Classic sandwiches can be a restaurant operator’s best friend. Time-tested favorites such as French dips, Reubens or tuna melts are craveable, familiar fare, and because customers already love them, they can be more receptive to trying creative variations. And that means these sandwich icons are ready to be turned into one-of-a-kind menu signatures.
In fact, according to Technomic’s 2016 Sandwich Consumer Trend Report, powered by Ignite, 37% of consumers surveyed say they usually order the same type of sandwich every time they order a sandwich from restaurants, down from 42% in 2014. This increased variation in sandwich purchases is a sign that it’s time to put a twist on a classic sandwich to maximize this menu category.
Here are 10 ideas for shaking things up with some of diners’ favorite sandwiches.
- Swap out the standard rye in a Reuben (corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing) for farmhouse-style country bread or rustic oatmeal, or turn the whole thing into a slider with an individual pretzel bun. The same tactic works for the Rachel, the Reuben’s turkey- and coleslaw-based cousin.
- Elevate a tuna melt by preparing the filling Nicoise-style, with chopped grilled tuna, goat cheese, olive tapenade, sliced tomato and hard-boiled, or even an over-easy fried, egg.
- Make a French dip more flavorful with a spread of horseradish cream cheese on the sandwich, or add more oomph to the au jus dip with sherry and sauteed finely chopped shallots.
- Vary a Cuban sandwich by substituting roast chicken and smoked turkey breast for the traditional ham and roast pork; it’s a healthier take and just as delicious with the Swiss cheese, pickle and mustard on this pressed-and-grilled classic.
- According to Technomic, burgers are one of the sandwiches that consumers choose most often. Change things up by tucking them into a lightly toasted pita for a surprising twist that’s also lower in carbs and neater to eat than the usual bun. (Line the pita with soft leaf lettuce to help contain juicy drips.)
- Ever-popular grilled cheese sandwiches will please adults when they’re turned into signatures with specialty cheese and distinctive condiments: mozzarella, tomato and basil; gruyere and mango chutney; aged cheddar and sliced apples; goat cheese and peppadew peppers; spicy Jack cheese with Sriracha and crushed corn chips.
- Upgrade a grilled chicken sandwich into an on-trend Vietnamese-style banh mi by dressing tender sliced chicken with quick-pickled carrots and daikon radish, sliced cucumber, jalapenos and fresh cilantro with mayo on an individual baguette.
- Extend the usual egg-, chicken- and tuna-salad lineup with options such as grilled salmon and dill salad, shrimp and fennel, chopped hard-boiled egg and bacon, smoked chicken or turkey salad with walnuts, or an old-fashioned mustardy ham-salad sandwich.
- Make a club sandwich more attractive—and interesting—by using several different kinds of bread, such as rye, wheat and white, or multigrain and spiced wortloaf (a type of Swedish bread that’s flavored with cloves, cinnamon, ginger and cardamom).
- Texture can add a twist to almost any classic sandwich. Think creamy sliced avocado in a BLT, crunchy giardiniera in a turkey and Swiss, crisp potato chips in a tuna salad sandwich, or cucumber and red onion on a smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel.
Remember that sandwiches are more than just a sum of their parts: bread, filling and condiments. Vary just one element, and operators can create a whole new menu offering.
This post is sponsored by Euro-Bake