Recipe Review

I Tried Nigella Lawson’s Wildly Popular Crisp Sandwich and It’s Pure Comfort Food

published Jun 17, 2022
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I Tried Nigella Lawson's Crips Sandwich
Credit: Tara Holland

If you read the title of this piece and wondered what the heck a crisp sandwich is, I don’t blame you. Before we get into that though, you may or may not know that, in the UK, we Brits call potato chips ‘crisps’ (we actually call fries ‘chips’ over the pond, but let’s not confuse matters!). A crisp sandwich is a staple from most British childhoods, and it’s said to have been created in the ’60s. It was supposedly invented by Noreen O’Neill — an Irish mom — who was financially struggling to feed her 18 children. As the story goes, Noreen filled a sandwich (or just two slices of bread, really) with crisps because it was cheaper than regular sandwich fillings. And as a result, the famous crisp sandwich was born!

Recently, Nigella Lawson — the British cookbook author and television cook — posted how to make her crisp sandwich on Instagram, and since then, it’s already amassed nearly 2 million views! A crisp sandwich may sound strange (and carb-heavy), but it is the perfect use of the expression “don’t knock it until you’ve tried it” — and there are many fans out there (me included!). Nigella calls the sandwich ‘rapturous,’ and if you ask me, that defines it perfectly.

How To Make Nigella’s Crisp Sandwich

This sandwich has only three ingredients, and it’s all about texture. Nigella says all you need is “bread, butter, crisps. No mayo.” A soft white sliced bread is traditionally used because the softness of the bread against the crunch of the crisps is delightful, so using crusty bread like sourdough just doesn’t cut it.

Credit: Tara Holland

To start, you’ll butter two slices of soft white bread. We always use salted butter back home, but unsalted also works well due to there being salt on the crisps. Then, add two or three layers of crisps on one buttered slice, before topping with the other slice of bread — buttered side down. Lastly, press down on your completed sandwich, listen out for the crunch, and enjoy!

What Crisps to Use When Making the Crisp Sandwich

Nigella says she is a “salt and vinegar person,” and she uses the English Walker’s brand in her video, but Lay’s chips are more accessible here and work just as well. I do understand the attraction to that flavor choice. However, that’s number two on my list. I feel very strongly that they should be what I think is the King of Crisps: Tayto Cheese and Onion. I purchase these famous Irish crisps in bulk whenever I come across them, and request multipacks of them from friends and family if they are visiting from Ireland. There is something about the strong cheese and onion flavor against the blandness of the bread and creaminess of the butter that works perfectly!

Of course, you can experiment with different flavors of potato chips to suit your personal taste, but I believe both salt and vinegar and cheese and onion are in a league of their own. If you struggle to find cheese and onion crisps, however, sour cream and onion chips would be a good alternative. Still, I highly recommend using Tayto’s if you come across them (which happens to be the brand and flavor of crisps that were used back when it was invented). The crisp sandwich is such a big thing in Ireland. So much so, Aer Lingus (the Irish airline) sold a Tayto Cheese & Onion Crisp Sandwich pack on their flights in 2015, where you could make your own crisp sandwich onboard.  

My Honest Review of Nigella’s Crisp Sandwich

I was practically brought up on crisp sandwiches during my childhood in London, but for some reason, I hadn’t made one for years. Making Nigella’s sandwich was hugely nostalgic for me, and it is super quick and easy to make. It’s very authentic to how I have always made them. I had forgotten how incredible the sound is when you press the sandwich together —the crunch is so inviting! When I bit into the sandwich, I was instantly transported back to being 12 again, and I wolfed it down like a hungry child! It invoked fond memories, and I will definitely be making a crisp sandwich again. Very soon! 

Credit: Tara Holland

If You’re Making the Crisp Sandwich, a Few Tips

  1. Use softened butter. Before spreading the butter, ensure it’s softened enough so that it doesn’t rip the bread.
  2. Use soft white bread: Any packaged soft, white bread works — including country or farmhouse sliced loaves. 
  3. Mix it up: Some adaptations from mine and my husband’s British childhoods include adding thinly sliced cheddar (not too thick, so it doesn’t override the crunch of the crisps) to the bottom layer of bread before adding the crisp layers. Or, instead of using butter, adding spreadable cheese, such as The Laughing Cow brand (original flavor).