I love almost everything about buying a sandwich—it's easy, it's cheap, it's customizable, and, at the very end, I get to watch in awe as the sandwich-maker performs rapid-fire origami, wrapping my lunch in a snug little parchment paper cocoon.
But, when I recently talked to a bunch of experts about how to build awesome sandwiches, I decided it was high time I got back into the homemade-sammy game. It may not be quite as easy, but it's certainly still cheap, it's even more customizable, and, I have to admit, that extra bit of work makes it taste a heck of a lot better at the end. Then again, if I'm going to go the extra mile with a sandwich, I want it to look as good as it tastes. I want it to stay intact when I travel, and I want eating it to feel effortless. I want to be able to pull it out of my bag, give it a nice long look, and say daaamn, sandwich, before crushing it between my jaws.
I want to wrap it like a badass—albeit a badass with a mild case of OCD.
So this weekend, I asked the sandwich guy at my corner bodega to give me a lesson, and he graciously complied. Turns out the process is crazy easy and crazy handy—with a few basic folds and turns, you'll have a sandwich that'll keep its shape and hold all your carefully arranged ingredients in place, whether you're going on a picnic, packing a lunch box, or taking a road trip. It won't gather condensation and induce sogginess the way a zipper-lock bag will, and, because these wrap jobs hold up even once your sandwich is sliced in half, it'll make eating on the go a whole lot easier and neater, too. All you'll need is parchment or waxed paper and, if you're working with a hot sandwich or planning to slice the sandwich in half, a sheet of aluminum foil.
Wrapping a flat sandwich isn't entirely unlike wrapping a present, only you won't need any tape or ribbon to make this one stay in place. To begin, you'll need a rectangular sheet of parchment (or waxed) paper—you can buy the precut sandwich papers, which'll make measurement even easier, or just cut about a foot off the roll.
Set the paper in front of you on a work surface, vertically (i.e., portrait, not landscape, orientation). Then place your sandwich in the center of the paper; if your bread has a discernible top, bottom, and sides, set it so the top is away from you.
Next, bring the top and bottom edges of the paper together over the center of the sandwich and line them up. Fold the edges down by half an inch, crease sharply, and then continue folding in half-inch turns, creasing each time, until the fold is flush with the surface of the sandwich. Depending on the size of your sandwich and the length of your paper, the number of folds will vary. Try not to squish the sandwich!
The left and right sides of the paper will now look like flattened tubes. Starting on one of the tubes, use your fingers to press the opposing edges into the center, forming a pleated triangle. Press down and crease the triangle's edges, including at the base of the sandwich, before carefully folding it underneath. Repeat this process on the other side of the sandwich, and voilà, you're done!
The act of creasing and folding, accompanied by the sandwich's weight, will keep the whole thing nice and secure. If you'd like, you can cut the sandwich down the center, perpendicular to the crease, and then wrap the halves together in a sheet of aluminum foil. Otherwise, simply stick your tidy little package in your lunch box, a brown paper bag, or a rectangular container, and you're good to go.
If you're working with a hot sandwich, you can use this same method with nothing but a piece of aluminum foil, though skipping the parchment paper may make it a bit harder to eat on the go, since foil may cling to parts of your sandwich a little more doggedly.
Subs and Wraps
Next up, we have long sandwiches, like subs and wraps, to contend with. Wrapping these sandwiches can be a little tricky to get the hang of, since measuring out the paper will depend on the size of your sandwich. A good rule of thumb is to cut a piece of parchment paper that's about one and a half times the length of the sub or wrap.
Begin by setting your paper vertically in front of you, just like with the flat-sandwich technique. Then place the sandwich diagonally across the paper, near one of the corners. Now lift that corner up and over the sandwich, pressing it flush. From there, roll the sandwich in paper toward the far opposite corner, folding in the sides as you go.
Once the sandwich is fully rolled in the paper, with everything tucked in, use a piece of tape to secure the package.
And there you have it: a neatly(ish) wrapped sub, ready for transport!
This post may contain links to Amazon or other partners; your purchases via these links can benefit Serious Eats. Read more about our affiliate linking policy.