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Italian Grinder Sandwich

An Italian Grinder Sandwich is the perfect symphony of Italian deli cold cuts, cheese and zippy, zingy grinder salad.

Italian Grinder Sandwich cut to see the contents and sitting on a wooden cutting board.
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A while back, you may have noticed that Italian Grinder sandwiches took the Internet food world by storm. If you’re like me, you may never have heard of a grinder sandwich before. Now, everyone knows about them because of one viral TikTok video.

Well, we have fallen in love with this delectable sandwich. It’s a hearty meal-in-one, and it can be on the table in 15 to 20 minutes. Honestly, half of one is the perfect size for me. Of course, your yield will depend on the appetites you’re cooking for.

What is a Grinder?

In certain East Coast states, a grinder sandwich is a sub sandwich (or hoagie or hero) that has been heated. That’s it. The only difference is that the sandwich is served hot instead of cold.

In Pennsylvania, New York and other New England states where the term is believed to have originated, sub sandwiches with hot fillings or that have been toasted in the oven after assembly are called grinders.

More recently, the term refers more to the addition of a tangy, refreshing grinder salad as one of the sandwich toppings.

That creamy salad is the flavorful star of this sandwich. You guys! It’s so good!

Italian Grinder Sandwich cut to see the contents and sitting on a wooden cutting board.

The truth is that depending on the region of the United States in which you’re eating them, the terms grinder, sub, hero, or hoagie may well be used interchangeably whether your sandwich is served hot or cold.

So pick your favorite name and go with that. What counts is the taste! And it’s fantastic! It just may be your new favorite sandwich.

So What’s an Italian Grinder Sandwich?

Imagine savory prosciutto, mortadella, capicola, and salami layered with aged provolone and thin slices of Roma tomato. Pile those high on a freshly baked ciabatta roll and top it with some creamy, tangy and herbaceous grinder salad. Delish!

At least that’s the way we make them at my house. You honestly have lots of options and possibilities when creating your own Italian Grinder Sandwich. There are more Italian cold cuts than you might imagine, and cheese varieties are plentiful as well.

Common Italian Grinder Meats

Most varieties of Italian meats will be easy to find in large grocery stores. For others, you may need to visit a specialty market or deli. Try to get the deli meats sliced super thin. Some of the common varieties used in Italian grinders are:

Italian meat selection on a white platter for making Italian grinder sandwiches.

Capicola: You may find capicola also labeled as coppa or capicollo. They are all the same thing. It’s a dry-cured type of salami made from pork shoulder or neck. Capicola is whole muscle cured rather than ground and shaped before curing.

Mortadella: Mortadella is made from finely ground cured pork and cubes of fat incorporated into the mixture before it is rolled. It is similar to American bologna. The Mortadella I find in this area is very thinly sliced and it’s perfect in an Italian grinder sandwich.

Salami: Salami is made from fermented and air-dried meat that is then cured. It is usually, but not always, made from pork. Salami is available in many varieties. But many are more commonly found in Europe. I can usually buy Genovese (Genoa), Milanese (Milano), Hard Salami, and Pepperoni here in the Midwest.

Ham: Ham is pork. The specific cut is from the leg. It can be either wet or dry cured and is available smoked or not smoked. It can be whole muscle cured or mechanically formed and then cured. Italian hams include Prosciutto, Guanciale, Speck, and many others.

Prosciutto (Parma Ham): Prosciutto is a type of Italian ham and one of the most beloved Italian meats for deli sandwiches. It is fairly easy to find in the U.S. Prosciutto Cotto is cooked. Prosciutto Crudo is cured. I found it interesting that Prosciutto is made only from the hind legs of pigs. No matter where it comes from, it’s delicious in this Italian grinder sandwich.

Italian Grinder Sandwich cut to see the contents and sitting on a wooden cutting board.

Recipe Variations

  • Sliced Cheese in the Sandwich: Mix things up with the cheese in your Italian Grinder Sandwiches. Choose your favorite varieties that pair well with Italian seasonings. Try the provolone suggested in the recipe, or branch out and try something new like Fontina, Asiago, Gorgonzola, Mozzarella, or Tallegio.
  • Grated Cheese in the Salad: I grated fresh Parmesan into my grinder salad, but you could try subbing in Parmesano Reggiano, Romano or Pecorino.
  • Veggies in the Salad: Thin bell pepper strips, grated zucchini or sliced olives would be delicious additions to the salad.
  • Bread: Give me crusty bread any day of the week!  It’s great with soup, and it’s fantastic for sandwiches.  Personally, I love the crust and chewy open crumb of ciabatta bread. I buy ciabatta rolls at Walmart regularly, and they’re perfect for these sandwiches. Substitute your favorite hoagie or hero rolls. You can also assemble this sandwich on a loaf of Italian bread and then slice it to serve a crowd.
  • Italian Salad Dressing: This delish salad makes its own creamy Italian dressing. You can switch it up by adding stone ground mustard to the dressing ingredients. Red pepper flakes can be added for additional heat.

The Ingredients

For the Italian Grinder Sandwich

  • Italian cold cuts (Choose your favorite varieties.)
  • Provolone Cheese, sliced thinly
  • Roma Tomatoes, sliced thinly
  • Ciabatta Rolls (Or choose your favorite Italian Loaf or sandwich rolls.)

For the Creamy Grinder Salad

  • Iceberg Lettuce, thinly sliced or grated
  • Red Onion, thinly sliced
  • Pickled Pepperoncini Peppers, thinly sliced
  • Parmesan Cheese, finely grated
  • Mayonnaise
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Garlic
  • Juice from Pepperoncini
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Black Pepper and Kosher Salt, to taste

What to Serve With a Grinder Sandwich

An Italian Grinder Sandwich is excellent when served with quick and easy cold sides like potato chips, a refreshing Bell Pepper Salad, or a scrumptiously crunchy and tangy Asian Cucumber Salad.

Make your side choices based on the occasion. For instance, will you be serving Italian sub sandwiches for a Super Bowl gathering, as one of many options on a potluck buffet table or for a quick and easy weeknight dinner? The setting can definitely influence the sides.

Cold Side Ideas

Hot Side Ideas

How to Make an Italian Grinder

Cold Prep:

  1. First, make the creamy grinder salad. Mix together the thinly sliced or grated lettuce with the onions, pepperoncini, grated Parmesan, mayonnaise, Italian seasoning, minced garlic, pickle juice from the pepperoncini jar, and red wine vinegar. Toss everything in a bowl and mix until the ingredients are thoroughly combined and coated in that luscious Italian dressing. Set the grinder salad aside and start assembly of the Italian subs.
  2. Split your selected Italian bread, hoagie rolls or ciabatta rolls and open each into two halves, split sides up. Build your cold Italian sub from the bottom up.
  3. Start with a slice of aged Provolone or your favorite sliced cheese on the bottom of the sandwich.
  4. Top the cheese with 1/4 lb. (or less) of thinly sliced Italian meats from your favorite deli. Adjust the amount of meat to the appetite of the person eating it. Try to mix two, three, or even more varieties for the best flavor.
  5. Place a few thin slices of Roma tomato on top of the meat.
  6. Now top everything with a scoop of that deliciously creamy salad and close the sandwich by covering it with the top half of the bread.
  7. Slice and enjoy!

Hot Prep:

(Note: We use a second slice of cheese on each sandwich when preparing them hot.)

  1. Preheat your oven to low broil.
  2. Make the grinder salad as directed in Step 1 of the instructions for Cold Prep.
  3. Split the bread loaf or rolls and lay them out on a sheet tray, sliced sides facing up.
  4. Place sliced Provolone on the top half of each roll and top the cheese with one-half of the Italian meat for each sandwich.
  5. Repeat that procedure with the bottom half of the roll for each sandwich.
  6. Heat the Italian grinder in the oven until the roll is toasty, the cheese is melted and the deli meat is warm. It will only take a few minutes, so keep an eye on it.
  7. Pull the baking sheet out of the oven and add thin tomato slices and a scoop of Italian grinder salad to the bottom half of each sandwich.
  8. Close each hearty sandwich and serve.
Ciabatta Rolls open on a concrete counter top with deli meat stacked on one half.

The Recipe

Print
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Italian Grinder Sandwich cut to see the contents and sitting on a wooden cutting board.

Italian Grinder Sandwich


  • Author: Glenda Embree
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 68 servings 1x

Description

My Italian Grinder Sandwich is a symphony of your favorite Italian flavors in an easy-to-make hand-held meal! Grab the delicious recipe!  Serve it hot or cold, but don’t skip the delicious creamy grinder salad.  It makes this sandwich a star!


Ingredients

Scale

For the Italian Grinder Sandwich

  • 1 pound Italian cold cuts (Choose your favorite varieties.)
  • 4 slices Provolone, sliced thinly (8 slices if doing hot prep.)
  • 2 Roma Tomatoes, sliced thinly
  • 4 Ciabatta Rolls (Or choose your favorite Italian Loaf or sandwich rolls.

For the Grinder Salad with Creamy Italian Dressing

  • 1/4 head Iceberg Lettuce, thinly sliced or grated
  • 1/2 cup Red Onion, cut into thin slivers
  • 1/3 cup Mayonnaise
  • 3 or 4 Pickled Pepperoncini Peppers, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons Parmesan Cheese, finely grated
  • 1 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon minced Garlic
  • 2 teaspoons Pickle Juice from Pepperoncini jar
  • 1 teaspoon Red Wine Vinegar
  • Black Pepper and Kosher Salt, to taste

Instructions

Cold Prep:

  1. First, make the grinder salad. Mix together the thinly sliced or grated lettuce with the onions, pepperoncini, grated Parmesan, mayonnaise, Italian seasoning, minced garlic, pickle juice from the pepperoncini jar, and red wine vinegar. Toss everything in a bowl and mix until the ingredients are thoroughly combined and coated in that luscious Italian dressing. Set the grinder salad aside and start assembly of the Italian subs.
  2. Split your selected Italian bread, hoagie rolls or ciabatta rolls and open each into two halves, split sides up. Build your cold Italian sub from the bottom up.
  3. Start with a slice of aged Provolone or your favorite sliced cheese on the bottom of the sandwich.
  4. Top the cheese with 1/4 lb. (or less) of thinly sliced Italian meats from your favorite deli. Adjust the amount of meat to the appetite of the person eating it. Try to mix two, three, or even more varieties for the best flavor.
  5. Place a few thin slices of Roma tomato on top of the meat.
  6. Now top everything with a scoop of grinder salad and close the sandwich by covering it with the top half of the bread.
  7. Slice and enjoy!

 

Hot Prep:

(Note: We use a second slice of cheese on each sandwich when preparing them hot.)

  1. Preheat your oven to low broil.
  2. Make the grinder salad as directed in Step 1 of the instructions for Cold Prep.
  3. Split the bread loaf or rolls and lay them out on a sheet tray, sliced sides facing up.
  4. Place sliced Provolone on the top half of each roll and top the cheese with one-half of the Italian meat for each sandwich.
  5. Repeat that procedure with the bottom half of the roll for each sandwich.
  6. Heat the Italian grinder in the oven until the roll is toasty, the cheese is melted and the deli meat is warm. It will only take a few minutes so keep an eye on it.
  7. Pull the baking sheet out of the oven and add sliced tomatoes and a scoop of Italian grinder salad to the bottom half of each sandwich.
  8. Close each hearty sandwich, slice and serve.
  • Prep Time: 15 min
  • Category: Main Dish, Lunch, Pork, Sandwiches
  • Method: Cold Prep
  • Cuisine: American-Italian

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/2 sandwich

More Sandwich Recipes to Try

glenda embree

About Glenda

I believe cooking from scratch doesn’t have to be complicated and that YOU can do it. My simple recipes, tutorials, and cooking tips will help you get weeknight dinners on the table with less stress. Forget takeout or the drive-thru. Let me show you how to make homemade easy. Read more...

10 thoughts on “Italian Grinder Sandwich”

  1. This Italian Grinder hit the spot! The flavors are well-balanced and it’s so satisfying. It was quick to prepare and my kids enjoyed them. I will definitely bring these to all future gatherings!

    Reply
  2. Fond of cold cuts, I gave this recipe a shot—my first-time trying this sandwich even it went viral lol. It turned out delicious, and my family enjoyed it!

    Reply
  3. I used ciabatta rolls for the sandwich and I really loved that extra hearty bite. And the creamy salad adds a gourmet touch. It was quick and easy yet so filling.

    Reply
  4. My kids loved these Italian Grinder Sandwiches! They love cheese so much so I also added grated parmesan over the creamy salad. As for me, I added extra pickled pepperoncini peppers for a spicy kick.

    Reply

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