This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
This grinder sandwich has everything you could want in a sandwich. It’s loaded with meats and cheeses, packs a spicy punch, and is full of fresh veggies.
Not much in the world can compare to a good sandwich. And when it comes to sandwiches, the grinder sandwich is the king of them all. This grinder sandwich recipe has three different kinds of meats and three different kinds of cheese. It’s got some serious kick, with pepperoni, pepperoncini, red chili flakes, and Calabrian chili paste. And it’s tied together with a thick hoagie loaf, and a fresh, acidic salad.
What more could you possibly want in a sandwich? The grinder has everything. In my eyes, it’s the perfect sandwich. And that’s really saying something.
Why Is It Called a Grinder Sandwich?
The grinder sandwich got its name because it’s not particularly easy to eat. It’s an incredibly thick sandwich, packed high with vegetables, meats, and cheeses. And it’s squeezed between Italian bread, which can be thick and chewy. So the name came about because of how challenging it was to eat relative to other kinds of sandwiches.
These days, the term “grinder sandwich” is often used interchangeably with “heroes,” “submarines,” “hoagies,” and “Italian sandwiches.”
As far as sandwiches go, this is a fairly complex one, as a lot of ingredients go into this recipe. That said, it’s very easy to make. Be sure to scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of the page to see the exact amounts of each ingredient.
For the Salad:
- Mayonnaise – I recommend using full-fat mayo, but you can use reduced-fat if you prefer.
- Red wine vinegar
- Kosher salt
- Black pepper
- Crushed red chili flakes
- Ground oregano
- Pepperoncini peppers
- Red onion – Other types of onions will work in a pinch, but red is definitely preferable for this sandwich.
- Iceberg lettuce
For the Sandwich:
- Hoagie loves
- Calabrian chili paste
- Muenster cheese – If you can’t find muenster, you can replace it with gouda.
- Provolone cheese
- Fresh parmesan cheese
- Black pepper
What is Calabrian Chili Paste?
Calabrian chili paste is a very important part of this sandwich. It’s really just a spread made from oil, vinegar, and Calabrian chilis, which are a medium-heat chili grown in Calabria, a region in Italy.
You can find Calabrian chili paste, which is often labeled as “hoagie spread” in any Italian deli, and many supermarkets. Trader Joe’s also carries their version, which is called “Bomba Sauce.”
How to Make a Grinder Sandwich
This is a fun sandwich to make. Here’s how to do it.
- Heat the oven. Preheat your oven to 350F.
- Make the salad. Place the lettuce, onion, garlic, pepperoncini peppers, oregano, chili flakes, salt, pepper, mayonnaise, and vinegar in a bowl, and toss to combine.
- Add the chili paste. Cut the loaves in half lengthwise, and spread the Calabrian chili paste onto both sides.
- Add the meats and cheese. Place the muenster and provolone cheeses on one side of the hoagie loaf, and the meats on the other side.
- Bake. Place the sandwiches on a baking sheet, and put in the oven until the cheese is melted, then remove.
- Add the fresh ingredients. Place the salad on top of the meat, and top it with tomato, salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese.
- Finish the sandwich. Close the two sides of the sandwich, and press them together to smush them. Optionally, coat the top of the bread with olive oil, Italian seasoning, and parmesan, then bake for 5 minutes. Then eat!
Tips for Success
Here are some tricks and tips for making this grinder sandwich.
- Get the meat and cheese professionally sliced. This sandwich is a lot better if the meats and cheeses are sliced thinly, which increases both the flavor and the texture. I recommend you buy your meats and cheeses at the deli, so that you can ask them to thinly slice the ingredients on the deli slicer.
- Use fresh bread. This is not a sandwich that you want to use stale bread for. Because the grinder sandwich is so thick, it’s important to have bread that’s fresh enough that you can bite through it. Try to find a bakery with freshly-baked hoagie loaves. Italian delis will often have good options.
- Make the salad ahead of time. If you make the salad a few hours ahead of time, or even a day or two in advance, the flavors will really have time to meld together. The fresh, acidic, and spicy salad will really shine if given some time to marinate.
The grinder sandwich has a little bit of everything in it, and it’s super filling. So you don’t need to serve it with much. But sandwiches always go well with chips and fries, and the grinder is no exception. Here are some of my favorite things to eat with a grinder sandwich.
- Garlic sweet potato fries
- Oven-baked zucchini chips
- Curly fries with horseradish mustard
- Homemade taro chips
How to Store a Grinder Sandwich
I don’t recommend storing this sandwich for long, as the bread will get soggy. However, if need be, you can store a grinder in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. You can eat it cold, or wrap it in aluminum foil and reheat in a 350F oven for 5 minutes.
Can This Recipe Be Frozen?
I do not recommend freezing a grinder sandwich. The texture of the sandwich will get very funky if you freeze it and then thaw it.
More Delicious Sandwich Recipes
Even though I think the grinder is the ultimate sandwich, there are still a lot of other sandwiches that are worth eating. Here are a few of my favorite sandwich recipes for you to try.
- Goat cheese pesto chicken sandwich
- Pulled BBQ chicken sandwich
- Beer battered fried chicken sandwich
- Eggplant parmesan sandwich
- Cheesesteak sandwich
For the Salad:
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 3 garlic cloves, minced or grated
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
- 1 teaspoon ground oregano
- ¼ cup pepperoncini peppers, finely diced
- ¼ cup red onion, diced
- ½ head iceberg lettuce
For the Sandwiches:
- 2 Italian hoagie loaves
- 2 tablespoons Calabrian chili paste, divided
- 3 ounces Muenster cheese, thinly sliced
- 3 ounces Provolone cheese, thinly sliced
- 3 ounces Salami, thinly sliced
- 3 ounces Prosciutto, thinly sliced
- 3 ounces Pepperoni, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons Fresh parmesan
- 1 Tomato, sliced
- Black pepper
The default measuring system for this website is US Customary. Unit conversions are provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. While we strive to provide accurate unit conversions, please be aware that there may be some discrepancies.
- Preheat oven to 350 °F (177 °C)
- Mix all the salad ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.
- Slice the hoagie loaves in half then spread Calabrian chili paste on both sides of the loaves.
- Add the cheese on one side of the bread and the meats on the other. Then place into oven to bake until cheese is melted and meat is warmed through.
- Add the salad onto the meat side then add a couple slices of fresh tomato and season with pepper, to taste. Sprinkle fresh parmesan.
- Close the sandwich and gently press down on it to “smush” – next step is optional but highly recommended.
- Brush the top of the loaf with a light coat of olive oil and sprinkle Italian seasoning and parmesan on top. Bake for 5 minutes at 350 °F (177 °C) to brown the top and get it all nice and baked in.
- Slice in half and enjoy!
- For best results, have your meats and cheeses sliced professionally at the deli.
- Use fresh bread, when possible.
- Make the salad ahead of time for best results.
- You can store the sandwich in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days, but it will get soggy.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.