We Ranked 26 Classic American Sandwiches From Worst To Best

Sandwiches on teal background
Sandwiches on teal background - Static Media / Shutterstock

There might not be a class of foods that is as uniquely American as the sandwich. Although the name is derived from a British aristocrat, the Americans are really responsible for taking in the sandwich and making it uniquely their own. Now, sandwiches include everything from the piled-high pastrami sandwiches you'd grab from your local Jewish deli to the breakfast sandwich from your local greasy spoon doused with copious amounts of hot sauce. The Americans are also responsible for turning recipes that aren't inherently sandwiches in nature, like chicken salad and meatballs, into portable meals that can be eaten for lunch, dinner, and more -- just by sticking them between two pieces of bread.

But, although the distinction of "sandwich" is wide, there are some sandwiches that are undeserving of the title. In turn, there are also sandwiches that we could eat every day for the rest of our lives and be perfectly okay with it. We ranked some of the most popular American sandwiches from worst to best based on important factors, including whether you could make substitutes in the recipe, the regional specificity, and the overall functionality of the iconic food.

Read more: 25 Most Popular Snacks In America Ranked Worst To Best

26. Hot Dog

Hot dog in bun
Hot dog in bun - Gmvozd/Getty Images

Okay, okay. We get it. No trip to the baseball stadium is complete without a hot dog in your hand. While we admit that we are fans of the novelty of ordering one of these classic American snacks from the bleachers or a New York hot dog cart, we should all be able to admit that these "sandwiches" (if you can even call them that) are downright awful. The hot dog itself lacks any flavor and shouldn't be given the title of "meat" in any capacity.

The only way to give a hot dog any flavor is to smother it in toppings and hope the bun is somewhat palatable. And spoiler alert: It rarely is. After all, we have hot dog-eating competitions because no one wants to savor a hot dog for any length of time.

25. Reuben Sandwich

Reuben sandwich on paper
Reuben sandwich on paper - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

If there were one word we would use to describe a classic Reuben sandwich, it would be "overwhelming." While we believe all sandwiches should have a little bit of spark or something unique, rather than just meat plopped between two slices of bread, there is a threshold where the Reuben becomes just too much.

For the uninitiated, a Reuben sandwich is made with sliced corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing -- which we would describe as a Thousand Island dress that had a really bad hangover. There's shallots, there's Worcestershire, relish, and often horseradish. So, while there are a lot of good flavors, every independent component is clawing its way to the top and muddling the others. In short, this sandwich has just too much going on.

24. French Dip

French dip with au jus
French dip with au jus - Charles Brutlag/Shutterstock

French dips are just strange sandwiches on their own. The basic components include thick French bread or baguette, sliced roast beef, and cheese (often provolone or Swiss). For it to be a true French dip, it has to come with a side of beef broth, called au jus, for dipping.

There are two main issues with the construction of the French dip. The first and most visually evident is the poor ratio of crusty bread to sandwich filling. While we love finding a sandwich with delicious bread with some might to it, this one requires you to dip it in the au jus to get a soft enough bite that you don't strain your jaw. Plus, you really have to eat it with the au jus to get the perfect bite -- making it more like a sandwich-and-soup combo rather than just a sandwich.

23. Chicago Beef

Chicago beef sandwich on board
Chicago beef sandwich on board - Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

We believe not many people outside of Chicago would know what a Chicago beef sandwich was if it wasn't for FX's "The Bear." Otherwise called an Italian beef sandwich, it is typically made with a white Turano or Gonnela roll, sirloin butt roast that has been reheated in au jus, and spicy Chicago-style giardiniera on top.

This sandwich has a ton of complexities to it, from the meaty, slow-cooked base bursting with umami and seasonings to the spicy pickled giardiniera that will excite your tastebuds. This style of sandwich is so specific to Chicago that it's hard to find all of the components outside of the region or make it yourself. So unless you're planning a trip to the Windy City, you may not ever get your hands on one of these delicious sammies.

22. Sloppy Joe's

Sloppy Joes on sesame bun
Sloppy Joes on sesame bun - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

We have fond memories of eating these sandwiches as a child and the sheer mess they caused. Sloppy Joe's are a cool sandwich in theory, but they really lack practicality.

The bun is often a soft brioche-like concoction that is stuffed with copious amounts of ground meat seasoned with umami-rich tomato sauce, ketchup, Worcestershire, and whatever magical spices make their way into it. But as you bite into the sandwich, you'll find that it leans sweet in a strange way and also lacks any textural variety. It's not a compact sandwich you could eat on the go (and may even need a fork), in turn defeating the sandwich's fundamental purpose.

21. Club Sandwich

Club sandwich with lettuce
Club sandwich with lettuce - Juanmonino/Getty Images

A club sandwich has varied components, which earns it some points for creativity. All you need for a club sandwich is a poultry base (often turkey), bacon, lettuce, tomato, and mayo. But the trouble comes in when the definition of a proper club sandwich requires you to bring in a third piece of bread to sandwich in the middle.

The third slice of bread was the one thing Anthony Bourdain couldn't tolerate about the club sandwich, and it's where you lose us, as well. While it might have been added to separate the fillings, it makes the sandwich so tall that you have to unhinge your jaw to get a bite with every layer.

20. Hot Lobster Roll

Hot lobster roll with fries
Hot lobster roll with fries - Elena Veselova/Shutterstock

As native New Englanders, we can freely rave (and hate) on lobster rolls -- especially the hot ones. If you go to almost any seafood shack in New England, you'll find a hot lobster roll.

Essentially, the meat in this sandwich is served Connecticut style, meaning it's served with just a little bit of melted butter and possibly a sprinkle of paprika and a spritz of lemon -- if you're lucky. This sandwich highlights the succulent lobster filling well but doesn't really do much to come together as a cohesive sandwich. It seems like the lobster and the toasted hot dog bun are like two unlikely lovers sandwiched together -- and the chemistry just isn't there.

19. Egg Salad

Egg salad with chips
Egg salad with chips - Chas53/Getty Images

A deep-seated hatred of mayonnaise is not the reason why this sandwich scored in the middle of the pack for us. The primary issue we have with egg salad, rather, is its texture.

It leans more mushy than the other kinds of salad sandwiches we ranked, which, combined with soft bread slices, doesn't do the sandwich any good. You need a ton of good, crisp lettuce to elevate your egg salad and a bit of extra mustard. Unfortunately, we've found that many delis don't put enough effort into making egg salad and giving it the zest it craves. We'll eat it, yes, but it won't be our pick of the litter.

18. Cheeseburger

Cheeseburger on plate with fries
Cheeseburger on plate with fries - Da-kuk/Getty Images

We assume that this opinion is going to get us a flood of hate mail, but we're going to say it anyway: Cheeseburgers aren't that good. This sandwich is another case of a great idea with poor execution.

You have a thick, beefy patty sandwiching layers of onions, lettuce, and tomato with a slice of American cheese -- as that is the only cheese variety acceptable here. But, the fattiness, grease, and sheer size of a burger are nothing short of exhausting and far too heavy to eat for lunch, let alone with a side of fries. Plus, we usually end up pulling off the bun because it's either sopping with grease or just detracting from fillings, which are the true stars of the show.

17. Po Boy

Po' Boy sandwich on counter
Po' Boy sandwich on counter - IA Fillm Group/Shutterstock

A po boy is a Louisiana classic made with seafood. One of the most classic renditions is the shrimp po boy, which is made with marinated, fried shrimp sandwiched with lettuce, tomato, and a mayonnaise-based sauce. You'll also find some po boys made with succulent oysters, roast beef, catfish, or crab.

We appreciate po boys because they have a good balance of fried seafood to the rest of the fillings. Plus, we love the soft French bread that often accompanies these sandwiches. Overall, this sandwich has a lot of room for experimentation but still has a limited geographic scope.

16. Pastrami On Rye

Pastrami on rye on board
Pastrami on rye on board - Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Open the door of a New York Jewish deli, and you'll smell one thing, and one thing only: pastrami. The delis here pile the pastrami on rye high.

Although it's often mistaken for a Reuben, pastrami is a different meat entirely. Both the corned beef and the pastrami are brined before they are cooked, but only the pastrami is coated in a unique spice blend with peppery and garlicky notes. The meat has more flavor, which means that it doesn't always require a ton of extra toppings to give it an edge. Although, you should certainly add a bit of mustard to round out the spices and make this a solid sandwich. But besides the sheer size, this sandwich doesn't really have a lot going on.

15. Cheesesteak

Cheesesteak and fries
Cheesesteak and fries - Charles Brutlag/Shutterstock

If you make a trip to Philidelphia, you absolutely have to get your hands on a Philly cheesesteak. These sub sandwiches are topped with layers of shaved ribeye steak, caramelized onions, and provolone cheese. The West Coast posers will try to make this sandwich with bell peppers, but true sandwich gurus know that it's the Philly version or bust.

This sandwich has a lot going for it, and we think it's in the top tier of fast-food-style sandwiches because it's so easy to eat and is more filling than a burger or a hot dog. However, it's difficult to recreate these sandwiches at home because the beef needs to be thinly sliced, which is really only possible with a special slicer and a skillful butcher.

14. Chopped Cheese

Chopped cheese sandwich
Chopped cheese sandwich - Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

The chopped cheese sandwich, better known as just "chop cheese," is a New York deli sandwich. It originated as a popular bodega sandwich and quickly proliferated into Upper Manhattan and Harlem. The origin story is rather contested, but it was believed to have been the brainchild of Carlos Soto at the Blue Sky Deli, who made a cheeseburger sans the traditional round buns by chopping up all the burger ingredients, onions, and peppers together on a flat top with cheese before spooning it onto a grinder roll. Most chopped cheeses are also seasoned with adobo seasoning, which was a nod to Soto's Dominican roots.

The chopped cheese is a much better way to eat a burger because the bun acts as a vector for the filling rather than just getting in the way. However, the geographic range of this sandwich is still limited.

13. Cold Lobster Roll

Lobster roll with chips and slaw
Lobster roll with chips and slaw - VDB Photos/Shutterstock

We will always opt for a cold Maine lobster roll -- despite being Connecticut-born. First off, most people eat lobster rolls in the summer, so it would make sense to have a filling with a chilling, soothing effect on the back of your palate. Plus, the mayonnaise base also allows you to tweak the flavor of the lobster roll more than if you only had a hot roll with butter to work with. For example, a little dill or chives could transform your sandwich.

This sandwich has fewer regional ties than our lower-ranked varieties, but it's still really centered around New England. So unless you visit, you won't get to experience a true, tasty cold lobster roll.

12. Cuban Sandwich

Cuban sandwich on table
Cuban sandwich on table - Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

A food truck Cuban sandwich, loaded with not one but two kinds of pork, mustard, cheese, and a soft Cuban roll, is heavenly. And before you ask, although this sandwich has the name of another country, it's most certainly a sandwich with a foothold in Florida.

The best part about the Cuban sandwich is that there is a perfect ratio of filling to panini-pressed sandwich bread. That means every bite has a subtle crunch and perfectly gooey cheese. The downside to all of these flavors is that they're super hard to replicate at home and will take almost a whole day to get the perfect texture on the meat.

11. Italian Sandwich

Italian sub sandwiches on
Italian sub sandwiches on - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

Italian sandwiches are one of those things that everyone has tried at least once in their lives. The classic Italian sub sandwich (or "hoagie" or "grinder," depending on your geographic region), is topped with an array of Italian meats like salami, capicola, mortadella, and pepperoni, along with crunchy veggies like lettuce, banana peppers, and olives. There's even a pleasurable acidic element courtesy of red wine vinegar.

This sandwich essentially has the whole package of flavors combined into a soft Italian roll -- which can't be said for many of our lower-ranked, strickly-savory sandos. There's a great variety to this sandwich, which makes it really a pleasure to eat. Unless, of course, it's been sitting out for too long and becomes a soggy mess.

10. Tuna Salad

Tuna salad with chips and pickles
Tuna salad with chips and pickles - Charles Brutlag/Shutterstock

Growing up, we ate a tuna fish sandwich for lunch every day -- much to the disgust of the people around us who hated the smell of this admittedly stinky sandwich. But, amid the canned food renaissance, we have found a newfound appreciation for the tuna fish sandwich.

Essentially, this is one of the cheapest sandwiches you can make since it only requires canned tuna and mayonnaise. From there, you can experiment with different vegetables, like lettuce or tomato, to add some crunch. Or, pop it in a panini press with some cheese and make it a tuna melt. This sandwich wins major points for being customizable, but you'll have to contend with the nose scrunches of the people in the office lunchroom -- and everyone within a 10-block radius.

9. Breakfast Sandwich

Breakfast sandwich on English muffin
Breakfast sandwich on English muffin - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

Breakfast sandwiches are undoubtedly one of the best foods to ever be created. It's a portable way to make breakfast food, giving this sandwich massive points for versatility. Another area where the breakfast sandwich shines is customizability. Eggs? Great. Breakfast meat? Lovely. Hot sauce? Count us in. You can even plop a hash brown on an English muffin, and no one around you would think twice about it.

However, you can't get a breakfast sandwich outside of your home after like 1 p.m. -- which is a drag for anyone trying to nurse a hangover. If we could eat this sandwich at any time of day, we would have placed it higher.

8. Meatball Parm

Meatballs with sauce and cheese
Meatballs with sauce and cheese - Elena Veselova/Shutterstock

This sandwich is an entire meal in a bun. There's ample protein, fat from the cheese, and carbs from the roll. So you won't have to worry about grabbing a bag of chips from the deli counter on your way out.

A meatball parm is excellent -- but only if it's done correctly. If your meatballs are dry, sauce isn't perfected, and your cheese is sparse and not melty, then a meatball parm is not worth eating. For those reasons, it's not a sandwich that we would trust ordering from an unfamiliar deli or local Italian joint. The other downside of this sandwich is that it yearns for something fresh and vegetal.

7. Pulled Pork

Pulled pork on bun
Pulled pork on bun - Stphillips/Getty Images

If we go to a barbecue and there's a range of proteins on the table, we're going to pick the pulled pork every single time. Like a meatball parm, a well-executed pulled pork sandwich has everything you could ever want. There's a soft, succulent protein, sweet sauce, crunchy and acidic slaw, and a perfectly soft bun waiting for you. The site has every texture and flavor profile you'll ever need, which makes it a pleasure to eat.

But making pulled pork takes time. It's not a sandwich you could walk into your kitchen, whip up, and walk out five minutes later. This really defeats the purpose of a sandwich, which is supposed to be a quick yet satiating bite.

6. Chicken Salad

Chicken salad sandwich
Chicken salad sandwich - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

The chicken salad is one of the most underappreciated sandwiches. Not only is canned chicken ridiculously cheap and easy to use, but you can add so many more crunchy elements to it that aren't applicable to other salads. Halved grapes, cucumber, and red onion are all great ways to add more texture. Plus, you can also transform it into a curry or a dilly chicken salad with a couple of ingredients.

Like all salad sandwiches, this one also has its drawbacks. It gets very unappetizing if it is brought up to room temperature or left out for too long, and it needs a robust bread to really shine.

5. Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich

Hot chicken with slaw and pickles
Hot chicken with slaw and pickles - Joshua Resnick/Shutterstock

Nashville hot chicken is an icon in the state. Like the pulled pork, it offers the best of the crunchy slaw, acidic pickles, and the burn-your-lips spicy, juicy chicken cutlet. But you can also just eat it with a hot piece of chicken on a sweet bun and call it a day.

You can get hot chicken at almost any fast food place, but the only real hot chicken that we should be eating comes from Nashville itself. The spice is what makes these sandwiches different from whatever the folks at Wendy's are trying to pass off as a "hot chicken sandwich."

4. Peanut Butter And Jelly

Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
Peanut butter and jelly sandwich - Mvp64/Getty Images

When we've had a particularly hard day at work, there is always a jar of creamy JIF in our cabinet waiting to be reunited with its long-lost love: a jar of sugary grape jelly. Grab a cheap bag of white sandwich bread (none of this expensive Whole Foods Market nonsense here), slab it together, and enjoy.

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are our soul food. They're not made to be healthy but rather deeply ethereal culinary experiences that fill us with nostalgia and joy. That's not to say that there aren't any flaws -- like the bread getting too soggy with the weight of the jelly and the fact that you really can't color out of the lines too much. But they serve their purpose.

3. Bagel And Cream Cheese

Everything bagel with cream cheese
Everything bagel with cream cheese - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

Make no mistake, the bagel and cream cheese is something that you can eat for breakfast, but it is not a breakfast sandwich. We love bagels because nothing is more pleasant than the blistered, crusty shell of a boiled New York-style bagel coated with tons of cream cheese. But all of that goes out the window when the bagel is bread with a hole that's trying to be something it's not. Unfortunately, most of the bagels we get from the grocery store fall into the latter category, which drops this bagel and shmear combo down a peg.

But, the opportunity for customization that comes with this bagel and cream cheese is expansive. For example, go with the lox and caper combo, or mix your cream cheese with something fruity.

2. Grilled Cheese

Grilled cheese sandwich on plate
Grilled cheese sandwich on plate - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

Grilled cheese evokes similar feelings as peanut butter and jelly, but there are just significantly more opportunities for play with this sandwich. Toss a slice of ham on or go with a more experiential blend of cheeses to upgrade your grilled cheese into something even more. Plus, this is one type of sandwich that isn't particular to a specific type of bread.

The main reason why grilled cheese didn't take the top spot on your ranking is that it's not filling enough on its own to make a whole meal. You need to add protein or serve it with tomato soup to round it out fully.

1. Fluffernutter

Fluffernutter sandwich on wooden surface
Fluffernutter sandwich on wooden surface - RFondren Photography/Shutterstock

While this might be the sweetest sandwich we included, it's also one of the ones we most think of when we think of when it comes to a true American sandwich. You don't need to have protein in a slow cooker all day or buy a specialty press to whip up a Fluffernutter sandwich with cheap peanut butter and marshmallow fluff. The texture of the filling also doesn't create issues with sogginess.

Don't mistake simplicity for weakness here, either. Add some bacon for a meaty crunch, or cook your bread in melted butter to get the perfect crunch on the outside. While it does lean sweet, you can use your creative genius to take your Fluffernutter to a new level.

The Methodology

Sandwiches on party plate
Sandwiches on party plate - Elena Veselova/Shutterstock

Like many foods, sandwiches are a deeply personal affair. To rank our sandwiches, we examined important factors. The first was the ability to replicate the sandwich at home. We'd prefer to eat a sandwich that could be made relatively quickly rather than one that was linked to a specific geographic location that we would have to travel to to enjoy. We also wanted a sandwich that had a balance of different textures and flavors, as well as something that could be dressed up or down for extra flavor and texture.

We went for sandwiches that were very specific, rather than a general "ham sandwich" or "turkey sandwich" that didn't have any regional connection. Moreover, we gave preference to sandwiches that could be eaten outside of one time a day.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.