Muffuletta Sandwich

published Feb 14, 2023

Muffuletta Recipe

Invented in New Orleans, the muffuletta sandwich features an olive salad, Italian deli meats and cheeses. One giant sandwich is known for feeding several people.

Serves4

Prep15 minutes to 20 minutes

Cook10 minutes to 20 minutes

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muffuletta on cutting board with hand holding it up
Credit: Photo: Linda Xiao; Food Styling: Brett Regot

The muffuletta is a beast of a sandwich that’s layered with an array of Italian cold cuts and cheeses. The sandwich, which is aptly pronounced “muff-foo-LOTTA,” is brimming at its bread seams and feeds multiple people. Central Grocery & Deli in New Orleans, where the muffuletta was originally created, has been attracting sandwich-lovers for over a century. If you can’t get to New Orleans, muffulettas are simple to assemble at home with the right assortment of Italian meats and cheeses!

What Is a Muffuletta Sandwich?

A muffuletta sandwich is a Sicilian American cold-cut sandwich invented in New Orleans that features a zesty olive salad along with Italian deli meats and cheeses. It’s known for being a monster of a sandwich, with one sandwich capable of feeding several people.

Credit: Photo: Linda Xiao; Food Styling: Brett Regot

What’s in a Muffuletta? 

  • Cured sausages like Genoa salami, pepperoni, or soppressata (hot or sweet).
  • Emulsified sausages like mortadella, deli ham, or bologna.
  • Cured whole cuts like capicola, coppa, or prosciutto.
  • Cheeses like mozzarella, provolone, or emmental.
  • Olive salad spread made of pimento-stuffed olives, black olives, extra-virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, giardiniera (a pickled mix of vegetables), roasted red peppers, capers, garlic, and black pepper.

Is a Muffuletta Served Hot or Cold?

Throughout New Orleans, you’ll find muffulettas served either warm or cold, depending on the restaurant. The most famous spot for a muffuletta — Central Grocery — serves cold-style muffulettas to highlight the Italian cold cuts, while others, like Napoleon House, serve it warm.

The Difference Between Muffuletta and Giardiniera

When shopping for ingredients, you may see jars for muffuletta and giardiniera pickled mixes. The major difference between the two is that muffuletta mixes contain mostly olives, while giardiniera mixes rely on a variety of vegetables like cauliflower, celery, and carrots.

If You’re Making a Muffuletta, a Few Tips 

  • Buy ingredients at an Italian deli or market. This specialty store will most likely have all the muffuletta ingredients you need to make one at home, including the bread! And be sure to ask the deli counter for thin slices of meat! 
  • The olive salad can be homemade or store-bought. If you’re making olive salad at home, it’s best to make it a day ahead if possible to let the flavors meld. Otherwise, most Italian markets will carry olive salad in their condiments section (this will help reduce prep time). For an authentic-tasting olive salad, I recommend picking up a jar of a New Orleans favorite, Boscoli’s olive mix.
  • Pick up the right bread. Go for a bread that’s soft but sturdy enough to hold all the fillings, like an Italian sesame-seeded round loaf, ciabatta, or French loaf. 
  • Give your muffuletta time to rest. Compress your sandwich for at least 1 hour or up to 3 hours (if possible) to give the bread ample time to absorb the olive juices.

Muffuletta Recipe

Invented in New Orleans, the muffuletta sandwich features an olive salad, Italian deli meats and cheeses. One giant sandwich is known for feeding several people.

Prep time 15 minutes to 20 minutes

Cook time 10 minutes to 20 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the olive salad:

  • 1/3 cup

    large pimento-stuffed olives

  • 1/3 cup

    pitted black olives

  • 1/3 cup

    giardiniera

  • 1/4 cup

    marinated roasted red peppers

  • 1 clove

    garlic

  • 1/4 cup

    extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    red wine vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon

    capers

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    celery salt

For the muffuletta:

  • 1

    (9-inch) round Italian bread loaf with sesame seeds, or 1 (12-inch) ciabatta or French bread loaf

  • 4 ounces

    sliced low-moisture mozzarella cheese

  • 4 ounces

    thinly sliced Genoa salami or pepperoni

  • 4 ounces

    thinly sliced provolone cheese

  • 4 ounces

    thinly sliced mortadella or deli ham

  • 4 ounces

    thinly sliced capicola, coppa or prosciutto

  • Pickled pepperoncini, for serving (optional)

  • Potato chips, such as Zapp’s, for serving (optional)

Instructions

Make the olive salad:

  1. Prepare the following, adding each to the same medium bowl as you complete it: Finely chop 1/3 cup large pimento-stuffed olives. Pit and finely chop 1/3 cup pitted black olives. Finely chop 1/3 cup giardiniera, 1/4 cup marinated roasted red peppers, and 1 garlic clove.

  2. Add 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon capers, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon celery salt. Stir to combine, then cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 1 week.

Assemble the muffuletta:

  1. Split 1 bread loaf in half horizontally with a serrated knife. Place the two halves cut side-up up on a work surface. If each half is taller than 1 1/2 inches, hollow out the insides of the bread by pulling out some of the soft interior.

  2. Spoon half of the olive salad and its oils evenly onto the bottom half of the loaf. Layer on the meats and cheese in the following order: half of the mozzarella slices (2 ounces), 4 ounces thinly sliced salami, half of the provolone slices (2 ounces), 4 ounces thinly sliced mortadella, the remaining mozzarella, 4 ounces thinly sliced capicola, and the remaining provolone.

  3. Use the back of a spoon to press on the remaining olive salad, then pour off the oil into a small bowl. Spoon the olive salad evenly on top of the provolone. Drizzle the cut side of the top bread slice with the reserved olive salad oil. Close the sandwich with the top half of the bread.

  4. Wrap the entire sandwich tightly in aluminum foil. Weight it down with a heavy object, such as a large Dutch oven or bricks, to compress the sandwich. Let sit at room temperature for 1 to 3 hours.

  5. Toast the sandwich if desired: Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 375ºF. Place the foil-wrapped muffuletta directly on the rack and bake until the bread feels crisp and toasted, 10 to 20 minutes.

  6. Unwrap the sandwich and place on a cutting board. Cut into triangles with a serrated knife and serve with pickled pepperoncini or potato chips if desired.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The olive salad can be made up to 1 week ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container.

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers tightly wrapped in aluminum foil for up to 2 days. To reheat, bake, still wrapped in foil, in a 375º oven until the bread is warm, 15 to 20 minutes.