The Many Faces of Sandwiches: How Many Types Exist?

Everyone loves a sandwich! From a supermarket meal deal to a home-packed lunch or a speciality submarine at a multinational franchise, a sandwich is undoubtedly the go-to quick meal solution for millions of people across the UK every day.

Almost any ingredient can be turned into a sandwich; there are so many variations that the mind literally boggles!

So, let’s take a closer look at the many faces of sandwiches…

Definition of a Sandwich

A sandwich is basically some form of bread with a filling – typically meat, cheese, or vegetables – ‘sandwiched’ in between. There are four main sandwich categories; pretty much any variety you can imagine can be classified as one of the following:

A closed cold sandwich usually consists of two pieces of bread, two halves of a roll, or a wrap with a spread applied and any kind of cold filling.

An open cold sandwich is a slice of bread with one or more toppings minus the second slice of bread or ‘lid’. Particularly popular in Scandinavia, where it’s known as smørrebrød, the open-faced sandwich can be traced back to the European Middle Ages, where thick slices of stale bread would have been used as plates.[i]

The closed hot sandwich is very similar in appearance to the closed cold sandwich but, as its name suggests, is served warm, whether grilled, toasted, or fried. Popular hot sandwiches encompass everything from cheese toasties to hot dogs, chicken and bacon clubs, and tuna melts.

A slice of bread or toast with a warm filling piled on top and without a second slice of bread to make a lid is known as an open hot sandwich. This type of sandwich is often easier to eat with a knife and fork, especially if the topping is very hot, piled high or smothered in sauce or gravy!

Different Types of Sandwich

You can make a sandwich with almost any kind of bread, depending on your preference. Here are a few popular varieties, all of which can be slotted into one of the categories above:

Afternoon Tea Sandwich

Afternoon tea sandwiches are a quintessentially British tradition originating in 19th-century England as a late-afternoon meal to bridge the gap between lunch and dinner. Popular filling options include egg and cress, cucumber, coronation chicken, cream cheese, and prawn mayonnaise. It’s customary to cut the crusts off and cut them into fingers before serving. Hence, they are often referred to as finger sandwiches.

Club Sandwich

Club sandwiches traditionally consist of chicken or turkey, bacon, cheese, salad, and mayonnaise stacked between three slices of toasted bread. They are usually served cut into halves or quarters and held together with cocktail sticks.

Sandwich Wrap

Wraps offer a highly versatile alternative to traditional sliced bread. Simply roll your choice of fillings in a soft tortilla, roti, pitta, or flatbread, and you’re good to go. Because the fillings are securely contained in the carrier, you’re much less likely to encounter the dreaded spillage.


Whether you call it a toastie, a melt, or a grill, this type of hot sandwich oozes decadent melted cheese, either solo or combined with other ingredients. Usually heated in a pan, sandwich toaster, or griddle, they’re known as toasties in England, croque monsieur in France, panini in Italy, grilled cheese in America, and jaffles in Australia.


A submarine sandwich, also referred to as a sub, hoagie, hero, or torpedo (to name a few), is made with a cylindrical bun generally measuring at least six inches long, split lengthways and filled. A ‘party sub’ is a much longer version, usually cut into slices before being served.


As the name implies, this type of buttie is made using a French baguette as the carrier. The jambon-beurre or Parisien, as it’s known in France, is quite simply a fresh baguette spread with butter and filled with ham. Over 3 million are sold daily, making it one of the country’s most popular lunchtime staples.[ii]

Bagel sandwich

Bagel sarnies can be hot or cold and open or closed. They’re perfect for breakfast – think bacon and melted cheese, egg and avocado, or smoked salmon and cream cheese.

Pinwheel Sandwich

Perfect for parties, packed lunches, and picnics, pinwheels can be made using sliced bread with the crusts cut off or with pliable flour tortillas. They’re filled, rolled up and cut into slices before serving. Top tip: chilling the rolled sandwich before slicing will help the pinwheels keep their shape!

Ice Cream Sandwich

If you’ve got a sweet tooth, then an ice cream sandwich might be the one for you. The yummy ice cream filling (flavour optional!) can be sandwiched between wafers, biscuits, cookies – whatever floats your boat!

As you can see, sandwiches are undoubtedly one of the most versatile and convenient foods worldwide. Almost every region and country boasts its own take on this simple classic. The list of combinations that can be created from bread types, fillings, styles, and accompaniments is virtually endless, with something to cater to every taste, palate, and occasion.

What will you choose for your next sandwich?