Legend has it that the sandwich was named after the fourth Earl of Sandwich, a British aristocrat who ordered his valet to serve him a slab of cold meat between two hunks of bread. Whatever he scarfed down in the 18th century at late-night card games was likely a far cry from our default lunch box meal—to say nothing of The Dagwood or Chicago’s famous Italian Beef.
Whether the yarn is true or not, one thing is certain: the humble handheld meal spans cultures and continents: Mumbaikers have vada pav, Sicilians love pane ca meusa, street vendors in Seoul sell eggy gilgeori toast, the Greeks invented gyros, and the Vietnamese created bánh mì. Tokyo convenience stores stock cream-and-fruit milk bread sandos, while Mexicans have crispy pork tortas ahogadas, drowned in árbol chile sauce. Americans, of course, perfected the PB&J—and its Southern cousin stacked with bacon, banana, and mayo, named for Elvis Presley.
We won’t wade into the raging debate about why a hot dog qualifies as a sandwich, but we’ll happily provide these 21 recipes from our archive for the next time you crave something beyond a club or sub. But no worries, we included those, too.
Inspired by a recipe from famed Boston restaurant Myers + Chang, the old-school sloppy Joe gets an umami boost with Korean gochujang, fish sauce, and soy. You can serve it with store-bought kimchi or make your own. Get the recipe >
If you like traditional bánh mì stuffed with pâté and pickled veggies, you’ll love this wilder reinterpretation with grilled pork (known as thịt xá xíu in Vietnamese). The shoulder meat is tenderized with a sweet, sticky marinade of soy, hoisin, and five spice powder. Get the recipe >
This hoagie from famed New Orleans oyster house Casamento’s overflows with plump Louisiana bivalves crisped in hot lard. Purists order it on double-thick slices of buttered pan bread and chase it with a squeeze of lemon, but we also love it “dressed” with lettuce, tomato, and mayo. Get the recipe >
Danes tuck into smørrebrød, or open-faced sandwiches, at cafes specializing in the nation’s most famous lunch dish. Traditional versions consist of buttered dark rye topped with everything from fresh veggies to pickled herring. Our recipe showcases tender yellow and chioggia (candy stripe) beets slicked with tarragon mayonnaise. Get the recipe >
This riff on the classic Provençal pan bagnat, or pressed sandwich, layers anchovy-caper tapenade, creamy goat cheese, and shredded rotisserie chicken. We love topping it with peppery arugula and crunchy cucumbers. Get the recipe >
In New Jersey, locals add Taylor ham, also known as pork roll, to their meatball hoagies. In this recipe, breaded beef-and-pork meatballs are smothered in a garlic-rich marinara that would leave Tony Soprano licking his fingers. Get the recipe >
Despite a heated argument about who created the corned beef-and-kraut marvel blanketed in Swiss cheese and Thousand Island dressing, we’re intrigued by the possibility that the Reuben was named after a Nebraska cardsharp, rather than a New York deli. Get the recipe >
Hailing from Cape Town, braaibroodjie, or barbecue bread, is a melty grilled cheese brimming with grated cheddar, tomatoes, and onions. Its distinguishing ingredient is a tart fruit chutney beloved by South Africans. Get the recipe >
This recipe from Montreal’s Arthurs Nosh Bar is a kitchen-sink creation piled high with breaded chicken fillets, which are seasoned with local steak sauce and Israeli-style schug, or chile paste. Get the recipe >
Kumru is a specialty of Çesme, a beach town on the Aegean Sea, where Turkish vendors grill gooey sheep’s milk cheese and stuff it into toasted rolls. Standard condiments include raw tomato, griddled sujuk sausage, and pickled peppers. Get the recipe >
In Venice, cicchetti, or small bites, are the ultimate bar food. One such snack is this tiny fried cheese sandwich coated with bread crumbs, which we always order with a Venetian Spritz aperitivo. Get the recipe >
Uruguay’s signature sandwich, created in 1946 at a Punta del Este beach restaurant, is a cheesesteak riff topped with queso, boiled ham, and a fried egg. Our version stars hard-boiled eggs, but you can revert to the runny original, too. Get the recipe >
Some people call this gloriously unpretentious grease bomb—filled with American cheese and Taylor ham—a hangover helper. We’ll let you decide, but please cook responsibly. Get the recipe >
This classic schnitzel recipe gets a Cajun makeover with pork loin cutlets dredged in Dijon mustard dressing. The finished sandwich is topped with Swiss cheese and briny capers. Get the recipe >
Kale? On a New Orleans po-boy? Hear us out: The tart, bitter green makes an excellent foil for the rich, deep-fried oysters. Get the recipe >
Every New England state has its own rendition of this seafood triumph, but on the Connecticut shoreline, melted butter and a pinch of paprika win over standard mayo and celery. Get the recipe >
In Nashville, fans argue about who makes the city’s best volcano-hot yardbird. While Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack claims the origin story, we also love this vinegar-brined rendition shared by beloved dive Dino’s Bar that comes with a side of cooling tartar sauce. Get the recipe >
Japanese katsu sandos always include Kewpie mayonnaise, fruity Bull-Dog tonkatsu sauce, and shokupan (ultra-fluffy milk bread). For maximum daintiness, trim the fried chicken cutlets to match each crustless slice of bread. Get the recipe >
Argentine street vendors hawk grilled sandwiches stuffed with smoky, lightly spicy beef-and-pork sausages. Here, we season chorizo with chimichurri, the herbaceous marinade that’s a go-to at South America’s illustrious asado (grill) restaurants. Get the recipe >