How to Make a Classic Club Sandwich

published Aug 14, 2022
summer
Club Sandwich Recipe

The club sandwich is quick, accessible, endlessly adaptable, and worthy of summertime love.

Makes2 sandwiches

Prep15 minutes

Cook20 minutes to 25 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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A photo of a club sandwich with toasted bread, lettuce, bacon, turkey and tomatoes, cut into triangular pieces.
Credit: Sarah Fritsche

The BLT may be the official summer sandwich, but its cousin, the club sandwich, is also worthy of summertime love. A longstanding staple of diner and deli menus around the country, the club’s origins date back to the late 1800s, although who actually created the sandwich is up for some debate.

The Saratoga Club House in upstate New York is often credited as the originator, but other clubhouses of the same period also laid claim. (For a deep-dive on the sandwich’s history, check out this article by Kitchn contributor Jelisa Castrodale.) 

What goes into a club sandwich has evolved over time. In James Beard’s 1974 book, Beard on Food, he recalls earlier versions as consisting of tomato, mayo, and thin slices of chicken, tucked between just two slices of toast. However, the modern club typically consists of three slices of toasted bread, in between which you’ll find layers of crisp lettuce; sliced turkey, chicken, or other deli meat; crispy bacon; lettuce; and juicy tomato. Oftentimes, the sandwich is skewered with toothpicks and cut into quarters for easy eating. Once you get the hang of a classic club, you’ll be tempted to try all kinds of variations so you can enjoy the sandwich year-round. 

How Do You Make a Club Sandwich?

Crisp some bacon (I like to cook my bacon in the oven to minimize splatter), slice some tomatoes, prep the lettuce, generously slather mayo onto slices of toasted bread, then get stacking.

As with the BLT, juicy and super-flavorful peak-season tomatoes are crucial. (Although, even if tomatoes aren’t in season, don’t let that stop you; try this roasted tomato version instead.) Anytime I use tomatoes in a sandwich, I’ll season them with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper to maximize flavor. 

I also like to splurge on sliced-to-order deli turkey and good-quality bacon. In terms of lettuce, I prefer crisp romaine or iceberg leaves, which I soak in ice water for 10 to 15 minutes to make it extra crisp, then pat them dry with a clean dish towel just before assembling. For the mayo, Japanese Kewpie is my brand of choice, but feel free to use your favorite. To balance all the crispy elements, I lean hard into the mayo, using four tablespoons (1/4 cup) per sandwich, and slathering the spread on both sides of the inner slice of toast for maximum mayo contact. (If that feels like too much, feel free to cut back.) 

Credit: Sarah Fritsche

What’s the Best Bread for a Club Sandwich?

Pre-sliced white sandwich bread is my go-to (I like buttermilk or potato), but whole-wheat or even sourdough are also great. 

What’s the Difference Between a BLT and a Club Sandwich?

Similar in spirit to a BLT, it’s the club sandwich’s iconic third slice of crisp, toasty bread and the addition of slices of deli meat that set it apart.

4 Ways to Upgrade Your Club Sandwich

  • Roast your own turkey breast from scratch instead of using deli slices.
  • If you’re feeling extra fancy, whip up a batch of sweet-and-salty millionaire’s bacon.
  • Swap out store-bought mayonnaise for homemade garlic-spiked aioli.
  • Mix up your produce! When in season, slice up an heirloom tomato instead of the basic supermarket variety. (I’m partial to Brandywine and Cherokee Purple varieties, but any larger variety that you can slice will work.) You can also add slices of creamy, ripe avocado to your sandwiches. As with the tomatoes, don’t forget to season the avocado with salt and pepper for maximum deliciousness.

Club Sandwich Recipe

The club sandwich is quick, accessible, endlessly adaptable, and worthy of summertime love.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 20 minutes to 25 minutes

Makes 2 sandwiches

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 6 slices

    bacon (about 6 ounces)

  • 4 to 6

    romaine or iceberg lettuce leaves

  • 1

    large tomato

  • Kosher salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 6 slices

    white sandwich bread

  • 6 tablespoons

    mayonnaise, divided

  • 6 ounces

    sliced deli turkey

  • Toothpicks (optional)

Instructions

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. Meanwhile, line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and fit a wire rack on top. Place 6 bacon slices in a single layer on the rack. (If you don’t have a wire rack, just lay the bacon directly on the foil.)

  2. Bake until the bacon is browned and crispy, 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, fill a bowl with cold water. Add a large handful of ice cubes and 4 to 6 lettuce leaves. Let sit in the ice water to crisp. Cut 1 large tomato into 4 to 6 slices. Season the tomato slices with a pinch of kosher salt and a couple of grinds of black pepper.

  3. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate. Place 6 slices white sandwich bread directly on the oven rack and bake until toasted, 3 to 6 minutes. Spread 1 tablespoon of the mayonnaise onto one side of 4 slices of toast (these will be your outer slices). Spread 1/2 tablespoon mayonnaise onto each side of the remaining 2 slices (these will be your center slices). Remove the lettuce from the ice water and pat completely dry with a clean kitchen towel or paper towels.

  4. Assemble the sandwiches in the following order: Place half of the lettuce on the mayonnaise side of 2 of the outer toast slices, tearing them as needed to fit. Top with the tomato slices, 6 ounces sliced deli turkey, center slices of bread, bacon, and remaining lettuce. Close the sandwiches with the remaining 2 toast slices, mayonnaise-side down.

  5. Gently press down on each sandwich to compact slightly. Use a serrated knife to cut each sandwich on the diagonal into quarters. (Alternatively, cut each sandwich in half on the diagonal.) Secure each quarter (or half) with a toothpick if desired.

Recipe Notes

Filling substitutions: Not in the mood for turkey? Use sliced chicken or ham instead, or try a combination. Don’t eat pork? Bust out the turkey bacon. For a vegetarian version, try swapping the deli meat for cheese slices (fully dairy or plant based) and crisp up some veggie bacon.

Make ahead: The bacon can be cooked several hours to several days ahead and refrigerated. Let come to room temperature before assembling the sandwiches.