What Kind of Meat Goes on a Cuban Sandwich?

A Cuban sandwich is made with ham, roast pork, or roast beef and Swiss cheese. That’s it. In the rest of the world, that would be a boring sandwich. In Cuba, however, it’s a mouthwatering masterpiece. With a little ingenuity and some local flavors, you can take this simple sandwich and make it taste like it’s been Cubanized. Here’s what kind of meat goes on a Cuban sandwich.

What Goes on a Cuban Sandwich?

Cuban sandwiches are traditionally made with sliced ham, roast pork, Swiss cheese, and pickles. That’s it. There are some occasional exceptions, but those are very rare.

You’ll also sometimes see roast pork on a Cuban sandwich. Some people do like to put roast pork on their Cuban sandwich, but it’s definitely not traditional. Pickles, though, go without explanation. The reason they go in the sandwich is because people like them as a complement to another ingredient—ham, Swiss, or both.

There are some other optional ingredients to keep in mind. Cubans will sometimes put mustard on their sandwiches, and horseradish is also very common. Cuban sandwiches may also be called cubano, but no matter what you call them, they’re a Cuban classic. Check out the video below for some inspiration.

Ham and Swiss Cheese Cuban Sandwich

There’s no better way to show off a Cuban sandwich’s flavor profile than to get started with ham and Swiss cheese. Ham and Swiss cheese are a classic pairing that can be found on many other sandwiches, but with Cuban flavors, it becomes a masterpiece.

Roast Pork Cuban Sandwich

Roast pork might not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about Cuba or Cuban food, but it’s a key Cuban sandwich ingredient. Cuban sandwiches are often made with roast pork, sausage, or both. You can find any of these on a Cuban sandwich at some restaurants, but for a traditional Cuban sandwich, you’ll want to stick to roast pork.

What About Beef?

Beef made its way onto Cuban sandwiches around the time of the Cuban Revolution, when many Cubans had been forced to eat meat that was not their preference—such as chicken or turkey. It’s possible that some Cuban sandwich shops in America make their Cuban sandwiches with beef because they think that’s what Cubans eat.

A Cuban sandwich is nothing more than a toasted bun with ham, Swiss cheese, and pickles. There are a few other rules of thumb, but that’s it. You can add any other ingredients that you would like: mustard, roast pork, roast beef, and/or horseradish. However, these are just optional. You can also add tomatoes, onions, or other vegetables.


A Cuban sandwich is made with sliced ham, Swiss cheese, and pickles.

Hams on Cuban sandwiches are usually mild and air-cured. You can also find the Cuban sandwich version that uses salami, prosciutto, or other air-cured hams.

Swiss cheese on Cuban sandwiches is usually American, old-fashioned, or washed-rind. Cuban sandwiches are also sometimes made with mozzarella.

Pickles are a must on a Cuban sandwich, but they’re just one of the sandwich’s many flavors.

A Cuban sandwich is made with ham, Swiss cheese, and pickles. There are other optional ingredients, but these are the most common.

A Cuban sandwich is made with ham, Swiss cheese, and pickles. There are other optional ingredients, but these are the most common.