The viral grinder sandwich is hearty and piled high with meats, cheese, and topped with rich tangy salad between toasty slices of bread.
This grinder sandwich recipe takes the viral grinder salad and puts it on a classic Italian sub. Thanks to mayo, red wine vinegar, and lots of spices the salad is tangy and rich. It really takes this sandwich over the top.
Loaded with flavor and easy to make, this sandwich is great to make when you need to feed some very hungry folks.
The grinder sandwich speaks to my Philly-born heart where hoagies (yes hoagies, not subs) are our love language. We would always have a giant, sloppy, and delicious hoagie at a picnic or after a long, hot day down the shore.
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There are a lot of grinder sandwich recipes out there, but this one is easy to make, satisfying, and delicious. This sandwich isn’t complete without this Grinder Salad recipe. I could put that salad on anything!
What is a grinder sandwich
The term grinder comes from New England. Some say the term came from dock workers while others claim the term describes the difficulty eating this jam packed sandwich.
Grinders can be hot or cold. Deli meats are common ingredients but meatballs are also a popular addition.
The viral TikTok grinder has all the usual components- a sliced grinder roll topped with provolone cheese, toasted, and loaded with a variety of deli meats, Parmesan cheese and sliced tomato.
What really sets this TikTok grinder apart is the salad piled on top. Instead of just smearing mayo on the bread and putting lettuce in, this takes it up a notch.
These two are combined with red wine vinegar, spices, red onion, and pepperoncini. It’s tangy, rich, and dripping with goodness. Try our version of the grinder salad!
The difference between hoagies, subs, grinders, and heroes
The lines between subs, hoagies, heroes, and grinders are blurry because at their core they are all pretty much the same thing. Lots of meat, cheese, and thinly sliced vegetables between bread.
Before big corporations and brands, cities and regions across America came up with their own name for their local version of a full loaf sandwich loaded with cold cuts.
How subs got their name is pretty simple. Short for ‘submarine sandwich’ because they look like a submarine.
The first printed record of a submarine sandwich dates back to the 1940s in Wilmington, DE. A restaurant had an ad in a phone book for submarine sandwiches.
There are a few theories how the hero sandwich originated, but the strongest theory was when in the 1940s a food columnist for the New York Herald Tribune referred to a “sandwich so big you had to be a hero to eat it.”
Like the hero, there are several theories for the origin of the Philadelphia-born sandwich the hoagie. A sandwich shop owner saw some people eating a sub sandwich so big that he said “you had to be a hog” to eat it. (This sounds familiar).
So when he opened his shop during the Depression he called his large sandwiches “hoggies” and the term spread throughout the city.
Grinder sandwich ingredients
Let’s break down everything you will need to make this grinder salad sandwich:
- Bread loaf: An Italian loaf is classic for a grinder sandwich. It’s slightly crusty and soft in the middle. This kind of bread also toasts up perfectly.
- Deli Meats: This is a kind of choose your own adventure, but we recommend using at least three. This is a grinder after all. Smoked deli turkey, deli ham, soppressata, salami, pepperoni, and prosciutto are all great choices.
- Tomato: Thinly sliced tomato is a must have for a grinder sandwich and adds a juicy, fresh bite.
- Cheese: Provolone and Parmesan cheese are our go-to’s for a delicious grinder. The provolone gets melted on the bread first and then Parm is melted on top of the meat.
- The salad: Check out our post to make the best Grinder Salad. You will need mayo, red wine vinegar, iceberg lettuce, pepperoncini peppers, sliced red onion, dried oregano, red chili flakes, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
How to make a grinder sandwich
The first step to making this Italian grinder sandwich is to assemble the grinder salad. The first step is to mix together the mayo, red wine vinegar, garlic powder, salt, pepper, oregano, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl.
Once combined, add the shredded iceberg lettuce, red onion, and pepperoncinis and toss to coat in the dressing. Be sure to take a bite of the salad and adjust the seasoning.
Next, let’s prep the bread. Cut the bread in half lengthwise and place it on a sheet tray. Scoop out some of the bread, leaving about ½ in left. Since this is a big sandwich removing some of the inside of the bread will help make it more manageable.
Now place the cheese slices on both sub rolls and put in your oven preheated at 350F. Melt the cheese, which will take about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and put the meat on.
Layer the meat on both sides and then top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Next, place back in the oven and melt the cheese. At this point the bread should be lightly toasted as well.
Remove from the oven and place tomato slices on one side of the bread. Sprinkle some salt and pepper over the tomato slices.
Next, take heaping scoops of the salad and place on top of the tomato. Place the top half over the side with salad. Lightly press down and cut the sandwich into pieces.
- Iceberg lettuce works best for this sandwich, but if you don’t have it romaine or butter leaf also work well.
- If you don’t have red wine vinegar, you could use white wine vinegar.
- If you don’t like a toasted sandwich, you could enjoy this sandwich cold. The sandwich is still very tasty.
- Prep all the sandwich components separately and assemble when ready to eat to avoid soggy bread.
- This recipe makes 4 sandwiches or 2 big ones. Feel free to scale up or down depending on the number of mouths you are feeding.
Best Lettuce For Sandwiches
The most popular lettuce for sandwiches includes romaine, Boston leaf, and iceberg lettuce. They each have their different textures and tastes but are all great in a sandwich.
Iceberg is a really popular choice and great for this grinder sandwich. Iceberg doesn’t have a strong taste like kale or arugula making it great to combine with other ingredients.
It’s crispy and slightly watery adding a nice, fresh crunch to every bite.
Iceberg lettuce gets a bad wrap for not being as healthy as other lettuces, but in fact it has vitamin K, vitamin A, and folate. Vitamin K improves blood clotting, vitamin A supports eye health, and folate (or folic acid) is critical for fetal development.
When it comes to picking a good sandwich side it’s good to consider the sandwich’s flavors and texture. Great sides include potato chips, fruit salad, coleslaw, pasta salad, and grilled vegetables.
How to store leftovers
Leftover subs will last about two days tightly wrapped in plastic wrap. The lettuce will be soggy, but the sandwich will be good.
If you can’t get down with soggy lettuce, we recommend making just enough of the grinder salad for how many people you are feeding so you don’t have leftovers.
The great thing about this sandwich is that you can tailor it to what you like or what you have in your fridge at the moment. Instead of using provolone, try mozzarella, swiss, gruyere, or fontina.
Other meat variations include prosciutto, mortadella, capcolla, chicken breast, ham, turkey breast, pastrami, or roast beef.
I love a good Italian loaf, but sourdough, French or whole wheat loaves are also great to use. I’ve also made this into a wrap and it’s so delicious- more filling and less bread.
Can I eat the grinder salad by itself
Absolutely. Honestly, this grinder salad is delicious by itself. If you are eating low carb, you could skip the bread, chop up the meats, and mix them into the salad.
We recommend making just enough salad for the sandwich, so there aren’t a lot of leftovers. Because the salad is drenched in mayo and red wine vinegar, it will probably only last about a day in the fridge before it gets soggy. If having all of this mayo and bread is a little too much for you, you could easily make a similar, but healthier version by trying these Italian pinwheels.
- 1 loaf Italian bread
- 8 – 10 slices provolone cheese
- 6 – 8 slices ham or turkey
- 4 – 6 slices salami
- 4 – 6 slices sandwich pepperoni
- 1 medium tomato, sliced
- ½ grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 Grinder salad
- Preheat your oven to 350 F. Prepare your grinder salad. Set aside while you assemble the sandwich.
- Slice the loaf in half lengthwise and rip out some of the inside of the bread. Put on a baking tray. Place the slices of provolone on each side of the bread. Put in the oven until the cheese melts, about 5 minutes.
- Top the melted provolone with meat and add the grated Parmesan cheese on top of each side. Return to the oven for another 5 minutes to melt the cheese.
- Place tomato slices on the top of one side and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with big scoops of the grinder salad. Put the other piece of bread on top and slice the sandwich into pieces.