Sandwiches for Supper
Pick-me-up sandwich recipes to make dinner simple and satisfying — from jazzed up burgers and hot dogs to spicy banh mis, stuffed arepas, and even a vegetarian twist on a Reuben
Crispy Cod Sandwich from Eating Well
Once upon a time, making dinner was a glorious adventure (or at least a reasonably rewarding way to relax, get creative, and feed yourself too). But that was B.C. (before children/career/Covid/choose-your-own "can’t handle cooking tonight" conundrum). Or maybe you never really liked making dinner but still need to eat. Whichever scenario you relate to most, this story has a happy ending.
Here’s the plot twist: Instead of making a “real” meal (read: entrée, side dish, and veggie), serve sandwiches for supper. If it sounds a little wrong, hear me out. One busy weeknight, when no one’s schedule aligned, this mama dialed it in with a sheet pan full of grilled cheese sandwiches and the whole family was happy. It was a lightbulb moment: The humble sandwich was a viable solution for streamlining dinner prep!
Sure, sandwiches for supper are a little subversive. Society says at dinnertime we sit down, eat what we’re served, and use table manners. Sandwiches wink, “Hey, you can take me to go. I’m made just for you. I’m kinda messy.” Serve them, and the possibility is real that folks can eat fast and jump up from the table to do their own thing. Fortunately, sandwiches are also fun. If they’re on the menu, there’s a good chance everyone will relax and hang out instead — especially if there’s a big platter of fries on the table.
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Dinner sandwich Q&A
Let's walk through some sandwich basics, shall we?
What counts as a sandwich?
So just what qualifies as a sandwich? And what makes a particular type of sandwich supper-worthy? My totally subjective sense is that at their simplest, sandwiches a) need both a moderately substantial carbohydrate-based carrier and at least one filling, and b) can be ferried to the mouth with one’s hands. (Dainty types will be forgiven for preferring to use a fork and knife with exceptionally messy, well-loaded sandwiches, though where’s the fun in that?)
Classic grilled cheese? Undeniably a sandwich. Spinach and goat cheese crepe? I see your substantial filling, but pardon, Mademoiselle Crepe, you are entirely too diaphanous to be a sandwich. Pizza? Not a sandwich, even if you fold your slice. Falafel, or chicken salad, or veggies stuffed in a pita? Sandwich. Wraps rolled in flour tortillas, naan, lavash, etc. make the cut. Wraps in kale leaves do not, though greens of all sorts make a perfectly acceptable sandwich filling. Some say hot dogs don’t count, but if we’re going to discriminate against a torpedo-shaped bun, it’s a slippery slope to denying po'boys, hoagies, and meatball subs their rightful sandwich status. (Also, Angela Bassett greenlights the frank, and I’m not about to argue.) Both regular and gluten-free breads will push most eat-it-with-your-hands meals into sandwich territory. Bagels make sandwiches. Biscuits are a maybe. And I don’t want to be right if it’s wrong to say that arepas (whether you use two or split one) + filling = sandwich.
What kinds of sandwiches are good for dinner?
As for dinner recipes, sammies that read like a meal between bread (i.e. protein + veggies + condiments) are the most satisfying. It helps to break past standards like tuna melts, Sloppy Joes, and BLTs to try out some new sandwich ideas, but we’re bucking rules here, so it’s really whatever you’re in the mood for. If they’re substantial enough, you can serve them solo. Want sides? Think sweet potato (or regular) fries, slaws, salads, and/or soup.
Do I have to follow a sandwich recipe?
Here’s the beauty of sandwiches: since you’re talking about stacked fillings (rather than ingredients meant to blend while cooking), they're easily customized. So if that Philly cheesesteak looks good, but you’re vegetarian, (or allergic to dairy, or keep kosher … ) you can choose a plant-based meat and/or cheese substitute instead of the real deal. Similar swaps can be employed for DIY condiments. There are also lots of gluten-free breads and rolls on the market. In other words, sandwiches are deliciously accessible, no matter what your dietary needs or culinary preferences. Consider the recipes below your one-stop sandwich shop.
Skip the drive through and expand your burger horizons with these fresh takes on a dinnertime fave
Channel that dockside restaurant vibe with these satisfyingly spicy salmon burgers.
Lentils (versus the more typical beans) are the base for these easy, protein-packed veggie burgers.
Lean ground turkey, feta, and Mediterranean herbs give these burgers a Greek spin. Need a dairy-free version? Replace the feta with sauteed chopped spinach and/or fresh dill and make your own vegan tzatziki.
Hot dog sandwich recipes
From street carts and ballparks to backyard barbecues, hot dogs are undeniably popular. Not sure they deserve sandwich status? Dress them up a little, and you may start to see it.
Fresh ginger and sriracha add a little kick to the colorful cabbage and carrot slaw that tops these dogs.
This recipe starts with precooked chicken sausages. If you don’t have a grill, try reheating them according to the package directions. (You can roast or sauté the pineapple and onions, too.)
This may have been one of my wackiest recipe assignments, but these meatless dogs are surprisingly tasty, especially if you include the optional goat cheese or feta.
Whether you opt for canned, smoked, or fresh, fish makes a nutritious, convenient sandwich filling
There’s no mayo in this fresh, light take on tuna salad — lemon, olive oil, and parsley punch up the flavor instead.
A clever wire rack baking hack turns this cornflake-crusted cod crispy without frying.
Smoked salmon with cream cheese is a classic combo, but if you don’t do dairy, it’s equally delish with creamy avocado and peppery greens.
If you’re convinced you hate sardines, but can’t remember ever actually trying them, give them a go — they’re savory, a little salty, and not particularly fishy if you opt for the skinless and boneless ones. The chopped tomatoes and fresh herbs in this sandwich complement them perfectly.
International sandwich recipes
One of the many pleasures of travel is dining like a local — and that means checking out your destination’s iconic sandwiches
Semolina-dredged sea bass gets quickly pan-fried, then served on a roll with arugula and tomato. (Use 3- to 4-ounce filets). If you can’t find prepared Muhammara, try this recipe to make your own.
Before a stint on the grill, the chicken in these gyros gets marinated in a classic mix of lemon, olive oil, oregano, thyme, and garlic. (If you’re short on time, you can use leftover cooked chicken instead.)
The Encanto-obsessed will love these little pan-fried cornmeal cakes from Colombia that work great as the basis for fillings or toppings. Add some mozzarella cheese if you're a grilled cheese lover. You’ll need masarepa (pre-cooked cornmeal) to make them. P.A.N. is a popular brand and is gluten-free.
Once you’ve mastered basic arepas, try these chicken and avocado salad-filled ones.
Andrea Nguyen offers lots of tips for assembling a fantastic vegetarian banh mi. Be sure to check out her easy do chua (carrot and daikon quick pickle) recipe. If you want to make the crusty Vietnamese-style baguettes from scratch, her recipe is top-notch.
Po’ boys galore
These creative riffs on the New Orleans icon will jazz up your sandwich game
Consider this recipe a two-for-one; Ramshackle Pantry blogger Ben Myhre used extra-firm tofu to make a vegetarian version for his wife.
Po’ boys are usually made with fried seafood or roast beef, so they’re not exactly vegetarian-friendly. But this vegan version is not only equal-opportunity, it’ll make use of those hearts of palm languishing in the pantry.
Yes, you can cook canned tuna! These flavorful po’ boys are the perfect way to upgrade the pantry staple.
Sandwiches for meat lovers
Feed those carnivorous cravings with these substantial, meat-packed sandwiches
Skirt steak, caramelized onions, and lemon-dressed greens make a fab combo. If you need to keep things dairy-free, use extra olive oil in place of the butter. If you can’t find watercress, try baby arugula or spinach.
A smoky spice rub and a spicy-sweet sauce pack loads of flavor into these hearty sandwiches. Cool broccoli slaw is the ideal counterpoint to the saucy chicken.
Craving a classic triple-decker club sandwich? Here’s your go-to recipe. Try veggie “bacon” if you don’t eat pork; there are also beef and turkey bacons with kosher or halal certifications on the market.
Who says you need meat to make a satisfying sammie? No one who’s tasted these veggie-packed versions.
An Italian panini with mozzarella, pesto, tomatoes, and balsamic ... we can’t help but agree with the reviewer who wrote, “I could eat this every day.”
Phew! Did we mention that not only is everything on this bagel sandwich, but it’s on an everything bagel?
I used to be pretty sure I didn’t like beets, or sauerkraut, or Swiss cheese. Turns out stacking them all on rye with some apples and garlic-ginger mayo makes an excellent vegetarian take on a typically meaty deli classic.
If you catch us starting at our dinner, it’s because the quick-pickled veggie ribbons on this open-faced sandwich are so pretty.
This hearty vegan recipe has earned rave reviews, and it’s versatile too — make it with seitan, or use mushrooms only if you need to keep things gluten-free.
Sandwich lovers unite!
There are so many more sandwich ideas to explore. Continue the sammie adventure with these related Yummly articles.