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Talk to the Chef Sandwich
Image: Shutterstock / Time Out

15 genius sandwich hacks, according to the world’s best chefs

Level up your sandwich game with help from some of the planet's most brilliant cooks.

Morgan Olsen
Written by
Morgan Olsen
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Homemade sandwiches are a highly personal matter, and everyone's got their own tricks for making the perfect handheld. Some will tell you that it's all about the bread, while others are more focused on what's happening inside. Heck, our minds are blown by just adding potato chips to a grilled cheese.

To level up our sandwich game, we turned to the world's best chefs and asked them to spill their greatest sandwich hacks. As you can imagine, they've got all kinds of secrets up their sleeves – from tips on what kind of bread to use to layering rules we'll never forget. There's even a hack on the list that will save the roof of your mouth from getting scraped up by toast. Genius, right? Take a look at how the world's best chefs make better sandwiches at home.

Craving more insider insight from the world's best chefs? You're in the right place. Talk to the Chef! is a weekly food series that taps into the minds of culinary leaders around the globe. The conversation changes just as often, and we'll chat with chefs about everything from podcasts and kitchen equipment to travel and trends.

Chef-approved sandwich hacks

Keep it saucy
Photograph: Brandon Beerwort

Keep it saucy

“My secret to a good sandwich is to always keep it saucy, use good bread with integrity so that it can handle a juicy filling, and always add your tomatoes and onions last so that you don’t have a soggy sandwich. Yes, there is a difference between a juicy sandwich and a soggy sandwich! Keep these hacks in mind and sandwich nirvana is in the cards.” —Chanthy Yen, founder of Touk and chef of Parliament Pub & Parlour in Montreal

Spice it up
Photograph: Patricia Niven

Spice it up

“Whether it’s a toast, pita bread or tortilla, I like to make sure it’s really crispy. I would usually use a pan with some oil or butter and I would sprinkle it with chili flakes, zaatar, sumac or any of your favourite spices. Garlic oil is also nice. It’s just a way to add crispness and another layer of flavour as heating the spices wakes up its flavour.” —Marwa Alkhalaf, chef-director of Nutshell in London

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Use the right tools
Photograph: Sambhav Mehra

Use the right tools

“I believe anything grilled and with cheese is a no-brainer. I also like to use a sandwich toastie, which street food vendors in Mumbai have been using for ages.” —Prashant Chipkar, executive chef and culinary director at Masti and chef at Time Out Market in Dubai

It’s all about the bread
Photograph: Roberto Seba

It’s all about the bread

“I love a sandwich known as ‘prego.’ It's a simple one: bread, a grilled thin steak with cheese and oregano. For me, the secret of a great sandwich starts with fresh, good bread. If you don't have fresh bread at home, try to toast the bread with some butter. It makes a big difference.” —Helena Rizzo, co-owner of Maní in São Paulo

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Try one-sided toast
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

Try one-sided toast

“I like to toast my bread on one side and then build my sandwich with the toasted side on the inside. This prevents the sandwich from getting soggy, but it also prevents the roof and bottom of your mouth from getting scratched up due to the crusty toasted side. You still get nice texture from bread and toasted side.” —Thai Dang, chef-owner of HaiSous and Thai Dang at Time Out Market in Chicago

Mix savory and sweet
Photograph: Teddy Wolff

Mix savory and sweet

“Add a little sweet and salty to your sandwich! My favorite childhood sandwich was a peanut butter, banana and honey sandwich. Try some adult versions of savory-sweet sandwiches like bacon, egg and jam, or add a pear to your next grilled cheese sandwich.” Emily Yuen, executive chef of Bessou and Bessou at Time Out Market in New York City

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Play with your bread
Photograph: Tegan Smith Photography

Play with your bread

“My secret hack is to steer clear of ‘normal’ bread. I always try to use a fresh baguette or brioche bun instead – takes it to a whole new level.” —Matt Manning, chef-owner of Grub & Vine in Cape Town

Add some crunch
Photograph: Sim Photography

Add some crunch

“Top-quality bread is key, as is the all-important condiment selection, but at the moment I’ve been adding a bit of extra crunch to my sandwiches to elevate the textures. Think Bombay mix or crushed wasabi peas for spice, or just add your favourite crisps into the mix.” James Cochran, chef-owner of 12:51 by Chef James Cochran in London

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Have fun with textures
Photograph: Denny Culbert

Have fun with textures

“Tomato sandwich with a textural twist. If I know I'm going to have a tomato sandwich tomorrow, sometimes I will leave the white bread out overnight to stale up a little. Gives it a little more texture.” —Nina Compton, chef-owner of Compère Lapin and Bywater American Bistro in New Orleans

Get fried
Photograph: Courtesy Fine Dining Lovers by S. Pellegrino

Get fried

“My mum used to make fried sandwiches when we were kids – they were such a treat. She used to tell us about seeing them when she travelled in America in the ’70s. White sliced pan, heavily buttered with Irish butter, filled with ham and cheese, then cooked on a hot pan until dark brown and melting. And it has to be cut into squares. Still love them.” —Mark Moriarty, chef of The Greenhouse in Dublin

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Just add pesto
Foto: Edgar Ortíz

Just add pesto

“My sandwich secret is pesto. Everything’s better with a good Genovese pesto – cold, warm, spicy, mild, with vegetables, meat or fish. When there’s nothing else, just bread, pesto and cheese. That doesn't mean that my sandwiches are only pesto-flavoured. Of course not. But it’s my secret when I want to feel happy.” —Ada Parellada, owner of Semproniana in Barcelona

Upgrade your mayo
Photograph: Charlie McKay

Upgrade your mayo

“Switching up regular mayo for Kewpie mayo is my go-to. And I always season [my sandwiches] with salt and pepper – it makes all the difference!” —Peter Sanchez-Iglesias, chef of Casamia, Paco Tapas, Decimo and Pi Shop in the UK

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Add some weight
Photograph: Rahil Ahmad

Add some weight

“Grilled cheese sandwiches are the perfect combination of fat and carbs – my favourite things. The trick is firstly to have good bread. Next, use a cast-iron pan and get it hot. Generously smear the outside of your bread with butter, slap it onto the pan and then place a weight or another pan on top of the sandwich to really spread out its surface area for a richer crunch.” —Ravinder Bhogal, founder of Jikoni in London

Distribution is key
Photograph: Graham Turner

Distribution is key

“It’s no secret that a good sandwich is all about layering. But the key is organised layering with even distribution of bite-sized ingredients. Nobody wants a mouthful of just cucumber after all.” —Brodie Meah, co-founder of Top Cuvée in London

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