A Cuban-American Culinary Detour

Other Cuisines

Marga's Food logo


Cuba, which is located a mere 90 miles south of the Florida coast, has long shared a history with what is now the US state. Florida was colonized by the Spaniards from Cuba and it was ruled from Cuba until the Spanish ceded the territory to the United States. Migration from Cuba to what became the United States continued during both the Spanish and American period, but greatly intensified after the 1959 Cuban revolution. Today over 2 million Cuban Americans live in the US, a million and a half in Florida alone.

Cubans brought their food with them and Cuban cuisine continued to evolve in the restaurants of Miami and other Floridian cities. One of their greatest inventions became the Cuban sandwich, and that's what I made for my visit to Cuban-American cuisine.


Cuban Sandwich

Sandwich Cubano

There is little argument that a Cubano includes roasted pork, ham and Swiss cheese and is served in a Cuban bun - but there seems to be less agreement over what condiments to use. Originally, apparently only plain butter was used, but newer versions include mustard and even mayonnaise. I tried it both ways and preferred it with mayo and mustard. I also didn't use pickles for my sandwiches because I dislike them, but they are a key component. If you are in Florida, NYC or LA, you probably can get a hold of Cuban buns, but in the rest of the states you can use Mexican bolillos or another soft French roll.

Cubano sandwiches are pressed sandwiches, and if I knew where my panini press was (or still had a George Foreman grill), I'd have used that to make them. Instead, I cooked them in a cast iron pan and pressed them with bricks wrapped in aluminum foil. It worked pretty well.




  • 4 Cuban buns, bolillos or sandwich buns
  • 6 Tbsp butter, softened and divided or 2 Tbsp butter and 4 Tbs mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp mustard (optional)
  • 15 dill pickle slides
  • 1 lb Cuban roasted pork
  • 1 lb honey glazed ham, sliced
  • 1 lb Swiss cheese, sliced


Cut the buns in two lengthwise. Spread butter or mayonnaise and optional mustard on both sides. Layer pickles, top these with roasted pork, ham and cheese slices. Place top on sandwiches.

Melt 2 Tbsp butter over medium heat in a skillet. Add the sandwiches and press with a sandwich press or a brick wrapped in aluminum oil. Cook until the bread starts to brown and then flip, press again and cook until the bread is golden on the other side. Alternatively, cook in a panini press.

Adapted from a recipe at Three Guys from Miami

Ethnic American cuisines: American, African-American, German-American, Hungarian-American, Irish-American, Italian-American, Jewish American, Korean-American

Cuban Cuisine

Do you have a comment on this recipe? Please make it here