The Best-Ever California Sandwich

published Aug 5, 2020
The Best-Ever California Sandwich

A cool, refreshing veggie sandwich inspired by ones sold in California natural foods grocery stores.


Makes4 sandwiches

Prep20 minutes

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Credit: Brittany Conerly

One of my all-time favorite smells is the smell of a natural foods grocery store. Every store, no matter the chain or the size, has that same scent: the smell of fresh produce, deli fixings, and bulk goods that wafts into your nose as soon as the door opens.

Just as consistent as the scent is the presence of the California sandwich, a crunchy, creamy, mile-high veggie sandwich that’s very representative of California health-conscious culture. The details vary from store to store, but the basic components remain the same: an abundance of sliced cheese, crunchy grated carrots, sliced cucumbers, juicy tomato, a healthy handful of sprouts, and of course, avocado. Everything is layered between two slices of multigrain bread (though I always order sourdough) sans dressing, so you can enjoy all the fresh flavors without it being muddled.

It’s the ultimate feel-good, no-cook summer sandwich — and it’s easy to recreate at home. Here’s how to make the very best one, guaranteed to (momentarily) transport you to California.

Credit: Brittany Conerly

A Crispy-Creamy-Crunchy Sandwich You’ll Make Again and Again

I’ve traveled to many Southern California grocery stores (one of my first careers was working as an outside sales rep for a natural health and beauty aids’ sales firm), so I’ve had my fair share of California sandwiches. My very favorite is the one made at Oceanside’s Cream of the Crop, a tiny neighborhood store that has a little deli in the back and seats outside (or you can walk a few blocks to the beach for lunch with a view).

This recipe is inspired by that sandwich. I love it because it boasts two types of spreads: you’ll smear your favorite hummus on one half and an avocado mash (made with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt) on the other. To ensure the sandwich doesn’t get soggy, make sure to deeply toast the bread: the crispier it is, the better. Layer on the vegetables, sprouts, and cheese (it will look like a lot, but that’s the point!) and eat soon after it’s assembled. The vegetable juices will seep into the bread and soften it, creating the ultimate crispy-creamy bite.

The Best-Ever California Sandwich

A cool, refreshing veggie sandwich inspired by ones sold in California natural foods grocery stores.

Prep time 20 minutes

Makes 4 sandwiches

Serves 4

Nutritional Info


  • 1/2

    medium English cucumber

  • 4

    medium carrots

  • 2

    medium beefsteak or vine tomatoes

  • 2

    medium avocados

  • 1 tablespoon

    freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 1 tablespoon

    olive oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 8 slices

    multigrain sandwich bread

  • 8 tablespoons


  • 8 slices

    provolone cheese

  • 1 cup

    alfalfa or clover sprouts


  1. Thinly slice 1/2 English cucumber. Peel 4 medium carrots, then grate on the large holes of a box grater (about 2 cups). Thinly slice 2 tomatoes with a serrated knife.

  2. Halve and pit 2 avocados. Scoop the flesh into a medium bowl. Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and mash until the avocado is smooth.

  3. Toast 8 slices multigrain bread. Place 4 of the slices on a work surface and spread 2 tablespoons hummus on each. Top each with 2 slices provolone cheese. Divide 1 cup sprouts over the cheese. Divide the tomatoes, cucumbers, and carrots over the sprouts. Spread the mashed avocado onto the remaining 4 bread slices (about 3 tablespoons each). Place avocado-side down over the carrots to close the sandwiches. Cut each sandwich in half with a serrated knife and serve. This sandwich is best eaten soon after it is assembled.