As the second meal of the day, lunch can spark some innocuous questions. For instance, how early is too early to eat this meal? Should it be eaten with others? Is it ok to pack at night? And yet, despite those small conundrums, there's almost no question about this statement: Sandwiches are a perfectly good lunch.
For generations, the simple recipe of layering ingredients between two slices of bread has made the sandwich a comforting pause in the day—so much so that many don't mind eating it early, or alone, or with preparation. That's because a sandwich can be incredibly accommodating to a range of tastes, and can either stand on its own as a filling meal or complement sides like chips and salads.
We can't get enough of sandwiches, and that's why we collected our nine favorite recipes that do the title justice. Some include tomato pesto and smashed avocado. Others are layered with pulled pork and handmade meatballs. And even more make the case for eating sandwiches before noon, if you wish. Whatever your preference may be, don't question your affection for this meal. It's worth it.
The Recipe: Avocado Grilled Cheese With Tomato Pesto
The Hero Ingredient: Garlic and herb butter
Pro Tip: By combining garlic powder, onion powder, kosher salt, and dried thyme together—and then spreading it generously onto two slices of bread—Heidi Larsen at Foodie Crush creates the perfect foundation for a totally decadent grilled cheese sandwich.
Why We Love It: Aside from the aforementioned butter spread, Larsen layers this sandwich with mashed avocado and sun-dried tomato pesto, too. It makes every bite extra creamy and crunchy.
The Recipe: Meatball Sub Sandwich
The Hero Ingredient: Handmade meatballs
Pro Tip: Holly Erickson at The Modern Proper loves this sandwich for its layered flavors of a fresh baguette, handmade meatballs, and plenty of fresh mozzarella. The key to replicating her recipe is to skewer the meatballs and cook them evenly for about 10 minutes each.
Why We Love It: Every inch of this fresh sandwich has classic Italian flavors, and we love how a jar of "good" marinara sauce saves time in prep—that means it'll be even easier to dig in.
The Recipe: Pineapple Pulled Pork Sandwich
The Hero Ingredient: Caramelized pineapple
Pro Tip: Natalie Mortimer at The Modern Proper starts this recipe off by placing four pounds of pork shoulder in a slow cooker. She waits until the pork is falling off the bone to shred it into pieces, and then layers it on to a brioche bun.
Why We Love It: The combination of fresh and canned pineapple adds a bright flavor and rich texture to this sandwich, and the minced jalapeños add just the right amount of heat. It's the perfect al fresco lunch, which would likely be followed by a nap, of course.
The Recipe: Caprese Breakfast Sandwich
The Hero Ingredient: Classic English muffins
Pro Tip: It would be easy to wake up early if this breakfast sandwich was waiting to be eaten. Heidi Larsen combines fresh mozzarella slices, smashed avocado, sliced tomatoes, eggs, and prosciutto together in this sandwich, which is all held together by the comforting look and flavor of an English muffin. Don't forget to add the balsamic glaze for a tangy finish.
Why We Love It: Larsen notes that the eggs in this recipe can be prepared according to your preference, from fried or scrambled to poached or hard-boiled. So, looks like you'll have to make multiple versions to see which one is best. Tough job.
The Recipe: Heirloom BLT
The Hero Ingredient: Fresh pesto
Pro Tip: Our last installment from The Modern Proper intensifies the flavor of a classic BLT by covering one side of the sandwich with a layer of pesto, and then assembling the heirloom tomato, bacon, and arugula on top. It brings even more freshness to this beloved combination.
Why We Love It: This recipe also calls for a fried egg to go on top of all the other ingredients, giving the sandwich even more richness.
The Recipe: Honey, Peach, and Brie Panini
The Hero Ingredient: A ripe peach
Pro Tip: Tieghan Gerard at Half Baked Harvest created this perfect summer sandwich with peach slices, chopped bacon, white cheddar, sliced brie, and honey, and the key to its success it to properly layer it all on slices of sourdough bread. That way, it will cook it evenly in a panini press or skillet.
Why We Love It: The fresh peach slices add an unexpected sweetness to this sandwich, and make the most of this seasonal fruit's versatility.
The Recipe: Strawberry Basil Breakfast Sandwich
The Hero Ingredient: A handful of strawberries
Pro Tip: Speaking of a surprising way to include fruit in sandwiches, this recipe from Tieghan Gerard at Half Baked Harvest slices up strawberries and places them inside to ends of a croissant. Basil, avocado, brie, prosciutto, eggs, and honey round out this breakfast sandwich, which Gerard dubs as "the ultimate hangover food."
Why We Love It: Crispy, salty prosciutto is the perfect contrast to sweet, sugary strawberries, and both add depth to every bite.
The Recipe: California Chicken and Avocado Sandwich
The Hero Ingredient: Potato chips
Pro Tip: Leave it to Tieghan Gerard at Half Baked Harvest to advocate for putting salty potato chips in a sandwich that features cream cheese, blue cheese, heirloom tomato, alfalfa sprouts, bacon, and basil. Its addition brings a crunch to a bite that's loaded with texture and flavor.
Why We Love It: The alfalfa sprouts may not seem like much at first, but the mild flavor of this ingredient actually helps to balance out the other rich ones—like the blue cheese and bacon.
The Recipe: Crispy Fish Sandwich
The Hero Ingredient: Beer-battered cod
Pro Tip: If you're feeling like eating fish for lunch, then this sandwich recipe from Jessica Merchant at How Sweet Eats serves up beer-battered cod flavored with onion powder and smoked paprika. Make sure to use a light wheat beer in the batter for a flaky, golden crust.
Why We Love It: Other than the fish, this sandwich is layered with a kale slaw made with fresh herbs and a sweet relish. It's exactly what's needed to keep this sandwich from tasting too one-dimensional.