Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery

Some sandwiches are famous – the hero, the shooter’s sandwich, the club sandwich, the thin, perfect, cucumber sandwiches of English tea tables – and there are many others that make a satisfying, nourishing light meal. Some are designed for rugged appetites; and at the other extreme, Mrs Beeton gave instructions for making small tea sandwiches to be eaten with gloved fingers! In between, there are hundreds of good ways to combine fillings and toppings with one or another of the bread family.

To keep fresh: Sandwiches will keep in excellent condition for up to 24 hours if wrapped in the following way: stack them 3–4 at a time, place a lettuce leaf on top and wrap closely in plastic wrap. Wrap packages in a damp dish towel, then slip the whole parcel into a plastic bag and close tightly. Store in the refrigerator or in a cool place. Leave sandwiches whole and crusts on, and trim and cut up just before serving.

To freeze: Sandwiches may be frozen for 1–2 weeks but great care must be taken to prevent sogginess or drying out. Fillings that are rather high in fat, such as cheese, tinned fish or meat, work best. Do not include mayonnaise, cooked egg whites, jellies, fresh fruits or vegetables with a high water content such as cucumber, lettuce, celery, tomato, apple, banana or pineapple.

Have butter soft at room temperature. Butter the bread liberally, being sure to go right to the edges, make sandwiches and wrap closely in plastic wrap, 3–4 sandwiches at a time or in quantities required for school lunches, etc. An extra slice or crust of bread at each end of the package will help prevent drying out. Leave crusts on and sandwiches whole, if possible, or in large pieces. Over-wrap in foil or plastic.

Thaw in wrappings for about 2–3 hours; an inner parcel may be taken frozen in a lunch-box.

See also Danish Open Sandwiches.

Party sandwiches

Ribbon sandwiches: Make these with three layers of buttered bread (the middle slice buttered on both sides) with filling in between. Alternate white and brown bread, if you wish. Some good combinations:

Sardine mashed with a little chopped parsley and lemon juice on one layer, cream cheese with snipped chives or spring onions (scallions) on the other.

Thin cucumber slices on one layer, peanut butter or cream cheese on the other.

Grated cheese or cottage cheese on one layer, cream cheese mixed with chopped celery and walnuts on the other.

Finely chopped smoked salmon or drained, tinned salmon seasoned well with black pepper on one layer, cream cheese and chopped capers on the other.

Pinwheel sandwiches: Cut the crusts from an unsliced sandwich loaf and cut loaf lengthways into slices. Butter, then spread with any desired filling and roll up each slice from end to end. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and leave for at least 1 hour. Slice across to serve.

Rolled sandwiches: Remove crusts from fresh sliced white or brown bread and roll lightly with a rolling pin. Butter right to edge and spread with cream cheese, mayonnaise or a home-made spread, or cover with a thin slice of ham, salami or cheese. Place a thin stick of celery, dill pickle, cucumber or an asparagus spear on one edge and roll up, pressing lightly to seal. Lay sandwiches, seam side down, close together on plastic wrap and wrap tightly. Leave for at least 1 hour before using.

Lunch-box sandwiches

These fillings make nourishing sandwiches that carry well. Make with your favourite type of bread.

Finely chopped green pepper and radish, or grated carrot and bean sprouts on wholemeal (whole-wheat) bread spread with devilled ham and mayonnaise.

Raisins, dates or mixed dried fruits, sprinkled with a little mixed spice and a few drops of lemon juice, on wholemeal (whole-wheat) bread spread with cream cheese.

Hummus, bean sprouts and thinly sliced cucumber, on wholemeal (whole-wheat) bread or spread thickly inside pita bread. Finely chopped shallots or spring onions (scallions), celery or pepper, or grated raw beetroot (beets) or carrot can be added.

Well-drained, tinned flaked tuna mixed with finely chopped shallot, celery and green pepper, a little chopped mango chutney, a dash of soy sauce and enough mayonnaise to bind.

Drained, mashed baked beans mixed with crumbled crisp-fried bacon. Spread on wholemeal (whole-wheat) or rye bread, then spread with mayonnaise. Thinly sliced cheese may be added.

Peanut butter and thinly sliced cucumber (leave the skin on for extra crunch).

Peanut butter, grated carrot and raisins.

Diced ham or chicken (or both) mixed with mayonnaise, chopped tomato, radish and shallot or spring onion (scallion).

Hard-boiled egg, chopped and bound with cream cheese thinned with cream or mayonnaise, and seasoned with salt, pepper and paprika.

Devilled egg: mix 2 chopped hard-boiled eggs with 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, ¼ teaspoon French mustard, 1 teaspoon chutney, ½ teaspoon curry powder, salt, cayenne and 1 tablespoon melted butter. Layer with lettuce on brown bread.

Cream cheese, chopped almonds and bean sprouts.

Cream cheese, marmalade, raisins and chopped peanuts.

Cottage cheese, snipped chives and bean sprouts or shredded spinach leaves.

Cream cheese, grated orange zest and walnut pieces.

Sliced corned beef (which may be tinned) on sweet and sour or rye bread, which has been spread with a mixture of softened cream cheese, a little Dijon-style mustard and bottled horseradish to taste. Pack a few dill pickles with the sandwich.

Shredded cabbage and grated carrot, chopped spring onions (scallions) and bean sprouts, seasoned with salt and pepper and bound with mayonnaise. Nice on caraway-seed rye bread.

Cold cooked or tinned fish (or fish fingers), flaked and mixed with a little chopped spring onion (scallion), celery and cucumber, and bound with sauce tartare. Use brown bread.

Liverwurst mixed with a little grated nutmeg, a spoonful of mayonnaise and snipped chives and parsley, layered with lettuce in white bread.

Filled rolls for picnics or lunch boxes

Use crusty or soft rolls, long or round. Split, pull out some of the crumb if you wish, butter and fill generously. Some especially successful ideas:

A cold sausage or hamburger (better still if it’s put in while hot so that the juices flavour the bread). Add crisp fried or raw onion, fresh herbs, mustard, tomato sauce (ketchup) or chutney.

Finely chopped tomato, onion, zucchini (courgette), cucumber and mint or basil, seasoned with salt and pepper and drained in a sieve before filling the roll.

Liverwurst, crisp-cooked crumbled bacon, chopped tomato, lettuce and thinly sliced cucumber.

Feta cheese, sliced olives, chopped tomato and bean sprouts.

Drained tinned flaked tuna, sliced hard-boiled egg, chopped spring onions (scallions), bean sprouts and mayonnaise.

Corned beef and well-drained coleslaw.

Potato salad and ham, bacon or salami.

Don’t butter the roll but sprinkle the inside with olive oil and spread with tomato paste (concentrated purée). Fill with grated cheese mixed with two or three of the following: chopped spring onions (scallions), chopped green pepper, mashed anchovies, strips of ham or salami, drained tuna, sliced olives, capers, sliced mushrooms, fresh chopped herbs or dried herbs re-chopped with parsley. If desired, wrap in foil and heat before taking on a picnic.

Pita sandwiches

Pita or pocket bread with a generous filling makes an excellent portable meal. Use any combination of meat, cheese, fish or vegetables, such as the following:

Tabouleh with sliced roast beef or lamb, tomatoes and shredded lettuce.

Sliced cooked chicken with mayonnaise, chopped celery and spring onions (scallions), cooked peas and diced, cooked carrot.

Hummus with sliced cucumber and tomato.

Home-made sandwich spreads and fillings

These nutritious spreads are good on bread or crispbread.


Quantity Ingredient
see method for ingredients



  • Pita bread is available from delicatessens and some supermarkets.
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