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Cuban Medianoche (Midnight) Sandwich Recipe

Soft slightly sweet homemade medianoche bread and layers of salty ham, tender mojo pork, and Swiss cheese form the base for this Cuban Medianoche Sandwich Recipe. Topped with tangy mustard and pickles, you have yourself the classic Cuban Sandwich.

Side view of a Cuban Medianoche panini oozing melted cheese over ham, mojo pork, and pickles.

While my son was living in Miami, we very much enjoyed the rich heritage of Cuban cuisine found in the area and started trying to bring those flavors home to our own kitchen.

What is a Medianoche Sandwich?

A Cuban Medianoche Sandwich combines Mojo roasted pork, swiss cheese, ham, mustard, and sweet pickles pressed into a sweet eggy bread roll called Medianoche bread.

What is the Meaning of Medianoche?

Medianoche, pronounced median noche means midnight in Spanish. It is believed that the first medianoche was invented in Havana around the year 1900 by late-night workers. It’s also said that Cubans would stop for a Medianoche Sandwich after a long night of dancing.

Medianoche vs Cuban?

Both are classic Cuban sandwiches. However, the Medianoche Bread is softer and slightly sweet like Hawaiian rolls and the sandwich is often made with sweet pickles. An Authentic Cubano Sandwich is made with dill pickle chips and served on Cuban bread (pan cubano) that’s similar to Italian or French
bread.

How to Make a Medianoche Sandwich

Gather the Medianoche Sandwich Ingredients

Ingredients used to make Cuban Medianoche sandwich including Shredded pork, slices of ham and Swiss, butter, mustard, and pickles. Hostess At Heart
  • Bread Rolls. Made from our Medianoche bread recipe or soft sandwich rolls.
  • Cuban Roast Pork – Marinated Pork Shoulder or Butt Roast. This Mojo Pork recipe is perfect.
  • Thinly Sliced Ham. You can use a ham you’ve roasted at home, or you can use deli meat.
  • Swiss Cheese.
  • Pickles. A Pan Medianoche sandwich often uses slices of sweet pickles and Cubano sandwiches use dill pickle slices. We prefer dill pickles on both.
  • Mustard. – Tangy yellow mustard is traditional but we used a milder Dijon mustard.
  • Butter.

How to Assemble a Medianoche Sandwich

Since we didn’t have any idea how to replicate what we had eaten in Miami, we found a great cookbook from “The Three Guys” from Miami.

According to the recipe, there is only one way to build this sandwich, and this is it. On a buttered Cuban Medianoche roll, place the pickles, roasted Cuban pork, slices of ham, and then Swiss cheese slices in that order. Mustard is optional traditionally but preferred in our household. Sometimes we combine Dijon mustard with a little sriracha sauce. The difference is amazing.

Press and Toast

Top down view of a buttered Medianoche sandwich on a panini maker before it's pressed - Hostess At Heart

We butter the outside of the bread so that it gets those golden ridges from our Panini Press. Look for a panini press with reversible grates and easy cleaning, such as the one I’ve linked to in the recipe card.

Hostess Tips and Tricks for the Perfect Medianoche Sandwich

Save time. Make the medianoche bread and the mojo pork the day beforehand or over the weekend when you have more time. Then assemble and press your sandwiches fresh on the next day.

For each pound of pork shoulder, you will get four servings. Make a large pork butt following our instructions for Mojo Pork, and freeze the extra to use for Medianoche sandwiches on a different day.

Let your meat and cheese come to room temperature so the bread doesn’t get over-toasted before the cheese melts.

We recommend that you toast the inside of the bread so the pickles don’t make your bread soggy. You can do this by heating it on a skillet or face up in a toaster oven or oven.

I add a little Sriracha to Dijon mustard. It adds a delicious little kick to the sandwich and I recommend that you spread the mustard evenly over the entire inside of each piece of bread so every bite is perfect.

Top down view of a panini pressed sandwich oozing with melted cheese over a layer of pickles, and shredded pork. Hostess At Heart

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a Medianoche sandwich served hot or cold?

A classic Cuban sandwich should be served hot and immediately after pressed (panini style). They can also be served at room temperature but the bread will become hard if pressed and allowed to get cold. If you choose to serve cold, don’t press the bread.

What bread should a Medianoche sandwich be served on?

You can find Cuban breads in a Cuban bakery. However, we love making homemade Cuban Medianoche Bread. You could also substitute with a long, soft baguette, French or Italian bread as long as they’re not crusty.

What kind of ham for a Medianoche Cuban sandwich?

Sweet cured or smoked ham, Serrano, or bolo ham. I used honey ham which contrasted nicely with the tangy mustard and pickles and the sweet Cuban bread.

What to serve with Medianoche Sandwiches?

Cuban Red Beans and Rice Recipe (Congri), Cuban Black Beans, and fried plantains or french fries. Not vegetables or a lettuce salad! Finish the whole amazing meal off with a Rum Cake (coming soon).

What are some alternatives for a panini press? 

If you have two cast-iron skillets, you can heat them both up on the stove-top. Put the sandwich in one and top the sandwich with the other one.

You can also wrap a brick in foil and place it on top of the sandwich if you only have one cast-iron skillet. You’ll have to cook the bread for 2 to 3 minutes per side over medium heat.

You don’t have to press the bread as we do but recommend that you butter the inside of the roll and toast it to a golden brown to bring out the sweet buttery flavor.

Close up of half a Cuban Media Noche Sandwich made with grilled bread roll filled with pickles, ham, roasted pork, and Swiss cheese on a metal plate. Hostess At Heart

If you like this recipe, we would appreciate your comment and a 5-star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review!

Side view of a Cuban Medianoche panini oozing melted cheese over ham, mojo pork, and pickles.

Cuban Medianoche Sandwich

Author: Hostess At Heart
Soft slightly sweet homemade Medianoche bread, layers of salty ham, tender mojo pork, and cheese make this Cuban Medianoche Sandwich Recipe.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Marinating Time 2 hours
Total Time 5 hours 20 minutes
Course Main Course, Sandwich
Cuisine American, Cuban
Keyword: Cuban Sandwich, Cubano, Medianoche
Servings: 4 Sandwiches

Ingredients
 
 

Sandwich

  • 4 Cuban Medianoche Bread rolls
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 lb Cuban Roast Pork
  • 8 slices sliced ham (sweet cured or smoked, Serrano, or bolo ham – I used honey ham
  • 8 slices Swiss Cheese
  • Sweet pickle slices
  • 2 tsp Mustard optional I used a Dijon but a spicy brown would be great or just yellow too.
  • *Sriracha Optional

Instructions
 

Sandwich Assembly.

  • Butter the inside of the top and bottom of the bread and spread the mustard. Put the pickles on the bread, followed by the roasted pork, ham, and cheese. Be generous!
  • Butter a hot griddle or pan. Place the sandwich on the pan and using a heavy skillet, bacon press or foil wrapped brick, or panini press, flatten the sandwich for approximately 3 minutes and then flip to the other side.
  • You don't want you pan so hot that your bread burns but it needs to be hot enough to melt your cheese. Cook until the bread is golden brown.
  • Slice the sandwich diagonally and serve immediately.

Video

Notes

The Three Guys from Miami recommend that you let your meat and cheese come to room temperature so the bread so it doesn’t get over toasted before the cheese melts.
I recommend that you toast the inside of the bread so the pickles don’t make your bread soggy.
* I add a little Sriracha to Dijon mustard.  It adds a delicious little kick to the sandwich.
Recipes courtesy of the Three Guys From Miami from their book: “Three Guys From Miami Cook Cuban.” Copyright ©2004 All Rights Reserved. Check out their website at: https://icuban.com/food https://icuban.com/food

Nutritional Disclaimer

This recipe was calculated using the exact brands and measurements I used to make this recipe. If you are following a strict diet please note changing anything will cause the nutritional info to change. My calculations are intended as a guide only.

Tried this recipe?Let me know how it was!

My mother-in-law gave me a panini press/grill. We’d been wanting one and she never used hers so we were the beneficiary!

Now that we had a panini press, we could make them without a foil-covered brick or a cast iron skillet…or so we thought.

We squished the bread until the whole thing slid apart as you can see. The ham slid to the back and the cheese and pork to the front.

Side by side comparison of a properly grilled panini bread roll stuffed with cheese, roasted pork, ham, and pickles

You asked me to post some less than perfect results. My perfectionist self is doing it under duress.

Even though the first attempt tasted amazing, our Panini skills needed some work as you can see! Like anything, practice makes perfect.

Did you enjoy this recipe? Don’t forget to pin it for later and follow me on Pinterest for more delicious recipes like this one!

Image for Pinterest a sideview of a Medianoche Cuban Sandwich oozing with cheese, shredded pork and pickles under a panini pressed bread roll - Hostess At Heart
Recipe Rating




Nikki

Tuesday 13th of February 2024

Being from the Tampa Bay area these are always a favorite!

Julie Menghini

Friday 16th of February 2024

Then you know your Cuban sandwiches! Thank you.

Kathleen

Monday 12th of February 2024

I loved this sandwich! I made this for a dinner club and made your medianoche bread, too! A huge winner! So so good in so many ways! I will definitely make it again!

Julie Menghini

Friday 16th of February 2024

It's one of our favorite's too. Thank you, Kathleen!

Laura Ashley Johnson

Monday 12th of February 2024

This sandwich…10/10!! Your homemade bread with the tender pork and cheese were so delicious! Thank you!!

Laura Ashley Johnson

Monday 12th of February 2024

This bread was absolutely delicious! It came out golden brown on the outside with the perfect crust, and so soft inside! Thank you!

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