August is National Sandwich Month. While sharing some of our favorite sandwich recipes, we’re also presenting a year of sandwich holidays (below). Plan to celebrate!
The modern European sandwich began in England in 1762 as a portable, convenient finger food. The concept spread over time to countries worldwide, resulting in the stuffed pita pockets of the Middle East to Korean bao, Japanese katsu sando, and Vietnamese bânh mì.
So what exactly is a sandwich? You know what it is, but just for the record:
A classic sandwich comprises two slices of bread with a filling.
The filling can be just about anything but typically consists of cheese, fish, meats, protein salads (chicken, egg, tuna), or vegetarian/vegan ingredients, that are placed between the slices.
The bread can be slices from a loaf or can be a roll (bagel, hamburger roll, hero roll, hot dog roll, kaiser roll, etc.), international bread (baguette, ciabatta, croissant [photo #1], focaccia), flatbread wraps (photo #4), and even non-bread, like lettuce leaves (photo #5).
Within the overall realm of “sandwiches,” there are at least nine sub-categories. Here they are, per our own analysis and breakdown.
Note that within the nine types of sandwiches, the definition of a sandwich as two or more pieces of bread with filling between them varies in the case of open-faced sandwiches, specialty sandwiches, and wraps.
Classic sandwich. Any filling between two slices of bread, a sliced roll, biscuit, croissant, bagel, etc. Two slices of thicker flatbreads, such as focaccia and naan, can make a conventional sandwich. Hero and hoagie sandwiches also fall into this category. So do donuts and waffles substituting for bread, Paula Deen style.
Dessert/sweet sandwich. These include regular sandwiches with sweet fillings: Marshmallow Fluff and jelly or peanut butter, Nutella, and banana and chocolate spread, for example. We’ll add ice cream sandwiches, “frozen sandwiches” which sandwich ice cream betweern thin slices of cake or cookies.
Double-decker sandwich or stacked sandwich. A conventional sandwich with at least three slices of bread. A club sandwich, for example, can be made from three or four slices of bread. A Big Mac is a double-decker sandwich. A Dagwood is the king of stacked sandwiches.
Fried sandwich. A classic sandwich with a filling is dipped into an egg mixture, with or without a breadcrumb coating, and then deep-fried or pan-fried. A Monte Cristo sandwich is an example.
Grilled sandwich. This category includes sandwiches grilled on a flat grill, a wire grill, a grill pan on the stove, or a panini press. The objective is to melt or warm the ingredients. The best example is a grilled cheese sandwich.
Open-faced or open-face sandwich, a.k.a. an open sandwich, tartine in French, and smørrebrød in Danish. It uses only one slice of bread with the filling piled on top. Hot sandwiches such as roast beef and gravy are often served open-faced. Avocado toast, Eggs Benedict, and Welsh rarebit [rabbit] are also open-faced sandwiches, as is the infamous creamed chipped beef on toast. A tostada could be given a pass into this group.
Paleo sandwich. Bread is not part of a paleo diet, so paleo sandwiches use cabbage, collard, or lettuce leaves, or cauliflower patties as their base. Depending on the base, they can be crafted like conventional sandwiches or wraps (photo #5).
Party sandwich or specialty sandwich. This comprises a fancy presentation typically made for parties or afternoon tea. Examples include:
> The different types of sandwiches: a glossary.
 There are dessert sandwiches, too, like this chocolate panini served with a side of ice cream (photo © Parma 8200 | Bloomington, MN [alas, permanently closed]).
*British Sandwich Week is a week-long celebration of “quite possibly the most iconic British culinary invention, the sandwich.” It is essentially a marketing promotion for brands and some feature charitable components. The sandwich industry also holds its Sammies Awards, with winners in numerous categories (e.g. Best New Sandwich, Sandwich Retailer of the Year, Healthy Eating Award Winner).
†German Sandwich Day celebrates a simple, open-faced German sandwich called a Butterbrot (“buttered bread”). It’s a favorite German snack, consisting of a single slice of high-quality German bread and quality butter, served plain or topped with fresh herbs, sea salt, or something more substantial—e.g. a slice of cheese or meat, cream cheese, jam, honey, or Nutella.
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