All-Out Cuban Sandwich Recipe

A hearty sandwich is the perfect way to get all your food groups in one. Enjoy a starchy base, protein-packed filling, extra veggies, and cheese to round it out. Tasting Table recipe developer Leah Maroney understands the appeal of a well-stacked sandwich, as she proves with this all-out Cuban sandwich recipe. The original sandwich tells a story of multiculturalism, with Cuban roots and influences from immigrants in Florida and across the U.S. One thing is certain — this recipe combines all the elements that make sandwiches such a great vehicle for ingredients.

Maroney shares, "I love that it incorporates two kinds of meat and that it is melty, salty, soft, and crunchy all at the same time!" Those qualities are only some of the characteristics that make a Cuban sandwich stand out above any ordinary pork-based meal. Slow-cooked pork is the star here, enhanced by a tangy marinade, simple condiments, and, of course, cheese. Enjoy this delicious meal when you have time to sit back and relax — you might want to take a nap once you get through it!

Gather the ingredients for this all-out Cuban sandwich recipe

For the roast pork, you'll need to make a marinade with olive oil, orange juice, lime juice, light brown sugar, kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, smoked paprika, ground cumin, dried oregano, garlic cloves, and a coarsely chopped onion. Maroney calls for pork butt for this recipe, promising a tender result. 

To assemble the sandwich, you'll need Cuban sandwich loaves, which are similar to soft French or Italian white bread. Halve them along their length. Next, soften some salted butter and get yellow mustard, large dill pickles (slice them thinly crosswise), sliced honey-glazed ham, and Swiss cheese slices. As Maroney notes, "The yellow mustard, Swiss cheese, and pickles are a classic combination for this sandwich," however, that's not to say you can't try something new. "If you want to switch it up, you can try different kinds of mustard," she says, or "a little mayo and brown mustard in place of the yellow mustard." Maroney adds, "I like changing up the cheese sometimes. A provolone is nice!"

Step 1: Prep the pork marinade

Combine all of the roast pork ingredients except for the pork butt in a food processor until smooth.

Step 2: Marinate the pork

Pierce the pork with a sharp knife several times on each side. Place the pork into a bowl and cover it with the marinade. Wrap the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours or up to 24.

Step 3: Start cooking the pork

Preheat the oven to 325 F and line a roasting pan with foil. Remove the pork from the marinade and place it on the pan. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 2 ½ hours.

Step 4: Continue cooking the pork on high

Remove the foil and raise the oven temperature to 425 F. Cook the pork for an additional 1 ½ hours, until the pork is tender and the internal temperature has reached 150 F.

Step 5: Slice the pork

Cover and set the pork aside to cool, then slice it into ¼-inch slices.

Step 6: Assemble the sandwich

Spread a tablespoon of butter over the top and bottom of each loaf of bread and 1 tablespoon of mustard over the top piece. On the bottom piece, layer a quarter of each of the following ingredients in order: roast pork, pickle, ham, and Swiss cheese, and finish with the top piece of bread, mustard-side down. You should have butter on the outside of both halves of the assembled sandwich.

Step 7: Press the sandwich and serve

Place the sandwich in a panini press or a preheated cast-iron skillet with a heavy lid to press down the top. Cook the sandwiches for 6 minutes or until the bread is golden brown and the cheese has melted. Repeat with the remaining sandwiches. Cut the sandwiches in half on a bias and serve with your favorite chips.

Can I make Cuban sandwiches without a panini press?

While a panini press makes for simple, hands-off cooking when it comes to Cuban sandwiches, it's very much possible to make one without this specific piece of equipment. In fact, traditional Cuban sandwiches don't typically have those grill marks you'd get with a panini press, so either a griddle press or pan would make more sense. Murray's preferred method involves preheating a cast iron skillet over medium, then placing the buttered sandwich into it. Then weigh the top with a foil-lined grill weight; you can even use another heavy skillet here. If using the skillet method, just be sure to remove the weight and flip the sandwich halfway through the 6-minute cooking period.

And if you do decide to go out and get a panini press, just know that you don't have to make only sandwiches in it! In a rather unconventional panini press hack, Alton Brown utilizes his when making breakfast. He'll cook some bacon in it, then use the bacon grease to whip up an easy omelet.

Can I make Cuban sandwiches in advance?

While you'll want to wait to assemble and grill your sandwich until you're ready to actually serve it, there are a couple of elements you can make in advance if you're looking to plan ahead and save some time. Both have to do with that big hunk of pork.

"You can prep the marinade up to 3 days in advance," Maroney advises. Just store it in the fridge until you're ready to use it. Alternatively, you can freeze the uncooked pork in the marinade (throw it in a freezer-safe zip-top bag) for up to 3 months. Once you thaw it overnight in the fridge, it'll be ready to cook.

Maroney also notes that this recipe makes a rather large amount of roast pork — probably more than you'll end up using in your sandwiches. So if you want, you can make the pork in advance and serve it with, say, Cuban rice and plantains (either savory tostones or sweet maduros). Just make sure you save some, then use those leftovers to make your sandwiches. The cooked pork will last in the fridge for up to 3 days.

All-Out Cuban Sandwich Recipe
5 from 489 ratings
In this classic Cuban sandwich, roast pork is layered with ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and yellow mustard before getting grilled to golden perfection.
Prep Time
8.42
hours
Cook Time
4.4
hours
Servings
4
Sandwiches
stacked Cuban sandwich with pickles
Total time: 12 hours, 49 minutes
Ingredients
  • For the roast pork
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 (3-pound) pork butt
  • For the Cuban Sandwich
  • 1 stick salted butter, softened and divided
  • 4 (8 to 10-inch) Cuban sandwich loaves, halved lengthwise
  • ⅓ cup yellow mustard
  • 4 large dill pickles, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1 pound honey-glazed ham, sliced
  • 16 (1-ounce) slices Swiss cheese
Directions
  1. Combine all of the roast pork ingredients except for the pork butt in a food processor until smooth.
  2. Pierce the pork with a sharp knife several times on each side.
  3. Place the pork into a bowl and cover it with the marinade.
  4. Wrap the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours or up to 24.
  5. Preheat the oven to 325 F and line a roasting pan with foil.
  6. Remove the pork from the marinade and place it on the pan.
  7. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 2 ½ hours.
  8. Remove the foil and raise the oven temperature to 425 F.
  9. Cook the pork for an additional 1 ½ hours, until the pork is tender and the internal temperature has reached 150 F.
  10. Cover and set the pork aside to cool, then slice it into ¼-inch slices.
  11. Spread a tablespoon of butter over the top and bottom of each loaf of bread and 1 tablespoon of mustard over the top piece.
  12. On the bottom piece, layer a quarter of each of the following ingredients in order: roast pork, pickle, ham, and Swiss cheese, and finish with the top piece of bread, mustard-side down. You should have butter on the outside of both halves of the assembled sandwich.
  13. Place the sandwich in a panini press or a preheated cast-iron skillet with a heavy lid to press down the top.
  14. Cook the sandwiches for 6 minutes (or 3 minutes per side if using the cast-iron pan method) until the bread is golden brown and the cheese has melted. Repeat with the remaining sandwiches.
  15. Cut the sandwiches in half on a bias and serve with your favorite chips.
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