Cuban Sandwich Cubano
These Cuban sandwiches are restaurant delicious, easier to make than you think, make fabulous holiday/party food and are seeping with flavor in every mouthwatering bite! They are layered with mesmerizing garlic-citrus mojo roast pork, smoky Black Forest ham, nutty, melty Gruyere Swiss cheese, tangy pickles and mustard on super crispy, golden, buttery bread. These Cubano sandwiches are a decadent handheld masterpiece that’s a whole meal in itself and the best way to use leftover mojo pork! In this Cuban sandwich recipe, I’ve included tips to tricks, how to make ahead and how to freeze leftovers, should you be so lucky.
Servings Prep Time
4-8 15minutes, not counting mojo pork recipe
Cook Time
15minutes
Servings Prep Time
4-8 15minutes, not counting mojo pork recipe
Cook Time
15minutes
Cuban sandwiches (Cubanos) stacked on top of each other showing the layers of Swiss cheese, ham, mojo pork
Ingredients
  • 1 Cuban loaf or wide Italian or French bread(1 pound)
  • 2tablespoons butterif using a cast iron skillet
  • 2-4tablespoons softened butter(2 TBS for skillet, 4 TBS for panini press or grill pan)
  • 3tablespoons yellow deli mustard
  • 3tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2tablespoons reserved unused mojo pork marinade(in directions)
  • 8ounces Swiss Gruyere cheesethinly sliced
  • 4 large dill pickles, thinly sliced crosswisemore or less as needed
  • 1pound mojo Cuban roast porksliced
  • 6ounces Black Forest or smoked hamthinly sliced
Instructions
  1. Slice bread in halve lengthwise then in half vertically. Heat a panini press, grill pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Working in batches if needed, toast all halves of the bread, cut side down until golden, about 2 minutes (prevents soggy bread). Remove to a flat worksurface; set aside.
  2. Whisk the mustard, mayonnaise and 1 ½ tablespoon mojo marinade together in a small bowl. (Use the marinade from the 1 ½ cups unused, reserved marinade in the Cuban mojo pork recipe). Spread over all 4 cut sides of the bread.
  3. Layer the bottom of one baguette with a quarter of the cheese, half the pickles, half the pork, half the ham, then top with a quarter of cheese (the cheese glues everything together). Repeat with second baguette, using the rest of the ingredients.
  4. For a panini press: heat over medium heat. Brush the bottom and top of the grill with butter. Grill for approximately 6 minutes or until golden and the cheese is melted.
  5. For a grill pan or skillet: Brush a grill pan with softened butter or melt 1 tablespoon butter in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add one sandwich and set another cast iron skillet on top of the sandwich to press it down (you can also top with a lighter skillet and fill with cans).
  6. Cook for approximately 3-4 minutes or until toasted. Remove the top skillet and brush some softened butter all over the top side of the sandwich. Flip the sandwich over, top with a skillet, and toast an additional 3-4 minutes or until the bottom is toasted and the cheese is melted. Repeat with remaining sandwich. Cut each sandwiches in half or into quarters.
Recipe Notes

TIPS FOR THE BEST CUBAN SANDWICH recipe

  • Use the best Cuban Mojo Roast Pork for the best Cuban sandwiches!  If you don’t use the mojo pork recipe, I cannot guarantee epic delicious results.
  • You can roast the pork a few days in advance and just pull it out when you’re ready to make Cuban sandwiches.
  • Cook the Cuban roast pork to 180 to 190 degrees F for carvable tender. If you want shredded pork for your Cubanos, then roast to 205 degrees F. The high internal temperature allows collagen to break down, resulting extra juicy pork.
  • If you can’t find Cuban bread, select a long, wide “French” or “Italian” bread from the bakery section of your grocery store that’s easy to squish down.  Pick the freshest loaf possible and try and use it immediately.
  • When toasting the bread,  you can butter the cut sides of the bread for added yum, or place the bread directly in your skillet (note this is for toasting, butter is non-negotiable for pressing).
  • Don’t skip the mayo! Only using mustard will result in dry bread or overpowering mustard. The mayo adds a rich spreadability while toning down the mustard. I know this is blasphemy to some, but it simply produces the best Cuban sandwiches.
  • Choose quality ingredients for quality Cubanos. I recommend Black Forest applewood smoked ham and Gruyere Swiss cheese.  Purchase them at the deli counter of your grocery store and ask them to thinly slice both of them for you (makes your life easier and it’s free!).
  • Feel free to add salami for Tampa style Cuban sandwiches.
  • When layering the Cubano, it’s important to start and end with cheese—it’s the melty glue that holds all the sandwich components together.
  • Don’t toast your Cubanos at too high of heat or the bread will toast before the cheese melts. Once the cheese melts and you still want a more golden exterior, then you can crank up the heat.
  • Customize your Cubano sandwiches!  You can add more or less cheese, ham, pork or pickles.  

MAKE AHEAD TIPS

Cubanos can be assembled 100% ahead of time or prepared in stages.  Here’s how:

  • Make pork:  the mojo Cuban pork can be marinated and roasted three days ahead of time or frozen for up to three months.  When ready to make your Cuban sandwiches, simply assemble and grill in minutes.
  • Partially assemble Cubanos:  layer the sandwich ingredients and place on the toasted bread but don’t add the mustard sauce yet. Wrap assembled Cuban sandwiches in foil and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.  When ready to grill, let the sandwiches sit at room temperature for 30 minutes so they grill evenly.  Open the sandwich, spread the mustard sauce on half of the bread, flip the sandwich over and slather the other half of the bread.  Proceed to grill per recipe instructions.
  • Fully assemble Cubanos: The key to assembling Cubano sandwiches 100% in advance is to make sure the bread is super toasted so it doesn’t become soggy from the mustard sauce.  Assemble the sandwiches completely, wrap in foil and refrigerate for up to 3 hours.  When ready to grill, let the sandwiches sit at room temperature for 30 minutes so they grill evenly. 
  • Fully make/grill Cubanos:  this comes in handy if making this Cuban sandwich recipe for a crowd, party or for a speedy dinner. Simply grill the Cubanos 30 minutes ahead of time and leave at room temperature until your guests arrive.  I can personally attest to room-temperature Cubano deliciousness as both my husband and I devoured the pictured Cubanos after they had cooled – and they were incredible.

How to store and reheat

  • Storage:  Wrap Cubanos in foil and store in the refrigerator for up o 5 days.
  • Microwave: Cubano sandwiches reheat surprising well in the microwave because the bread is so crispy to begin with.  To reheat, transfer to a microwave safe plate and microwave for 20-30 seconds.  The longer you heat the Cubanos, the softer the bread will become, so don’t overdo it.
  • Stove: melt some butter in a skillet over medium heat and cook for a couple minutes or until warmed to your liking, flipping the sandwich halfway.  No need to press again because the sandwich is already compressed. 
  • Oven:  wrap the Cubanos in foil and bake at 350 degrees F for 5 to 7 minutes.

How to freeze 

  • Prepare the recipe according to recipe instructions, including grilling. 
  • Let each sandwich cool completely then place in individual freezer bags and squeeze out excess air.
  • Freeze for up to three months. 
  • When ready to use, thaw in the refrigerator, then let the sandwich(es) sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. 
  • Re-toast in a skillet to crisp up the exterior again by melting some butter in a skillet over medium heat and cooking for a couple minutes.  No need to press again because the sandwich is already compressed. 
  • Re-warm in oven: alternatively, you can warm the Cubanos in the oven by wrapping in foil and baking at 350 degrees F for 5 to 7 minutes. The exterior won’t be quite as crispy but still tasty.