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The Best Cuban Sandwich Recipe

If you’ve ever taken that first bite of an authentic Cuban Sandwich, you know you are in for a real treat with this Cuban Sandwich Recipe. First, comes the sweet buttery bread a sandwich loaded with Cuban pork shoulder roast, cheese, smoked ham, and pickles.

We truly believe that this is the best Cuban sandwich. It is a complete meal between two slices of bread. It’s sweet, tangy, eggy, and everything that I could want in a Miami Cuban Sandwich Recipe.

This post was updated from 2019 to improve readers’ experience. No changes were made to the recipe.

Oval Medianoche bread roll filled with dill pickle slices, ham, roasted pork, and swiss cheese on a grey metal plate and then grilled. White dishes of a sriracha aioli and pickle slices sit next to a basket of Medianoche rolls.

It’s time to make the beautiful Cuban Medianoche Bread. The best sandwich that’s ever come out of my kitchen was the reason for that beautiful Cuban bread recipe.

Our son lives in Miami and we had our first experience with Miami Cuban food shortly after he moved there.

We fell in love with their authentic Cubano sandwich, and I set out on a quest to make a Miami Cuban sandwich recipe from my own kitchen. (If you are looking on a local menu, Cuban restaurants generally call this sandwich a Cubano Sandwich.)

Since first making my Cuban Sandwich recipe I’ve learned that there is also a Cuban sandwich called a Cuban Medianoche sandwich. The recipe that we used is featured in the cookbook “Three Guys From Miami Cook Cuban by “The Three Guys” from Miami.

They use the Medianoche bread and call it a Cuban Sandwich but technically it could be a Medianoche. I’m just the cook so if you’re passionate about the difference, take it up with the pros!

In the meantime, you’ll need to make the bread in order to build the best Cuban Sandwich ever.

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

What is the difference between a Cuban sandwich and a Medianoche?

Medianoche consists of roast pork, ham, mustard, Swiss cheese, and sweet pickles. It is a close cousin to the Cuban sandwich. The chief difference is that a medianoche is made on soft, sweet egg dough bread similar to Challah rather than on crustier Cuban bread.

We took liberty here and made our Cuban sandwich on Medianoche bread. I highly recommend it!

Cuban bread is a fairly simple white bread, similar to French bread and Italian bread.

How to Make a Cuban Sandwich

Cuban Sandwich Ingredients

  • Bread Rolls made from our Medianoche recipe.
  • Cuban Roast Pork – Marinated Pork Shoulder or Butt Roast. You could use a pork tenderloin but we love the texture of the roast. It is also less lean making it flavorful
  • Thinly sliced Ham
  • Swiss Cheese
  • Dill Pickles
  • Mustard – tangy yellow mustard is traditional but we put a spin on ours. See the recipe card for the details.

NOTE: You only need 1 pound of the pork for 4 sandwiches, but we baked the entire pork roast and then freeze our leftover pork for a future dinner, making a delicious no-fuss meal when we are too busy to cook or just don’t feel like it.

Mojo Pork Recipe

The pork that’s layered on our sandwich is called mojo pork. It’s a marinated pork butt (shoulder).

Step 1: Mash the garlic, salt, and peppercorns into a paste, using a mortar and pestle or a food processor.

Step 2: Make the “sour orange juice”, which is a combination of orange juice, lemon, and lime. Combine the sour orange juice with the garlic paste, onion, and oregano. Let the mixture sit for 30 minutes.

A bowl filled with mojo pork marinade of onions, seasonings, and orange juice.

Step 3: Heat oil in a saucepan until hot. Remove the oil from the heat and quickly AND CAREFULLY whisk the garlic-orange juice mixture until well blended. Let cool before using it as a marinade.

Step 4: Place the pork butt into a roaster and pierce the pork butt several times with a large fork or knife. Pour the marinade over the pork butt. Cover the pan and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours.

Step 5: Preheat the oven to 375°F. Remove the lid from the pork and roast for 20 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 225F and roast until the pork can easily be pulled apart with a fork. Approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes. I roasted my pork until it reached an internal temperature of 175°F. Let rest for 10 minutes. Pull the pork or slice it.

How to assemble this Miami Cuban Sandwich

There is only one way to build this sandwich!

The Three Guys” from Miami state there is only one way to build this sandwich. On buttered Medianoche bread, place the pickles, roasted pork, ham, and then cheese in that order. Mustard is optional. We combined Dijon mustard with a little sriracha sauce. The difference is amazing.

You May Need:

  • Panini Press – This is the one that I have. I like that the grates are reversible and become a griddle and that they can be removed for easy cleaning.
    • You can also use a heavy skillet, such as cast iron, or a grill pan as a sandwich press or foil-covered brick.
  • Slotted Spatula – Also called a fish spatula. I use mine for everything. It’s basically replaced my turner spatula.

Tips for this Amazing Authentic Cuban Sandwich Recipe

If you want you can make the bread and pork roast the day before and assemble the sandwiches on the day they will be served. Bake the bread and prepare and slice (or shred) the pork roast on the day before you want your Cuban sandwiches. Assemble and press right before serving.

4 sandwiches only take 1 pound of meat. I freeze what I don’t use so we always have Cubanos without having to roast the pork each time. You can freeze the meat in sandwich portions in plastic freezer bags or vacuum sealing bags.

Cooking time depends on the size of your roast.

The Three Guys from Miami recommend that you let your meat and cheese come to room temperature so the bread so 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.

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.

Pin this yummy sandwich to your favorite sandwich board!

The Best Cuban Sandwich
The Best Cuban Sandwich

FAQ

  1. What is a Cuban Sandwich? A sandwich made by CUBANS! The ingredients inside a Cuban sandwich are simple: ham, roasted pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, mustard, and if you’re in Tampa, salami.
  2. Where did the Cubano sandwich originate? Since I posted this recipe, I found out there’s been a rivalry between the folks with Cuban ancestry about where this sandwich originated. Some say Miami, Tampa Cubans, or one article on it’s history states it was created by an influx of immigrants.
  3. Is a Cuban sandwich served hot or cold – We serve our Cuban sandwiches 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 chose to serve cold, don’t press the bread.
  4. What bread should a cuban sandwich be served on. You can find cuban breads in a cuban bakery. However, we chose to serve our cubanos on our Cuban Medianoche Bread. You could also substitute with a long, soft baguette, French or Italian breads as long as they’re not crusty.
  5. What kind of ham for a 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.
  6. What to serve with Cuban Sandwiches? Rice and beans, fried plantains or french fries. Not veggetables or a lettuce salad!
  7. 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 a 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.

If you like my Cubano recipe, here are a few more I think you’ll love!

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

Oval Medianoche bread roll filled with dill pickle slices, ham, roasted pork, and swiss cheese on a grey metal plate. A white dish of a sriracha aioli sits in the background next to a basket of rolls.
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5 from 29 votes

The Best Cuban Sandwich

First, comes the sweet buttery bread and then the Best Cuban Sandwich! It's loaded with Cuban pork roast, cheese, ham, and pickles.
Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time 3 hrs
Marinating Time 2 hrs
Total Time 5 hrs 20 mins
Servings 4 Sandwiches
Author Hostess At Heart

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
  • Dill pickle slices
  • Mustard optional I used a Dijon but a spicy brown would be great or just yellow too.
  • *Sriracha Optional

Cuban Roast Pork (Mojo – Marinated Pork)

  • 4 pound Pork shoulder roast (also known as a pork butt)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 cup sour orange juice I used 2/3 cup 100% orange juice (not from concentrate, 1 lime juiced and 1 lemon juiced)
  • 1 cup minced onion
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup olive oil Spanish if you have it. I used Italian

Instructions

Cuban Roast Pork

  • Mash the garlic, salt and peppercorns into a paste, using a mortar and pestle or a food processor. Stir in sour orange juice, onion and oregano. Let mixture sit for 30 minutes.
  • Heat olive oil in a 2 quart saucepan until hot but not frying hot. You'll see some movement in the oil. Remove the oil from the heat and quickly AND CAREFULLY whisk the garlic-orange juice mixture until well blended. Let cool before using as a marinade.
  • Pierce the pork roast several times all over with a fork or sharp knife. Place it in a roasting pan and pour garlic mixture (save a little for basting while roasting) over pork. Cover and let sit in the refrigerator for two or three hours.
  • Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  • Remove lid from the pork and roast for 20 minutes. Reduce temperature to 225°F and roast until the meat is soft and you can pull it apart easily with a fork, about 2 hours and 20 minutes. Baste occasionally while roasting. I roasted mine to an internal temperature of 175°F. Remove from the oven and let rest 10 minutes before slicing.

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

4 sandwiches only take 1 pound of meat.  I freeze what I don’t use so we always have Cubanos without having to roast the pork each time.
Cooking time depends on the size of your roast.
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

Nutrition

Sodium: 858mg | Calcium: 285mg | Vitamin C: 1mg | Vitamin A: 549IU | Sugar: 1g | Potassium: 425mg | Cholesterol: 135mg | Calories: 443kcal | Trans Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Fat: 32g | Protein: 35g | Carbohydrates: 2g | Iron: 1mg
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? That’s awesome!Mention @hostessatheart or tag #hostessatheart!

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.

Recipe Rating




Lori

Wednesday 29th of June 2022

I love this sandwich. I like to serve a bowl of Spanish bean soup with a cuban.

Julie Menghini

Wednesday 29th of June 2022

That soup sounds amazing too, Lori! Would you share your recipe? If so, email me at [email protected] Thank you!

Peter Valenti

Thursday 14th of April 2022

That's a whole lot of effort to push the false notion that it is an actual Cuban sandwich. You do not find real cuban sandwiches in Miami because they didn't come from there or Cuba, they come from Tampa and also have salami on them to represent to Sicilian cigar factory workers contribution to the authentic Cuban sandwt.

Julie Menghini

Monday 18th of April 2022

Thanks, Peter for your comment. If you read the post, you'll see that it was created in Miami and there's been a whole lot of debate on this sammi. I love learning the originality of recipes and your input is appreiated.

Sherry

Sunday 19th of December 2021

Finally, someone with the correct information on making authentic Cuban sandwiches! As a native Floridian, I have been taught the real way to make this sandwich since I was little. You even got the order of layering the ingredients correct. The only thing I would add is that the bread should be "creased" with palm fronds instead of a knife (at least it was in the old days).

Julie Menghini

Sunday 19th of December 2021

Thank you, Sherry! I didn't know about the palm fronds. What a fun fact. Finding a palm in Nebraska just wouldn't be easy however, lol!

Ellen

Saturday 18th of September 2021

I'm from Tampa, the land of Cuban sandwiches and this looks perfect!

Julie Menghini

Sunday 19th of September 2021

Thank you, Ellen! I appreciate that!

Jennifer

Monday 6th of September 2021

Miami is totally the place to go for authentic Cuban and this sandwich, I have made more than a dozen times, is just like the one I had there!!

Julie Menghini

Monday 6th of September 2021

Thanks, Jennifer! I love your vote for our version!