Easy Cuban Sandwich Recipe

The Cuban Chicken Sandwich, a twist on the classic Cuban sandwich, offers an exciting blend of tastes and textures. This sandwich is not just a meal; it’s a story of culture, tradition, and culinary innovation. Perfect for food lovers and adventurers alike, this guide will walk you through the steps of creating your own Cuban Chicken Sandwich. Whether you’re a seasoned cook or just starting out, this recipe is straightforward, delicious, and bound to be a crowd-pleaser. Get ready to experience the rich flavors and history behind this beloved dish.

Exploring the Roots of the Cuban Chicken Sandwich

The Cuban sandwich, known as ‘Cubano’, has a storied history deeply rooted in Cuban and Floridian cuisine. Traditionally, it includes ham, roasted pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, mustard, and sometimes salami, all layered between slices of Cuban bread. The sandwich reflects the cultural melting pot of Florida, where Cuban immigrants fused their culinary traditions with local flavors.

The Cuban Sandwich’s Origin

The exact origins of the Cuban sandwich are debated, but it’s widely accepted that it emerged in the late 19th or early 20th century in Cuba. It was a popular lunch food for workers in cigar factories and sugar mills. The sandwich traveled to Florida with Cuban immigrants, where it underwent further evolution, particularly in cities like Tampa and Miami.

Chicken as a Twist

The Cuban Chicken Sandwich is a modern take on the classic, substituting chicken for the traditional pork and ham. This adaptation caters to a wider range of dietary preferences and offers a lighter alternative while maintaining the core flavors.

Cultural Significance

In both Cuba and Florida, the Cuban sandwich is more than food; it’s a symbol of heritage and community. The adaptation of the sandwich over time and regions reflects the dynamic nature of culinary traditions and the influence of migration and cultural exchange.

The Chicken Variant Today

Today, the Cuban Chicken Sandwich is celebrated for its unique taste and versatility. It’s a testament to how traditional recipes can be adapted while honoring their origins. In this sandwich, the juicy chicken tenders, tangy mustard, and the crunch of pickles create a harmony of flavors, paying homage to its rich history.

In the next section, we will dive into the step-by-step process of making this delightful sandwich, ensuring you can recreate and enjoy this piece of culinary history in your own home.

Step-by-Step Recipe Guide

The Cuban Chicken Sandwich is a delightful combination of flavors and textures. Follow this detailed guide to bring this culinary gem to life in your kitchen.

1. Ingredient Preparation

Gather the ingredients:

  • 1 ½ pounds chicken tenders
  • ½ cup mojo marinade
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, more if needed
  • 8 thin slices sweet onion
  • 1 (1 pound) loaf Cuban bread
  • ¼ cup yellow mustard
  • 20 dill pickle slices
  • 4 slices Swiss cheese

2. Marinating the Chicken

  • Place the chicken tenders between two sheets of heavy plastic on a solid surface. Use the smooth side of a meat mallet to pound the chicken until it’s evenly flattened.
  • Place the chicken in a resealable plastic bag and pour in the mojo marinade, ensuring the chicken is well covered. Marinate for at least 2 hours in the refrigerator, though overnight will yield more flavor.

3. Cooking the Chicken

  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  • Remove the chicken from the marinade, drain off excess liquid, and cook in the skillet. Aim for 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until lightly browned. The internal temperature should reach at least 165 degrees F (74 degrees C).
  • Once cooked, transfer the chicken to a plate.

4. Cooking the Onions

  • In the same skillet, add more oil if needed and cook the sliced onions until they’re softened, which should take about 3 minutes. Then remove them from the skillet.

5. Preparing the Bread

  • Cut the Cuban bread into four equal rolls. Slice each roll in half lengthwise, being careful not to cut all the way through.
  • Spread yellow mustard generously on both the top and bottom of each roll.

6. Assembling the Sandwich

  • Start by placing dill pickle slices on the bottom half of each roll.
  • Add the cooked chicken tenders, followed by a slice of Swiss cheese and the cooked onions.

7. Final Touches and Serving

  • If you have a panini press or a similar tool, press the sandwich for a traditional touch. If not, you can serve it as is.
  • Slice each sandwich in half at an angle for a visually appealing presentation.

Cook’s Note

Mojo marinade, a staple in Cuban cooking, is key to this recipe. It can be found in the Hispanic section of many grocery stores. For an authentic experience, pressing the sandwich is recommended. This can be done with a panini pan or even with bricks wrapped in foil.

This step-by-step guide leads you through making a mouth-watering Cuban Chicken Sandwich, perfect for a family meal or a gathering with friends.

Recipe Variations and Personalization

The beauty of the Cuban Chicken Sandwich lies in its versatility. Here are some creative ways to personalize this classic dish to suit different tastes and dietary preferences.

1. Protein Variations

  • Vegetarian Twist: Replace chicken with grilled portobello mushrooms or a meat substitute for a vegetarian version. Marinate them just as you would the chicken for similar flavors.
  • Other Meats: For a different meat option, try thinly sliced turkey. The key is to maintain the thin, easy-to-eat layers that are characteristic of the sandwich.

2. Bread Alternatives

  • Gluten-Free Options: Opt for gluten-free bread if you’re catering to gluten sensitivities. Ensure it’s sturdy enough to hold the fillings and withstand pressing.
  • Different Bread Types: While Cuban bread is traditional, you can experiment with other types, like ciabatta or a hearty whole grain loaf, for a different texture and flavor.

3. Cheese Varieties

  • Different Cheeses: Experiment with other types of cheese like provolone, cheddar, or mozzarella for a different flavor profile.
  • Dairy-Free Cheese: For a dairy-free version, use plant-based cheese alternatives.

4. Additional Toppings

  • Adding Vegetables: Include lettuce, tomato slices, or avocado for added freshness and a nutrition boost.
  • Extra Condiments: Experiment with different condiments like mayonnaise, aioli, or hot sauce to add another layer of flavor.

5. Marinade Options

  • Homemade Mojo Marinade: If you can’t find mojo marinade, make your own with garlic, orange juice, lime juice, olive oil, and spices.
  • Other Marinades: Try other marinades like a simple garlic and herb or a citrus-based marinade for a different flavor twist.

6. Cooking Methods

  • Grilled Chicken: For a smokier flavor, grill the chicken instead of pan-frying it.
  • Oven-Baked Option: Bake the marinated chicken in the oven for a healthier version, avoiding additional oil.

7. Health-Conscious Adjustments

  • Reducing Sodium: Choose low-sodium cheese and pickles, and use less mustard to lower the sandwich’s sodium content.
  • Leaner Options: Use skinless chicken breast instead of tenders for a leaner meat choice.

8. Pressing Alternatives

  • Without a Press: If you don’t have a sandwich press, use a heavy skillet to press the sandwich while cooking on the stove. Place a piece of parchment paper over the sandwich and press down with the skillet.

These variations and personalization options ensure that the Cuban Chicken Sandwich can be enjoyed in numerous ways, catering to a wide array of tastes and dietary needs.

The Health Perspective: Nutritional Benefits

While the Cuban Chicken Sandwich is a treat for the taste buds, it’s also worth considering its nutritional profile. Here’s how the key ingredients contribute to a balanced diet.

1. Chicken: A Lean Protein Source

  • Muscle Building: Chicken tenders, the main protein source in this sandwich, are lean and high in protein, essential for muscle building and repair.
  • Low in Fat: Compared to red meats, chicken is lower in saturated fat, making it a heart-healthier choice.

2. Olive Oil: Healthy Fats

  • Heart Health: Olive oil is a source of monounsaturated fats, known for their benefits to heart health.
  • Antioxidant Properties: It also contains antioxidants, which help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the body.

3. Swiss Cheese: Calcium and Protein

  • Bone Health: Swiss cheese provides calcium, necessary for strong bones and teeth.
  • Additional Protein: It adds extra protein to the sandwich, contributing to the overall nutritional value.

4. Pickles: Low-Calorie Flavor

  • Low in Calories: Pickles add flavor without significantly increasing the calorie count.
  • Gut Health: Fermented pickles can provide probiotics, which are beneficial for gut health.

5. Mustard and Onions: Added Nutrients and Flavor

  • Low-Calorie Condiment: Mustard is a low-calorie condiment that adds flavor without excess fat or sugar.
  • Onions: They offer dietary fiber and a small amount of vitamin C.

6. Moderation and Balance

  • Portion Control: While the sandwich is nutritious, it’s important to consider portion sizes as part of a balanced diet.
  • Balanced Meal: Pair the sandwich with a side of salad or vegetables to create a more balanced meal.

7. Making Health-Conscious Choices

  • Ingredient Swaps: Opt for whole-grain bread, low-fat cheese, and lean cuts of chicken for a healthier version.
  • Mindful of Condiments: Be mindful of the amount of mustard and any additional sauces to keep sodium and calorie intake in check.

In summary, the Cuban Chicken Sandwich can be a nutritious choice when balanced with other health-conscious decisions. By understanding the nutritional benefits and considering ingredient swaps and portion sizes, you can enjoy this flavorful sandwich as part of a healthy diet.

Storage and Reheating Tips

Proper storage and reheating are key to enjoying your Cuban Chicken Sandwich even after the initial meal. Here’s how to keep your leftovers tasting great.

1. Storing Leftover Sandwiches

  • Cool Before Storing: Allow any leftover sandwiches to cool to room temperature to prevent moisture buildup.
  • Refrigerator Storage: Wrap the sandwiches in aluminum foil or place them in airtight containers. Stored this way, they can last in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
  • Avoiding Sogginess: To prevent the bread from becoming soggy, consider deconstructing the sandwich and storing components separately, especially the pickles and mustard.

2. Reheating for Best Quality

  • Oven Reheating: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Unwrap the sandwich and reheat it on a baking sheet for about 10 minutes or until it’s thoroughly warmed.
  • Stovetop Method: For a crisper exterior, reheat the sandwich in a skillet over medium heat. Press down with a spatula or another pan to recreate the panini press effect.

3. Freezing for Longer Storage

  • Freezing Unrecommended: Freezing is not recommended for this sandwich as the bread and fresh ingredients may not maintain their quality.

4. Tips for Freshness

  • Refreshing Ingredients: If stored in the refrigerator, consider adding fresh ingredients like a new slice of cheese or some fresh onion when reheating to rejuvenate the sandwich.
  • Moisture Management: To manage moisture and prevent a soggy sandwich, remove any excess marinade from the chicken before cooking and avoid overloading the sandwich with condiments.

Proper storage and reheating techniques will ensure that your Cuban Chicken Sandwich remains as delicious as when it was first made, allowing you to savor the flavors even on the following day.


1. What Makes Cuban Bread Unique for This Sandwich?

Cuban bread is known for its slightly crisp exterior and soft, fluffy interior. Its unique texture comes from the inclusion of lard or vegetable shortening in the dough. If you can’t find Cuban bread, a good substitute is a long, soft French or Italian loaf.

2. Can I Prepare the Chicken in Advance?

Yes, you can marinate and cook the chicken in advance. Store it in the refrigerator, and simply reassemble and reheat the sandwich when ready to serve. This can save time and make meal preparation more convenient.

3. Are There Any Shortcuts for the Mojo Marinade?

While store-bought mojo marinade is a convenient option, a quick homemade version can be made by mixing orange juice, lime juice, minced garlic, olive oil, and a blend of cumin, oregano, and salt.

4. How Can I Press the Sandwich Without Special Equipment?

If you don’t have a panini press, use a heavy skillet or griddle. Place the sandwich in the skillet, then press it down with another heavy pan or a heat-safe weight. This method replicates the effect of a press.

5. What Are Some Good Side Dishes to Serve with This Sandwich?

Traditional Cuban sides like black beans, plantain chips, or a simple green salad complement the sandwich well. These sides add nutritional balance and complete the meal.

6. How Do I Avoid a Dry Chicken Sandwich?

Ensure the chicken isn’t overcooked and retain some of the moisture from the marinade. Also, assembling the sandwich while the chicken is still slightly warm can help.

7. Can This Sandwich Be Made Healthier?

Opt for a whole-grain bread, use less cheese, and add more vegetables like lettuce and tomato. Choosing a leaner cut of chicken and controlling the amount of oil and condiments also helps.


As we conclude our exploration of the Cuban Chicken Sandwich, it’s clear that this dish is more than just a meal; it’s a celebration of culture, flavor, and culinary creativity. From its humble origins to the modern kitchen, this sandwich has journeyed through time and tradition, offering a delicious fusion of ingredients and techniques.

We’ve delved into the historical roots of the Cuban sandwich, uncovered the secrets to preparing the perfect Cuban Chicken Sandwich, and explored various ways to personalize and adapt the recipe. The health benefits of each ingredient were highlighted, demonstrating how this sandwich can fit into a balanced diet.

The Joy of Cooking and Experimentation

This guide aims to inspire you to embrace the art of cooking and the joy of experimenting with flavors. Whether you’re a novice cook or an experienced food enthusiast, the Cuban Chicken Sandwich offers a delightful challenge and a delicious reward.

A Nod to Cultural Traditions

As you prepare this sandwich, remember that you’re partaking in a rich cultural tradition. Each ingredient and every step is a nod to the vibrant history and culinary heritage of Cuba and its influence around the world.

We encourage you to try making this sandwich in your kitchen. Play with the ingredients, adjust the recipe to your liking, and share the experience with friends and family. The Cuban Chicken Sandwich is more than just sustenance; it’s a conversation starter, a unifier, and a testament to the power of good food.

In the end, cooking is about exploration, learning, and, most importantly, enjoyment. May this Cuban Chicken Sandwich bring a taste of Cuba to your table and joy to your culinary endeavors.