The genius of the sandwich lies in its endless variations: take bread, go wild with the fillings. But the sandwiches we make most often are in the simple over-the-counter form and often contain only three ingredients. These are the favorite combinations of Eater editors.
Mackerel + Dijon mustard + flake salt
Really good canned mackerel doesn’t need much guidance – I like to eat it straight from the can, and that has yet to feel like a compromise. In those times when I want it delivered to my mouth as part of a sandwich, I don’t do much to ruin its minimalist appeal. A smear of Dijon mustard cuts through its greasiness, while a pinch of flaky salt makes it taste even more like itself. Together they form my holy trinity. — Rebecca Flint Marx, Editor-in-Chief
Baked mortadella + duck egg + cheese
When I was 5 or 6, two-ingredient (or under-ingredient) sandwiches were my most common lunches, often roasting turkey and Muenster cheese on a toasted regular bagel or bologna with American cheese on spongy white bread. As I got older, I started to welcome a third ingredient in the latter—a buttery fried egg—turning the thing from a boring lunchbox item into a breakfast sandwich. Now the fully realized grown me has taken it one step further: one of my favorite breakfast sandwiches is mortadella (the more stuffed with pork fat and pistachio, the better), a large duck egg, and whatever cheese is on hand (although it works really well). with a milder cheddar). Duck eggs for size – they can spread over more of the bread than a regular chicken egg, and that giant yolk; baked mortadella because it is delicious. Cheese melts everything together before putting it on warm toast or a bagel with seeds. Highly recommend with an obscene squeeze of orange juice, or, if you fancy, San Pellegrino blood orange. — Nicole Adlman, city manager
Cashew butter + mashed banana + cinnamon
They say necessity is the mother of invention. But I think being a mom is necessarily inventive, especially when it comes to food. To keep my toddler happy eating staples like toast with nut butter several times a week, I try to add a little variety. One morning, when we had a banana on its way to the banana bread area, I decided to make it a toast topping instead. Inspired by the Elvis sandwich, I toasted some wheat bread, spread it thinly on some cashew butter, then mashed the banana in a small bowl and spread that on top as well. I added a pinch of cinnamon, cut the bread in half and made a triangular bun. It looked so good that I immediately made one for myself. Somehow, an stale banana and another damn toast with nut butter are absolutely decadent when combined together — they’re all things that weekday breakfasts at home usually aren’t: warm, sweet, rich, and unexpected. — Hillary Dixler Canavan, restaurant editor
Turkey + bacon + American cheese
I love bagels (especially in bagel capitals like New York or Jersey), and always find myself having the same debate when I’m in a position to order one: do I get a bagel sandwich, do I just spread it with cream cheese, or do I toss? some lox or sablefish on top? As a protein lover, especially in the morning, I find myself going the sandwich route most often, and fish isn’t always the best combination for every scenario (like if I happen to have a hangover, for example). For years, my most trusted order for bagel sandwiches consisted of deli turkey (ideally Boar’s Head), crispy bacon, and a melty slice of American cheese. The combination is a bit of a salt bomb, which is perfect for this salt devil. The ingredients are easy to find at any bagel store, and the cheese adds a much-needed textural contrast of creaminess to the mix. The sandwich is even more satisfying when I combine the filling with my own homemade bagels, one of the recipes I’ve been most proud of successfully executing over the years. — Missy Frederick, city manager
Tomato + mayo + salt flakes
This is a sandwich made of things I thought I despised. I grew up hating raw tomatoes, hating mayonnaise, and assuming the best bread was crispy and homemade and never dimpled through your fingers. And yet, after trying a tomato and mayonnaise sandwich on Wonder Bread in a neighbor’s backyard a few summers ago, it has become my favorite sandwich. It only works when the tomatoes are at their peak in summer, freshness and brightness, when the mayonnaise has been slathered thick enough to counteract the acidity of the tomatoes, the bread is soft enough so the slippery tomatoes don’t fly out (I have now prefer Martin’s potato bread), and it’s all topped with some flaky sea salt before mounting. This sandwich is how I know summer has arrived, and I cherish it for the few weeks it’s possible to exist. — Jaya Saxena, senior writer
Membrillo + manchego + prosciutto
One of my favorite three-ingredient sandwiches is an adaptation of a two-ingredient sandwich I ate when I lived in San Sebastian as a teenager. Bocadillos are sort of the Spanish answer to a sub: a long baguette cut lengthwise and layered with a few ingredients—sometimes jamon serrano and tomato, sometimes chorizo, sometimes a full slab of tortilla Española. But my favorite was super simple: membrillo, or quince paste, and nutty manchego cheese.
It wasn’t until I got home that I thought of adding a few slices of jamon serrano to my membrillo bocadillo; the resulting sandwich has the right balance of saltiness and sweetness, with the tenderness of the ham mimicking the texture of the membrillo. In the United States, prosciutto is infinitely easier to find than jamon serrano, so these days I often put membrillo, manchego, and prosciutto between two pieces of crusty bread when I’m looking for a bit of San Sebastian. The secret is to keep repeating the layers: membrillo, prosciutto, manchego, membrillo, prosciutto, manchego, until it’s a layer as thick as a slice of bread. Be sure to do both pieces of membrillo — or eat it face-to-face. — Brooke Jackson-Glidden, editor of Eater Portland
Turkey + herb cream cheese + American cheese
Turkey and cheese is a classic and obvious sandwich combination. However, for anyone who eats the same sandwich for lunch a few times a week, it’s easy to get bored with the typical turkey, sliced American cheese, and mayonnaise situation. Chive cream cheese, both herbaceous and creamy, is perfect for breaking that monotony. It’s tastier than mayonnaise and richer, making what’s normally a midweek sandwich feel extra indulgent. Served fine as is or gently warmed in a toaster oven, the combination of sliced turkey, American cheese, and chive cream cheese is an excellent way to spice up your lunch without doing any real work. — Amy McCarthy, staff writer