13 Bread Swaps That Will Reinvent Your Sandwiches

Who doesn't love a sandwich? Hot or cold, trim and tidy like an elegant finger sandwich or massive and messy like a sloppy joe; any way you slice it, sandwiches are tasty, portable, and there's a version for every occasion. Meat lovers and vegetarians alike probably have a favorite sandwich, but it's easy to get into a rut making the same go-to over and over again. If you're sick of the standards, give these bread swaps a chance to reinvigorate your sandwich repertoire.

Advertisement

Many of us are obsessed with all things between bread. And while we could question the definition of a sandwich all day — can it be open-faced? What about a gyro? Is a hamburger really a sandwich? — we can probably agree that come lunchtime on a busy day we're ready to grab just about anything to get the job done. So take a moment now to consider all the wonderful ways to reinvent your sandwich and be ready when the time comes to make your next one a triumph. Whether you're struggling with carbs, recently gluten-free, or just ready for something new, we've got you covered.

Swap out ciabatta for focaccia

Next time you're craving a big meaty Italian sandwich, consider putting focaccia in the rotation. Floury ciabatta rolls are a staple at the deli counter, as are long sub rolls, but focaccia is a decadent alternative. The distinctive feature of focaccia is that they're often studded with herbs, olives, garlic or sundried tomatoes, and loads of flaky sea salt. Rich though that sounds, it is also an airy bread full of air bubbles, so it's not too dense. A good piece of focaccia sliced through the middle can make for an excellent sandwich, and those bubbles leave pockets that can be filled up with spreads like pesto, mayo, and mustard.

Advertisement

Next time you're in the market for a filling and satisfying handheld lunch, try this mortadella focaccia sandwich. Or make a tasty vegetarian sandwich with focaccia, roasted red peppers, and eggplants. Alternatively, you can bake enough fabulous toppings into the bread itself and you may not even have to assemble a sandwich! Breakfast focaccia are also great because it features eggs and bacon right in the bread. You can even make a sweet focaccia with fresh fruit for breakfast or dessert.

Make your next PB&J with French toast

For a more decadent, protein-packed version of a classic, why not make your next peanut butter and jelly sandwich on French toast? French toast is a breakfast crowd pleaser made from soaking sliced bread in a mixture of egg, milk, vanilla and often, cinnamon. The bread is then fried, cooking the eggs, and yielding a moist and filling breakfast food that can be topped with fresh fruit, powdered sugar, or syrup. But take it to the next level by sandwiching peanut butter and your favorite jelly or jam. This may call for a knife and fork, but it's sure to be a new favorite at your next family brunch.

Advertisement

There are many ways to get creative with your PB&J. You can make your French toast with different kinds of bread. Regular sliced white bread will do the trick, or you can use brioche or challah for a richer, thicker version. For something less labor intensive, opt for pre-made French toast instead. You'll likely find some alongside toaster waffles in the frozen section at your grocery store. Just pop the French toast in the toaster and get to assembling that sandwich!

Layer up a flaky croissant breakfast sandwich

If stretching the definition of bread is your thing, you might consider repurposing your next croissant. This trendy alternative to sliced bread can now be spotted on lunch counters across the nation. But breakfast is when the croissant sandwich really shines. Buttery croissants are a natural pairing to egg, bacon, and cheese.

Advertisement

Croissants are crescent shaped pastries made from layering chilled dough with loads and loads of butter. This process, called lamination, yields many delicate layers. When sliced and lightly toasted, they make for an excellent bread swap in a breakfast sandwich. If you're feeling ambitious, you can make croissants at home, or grab one from a shop. You can use day old croissant, or even do the unthinkable and flatten those prized layers for a crisp griddled sandwich if you like. This Tiktok trend of flattening and frying up croissants may be a little baffling, but hey, don't knock it 'til you try it! 

Fry up an egg in a basket sandwich

While we're talking breakfast, it's worth mentioning another excellent breakfast sandwich hack. Perhaps you've heard of 'egg in a basket,' (also known as 'egg in a hole') which is a tasty breakfast in and of itself. But have you tried an egg in a basket breakfast sandwich? A fried egg sandwich is never better than when the egg is cooked right into the bread.

Advertisement

To make one yourself, simply cut a small circle out of one piece of bread and place it in a pan with butter or oil. Then crack an egg right into the hole and let it fry. The egg white will cook into the bread, and the yolk will stay fixed perfectly in the hole, or 'basket.' You can throw a slice of cheese on top to melt, or pop the other side of toast into the pan to toast and melt some more cheese on that. Then assemble your sandwich with your other favorite breakfast ingredients, like bacon, avocado, or wilted spinach. No more egg sliding out and making a mess, it will stay firmly fixed in the middle of your sandwich! If you like your egg yolks runny, then make your egg in a basket over easy, slice through the center and let that golden yolk ooze down through the middle.

Advertisement

Use raisin bread for a salty sweet grilled cheese

Sweet and savory combinations really hit the spot for many of us. Beyond simply mixing sugar and salt, you can combine spices and herbs in satisfying new ways. Cinnamon may not often come to mind when you're thinking up a meal, but it's actually a common ingredient in many savory dishes in countries across the Middle East. Paired with nuts and dried fruits, cinnamon takes dishes to another level. It's no wonder then, that cinnamon raisin bread can be a wonderful addition to your next grilled cheese sandwich. If you've enjoyed cream cheese on a raisin bagel, then this swap is probably for you. 

Advertisement

You might have attempted a cinnamon raisin PB&J, but what about a grilled cheese with brie and fig jam? Everyone loves a classic diner grilled cheese with American slices, but why not experiment with the ingredients a little at home? Cinnamon raisin bread may just be the perfect way to elevate your brie grilled cheese. And cheese and fruit are a timeless combination, so raisin bread makes for a tasty grilled cheese.

Wrap up your next grilled cheese

If salty-sweet isn't your thing, but you'd still like to put a new spin on grilled cheese, then try using a tortilla or a wrap instead of sliced bread. This is essentially a quesadilla, but you can add your other favorite grilled cheese fillings. Spread some Dijon mustard, sun-dried tomato or olive paste onto the tortilla before loading it up with cheese, for example, and swap Mexican flavors for Italian or French.

Advertisement

Tortillas fry up faster than most breads, and the cheese will also melt faster. This means your sandwich will be ready in no time. But if you're more interested in innovation than speed, you can try your hand at one of the popular tortilla sandwiches featured on TikTok that use each quarter of the tortilla for a different topping that fold together perfectly into a layered wrap. Egg, cheese, avocado, and bacon? Yes please! Turkey, cranberry, and cheese? Bring it on! Easy, handheld, and compact.

A brief note about corn vs. wheat tortillas: Wheat tortillas tend to be larger and much more flexible. Corn tortillas are usually smaller and more crumbly. Corn tortillas are a great swap for a gluten-free quesadilla, but they will likely crack in half unless warmed first. As a general rule, you'll want to place your tortilla in a hot pan and let it warm up before folding it in half. Wait too long and it will crisp up and crack when folded.

Advertisement

Pop a tortilla pizza in the oven

Still have a few tortillas left in the pack? Sandwiches aren't the only place a tortilla can swap in, there are many clever ways to use leftover tortillas. Next time you're craving pizza, reach for that bag of wraps. Think of it as an ultra easy, ultra thin crust pizza for those weeknights when you need to throw together a fun dinner in no time.

Advertisement

Place a tortilla on a baking sheet and top it with your favorite pizza toppings. Then pop it in the oven for a few minutes. It's as simple as that! You can even make it in the air fryer. This can be the easiest way forward on pizza night, but if you like to make things better (and homemade) you can try making fresh tortillas at home. It's not that difficult really, as this flat bread needs no time to rise. You can also try making these light and flufy sourdough tortilla at home. Since tortillas have a relatively plain flavor, they make a great base for a dessert pizza too.

Try making a jacket potato

Jacket potatoes are a British staple. We call it a baked potato, and we're happy to load one up with bacon bits, sour cream, and chives. But the Brits love a potato stuffed with meat or even beans. Jacket potato shops often resemble a sandwich bar. All your favorite toppings, including roasted meats, are piled into the fluffy baked potatoes for a quick and filling lunch or dinner.

Advertisement

A hot sub, Philly cheesesteak, or panini can be very satisfying, but maybe you're ready for something new, or maybe you're trying to avoid grains these days. If you want an easy, hot meal, and no bread, give a loaded baked potato a try instead. This is a great gluten-free alternative, and a fun weeknight meal that simply requires a little forethought to throw that potato in the oven an hour before dinner. Try this British trick for baking potatoes, and enjoy jacket potato night. It's a great way to use up leftovers. Brisket, turkey dinner, or chili can all be spooned right into that spud. You can even top your baked potato with a hot dog bun for a fun weeknight meal. Don't be hemmed in by your usual notions of what goes on a baked potato. Different cultures top their spuds with different things. In Turkey, massive baked potatoes (called kumpir) are typically topped with cheese, olives, pickles, cabbage, ketchup, mayo, and corn. There isn't much that won't taste good on a potato. 

Advertisement

Go for a garlic bread sub

Garlic bread usually comes in the form of a long Italian loaf or French baguette, so it's only natural to imagine reconfiguring this tasty side for your next hot sub. Simply load it up with your favorite toppings. Perhaps a garlic bread steak sandwich is in order.

Advertisement

The garlic bread itself could be ready made, or you can start from scratch and make your own flavorful garlic bread. Sweet roasted garlic mashed into soft butter with herbs and spread over a baguette sprinkled with Parmesan cheese ... is there anything more mouthwatering? Perhaps if you add mozzarella and pesto and turn it into a decadent garlic bread grilled cheese! You can use garlic bread for any kind of sub, but you don't have to stick to the typical shape. Feel free to turn any bread into garlic bread. Sliced sourdough or even garlic naan can be the base for a delicious hot sandwich.

Make an English muffin tuna melt

The English muffin rarely makes an appearance outside of the breakfast sphere. English muffins are standard in an eggs Benedict, topped with poached eggs and hollandaise, or a fast food breakfast sandwich, but they can be a perfect substitution for sliced bread in any sandwich at lunchtime as well. In particular, English muffins can be swapped to make an unforgettable tuna melt

Advertisement

Tuna salad can be served hot or cold. Unlike a tuna salad sandwich, which might feature lettuce, a tuna melt is made by placing sliced cheese on top of the tuna salad and bread and baking or broiling it until the cheese melts — hence, tuna melt. You can serve a tuna melt open-faced or assembled into a standard sandwich. Either way, it's delicious. And you can use different breads, as long as they can support the tuna salad without getting too soggy and falling apart; otherwise, you may have to knife-and-fork it. Sturdy sourdough is another great option.

Lighten things up with lettuce cups

If you're looking for a light lunch, forgo the bread altogether and opt for lettuce cups instead. Romaine or butter lettuce have large cupped leaves, perfect for egg, tuna, or chicken salad. Bitter endive is another good option with a stronger flavor. Low carb and gluten-free, lettuce cups are the perfect bread swap for a summer day.

Advertisement

While there may be some best and worst breads for an egg salad sandwich, when you skip the bread altogether, you offset any heaviness from the mayo with the fresh lettuce with no soggy bread in sight! Try these egg salad lettuce wraps or tuna lettuce wraps. The pop of green and crunch of the lettuce with a savory filling make for an appetizing canapé at your next garden party. If you're willing to put in just a little more work, you can even use lettuce as a wrap and roll up a refreshing light lunch.

When it comes to fast food, you can save your carb intake for those fabulous French fries, and go bunless with a lettuce wrap. The secret menu at In-N-Out, for example, includes a lettuce wrap option. Order your next burger "Protein Style" and it will come wrapped in iceberg lettuce instead of a bun. All the other sauces and toppings will still be there, but no bread. This is a fast food miracle for the gluten-free among us, or anyone else opting to avoid grains or carbs for any reason.

Advertisement

Toast rice cakes for a crisp and easy alternative

Another go to gluten-free alternative to bread is the rice cake. Rice is a naturally gluten-free grain. Long before brands like Schär and Udi's innovated great gluten-free breads, rice cakes were there for us when we needed them. Sure, they're crumbly and dry, but they're also light, crisp, and low calorie. And while many more restaurants and grocery stores are stocking gluten-free bread, it's worth bringing back the rice cake from time to time. They tend to have far fewer ingredients than gluten-free breads. And now, we can say goodbye to bland rice cakes, thanks to TikTok.

Advertisement

Available almost anywhere, rice cakes make a great substitute for your next open-faced sandwich. They taste great slathered in peanut butter and jelly, or piled high with sliced turkey, tomato, and avocado. Rice cakes make a perfect crunchy base for an egg salad. The neutral taste of a plain rice cake works with any sweet or savory topping. Some are super thin and crisp, and others are a bit thicker and fluffier in texture. There are many flavors to choose from, so feel free to get creative with cheddar rice cakes or apple cinnamon.

Swap in homemade bread for store-bought

If you're not here for all these simplifying hacks and you really like to make things complicated for yourself, how about starting from scratch and making your own bread? Maybe you love to bake, or maybe you've noticed that most commercial breads contain way too many ingredients (including unnecessary added sugar). Either way, you may be interested in making some homemade bread for your next sandwich. And the great news is that it really doesn't have to be that hard! Sure, there are levels of excellence as any master baker will tell you, but in its simplest forms, homemade bread is less about a major skill set and more a matter of having a little patience and avoiding a few basic kneading mistakes that prevents bread from rising.

Advertisement

Fresh bread is the most serious upgrade of them all. Start with this easy homemade focaccia recipe. Your family and friends will definitely be impressed when they smell that homemade loaf baking in the oven. Or you can try making a quick bread if waiting around for yeast to do its thing sounds like a chore. 

Recommended

Advertisement