Grilled Cuban Sandwiches
Packed with 3 types of meat, cheese and pickles, these Grilled Cuban Sandwiches are a delicious way to mix up dinner on the grill!
There are many, many recipes out there with murky origins. Did Brunswick Stew originate in Virginia or Georgia? Does Key Lime Pie hail from the Florida Keys…or from New York City? Is Red Velvet Cake a Southern tradition, or was it originally created at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City? The list…and the debates…can go on and on. Let’s enter these Grilled Cuban Sandwiches into the fray.
Grilled Cuban Sandwiches clearly draw their name from the island nation located off the southern tip of Florida. But where does the recipe itself come from? Did these sandwiches originate in Cuba? The most popular argument is that Grilled Cuban Sandwiches were popular lunch options for the cigar factory workers in Ybor City, a suburb/neighborhood of Tampa. However, Miami also lays claim to the Cuban, and the history of this sandwich has started a “spirited” rivalry between these 2 cities.
Regardless of origin, one thing remains certain: Grilled Cuban Sandwiches are really, really, really ridiculously tasty. (Yes, I just borrowed that reference from Zoolander. No, I am not ashamed of it.) Have you ever made Cuban sandwiches at home? They’re not that difficult, and these sammiches are a great way to embrace summer grilling season. It’s hard to beat a good grilled sandwich!
Grilled Cuban Sandwiches
The basic ingredients of a Cuban sandwich are simple: roasted pork, ham, Swiss cheese and pickles. Oh, and mustard. But, aye, there’s the rub. (Yes, I just quoted Shakepeare in the same article as Zoolander.) Should this sandwich use yellow mustard or mayonnaise? Grilled Cuban Sandwiches in Tampa may include a layer of mayo while the Miami version of this delicious sandwich features only mustard. And this isn’t just a personal preference. The use of mayonnaise in a Cuban sandwich lies at the heart of the battle between Tampa and Miami.
The choice of condiment isn’t the only point of contention, either. The biggest sticking point? Salami. A Cuban sandwich in Tampa will likely include salami while a former Miami mayor noted that salami should be reserved for pizza only. The inclusion of salami in Grilled Cuban Sandwiches is almost certainly a byproduct of the mixing of Cuban and Italian immigrants in the Tampa area.
I included salami in this version of the recipe. After all, my wife comes from a large Italian family, so the decision to add salami to a recipe is usually a no-brainer. (We celebrated Christmas this past year with a big pot of spaghetti and meatballs.) I also went off-script and used Dijon mustard instead of yellow mustard. I know ‘dem might be fightin’ words’ in some parts of the country, but I just love Dijon mustard. In fact, every time I order a burger at a restaurant, I immediately ask for a side of Dijon mustard.
No matter the historical origin or the optional ingredients, one thing remains: Grilled Cuban Sandwiches are delicious! So fire up that grill and make a batch of sandwiches this weekend. I promise there won’t be any leftovers to fight over!
Did you make these Grilled Cuban Sandwiches at home? Leave a comment, or better yet snap a photo and tag me on Instagram (@Spicedblog). I’d love to see your version!
Grilled Cuban Sandwiches
For the Pork Marinade
- 4 boneless pork chops
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp minced garlic
- 1 lime zest and juice
- 1 orange zest and juice
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- ¼ cup Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ¼ tsp dried red chili peppers
For the Sandwiches
- Cuban bread or 4 kaiser rolls
- 4 Tbsp Dijon mustard
- 12 thinly sliced pieces Swiss cheese
- 8 slices deli ham
- 1 cup thinly sliced dill pickles
- 12 slices salami
For the Pork
- Trim pork chops and place on a large cutting board. Cover with plastic wrap and pound with a mallet until ½” thick. Place pork chops in a glass baking dish.
- Using a small bowl, add remaining marinade ingredients (olive oil, garlic, lime zest and lime juice, orange zest and orange juice, cumin, oregano, mustard, salt, pepper and chili pepper); stir until well combined.
- Add marinade ingredients to baking dish, turning several times until pork is well coated. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
- Remove pork chops and place on grill. Discard excess marinade.
- Grill for 3-4 minutes per side, or until pork is fully cooked.
For the Sandwiches
- Reduce grill to medium-heat.
- Split the Kaiser rolls and spread mustard on bottom of rolls.
- Layer Swiss cheese, ham, pickles, salami and pork chops. (Tip: The cheese will help secure meats together, so alternate cheese layers in between meat and pickles.) Place tops on Kaiser rolls.
- Place sandwiches on grill and cover lightly with foil. Place a heavy item (cast iron skillet or even a brick) on top of sandwiches.
- Grill for 3-4 minutes, flipping once, or until cheese has melted and bread is browned and crispy.
Looking for some more tasty sandwich recipes? Check out these other favorites, too:
Slow Cooker Italian Beef Sandwiches
Grilled Chicken Salad Sandwich
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These certainly look tasty! I never grilled a sandwich on my bbq grill before but this is a new technique I need to try! This looks perfect for this weekend grilling!
Grilling sandwiches is such a fun twist, Kathy! I highly recommend it. (I also recommend grilling quesadillas if you’ve never tried that one, too.) These Cuban sandwiches have a ton of flavor…they’re great on the grill! 🙂
I make Cuban sandwiches often, because my granddaughter calls me and asks that I make them for her. I just served them for her 18th birthday earlier this month, as was her wish. I use mayo on one side of the bread and Dijon mustard on the other. Luckily, I am able to find a bread here locally called pan de tortas (bread for tortas). Tortas are sandwiches found in Mexico using different fillings, sometimes using chicken, beef, ham, etc. I don’t use or have a grill, so I’ll be asking my son in law to grill them the next time I make them. Thanks for the suggestion.
That’s so great that you made your granddaughter Cuban sandwiches for her 18th birthday! I love that story. 🙂 So you use both mayo and Dijon? I’ll have to try both next time we whip up a batch of these! And I have indeed heard of pan de tortas, but I’ve never seen it up here in our area. Oh, and yes to asking your son-in-law to grill up some Cuban sandwiches. The grill flavor is SO good in there! Thanks, Terri!
They really are ridiculously tasty, David! These beauties need to be on our menu for the long weekend ahead!
Yes! This coming weekend is going to be a grilling celebration. We’ll have the usuals like hot dogs and hamburgers, but I’m planning on another round of these grilled Cuban sandwiches, too. Yum! Hope you have a great holiday weekend, Marissa!
crumbs! pork AND ham in one sandwich. sadly i don’t eat pork but i do eat a bit of ham. yep i know – absolutely no logic there at all! i know it’s from the same beastie but i just can’t do pork – omg that texture, that human-like colour… anyways your sanger looks fabulous!
Hey, I respect whatever choices you make when it comes to food, Sherry! I must say that these sandwiches are delicious. Perhaps you could grill another type of sandwich? The grill adds so much flavor to anything and everything!
I would be happy to eat these any time of day – what a tasty sandwich, David! I love how full of flavour it is, and that it is grilled!
Grilling adds so much flavor to everything, Alex! So when you start with something delicious like Cuban sandwiches, you’re bound to end up with an amazing grilled meal. 🙂 Thanks so much, my friend!
OHHHH MY GOODNESS this is one PERFECTLY grilled sandwich! The bread, the layers, absolutely delicious! I had no idea there was such debate between Tampa and Miami over the proper Cuban sandwich, how fascinating! I love fun food facts and histories like that. Any version sounds delicious to me, but your recipe here David is absolutely perfect!
I know! The Cuban sandwich debate is quite interesting…and quite heated. Both cities claim their version is the best. As far as I’m concerned, I’m just glad the Cuban sandwich is a thing because it’s amazing. Plus, the grill adds so much flavor! Thanks so much, Shannon! 🙂
Delicious, absolutely astonished how delicious this sandwich is! Yummy, thanks so much for sharing!
A good Cuban sandwich is hard to beat, Chef! But then you go and cook it on the grill? The flavor is outstanding! 🙂 Thanks so much, my friend!
I love a good Cuban sandwich. I remember quite a few years ago being in Florida around the Tampa area and having my first Cuban sandwich, it was love at first bite. This one looks yummy!
I have been to Tampa, although it years ago and I don’t think I had a Cuban sandwich while I was there. Come to think, I’ve been to Miami, too. No Cuban there either. I clearly need to go back sometime! 🙂
I just want you to know that I’ve got your back in the Dijon Mustard fight! No body takes a swing at my Mustard Brother. Here is a serious question for you…do you like bbq sauce and dijon mustard? That is my favorite burger and hotdog topping combo.
I’m not sure I’ve ever had a Cuban sandwich…shocking, but true. I do appreciate that the debate is so spirited that city mayors chime in. lol
That’s what I’m talkin’ about, Lindsey! It’s good knowing I’ve got you in my corner here. I love (!!) Dijon on burgers. Laura actually does BBQ sauce usually, but I’ve never tried combining the two together. I trust your opinion (a lot) so I’m going to try that this weekend. We’ll have plenty of burgers on the grill thanks to the long weekend! Also, you should try a Cuban sandwich sometime. They’re freakin’ delicious. Just sayin’.
Everytime I think of a Cuban sandwich I have two thoughts cross my mind. First, is the movie Chef (obviously). Second, Havanna. Now, like you say it isn’t from Cuba technically, but it just feels right to think about it (they do eat a lot of pork in Cuba!). I want one of those sandwiches right now!
Chef! I can’t believe I didn’t make that connection. Haha – thanks for that one! These sandwiches are packed with so much flavor, Matt. And while they might not technically be from Cuba, they were developed with Cubans in mind…so that’s close enough for me!
I never knew so much about Cuban sandwiches! I just love ’em, though! And you’re seriously making me crave this for breakfast right now. I woke up a tad hungry and this would just hit the spot! Can’t wait to try, David! Hope your week is going awesome, my friend 🙂
Hey, I’m on board with Cuban sandwiches for breakfast! Try grilling your Cubans next time, Dawn…they are SO good. 🙂
I know it’s gonna be good when I want to have a bite right after I’ve already finished dinner. Seriously, looks so fantastic. And I always enjoy your culinary lessons. 🙂 ~Valentina
Haha! Thanks so much, Valentina. I’ve gotta say these grilled Cuban sandwiches are a delicious summer recipe on the grill. 🙂
Ohh man, you made me real hungry with those sammies! I like it that way meaty and grilled.
A good grilled sammie is hard to beat, Raymund! These are perfect for summer grilling. 🙂
These look delicious David! Hopefully I’ll be able to get my BBQ out soon and I’d love to give these grilled sandwiches a go. Yum!
I’ve challenged you to get that grill out, Neil! Now you’ve gotta do it. Just once a month. That’s not too hard, right?? (And if you succeed with once a month, then I’m moving the new timeline next year up to once every 3 weeks. Just a fair warning!)