Most Popular Sandwiches in America
Few topics drum up as much debate as sandwiches. Is a grilled cheese better than a BLT? Is a club sandwich superior with chicken or turkey? And dare it be asked: Is a hot dog a sandwich?! Casually ask these questions to a group of Americans, and prepare for some seriously passionate (read: kind of scary) responses.
All of this explains why, when YouGov released the results of a survey asking Americans to select their favorite sandwiches, people had a lot to say about the findings. Here, we share the results of that divisive report, while providing additional demographic info and weighing in with our own thoughts.
Let the debate begin...
Wondering what a muffuletta is? You're not alone: 62 percent of survey respondents were unable to say if they liked this Southern sandwich because they'd simply never tried it.
Alas, even among those who have tasted the muffuletta, the reviews were not great, landing it dead last on the list.
Featuring a muffuletta loaf (kind of like focaccia) loaded up with olive salad, Swiss cheese, provolone, mortadella, ham and salami, this hearty sandwich deserves more love, frankly.
Those who do enjoy the muffuletta mostly hail from the South, which makes sense, considering the sandwich was first made by Italian immigrants in New Orleans and remains a fixture of the city's dining scene.
If you're ever in The Big Easy, try one at Central Grocery — and see if you agree with us that Americans are flat-out wrong to be hating on this awesome sandwich.
Note: The generations are defined as follows:
- Silent Generation: those born between 1928-1945
- Baby Boomer: 1946-1964
- Gen X: 1965-1981
- Millennial: 1982-1999
- Gen Z: After 2000
- (Pre-Silent Generation was excluded from this story due to insufficient sample size)
21. Cream Cheese & Cucumber
Some sandwiches are elaborate and inventive. Some take simple ingredients and, through thoughtful preparation, elevate them to new heights.
And some sandwiches are...cream cheese and cucumber.
We are not at all surprised that this basic sandwich is not particularly beloved. But we are befuddled as to how it snagged a higher spot on the list than the much more interesting muffuletta. #JusticeForMuffuletta
Shockingly, it's the kids of Gen Z who most dig this awful sandwich. Does it look good on Instagram or something?
20. Crab Cake Sandwich
Keep your crab cake sandwich simple, or go wild by adding ingredients like eggs or red pepper: Either way, it'll be divine.
Still, considering seafood is an acquired taste, we're not shocked to see this so low on the list.
Obviously, people in the Northeast most enjoy this sandwich. The region includes Maryland, where crab cakes — served on a platter or in sandwich form — are practically a religion.
There is no explanation for why this sandwich, objectively one of the best, is dismissed by so many Americans. No. 19 of 22? Seriously?
If thin-sliced roast pork, glazed ham, Swiss cheese and thinly sliced dill pickles stuffed inside thick Cuban bread doesn't excite you...we really don't know what to say.
We take solace only in knowing that it beat out the godforsaken cream cheese and cucumber sandwich.
Once again, it's all about regional loyalties. The South technically includes Southern Florida, where cities like Tampa, Miami and Key West have huge Cuban populations — and therefore plenty of Cuban sandwiches on the menu.
18. Lobster Roll
A lobster roll is a perfect example of how something doesn't need to be complicated to be sublime. Take some fresh-from-the-sea lobster, plop it inside a grilled hot-dog-style bun and voila: You have a lobster roll.
Unfortunately, probably because seafood isn't everyone's cup of tea, this sandwich is not terribly well-liked by Americans.
Lobster rolls are native to New England and feature prominently on menus throughout the region's six states. So naturally, the Northeast is most fond of this sandwich.
As for where in New England you can find the best lobster roll? Well, that's the topic of fierce debate. Our advice is to sample the sandwich at multiple spots to decide for yourself.
17. Tomato & Cheese
And you thought a lobster roll was simple! A tomato and cheese sandwich features...tomato. And cheese.
This one is pretty boring, truth be told, so its middling position on the list checks out.
No matter their gender, age or where they're from, people are pretty ho-hum about the tomato and cheese sandwich. No particular group really embraces it, but no group really hates it either.
The tomato and cheese sandwich is just sort of...there.
The key to a great pastrami sandwich is more pastrami than any one person should probably consume in their lifetime. Which is to say: When made right, this sandwich is amazing.
It should've definitely cracked the top 15 at least, but what can you do?
Surprisingly, the Northeast — home to New York's famous Jewish delis, where pastrami sandwiches are king — is not where most of this sandwich's biggest fans live. Instead, it's the West that earns this distinction. (Though to be fair, the Northeast fares pretty well at 45 percent.)
Also of note? Way more men than women love this sandwich. Ladies, do better!
15. French Dip
Few sandwiches are as divisive as the French dip. The basic components — thin-sliced roast beef, Swiss cheese, onions, French roll or baguette — are inoffensive. But people either love that it's served with a side of beef broth for dipping, or consider it an abomination on par with putting mayo on hot dogs. (Blasphemy!)
This split opinion places the sandwich firmly in the middle of the pack.
Fun fact: The French dip was invented not in France, but in Los Angeles, at a sandwich shop called Philippe The Original back in 1918. This perhaps explains why the West most loves the French dip today.
Also interesting is this sandwich's huge generational gap: It's enjoyed by more than twice as many Boomers as members of Gen Z.
There's one ingredient in the Reuben that likely keeps it from being more broadly embraced: sauerkraut. The super-tangy fermented cabbage is very much a love-it-or-hate-it kind of food.
Those who do like sauerkraut, though, typically find the Reuben sandwich — which also features corned beef, Swiss cheese, Russian dressing and grilled rye bread — to be perfection.
The Reuben is far more loved by men than women. Why, we cannot say (or frankly, justify).
Also of note: This is the only sandwich on the entire list to get most of its love from the Midwest exclusively (the bacon sandwich is most liked by people in the Midwest, West and South equally).
13. Meatball Sub
Is this sandwich featuring a hearty helping of ground meat, a hearty baguette or roll, and cheese (preferably mozzarella or provolone) healthy? Not at all.
Is it delicious? Um, yes.
Once again, men far outpace women in their love for this sandwich. What gives?!
In terms of geography, this is the first sandwich to get high marks from more than half of the people in every region.
12. Egg Salad
Yes, the egg-salad sandwich is more popular in America than the meatball sub, Reuben, pastrami sandwich, French dip, lobster roll, crab-cake sandwich and Cuban sandwich.
No, we cannot explain such lunacy.
Part of the reason this sandwich fares so well is because of the massive support it gets from the older Silent Generation. And this makes a lot of sense: The egg-salad sandwich is a classic American dish that was a staple of lunch counters across the country decades ago.
All these years later, support remains robust among those born between 1928 and 1945. (For comparison, the sandwich is liked by only 38 percent of Gen Z-ers, a 40-percent differential, and 41 percent of millennials.)
11. Pulled Pork
As with many items on this list, the pulled-pork sandwich relies mostly on its meat — sauced-up shredded barbecue pork shoulder — for flavor. The only other thing you'll often see added is coleslaw.
Either way, this is a popular dish, just missing the top-10 cut.
The pulled-pork sandwich has its roots in the South — and decades later, this is still where you'll find its greatest iterations (particularly in the Carolinas and Memphis, Tennessee) and most die-hard fans.
But though it's most loved down South, it actually enjoys enthusiastic support across all regions of the nation.
10. Peanut Butter & Jelly
The 10th-most-beloved sandwich in America is nothing fancy, but it does tap into serious nostalgia. Who doesn't remember opening their lunch bag to find a sweet PB&J inside? And let's be real: This sandwich still tastes pretty dang good as an adult.
While these sandwiches have been around in the U.S. since around the tun of the 20th century, they really became popular during World War II, when they were staples on ration menus because all the ingredients were cheap and accessible. Simplicity and affordability remain key selling points today.
Though older people definitely like this sandwich more than younger folks do, the classic PB&J is pretty much well-liked across the board by everyone.
To not like it, after all, would be downright un-American.
9. Bacon Sandwich
Basically a BLT without those pesky vegetables, the bacon sandwich is served hot, seasoned with ketchup or brown sauce, and spread with butter (because everyone knows bacon and butter are the two best foods on the planet).
The sandwich was actually invented in the UK, where it remains wildly popular and is sometimes called a "bacon butty." But move over, Brits, because Americans love themselves a good bacon sandwich — er, bacon butty — too.
Geographically, this sandwich has a clear edge in the South, which makes sense considering the region is known for its love of all things bacon.
The South knows what's up.
Here's a fun fact: Like "BLT," the club sandwich's name comes from its ingredients: “Chicken and Lettuce Under Bacon.”
Since first appearing in America in the late 19th century, the sandwich has evolved in two key ways: It now often includes turkey instead of chicken, and it's frequently served in a three-layer form with an extra slice of bread in the middle. These evolutions have been, shall we say, controversial, with famed American chef James Beard calling the modern-day club a "horror."
Clearly, many Americans disagree.
This is another sandwich with a massive generational divide: While a whopping 82 percent of people from the Silent Generation love a good club, only 41 percent of Gen Z-ers do.
Like so many great American sandwiches, this one sings because of its simplicity: thick slices of ham are the star, often accompanied by some lettuce, cheese, tomato and/or mustard. In fact, one of the best ham sandwiches you can make relies on the very first recipe for it to appear in the states, courtesy of cookbook author Eliza Leslie in 1840:
“Cut some thin slices of bread very neatly, having slightly buttered them; and, if you choose, spread on a very little mustard. Have ready some very thin slices of cold boiled ham, and lay one between two slices of bread. You may either roll them up, or lay them flat on the plates."
Simple — and simply perfect.
It's safe to say, based on the results of this survey, that the Silent Generation really likes sandwiches (that's called wisdom, folks).
This sandwich is also particularly beloved in the South, where you can also find an excellent twist on the classic: a ham and biscuit sandwich.
We have women to thank for turning this sandwich into an American staple: Toward the end of the 19th century, lunch restaurants began catering to a female clientele by serving healthy tuna salads. Eventually, as women entered the workforce and became crunched for time at lunch, the salad was placed between two slices of bread for ease of eating.
And just like that, a legend — and still today one of the most popular sandwiches in America — was born.
All these years later, it's still women who most love a good tuna sandwich, though plenty of guys do, too.
More modern takes include the tuna melt, which adds cheese and heat to take things to the next level.
Americans love bacon sandwiches, but they really love sandwiches with bacon and its perfect complements: sliced tomato and crisp lettuce.
The sandwich became a national craze after World War II, when supermarkets selling all the ingredients on the cheap proliferated. All these decades later, it remains a top-5 fave.
While older generations dig this sandwich, only 41 percent of people from Gen Z give it high marks. Which is honestly confounding.
We get being a little lukewarm on some of the sandwiches on this list, but not being able to muster some love for a savory BLT?! Get it together, Gen Z!
4. Roast Beef
Like other sandwiches on this list, the roast beef is often prepared in inventive ways, with everything from horseradish to aioli to fried onion strings added to the mix.
But for our money, simple — thick slices of bread, an ungodly amount of roast beef, some cheese — is best.
If you want to wax poetic about the virtues of a roast beef sandwich, head to the South, where three-quarters of locals are fans.
The turkey sandwich likely fares well because it's not only delicious, but healthy. Throw turkey, tomato and lettuce on wheat bread, and you've got yourself a nutritious meal that doesn't sacrifice flavor. That seems to be a combo Americans can't pass up.
Love for this sandwich is pretty consistent across demographics. Not everyone obsesses over a turkey sandwich, but few have a bad thing to say about it.
2. Grilled Chicken
Chick-fil-A's slogan — "We didn't invent the chicken. Just the chicken sandwich." — is accurate. The sandwich was indeed first created by the founder of the fast-food chain, in his effort to make an alternative to the hamburger.
Little did he know that, years later, his creation would rank second on the list of the most popular sandwiches in America.
This sandwich is a winner across genders, generations and regions, even garnering 59 percent support among sandwich-bashing Gen Z-ers.
But it's not enough to make it the No. 1 sandwich in America, an honor that instead belongs to...
1. Grilled Cheese
Is a grilled cheese sandwich wildly exciting? Not really. Inventive? Nope. Unusual? Not at all.
But it's also really, really good and exceptionally hard to hate. Why add other stuff to the mix when bread and cheese are the best parts of a sandwich anyways?
A healthy majority of every single demographic likes a grilled cheese sandwich. And among the Silent Generation, its support is staggering, with 94 percent saying "yes, please" to a grilled cheese.
Want to make one at home? Keep things classic with American cheese and white bread, or get fancy and use ciabatta or pumpernickel bread, with muenster, provolone, gouda or Havarti as the cheese. The opportunities are endless, and honestly, it's hard to go wrong.
Honorable Mention: Hamburger
Then, of course, there's the question of what even constitutes a sandwich. Is a hamburger a sandwich? Well, it typically has all the ingredients of a solid sandwich: meat, cheese and toppings sandwiched between a bun.
And don’t forget the ketchup and mustard if you’re a real American.
Should It Be Considered a Sandwich?
But would we label a hamburger a sandwich? Or is it in a league of its own? Overall, 60 percent of Americans believe that, yes, it is a sandwich.
Surprisingly, or perhaps not so, the belief of whether or not a burger is a sandwich became more positive the older the generations got, with only 47 percent of Gen Z respondents considering it to be one and 78 percent from the Silent Generation believing absolutely, yes, it is one. Perhaps, they’re hoping to keep tradition alive?
Honorable Mention: Hot Dog
OK, now what about a hot dog? Yes, you have meat between bread, but that bread is not two separate pieces. It’s really just one piece of bread cut down the middle to create a pocket for the dog.
We prefer the all-beef American hot dog that you’d get at the baseball park. Again, ketchup and mustard are necessary, but grilled onions and pickles are an added bonus on top. And, sure, relish can work for all those relish lovers out there.
Should It Be Considered a Sandwich?
The verdict is in, and only one-third of the country believes a hot dog is a sandwich. We agree that it just really doesn’t seem right to put it in this category.
Again, though, the results got more positive with age, with only 22 percent of Gen Z considering a hot dog a sandwich and a whopping 59 percent of the Silent Generation considering it to be one. Maybe they just didn’t have a lot of sandwich options back in their day?
Honorable Mention: Taco
A taco?!?!? No, we just can’t go there.
A sandwich needs bread, and while, yes, technically you could argue that a tortilla is a flatbread, it’s way too flat for us to put this in the sandwich bucket. Are tacos meaty, cheesy and delicious? Yes! Are they a sandwich? Absolutely not.
Should It Be Considered a Sandwich?
A majority of Americans agree with us that, no, a taco is not a sandwich. But still, there are 15 percent overall who believe we should have made this a contender in the sandwich ranking.
Interestingly enough, the results got less positive with age this time. About 22 percent of Gen Z respondents said they believe a taco to be a sandwich, with only 12 percent of Baby Boomers and 16 percent of the Silent Generation believing them to be so.
Honorable Mention: Sloppy Joe
Do people still eat sloppy joes? If so, fine, then those that do can consider it a sandwich, but you’re really scraping the bottom of the sandwich barrel there.
For those who have never had one, a sloppy joe is basically a messy hamburger with ground beef, onions and tomato sauce all slopped together between a bun.
Should It Be Considered a Sandwich?
Of these four “maybe” sandwiches, the sloppy joe earned people’s respect as a sandwich the most, with 62 percent agreeing it to be one.
Again, the results got more positive with age (likely because sloppy joes were much more popular in previous generations). About 48 percent of Gen Z respondents said they’d consider a sloppy joe a sandwich, while 71 percent of the Silent Generation said so.