How to Build the Best Sandwich

Simplifying strategies, techniques, and tips—from the Real Simple test kitchen to yours.


Use Fresh Bread

Photo by Ryan Pfluger

Fresh-baked breads and sandwich rolls have a short shelf life (1 to 2 days). They stay freshest when stored at room temperature. Refrigerators cause bread to get stale faster. If you buy rolls in plastic, keep them away from heat (that includes sunny windows or the oven). Plastic and heat combined can cause molding.


Stack It Correctly

  • Bread-to-filling ratio should be about 1 to 2. Scoop out the doughy interior from too-thick buns and breads.
  • Balance textures (crunchy, juicy, creamy) and flavors (fatty, fresh, acidic).
  • Room-temperature cheese tastes richer; remove cheese from the refrigerator 30 minutes in advance.
  • Salt tomatoes, cucumbers, and other toppers separately for well-seasoned layers.

Wrap It Deli-Style

Step 1: Place the sandwich in the upper-left quadrant of a large square of parchment or wax paper.

Step 2: Fold the upper-left corner over the top of the sandwich.

Step 3: Fold all 3 sides in over the top of the sandwich; crease the edges.

Step 4: Roll down the length of the paper.

Step 5: Secure the end with a piece of tape.


Slice It

Cutting a multilayered Dagwood hoagie in half certainly makes it easier to eat. Well, unless you squeeze out the meat, cheese, and condiments in the process. Here’s a trick: Use a serrated knife to halve the top piece of bread before you build the sandwich. Once you’re finished assembling, guide the knife down through the rest of the sandwich using long sawing strokes. Less pressure on the top means more fixings stay put.