posted April 19, 2021
Smoky Cuban Sandwich
This Smoky Cuban Sandwich is made with layers of citrus seasoned pulled pork, peppery ham, and melty swiss. Next comes the killer flavor combo of dill pickles and robust mustard. All of this is stuffed inside a loaf of crusty bread, pressed flat, and grilled to perfection.
What is a Cuban Sandwich?
A Cuban sandwich (AKA a Cuban mix or Cubano) is similar to a ham and cheese sandwich. It is usually made with ham, roasted pork, and Swiss cheese. Additional toppings include pickles, mustard, and occasionally salami (if you’re in Tampa, Florida). The whole thing is served on Cuban bread (a white bread similar to French bread) then cooked similar to a panini.
Cuban sandwiches originated in Florida, though the actual place of origin isn’t exactly known, and the sandwich is still extremely popular in the state (especially in Miami and Tampa).
Smoked Pork Cuban Sandwich
These Smoky Cuban Sandwiches were created (as many of my recipes are) from the question, “What is hiding in my fridge that I need to use before it goes bad?” I hate wasting food and my husband hates leftovers, so I’ve got to reinvent anything we haven’t eaten into something entirely new.
This post/recipe was born from our beloved hoard of leftover pulled pork. If you only ever used leftover pulled pork to make these Cubanos, then your life would be the best life in the whole world.
Did you know that a pork shoulder is at least $1-$2 less per pound than ground beef? Start changing your mind-set on a few things and you could save your family some serious cash and effort. Make 2 batches of pulled pork a month, freeze into portions and use in place of your ground beef. Think pulled pork tacos, lasagna, enchiladas, omelets, these huevos rancheros, soups. The possibilities are endless!
Cuban Sandwich Ingredients
If you didn’t know this about me, pickles and mustard are my soul mates. Cabanos are one of my favorite sandwiches because they include all my favorite ingredients. It’s warm, savory, melty, crispy, and all of the things that a good sandwich should be.
Here are the basic components to making a Cuban sandwich. Scroll to the printable recipe card at the end of the post for a full write up on how to make this sandwich.
- Ham. Purchase a simple cured deli-sliced ham (mine was peppered ham) to use in these sandwiches. Again, you can use whatever you’ve got, but too much sweetness can sometime throw off the flavor balance. Best to skip the honeyed ham if possible.
- Pork. This recipe uses leftover pulled pork. You can also use a sliced, roasted pork or chopped pork.
- Swiss cheese. Any brand will do here, so choose your favorite.
- Pickles. Feel free to use your favorite pickles (or whatever you have in your fridge) for this recipe. I prefer using Claussen’s (from the refrigerator section). These have a fantastic flavor and crunch.
- Mustard. Use good quality stone ground Dijon mustard. Yellow will work, but the mustard is such a key component that you want it to stand out as superb.
- Bread. Traditional Cubanos use Cuban bread for the sandwich. For this recipe, we’re just using French bread, but you can go totally authentic and make or buy your own Cuban bread for this recipe.
More BBQ Sandwich Recipes
BBQ sandwiches are the best way to enjoy BBQ in a take along form. From rib sandwiches, to pulled pork, chicken, and more. You can make them fresh, or use a variety of leftovers to make the ultimate lunch.
- Smoked Rib Sandwich
- Cowboy Style Grilled Chicken Sandwich
- Burnt Ends Sandwich with Pickled Red Onions
Cuban Sandwich Recipe
Smoky Cuban Sandwiches
- 1 loaf French bread (sliced in half lengthwise)
- 2 cups leftover pulled pork
- ¼ cup orange juice
- 1 lime (zest and juice)
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
- ½ pound peppered deli ham (thinly sliced)
- ¼ pound deli sliced baby Swiss cheese
- ¼ cup stone ground Dijon mustard
- 10-12 slices sandwich style dill pickles
- ½ cup fresh cilantro (chopped)
- Preheat the grill. Turn on your grill to medium heat and close the lid. Allow the grill to preheat while you butter the cut sides of your bread.
- Prep the bread. Place the bread, buttered side down, directly on your grill grate and cook for 2-4 minutes until evenly toasted. Remove to a large cutting board that has been covered with a large piece of heavy duty aluminum foil. Place a large, heavy pan in your grill and close the lid. The pan will preheat while you prepare your sandwich.
- Heat the pork. In a large sauté pan, combine the pork, orange juice, lime zest and juice, oregano, red pepper flakes, cumin, onion powder, salt and black pepper. Warm over medium heat until the sauce is evenly distributed throughout the pork and everything is warmed through.
- Assemble the sandwiches. Layer the mustard, pickles, cheese, ham, and pork across the toasted sides of the bread. Press the halves of the bread together and wrap as tightly as you can with the foil.
- Grill the Cuban sandwich. Place the foiled sandwich on the grill and top with the heavy, preheated pan. Turn the temperature of your grill down to low and let the sandwich get all toasty and the cheese melted. Check the sandwich after about 10 minutes.
- Cool and serve. Allow the sandwich to cool for 5-10 minutes before slicing into individual servings. Top with chopped cilantro.
**This post was originally published in June 2015. We recently updated it with more information and helpful tips. The recipe remains the same.
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