Cuban Sandwich (Cubano) Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep: 2 hours Cook: 5 min./batch
This Cuban sandwich isn't your typical sub sandwich. With two kinds of pork, melted Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard pressed between two toasty pieces of bread, the picture-perfect Cubano will have you wanting more.

Updated: Apr. 30, 2024

It doesn’t take more than a glance to know that these Cuban sandwiches will taste amazing. The golden-brown, buttery bread has toasty grill marks from the panini press. White cheese melts down, and a bit of yellow mustard peeks out from the edges. When cut in half, the layers of tender roast pork, pink ham and vibrant pickles are pretty enough to photograph—if you can wait that long before taking your first bite!

What is a Cuban sandwich?

The Cuban sandwich—or “Cubano”—is a pressed sandwich made with roasted pork, deli ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and yellow mustard (and salami in the case of Tampa Cubanos). The sandwich’s origins can be traced back to Cuba, and it’s said to be based on the mixto sandwich, which mixes meats and cheeses. However, it gained popularity in Florida in the late 1800s, especially amongst immigrants and cigar factory workers in Key West, Ybor City and Tampa.

How to Make a Cuban Sandwich

These Cuban sandwiches come together in three steps. First, roast the pork. We cook a pork shoulder butt roast in an electric pressure cooker with a bright, citrusy sauce. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can braise the roast in a 350°F oven until tender, for 3 hours 30 minutes to 4 hours (similar to this Cuban roasted pork sandwiches recipe).

Once the pork is finished, the rest of the sandwich comes together quickly. Simply assemble them and toast them in butter. They may look intimidating and overstuffed at first, but a panini press flattens the sandwiches. Once compressed, the hearty sandwich feels much more manageable.

Cuban Sandwich Ingredients

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  • Roast pork: We cook pork shoulder butt roast in an electric pressure cooker, searing it first in olive oil to add depth and caramelized flavor. It pressure-cooks until tender with onions, orange juice, lime juice, paprika, dried oregano, ground cumin and minced garlic cloves.
  • Deli ham: Use any sliced ham from the deli for this recipe. Add depth with Black forest ham, or add a tropical note with your own thinly-sliced pineapple-glazed ham.
  • Swiss cheese: This cheese melts like a dream, adding an ooey-gooey factor to these pressed sandwiches.
  • Pickles: Pickles add tangy flavor and a crisp texture that stands out against the other soft ingredients. Use briny dill pickles, bread-and-butter pickles or spicy pickles—your choice!
  • Prepared mustard: Yellow mustard’s bright, acidic flavor makes it the best mustard for Cuban sandwiches.
  • Bread: Cuban bread is traditional for Cuban sandwiches, but it’s not always easy to find. We use hoagie buns, since they make a pretty good match.
  • Butter: Butter helps the sandwiches crisp up in the panini press.

Directions

Step 1: Make the orange juice mixture

In a small bowl, combine the orange juice, lime juice, paprika, oregano, cumin and garlic. Set the bowl aside.

Step 2: Brown the pork

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Sprinkle the pork roast with salt and pepper. Select the saute or browning setting on a 6-quart electric pressure cooker. Adjust for medium heat, and add the oil to the pressure cooker. When the oil is hot, brown the roast on all sides.

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Press cancel once you have finished browning the roast.

Step 3: Pressure cook

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Add the onion and pour the orange juice mixture around the meat. Lock the lid, and close the pressure-release valve. Adjust to pressure-cook on high for one hour. Then, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes before quick-releasing any remaining pressure.

Remove the pork and transfer it to a cutting board. Discard the liquid and onion. Let the pork stand for 15 minutes.

Step 4: Prepare the hoagies

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Meanwhile, cut each hoagie in half lengthwise, and flatten them slightly. Spread the cut sides with mustard.

Step 5: Layer the Cuban sandwiches

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Cut the pork into thin slices. Layer the pickles, pork, ham and cheese over the mustard.

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Replace the hoagie tops and brush them with butter.

Step 6: Press the Cuban sandwiches

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Cook the sandwiches in batches on a panini maker or indoor grill until the cheese is melted and the bread is toasted, five to seven minutes.

Editor’s Tip: Wondering how to make paninis without a panini press? Toast the sandwiches in a cast-iron skillet. Press them using a second skillet weighted down with a filled tea kettle or saucepan. Flip the sandwich halfway through to toast it on both sides.

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Cuban Sandwich Variations

How to Store Cuban Sandwiches

Ooey-gooey panini recipes like Cubanos really taste best when they’re fresh off the press, so try not to make more sandwiches than you can eat. The leftovers will be safe to eat for up to four days when stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, but they’ll lose their crisp exterior. It’s better to store all the components separately in the fridge and press the sandwiches to order when you’re ready to eat.

Cuban Sandwich Tips

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Do you have to use Cuban bread for Cuban sandwiches?

Cuban bread is the traditional choice for Cuban sandwiches, but it’s not required. Cuban bread is a soft, white bread made with lard, and it lends a soft but crisp texture to these toasted sandwiches. You can use any non-crusty bread as a substitute, like soft French bread, Italian bread or hoagie buns. The fresher the bread, the better the sandwich, so opt for freshly baked bread if possible.

What do you serve with this Cuban sandwich recipe?

You can serve Cuban sandwiches with typical sandwich sides like chips, french fries or a side salad. If you want to experiment with other Cuban recipes, try serving Cubanos with plantain chips, black bean soup or yuca frita con mojo.

Cuban Sandwich

Prep Time 5 min
Yield 8 servings.

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 boneless pork shoulder butt roast (3 pounds)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 8 hoagie buns
  • 1/4 cup prepared mustard
  • 16 thin sandwich pickle slices
  • 1 pound thinly sliced deli ham
  • 16 slices Swiss cheese
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted

Directions

  1. In a small bowl combine the first 6 ingredients. Set aside. Sprinkle roast with salt and pepper. Select saute or browning setting on a 6-qt. electric pressure cooker. Adjust for medium heat; add oil. When oil is hot, brown roast on all sides. Press cancel. Add onion; pour orange juice mixture around meat.
  2. Lock lid; close pressure-release valve. Adjust to pressure-cook on high for 1 hour. Let pressure release naturally for 10 minutes; quick-release any remaining pressure. Remove pork to a cutting board; discard liquid and onion. Let stand for 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, cut each hoagie in half lengthwise; flatten slightly. Spread cut sides with mustard. Cut pork into thin slices. Layer pickles, pork, ham and cheese over the mustard. Replace tops, brush with butter.
  4. Cook in batches on a panini maker or indoor grill until cheese is melted and bread is toasted, 5-7 minutes.

Nutrition Facts

1 sandwich: 726 calories, 40g fat (16g saturated fat), 168mg cholesterol, 2153mg sodium, 38g carbohydrate (6g sugars, 1g fiber), 54g protein.

If you want a hearty sandwich that won't overstuff you, then the Cubano is for you. Tangy pickles, tender pork, savory ham, gooey melted Swiss cheese and a hint of mustard are layered between two toasty pieces of bread for the ultimate panini. —Margaret Knoebel, Milwaukee, Wisconsin