The Art of Making a Perfect Sandwich


Sandwiches: a simple yet complex combination of all food groups into one perfect structure of deliciousness. Maybe that sentence was a bit overdramatic but we can all agree that there is nothing like a perfect sandwich.

There are plentiful ways and techniques to craft one– each culture and individual has its own unique take on what constitutes a perfect sandwich. Being a big fan of these wonderful concoctions, I’ve made it my mission to find out how to make the perfect sandwich.

After studying the methods proposed by Ethan Chlebowski, food science content creator, Frank Proto, professional chef, and Jake the Dog everyone’s favorite yellow dog, I have concluded that an ideal sandwich is balanced, has satisfying textures, and is well-seasoned. I have crafted a standard personalizable procedure to create the perfect sandwich to achieve these three goals. Let’s break it down.

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  • As the hearty foundation of any respectable sandwich, good bread is essential to perfect this craftsmanship. The type of bread you choose will depend on what kind of sandwich you want to make. Homemade bread would be ideal but since most of us don’t have the time or supplies to make it, store-bought will do just fine. When choosing, keep in mind the most important aspects of sandwich-making: balance and texture. Choose a bread that provides structure and fluffiness to your sandwich. My go-to choices are sourdough or a mini baguette from the bakery section at the grocery store. 
  • TIP: No one likes a soggy sandwich. To prevent this, lightly toast the insides of the bread before assembly. This makes a notable difference in the structure of the end product.
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  • This is what transforms a sandwich into a meal rather than a heavy snack. Even if you don’t eat meat, you should choose proteins whose flavors don’t clash with each other. You could choose cold cuts for their smoky flavor and stackability, leftover chicken for more volume, or even hard-boiled eggs for their custardy texture. Depending on the flavor profiles you’re going for, you can get very creative with the combinations. A good base for most sandwiches is turkey, given its light flavor that can be paired with multiple different types of meat. In an Italian sandwich, for example, pastrami, turkey, and pepperoni make a solid combination. For a non-meat option, pickled beets, arugula, and goat cheese could be a delicious pairing.
  • TIP: If one of your meat choices is on the drier side, Ethan Chlebowski recommends adding a thin layer of sauce/dressing in between meats to balance the textures.    
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  • Adding the right toppings to a sandwich will take the experience of eating it to the next level. Choose toppings wisely– they should add complementary flavors to your creations while providing enjoyable textures and balancing flavor profiles. For example, if your protein and bread of choice are on the hearty/smoky side, add some pickled vegetables (onions, cucumbers, jalapeños, etc.) to brighten up the sandwich. The acidity of the pickled veggies will add a subtle layer of crunch while adding that extra kick that the sandwich needs. Fresh veggies are also a must. Freshly shredded lettuce paired with thinly sliced tomatoes will provide structure and an array of textures that are key to a great sandwich. Lastly, if you are adding cheese, pay attention to the flavors and melting points. Some cheeses are enjoyed better at room temperature while others bring you on a whole new trip when melted.
  • TIP: Season your veggies! If you are the kind of person who normally takes out the tomatoes from their sandwiches/burgers, try sprinkling some salt and pepper on them before assembly. As a former tomato disliker, this small step makes them a lot more enjoyable.
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  • This is the part where you can transform the flavors of your creation. However, it is easy to get carried away and not make the best choices for the integrity of your sandwich. When adding sauces or condiments, less is more– you don’t want ingredients to overpower each other, they should all work in harmony. A light spread of mayo, for example, provides some fat to balance out the sandwich while adding creaminess and tanginess. You can add hot sauce, salad dressing, or garlic butter– the possibilities are endless! Also, don’t be afraid to use sweet condiments. Some sweet honey mustard would go great on a chicken sandwich.
b 578335 of the Best Condiments to Pair with Your Chicken Sandwich
Image Courtesy of La Rosa Chicken.

Assembly + Presentation

  • Now that you have chosen all the parts, the moment has come to assemble the sandwich. Have your bread halves ready. Spread a layer of your thickest condiments onto each side. Place your cheese and/or protein on top. Make sure to cover the entire surface area evenly– the goal is for each bite to have a bit of everything. Next, place your toppings strategically. Place them in a way that makes sense and doesn’t compromise the structure of the sandwich. Add your final condiments, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and place the top half. Lastly, wrap it. Whether it’s with aluminum foil or parchment paper, wrapping the sandwich will transform the meal into a more satisfying experience. Cut in half, admire that stunning cross-section, and enjoy your masterpiece.
  • TIP: In 99.9% of the cases, cutting the sandwich diagonally instead of straight down will make it taste better. This is a scientific fact.
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Image Courtesy of Bounded by Buns.

We’ve gone through a long journey but at last, you have made the perfect sandwich. This formula can be customized in infinite ways to appeal to your taste but it will definitively make a great sandwich every time. This article might not be everyone’s cup of tea (or loaf of bread) but, if there’s anything you should take from this, is that doing things with intention automatically elevates the experience. I wrote this article not only to express my love for sandwiches; but also to share how putting some heart and thought into tasks, as mundane and simple as they may seem, can allow you to encounter happiness in the smaller instances of your life.

Mia Leonardo
Mia Leonardo
Driven and curious individual with a passion for art, writing, and creating.

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