The Muffaletta is a New Orleans Sandwich that's hearty, full of flavour, and a crowd pleaser! This delicious sandwich recipe got me a wedding ring, but YMMV 🙂
Originally published March 8, 2011. Updated on 2/13/2023
For one, it brings back a lot of memories of a trip to New Orleans (in the summertime, though!), back in 2005 (Immediately pre-Katrina).
A bunch of friends and I stayed in the French Quarter, and man.. what a wild amount of culture is packed into one place! The sights, the sounds.. the food! Great times.
Anyway, more importantly, it reminds me of getting engaged to my husband.
Sounds kinda weird, huh? It gets better. He proposed to me as the result of a very famous New Orleans sandwich - the Muffaletta!
I decided that he HAD to try one.
Muffulettas appeared to be pretty hard to come by in Minnesota, so I made him one, from scratch. He went out and bought my ring the next day! LOL.
So, in honor of Fat Tuesday, here is my muffaletta sandwich recipe.
No guarantee that you'll have the same sparkly results from serving it (it ended up being the most expensive sandwich he'd ever had, lol!), but if you like olives, I'm sure you'll love it!
Looking for Muffaletta flavours in a less carb / gluten intense format? Check out my Muffaletta Skewers recipe!
A lot of the same great ingredients, in an even more shareable format!
What is a Muffaletta?
IMHO New Orleans Muffalettas (or Muffuletta, both seem to be acceptable ways of spelling it!) is the king of all sandwiches.
The classic New Orleans sandwich was invented by Sicilian immigrant Salvatore Lupo at Central Grocery Store on Decatur Street in New Orleans back in 1906.
Muffuletta sandwiches were a way for workers - Many Italian immigrants, including many Sicilian immigrants - to conveniently combine the elements of their standard lunches - bread, pickles, meat, and cheese.
Basically, a loaf of bread, stacked with cheeses and deli meats that are crowned with a generous serving of Olive Salad.
The flavour-infused olive oil from the salad soaks into the bread, making these pretty much the only salad I prefer made well ahead of time.
I’ll make a muffuletta sandwich a day or so ahead of time, wrap it up, and keep it in the fridge until shortly before serving.
Take it out, slice it up, and go - it’s one of my favorite things to serve, this time of year.
Between the Superbowl and Fat Tuesday / Mardi Gras - it just fits!
Muffaletta Sandwich Ingredients
Let’s take a deeper dive into the key ingredients that make up this great sandwich, shall well?
Most of these should be available in larger grocery stores, but definitely available in Italian markets, should you have access to any!
As with many recipes, the quality of the ingredients you use will definitely impact the quality of the final sandwich.
The Best Muffaletta Bread
First, you want to start off with - ideally - a loaf of Italian bread... just not necessarily a crusty Italian bread.
Look for a round loaf of bread with a bit of heft - it needs to hold up to the ingredients, so you want a sturdy bread! - but also that’s got some softness to it.
TOO crusty makes it too hard to eat, after all!
Traditionally, Muffalettas are made on a flat loaf that’s covered in sesame seeds, with a soft crust. They can be difficult to find outside of Louisiana, though, so be prepared to look for “close enough”.
This time around, we found a beautiful Calabrese loaf from Roma Bakery here in Hamilton.
We’re kind of spoiled by the amount of fantastic Italian food - and Italian grocery stores - here! Great bread is all around, so there’s always something that can stand in for a muffuletta loaf.
When we were still living in Minnesota, we’d usually have to settle for a loaf of sourdough bread, or some Ciabatta bread.
When using a taller loaf - like the sour dough bread pictured - I’ll usually carve a bit of the bread out. I realize that this is HIGHLY controversial, but seriously it makes it a lot easier to eat it!
If you have access to it, though, you’ll want to use actual muffuletta bread - it’s a Sicilian bread with sesame seeds.
This olive salad mix is a condiment fairly specific to this sandwich, a kind of olive tapenade.
This olive mix is made from a black olives, green olives - stuffed with red peppers - and a variety of pickled vegetables, seasonings - especially pressed garlic cloves and dried oregano - and olive oil.
It’s super easy to make, especially if you have a food processor to make the chopped olives.
Alternately, you can buy it. Central Grocery Olive Salad is the OG salad for this sandwich!
I have a great recipe for Olive Salad Recipe, so check it out if making it yourself!
Just be sure to make it a day ahead of time - you want to give it a chance for the flavours to infuse the olive oil, it really does make a difference for the sandwich!
Aside from Muffalettas, I like to spread this on Italian sub sandwiches as well. Add some green onions, a splash of red wine vinegar sub sauce - yum!
You’ll want a variety of deli meats for this, preferably Italian cold cuts. I go with a pretty standard combination of Italian deli meats:
When shopping for this muffaletta recipe, I tend to think of the variety of meats in categories.
There are 3 categories of Italian meats used in this sandwich, each should be represented - IMHO - but reasonable substitutions from in that category are perfectly ok.
2. Salami-ish: Pretty straightforward. I like to stick to Genoa salami when I can. Sometimes I’ll use soppressata, but in a pinch... pretty much any salami will work. Just have it sliced as thinly as possible!
3. Ham: Generally speaking, capicola ham - an Italian ham - is the gold standard here... I just never seemed to be able to find it, when looking to make one of these when I was still in the USA!
So, when it’s not available, I go for regular ham, usually - honey baked, usually... black forest ham if it’s all I can find.
Prosciutto also works for this category, but I tend to be looking for ways to cut the cost, by the time I get to the ham-type element, LOL. This is not a cheap endeavor!
I like to use equal amounts of 2 different sliced cheeses: provolone cheese and mozzarella.
You can also use one or the other, different ratios, or bring in another cheese altogether - just try to stay close to the idea of provolone or mozzarella cheese.
Fontina works well, but I’d stay away from anything smoked, really pungent, aged/dry, etc. Think “mild and smooth”!
Some people like to include Swiss cheese, as well.
How to Make a Muffaletta Sandwich
The full recipe follows - in the recipe card at the end of this post - but here’s a pictorial overview
Slice loaf of bread in half horizontally. Scoop out a bit of the bread inside, if needed (I like to freeze it to make stuffing with at a later date!).
This slightly hollowed center of the loaf allows room for all of the meats, cheeses, and salad you’ll be stuffing the sandwich with.
If the oil in your olive salad has solidified, warm up about 2 cups of salad in the microwave, just until the oil has liquified.
Drizzle some of the salad oil on the cut side of both halves of the loaf (the extra oil adds a lot of flavour to the bread!), and spread with olive salad.
Use as much/little of the ~ 2 cups as you want.
I like to layer the meats and cheese - ½ of each type at a time, for a total of 10 layers - but feel free to construct it however you like.
Carefully cover with the top half of the loaf.
Note: Some people like to weight down the top of the sandwich with a heavy object to compress it, but I like the visual of the un-compressed sandwich, as shown!
Makes 6-8 muffaletta sandwiches, depending on appetite!
More Sandwich Recipes
Love sandwiches, or just want some new ideas for your lunches? We've got you covered!
Apple Chicken Burgers with Basil & Gouda
Buffalo Chicken Buns
Convention Sloppy Joes
Copycat White Castle Burgers
Dukkah Spiced Falafel Burgers
Dukkah Spiced Lamb Burgers
Fancy Tea Sandwiches
Juicy Goosey Burger
Moroccan Spiced Lamb Burgers with Pea Hummus, Goat Cheese, and Beets
Pesto Chicken Panini
Spinach Feta Salmon Burgers
Spinach Hand Pies
Tandoori Spiced Chicken Burgers with Mango
Ultimate Lobster Rolls
Vegetarian Chorizo Burgers with Grilled Poblano & Cilantro Pesto
Vegetarian Donairs (and Vegan Donair Meat)
Wild Rice & Mushroom Polenta Sandwich
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Epic Muffaletta Sandwich [New Orleans Muffuletta]
- 1 Large Round Italian Loaf Or Sourdough
- 2 Cups Olive Salad or more, if you'd like!
- ½ lb Thinly Sliced Mortadella
- ½ lb Thinly Sliced Genoa Salami
- ½ lb Thinly Sliced Ham
- ½ lb Provolone Cheese Sliced
- ½ lb Mozzarella Cheese Sliced
- If necessary, slice loaf of bread in half horizontally. Scoop out a bit of the bread inside (I like to freeze it to make stuffing with at a later date!). This allows room for all of the meats, cheeses, and salad you’ll be stuffing the sandwich with.
- If the oil in your olive salad has solidified, warm up about 2 cups of salad in the microwave, just until oil has liquified. Drizzle some of the salad oil on cut side of both halves of the loaf, and spread with olive salad. Use as much / little of the ~ 2 cups as you want.
- Layer meats and cheeses on the bottom half of the loaf to construct the sandwich – I like to alternate meats and cheeses, but feel free to go your own way with it.
- Carefully cover with the top half of the loaf.
- Wrap tightly with plastic wrap, chill for 30 minutes.
- To serve, unwrap and cut into wedges.