4 Rules For Fantastic Sandwiches

My family loves eating. Like, really loves it. So when McKenzie Natural Artisan Deli reached out asking if I’d like to try their products and I said to the Jon and the girls, "Hey, I want to experiment and make some really awesome sandwiches!" they: 1) did not find this at all weird, and 2) were totally on board to serve as my testing panel. And while I have never before thought to quantify exactly what makes a sandwich awesome, last weekend, as I played around with some McKenzie products, after I was finished I realized that I totally unlocked 4 rules for fantastic sandwiches (plus one bonus efficiency tip). I’m going to share them with you today because really, clearly, the world needs more sandwiches (and more efficiency when it comes to food prep)!

About McKenzie Natural Artisan Deli

But before I get to the rules, let me tell you a bit about McKenzie Natural Artisan Deli. They are based in Vermont (yay, because we adore Vermont!) and offer a tasty collection of natural meats and cheeses. McKenzie has been producing high quality whole muscle meat since 1907 and have done so with 100% natural, clean ingredients and none of the bad stuff (antibiotics, growth hormones, MSG, nitrates). You should totally try them and the good news is that you can now find them at Shaw’s across Massachusetts, Maine, and New Hampshire. (I was just at Shaw's a few days ago and was like HIGH FIVE, guys!)

Intrigued? I hope so! Now, on to my sandwich rules!

1. Panini presses make for #SANDWICHGOALS

OK so I will say straight out that I am very selective about kitchen appliances. We have one cabinet for them and everything must fit in there, otherwise we have a one-in, one-out rule. Meaning, if we’re thinking about getting a new appliance, we need to make room by getting rid of something we have but don’t use often. Several years ago, my girlfriend Heidi gifted me with a panini press (the model is no longer available but this Hamilton Beach panini press is affordable and well rated!) and this appliance has earned lifetime real estate in our kitchen cabinet. Seriously, a press makes everything taste better, helps hold the sandwich together (via melted cheese), feels fancy (grill lines!), and a major bonus is that it appears impossible to burn anything in the press (compared to a stovetop griddle, where I have totally burned stuff).


Food is always more appealing when you add color. And a simple rule of thumb is if you can add something red and something green in your sandwich, it will look extra yummy. You’ll see this principle through the 3 sandwiches I created for this post, and Laurel was BEYOND about this turkey club I made her. I used a crusty bread and layered it with McKenzie turkey, cheese, avocado, tomato, and bacon. The sandwich I made was enormous and she ate the whole thing.

Image credit: Christine Koh

Image credit: Christine Koh

3. Think beyond the usual sandwich bread

Though a panini press will for sure give life to basic sandwich bread, I definitely recommend thinking beyond the typical loaf. For this Mediterranean-inspired roast beef sandwich, I started with store-bought garlic naan and layered on McKenzie roast beef, horseradish, cheese, roasted red pepper, grilled artichoke, and fresh spinach. Note: the red pepper and grilled artichoke were jarred so I drained them on paper towels to remove excess moisture before tossing them in the sandwich so things didn't get soggy. I made this sandwich for myself and it was so fantastic that I made it again the next day!

Image credit: Christine Koh

Image credit: Christine Koh

4. Toss in some unexpected ingredients

One thing that makes me crazy is food waste, so I try to be very mindful of what’s circulating in our fridge. Obviously, you want to have good, fresh basic ingredients for your sandwich but I recommend looking through your fridge/pantry and tossing in an unusual remnant or two. For the ham sandwich I made Jon, we had some canned beets already opened and I figured, hey, why not? Because I used beets, it made this sandwich feel Russian-inspired; I started with crusty bread and layered on McKenzie ham, mustard, cheese, tomato, sandwich pickles, and beets. He loved it and the beets made it so pretty!

Image credit: Christine Koh

Image credit: Christine Koh

Bonus tip: Double up and knock off lunch making

OK, are you hungry for sandwiches? Of course you are! And because I am all about efficiency I wanted to add share a bonus tip. While you’re making sandwiches, double up your sandwich production line and knock off lunch making while you’re at it! I made these sandwiches over Sunday lunch and the response was so favorable that I just went ahead and made a second round while the press and ingredients were out and knocked off school lunches for the next day.

Enjoy! And for sure go give McKenzie Natural Artisan Deli products a try when you're next at Shaw's! 

Disclosure: This post reflects a compensated editorial partnership with McKenzie Artisan Deli. All thoughts about sandwich making are, of course, my own.