce can really be used on any sandwich, it's particularly popular on a Bombay Sandwich, a beloved street food overloaded with Indian spices. Typically sold on the bustling streets of Mumbai, it's made with buttered white bread, potato, green chutney, and vegetables spiced with chaat masala, an Indian spice mix. It was born from British and Portuguese influences, colonial powers that controlled India for more than six centuries. During their 89-year reign in India, the British brought over their love for sandwiches, while the Portuguese, who held the country for nearly five centuries, instilled their love of potatoes — two love affairs that eventually resulted in the Bombay Sandwich.

Whipped feta

Crumbly, rich, and slightly salty, feta is the most recognized Greek cheese and among the most popular in the world. It's also the oldest cheese in recorded history and can be found in a number of Greek dishes, including spanakopita, shrimp saganaki, and horiatiki, perhaps more commonly known as Greek salad, that's traditionally made with tomatoes, cucumbers, slices of red onion, kalamata olives, a drizzle of olive oil, oregano flakes, and feta crumbles.

Its semi-soft and pleasantly sharp taste has also made it a beloved staple abroad, spawning endless variations of salads, pastas, and dips, including whipped feta. Made with feta cheese, cream cheese, lemon juice, salt, and pepper, whipped feta dip is a super easy recipe that's delicious heaped onto crackers, raw vegetables, pieces of warmly toasted pita bread, and of course, spread onto a Mediterranean vegetable sandwich. Made with the same ingredients as a horiatiki salad, a Mediterranean vegetable sandwich with whipped feta spread is sure to invoke those dreamy, white-washed Greek island buildings with every bite.

Onion jam

Equal parts sweet and savory, onion jam is a mouth-watering spread that pairs particularly well with meat. While classic giants like ketchup and mustard may dominate barbecue and game days, onion jam is a more refined and perhaps overlooked spread that can add a touch of understated decadence to any meat. It's made by cooking chopped onions in caramelized sugar, which achieves that sweet-savory blend and jam-like consistency.

Pork sliders with bacon and onion jam are just one example of how a simple meal can be elevated into a restaurant-worthy dish. However, the spread also works wonders with thinly sliced cuts of meat such as roast beef, as it can help mask the meat's sometimes chewy texture. A bed of arugula adds a cushioning of spice and perfectly balances out the jam's sweet-savory blend and the meat's umami flavoring. For elevated grilled cheeses, the underlying sweetness of the onion jam contrasts delightfully with cheeses such as brie, for a richer and buttery taste, or Gruyère for a more nutty flavor.

Blue cheese

When it comes to blue cheese, there are only two categories of people: those who hate it and those who love it. Aside from its blue hue and moldy-looking appearance, blue cheese has a very strong and pungent taste reminiscent of the earth. Regardless of the controversy, blue cheese can be found in almost anything, from burgers and steaks to salads and dips. It also triumphs in certain popular savory sandwiches.

In fact, blue cheese is the tangy ingredient that will upgrade your Reuben sandwich, arguably one of America's most popular deli sandwiches. And while Reuben sandwich purists may balk at the idea of something as pungent as blue cheese being smeared onto their beloved, already strongly-favored sandwich, its distinctive earthy flavor is exactly what makes it such a strong addition. Blue cheese compliments the corned beef's notorious saltiness while balancing the distinctive sour tastes of the sauerkraut and rye bread. And to top it off, it punctuates the entire sandwich with its own strong and tangy taste.

Almond butter

A peanut butter and jelly sandwich is America's sweetheart. It combines the smooth, creamy nuttiness of peanut butter with the textured sweetness of grape, strawberry, or raspberry jam — a simple, delicious blend that's been beloved by old and young alike for generations.

The first mention of the peanut butter and jelly sandwich, colloquially known as a PB&J, appeared in the Boston Cooking School Magazine of Culinary Science and Domestic Economics in 1901, but it wasn't until World War II that the sandwich became an American staple. Peanut butter, jelly, and cut bread were part of soldiers' rations, and were easy to throw together to create a filling yet tasty meal. Once the war ended and soldiers returned home armed with the delicious knowledge of a peanut butter and jelly combination, the sandwich instantly became a classic among Americans. 

While the original peanut butter and jelly sandwich is delicious as is, a grilled almond butter and jelly sandwich is just the trick for those wanting to spice up tradition. Almond butter is similar to peanut butter in terms of texture, although it's slightly richer and nuttier in taste. A grilled almond butter and jelly sandwich is made by combining almond butter and apricot jam, and then sautèeing the sandwich in hot butter to create a crispy, golden-hued sandwich with a gooey sweet-savory blend.

Pimento cheese

Often referred to as Southern pâté, pimento cheese is a tangy, lightly spicy, and ultra-spreadable cheese that's long been a staple of Southern American cooking. The classic pimento cheese recipe calls for mayonnaise, cream cheese, cheddar, and pimentos, which are small, red cherry peppers that, on their own, can be used as a garnish, used in a dipping sauce, or finely ground into paprika.

Popularly served as a dipping sauce for crackers and chips, it's also a great and super easy sandwich spread. Pimento cheese sandwiches usually solely consist of soft white bread and pimento cheese spread — that's how good it is. But if you're looking for a more elevated sandwich that's still easy to make and features your beloved pimento cheese spread, then look no further than a pimento grilled cheese. It's a sandwich that packs a bit of spice, with a healthy spreading of pimento cheese, vine-ripe tomatoes, and pickled jalapeños cushioned between two crispy slices of focaccia bread. Delicious, zesty, and gooey, it's the ultimate Southern grilled cheese.

Pickled cherry peppers

Cherry peppers may be small, but they pack quite the punch. Round and glistening ruby-red, cherry peppers vaguely resemble the fruit they're named after. They're popularly used as a spread in hoagie sandwiches, also known as submarine or Italian sandwiches, which are long pieces of cylindrical bread stuffed with condiments and deli meats and cheeses. Pickled cherry peppers are vinegary and tangy, and boast a manageable level of spice with a tantalizing underlying sweetness that overall helps bring out a fuller dimension to cured deli meats and cheeses.

The Italian sub sandwich, for example, is a prime host for a pickled cherry pepper spread. Bursting with cured meats, cheeses, and herbs, the Italian sub is already packed with flavor. But, smothering it in pickled cherry pepper spreads, and topping it with a fine drizzle of olive oil and red wine vinegar will bring the sub to new dimensions, adding depth and contrasting bursts of sweet and spicy flavors.

Vanilla blackberry jam

Vanilla blackberry jam is the perfect delicious spin on a classic filler. It can be used for cupcakes, scones, and cakes — or even on your next peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The refreshing zing of blackberries, compounded by a hint of lemon and a delicate blend of vanilla, will turn your next peanut butter sandwich into a gourmet meal. And the best part is, it's super easy to make your own vanilla blackberry jam.

All you need is four simple ingredients: lemon, vanilla extract, sugar, and blackberries. Blackberries are naturally high in pectin and will gel on their own with little help from the lemon juice and sugar. Requiring few ingredients, time, and manual labor, making your own vanilla blackberry jam will ensure that you'll always have plenty available for your sweet or savory treats, or to satisfy your next craving for a more refined peanut butter and jelly sandwich.