The classic Italian Sub recipe is an easy and affordable sandwich to make yourself. You’ll enjoy a great lunch at a price that can’t be beat!
There are sandwiches. And then there are sandwiches.
The former are those slap together, boring things, bread and meat, and maybe some cheese, that serve their purposes just fine, but aren’t all that interesting.
The latter, the sandwiches, are something else. There’s still that bread and meat and bit of cheese, but there are veggies and strong flavors like pesto or pepperoncini or herbed mayo.
These sandwiches are what make lunchtime interesting. They have you eager to brown bag it. They make your mouth water just thinking about them.
These Italian Sub Sandwiches are those kind of sandwiches.
Let’s roll back the clock to a time when I made hundreds of these sandwiches every day. True story.
I was a freshman at the University of California at Santa Barbara, back in the day before Starbucks, before Panda Express, before rampant fast food on college campuses. I like to call them the good ole’ days.
Back then, the university ran its own food service, including a catering company, a deli, a coffee shop, and numerous shops around campus that sold freshly made salads and sandwiches. My first college job was in The Pantry where said sandwiches and salads were prepared.
That’s where I learned to make these Italian Sub Sandwiches which have become a strong family favorite. In fact, my husband once said these were his favorite sandwiches in the whole wide world.
I admit, they are that good.
What’s in an Italian Sub Sandwich?
The ingredients in an Italian Sub are pretty straightforward: sub or grinder roll, sliced provolone, sliced ham and salami, shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes, sliced onion, pepperoncini.
I once got in a heated debate with a cookbook editor who claimed that mayonnaise had no place on a sub. Italian dressing was de rigueur.
I beg to differ. While vinaigrette is a fantastic addition to an Italian sub, herbed mayonnaise takes this sandwich over the top. Choose the one you prefer or don’t. You can do as my husband does and add both.
What’s the best bread to use?
I prefer a sub sandwich or grinder roll. You want somethign that can hold all that meat and cheese and not fall apart on you!
So you could also choose a hearty white bread, or even try a homemade sourdough bread!
Can this Italian sub recipe be made the day before?
These Italian Sub sandwiches are perfect for packing to school, work, picnics, or road trips.
When I made hundreds of these sandwiches every day, we prepared them at 6 in the morning and they were served until closing time that night. The mayonnaise is needed to keep the sandwich from being dry, but it will make the sandwich soggy if prepped too far in advance.
If you’re going to make these sandwiches a day in advance, I’d leave off the mayo and add it before serving.
Prepare the sandwiches, wrap well in plastic or a beeswax wrapper and store in the fridge or in a cooler until serving.
How do you make an Italian Sub?
These subs are super simple to make. If you’re making more than one, make the process even easier, by laying them all out at one time and prepping them assembly-line style.
- Slice the roll lengthwise, leaving a hinge on one side.
- Spread the mayo on both sides of the roll.
- Layer two slices of provolone.
- Add two slices of ham and four slices of salami.
- Add a layer of tomatoes.
- And then a layer of onion.
- Add a few handfuls of shredded lettuce.
- Garnish with a few slices of pepperoncini.
- Carefully fold the sandwich, keeping the filling inside.
- Serve immediately, or wrap well and store in the fridge until serving.
Sub toppings your family will love
You can always get creative and use up what’s in your crisper drawer in the fridge so nothing goes to waste! But here are a few suggestions:
We love using tomato slices, shredded lettuce, pepperoncinis, and red onions. But you co could also add avocado slices, coleslaw, other lettuce or spinach, roasted vegetables, jalapenos, olives, How To Make Homemade Dill Pickles or banana peppers.
We opt for an Herbed Mayonnaise. But you could try using a Homemade Chipotle Mayo for a little heat. Or just keep it simple with this Foolproof Homemade Mayonnaise. But you could also use a mustard or relish!
Sauces can pack so much flavor and add a fun twist to the classic Italian sub recipe! Maybe try adding a spread of pesto, a homemade aioli, or add a drizzle of Italian dressing or Balsamic Salad Dressing.
How to make your Italian subs inexpensively
Everything you find here on Good Cheap Eats is that: tasty and affordable. But, here are some strategies you can use to make this recipe more economical:
- Meal plan around what’s on sale. Don’t decide to make this when the cold cuts are full pop. Wait for sales.
- Stock up on ingredients when they are on sale. For instance, when I see a great price on deli cold cuts, I buy a lot. The same goes for provolone cheese.
- Do a price comparison. I know that Costco is the best place to buy ingredients like cheese or cold cuts when there isn’t a great sale elsewhere. I keep track of prices so that I know who has the best deal where.
- Make your own dressing. It tastes better and it’s cheaper!
- Bake your own rolls. These Homemade White Whole Wheat Sub Rolls or these 5-Ingredient Italian Sandwich Rollsare simple to make and absolutely delicious.
Tools I use to make this recipe easy:
This is a pretty straight-forward dish. You don’t need any fancy equipment. However, having some good basic kitchen tools can really make your time in the kitchen more enjoyable. Over time, I’ve honed my collection so that they are perfect for my needs. Here are the tools that I like to use in this recipe.
- plastic cutting boards – I have blue boards for veggies and white boards for meat.
- Ergo Chef chef’s knife – I’ve had my set for several years and they work well.
Italian Sub Sandwiches
- Slice the Italian roll lengthwise, but not completely through; leave a hinge.
- Spread 1-2 tablespoons of herbed mayo on the roll.
- Layer the cheese, ham, salami, tomato, onion, shredded lettuce, and pepperoncini. Close the sandwich tightly.
- Wrap securely in saran wrap. Chill until serving.