Whether you are headed to the pull or just looking to change up boring weekday lunches, this Ultimate Picnic Sandwich is a complete winner. It has the perfect mix of creamy cheese and butter, peppery arugula, and savory cured meat.
I’ve been on a complete sandwich recipe kick lately working on this chickpea sandwich, but also revisiting some favorites over the years like these Lamb Spiedies and this Chili Mango Brie Grilled Cheese.
The picnic sandwich is a different thing though. It should be casual and be able to be eaten easily in a variety of locations. That said, there are some tricks to making it as good as possible.
Let’s dive in!
What bread to use for picnic sandwiches
I’m not going to try to be a crazy person when it comes to the bread you use for these, but traditionally I like a good baguette. Note that I said GOOD baguette. A cheap grocery store baguette isn’t great for sandwiches like this. You need one that is airy and light and has a crispy exterior.
Also, if you are getting a baguette, get it the same day you make the sandwiches. Even a day-old baguette will be a bit stale and won’t have the same snap to it. I made one version of these sandwiches with a really good day-old baguette and still thought the bread was a little tough and stale.
So, the best option is a fresh, day-of baguette from a good bakery that you trust.
If you can’t find that, then I would experiment with other options for these picnic sandwiches like kaiser rolls, good wheat bread, brioche buns, or toasted sandwich bread.
Ingredients for picnic sandwiches
These are the basics that I think are important for a good picnic sandwich.
- Butter. I used an easy parsley butter for this version but feel free to experiment. Maybe try one of these compound butters? Homemade mayo would also be a good creamy option, but go light on it.
- Fig preserves. You need a little sweetness to tie this sandwich together and fig preserves are perfect. If you can’t find them, then you can use other preserves, but try to avoid really sweet ones like strawberry.
- Cured Meats. Now we are getting into the meat of the sandwich (pun intended). I like to use a mix of salami, capocollo, and prosciutto for my sandwiches and shoot for about 2 ounces of meat per individual sandwich.
- Cheese. For my money, brie is the way to go here. It doesn’t have to be some super high end triple cream brie, but any creamy brie works well. You could also try a good gouda or maybe a sharp cheddar. Personally, I like the creamy cheese.
- Arugula Salad. This is an essential element in my opinion. The lemony and peppery arugula works with the other ingredients really nicely.
How to make herbed butter
Making a herbed butter is pretty straightforward. Make sure your butter is room temperature and then mash in some fresh herbs! I used parsley for my version, but chives or a little dill would work great as well.
If you aren’t using salted butter to start, be sure to add a pinch of salt to the butter as you mash it.
Choosing the right meats
My only advice for a good picnic sandwich is to stick with cured meats and use some restraint with them. This isn’t some Man vs. Food challenge. Believe it or not, the sandwich will end up being a not heavy situation if you use some restraint with the meat.
I shoot for about 2 ounces per individual sandwich so a for the whole baguette you would need 6-8 ounces of meat. I like to use a mix of salami, capocollo, and prosciutto, but there are no real rules here. Just grab a couple that look good to you and stack them up!
The best cheese for picnic sandwiches
The answer, in short, is brie. Cut off any large chunks of rind on the brie and then slice it up and lay it out on the baguette. The thin slices of brie were basically made to be layered in a baguette. Why overthink it?
So brie is my favorite choice, but you there are other options you could try that will change the feel of the sandwich. Go with a sharp cheddar and the sandwich will have more of a bite to it. Go with a smoked gouda and you’ll end up with a heavier sandwich.
Personally, brie is the answer. Full stop.
The other option is that if you added a little more butter to the sandwich, you could actually leave the cheese out entirely.
Assembling the sandwiches
This isn’t rocket science but to get these sandwiches made, slice the bread longwise and spread on the butter. Then go in with the fig preserve.
Follow that with all the meat and cheese and then the lemony arugula salad.
Wrapping the sandwiches and storing
These delicious sandwiches should be wrapped up in plastic wrap or paper and they are best if you eat them the same day you make them. You should store them in a cooler or fridge, but they are fine if you are traveling and need to keep them out of the cooler for an hour or so.
I will say that I snagged one out of my fridge the day after I made them and thought they were still excellent but just slightly less good as on day one. So, don’t throw away leftovers, but try to finish them off within a day or two.
Ultimate Picnic Sandwiches
- 1 large baguette, fresh
- ¼ cup salted butter
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
- ¼ cup fig preserves
- 6-8 ounces various cured meats, see note
- 6 ounces brie cheese, sliced
- 2 cups arugula
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Pinch of kosher salt
- For butter, mash together room temperature butter with fresh parsley. Set aside.
- Cut fresh baguette longwise and smear bottom half of the baguette with the herbed butter.
- Top with fig preserves.
- Layer on cured meats followed by slices of brie cheese. For the brie, cut off any large pieces of rind.
- In a small bowl toss together arugula with lemon juice and pinch of salt. Add the arugula to the top of the sandwich followed by the top half of the baguette.
- Cut baguette into 4 even sandwiches and wrap each one tightly in paper or plastic wrap. Eat the same day for the most deliciousness.
- NOTE: You can use any cured meat for this sandwich, honestly. I like a mix of prosciutto, salami, and capocollo. You could use all salami if you wanted or any other classic cured meat. I wouldn’t use over 8 ounces for the entire sandwich or it can start to feel too heavy.