There’s a good chance that you’re still working from home. And, if that’s the case, there’s a good chance that you’ve run out of new lunches. Making cheese on toast for yourself might have seemed exotic and new last March, but now you’re sick of the stuff. And omelettes. And you would rather die than ever see another Super Noodle. But all is not lost. With a little extra care and attention, a hot sandwich can become all the comfort food you need. But what to make? Here are 20 top chefs with their favourites.
Crab crumpet open sandwich
Tommy Heaney, chef, Heaneys, Cardiff
I always have a packet of crumpets lying around. Whack a couple in the toaster and toast twice (very important) for crunchiness. Slather in butter – the more the better – and top with white crab meat, mixed with lemon, mayonnaise, a bit of flat leaf parsley and some spiced paprika. So simple and tastes amazing.
Max Halley, owner Max’s Sandwich Shop, London
Bake two slices of streaky bacon at 150C for 15 minutes, then strain the juices into a bowl. Stir half of the bacon juice into a tablespoon of mayo, and fry four slices of back bacon in the remaining juice. Chop the cooled crispy streaky bacon as small as possible. Mix into the bacon mayo. Remove the cooked back bacon from the pan and fry two slices of sliced white bread (on just one side) in the leftover juice. Spread the homemade baconnaise on both golden sides of the bread. Lay the back bacon on one slice, top with crushed Walkers Smoky Bacon crisps and your condiment of choice. Lid on. Cut in two. Go go go.
Pitta with buttery spinach and feta
Marwa Alkhalaf, chef director, Nutshell, London
This is a real bite of home. Start with a soft fluffy pitta and warm in the oven while you get the filling going. Saute spinach and onion until buttery, soft and wilted, then add a dash of pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, sumac, cumin, ground coriander and pine nuts. Stuff in that pitta, sprinkle with feta – voilà!
Truffle mash potato sandwich
Tom Westerland, head chef, Crockers, Oxfordshire
Yes, I have truffle oil and truffles at home. Don’t judge me; I am a chef. And I love mash. Mix your mashed potatoes with truffle oil and grated truffle, spread evenly between your sliced sandwich loaf and press together. Melt a good (and I mean good) amount of butter in a pan and fry your sandwich for three minutes on either side until golden brown and crispy. Blob ketchup on your plate and dip away.
Chicken tikka cheese toastie
Vivek Singh, executive chef, founder and CEO, The Cinnamon Collection, London and Oxford
Mix together diced chicken tikka (cooked), some chillies, red onion and cheddar cheese, then season to taste. Spread butter on both sides of two slices of wholemeal bread; cover one side with green coriander chutney. Fill the sandwich with the mix and toast in a toastie maker or hot pan until the cheese is oozing. Serve with tomato ketchup or chutney.
Livin’ on the veg
Gemma Simmonite, chef and co-founder, Gastrono-me, Bury St Edmunds
Roast a handful of peppers and onions. Lightly toast two slices of rustic bread, and slather both with hummus. Layer one slice with a spoonful of sauerkraut, then the same amount of red cabbage coleslaw. Add baby spinach leaves, the roasted vegetables, avocado slices and sweet chilli sauce. Season with salt and pepper, pop the lid on and enjoy.
Speedy Vietnamese-inspired chicken baguettes
Daniya Stewart, founder, Phomo, delivery nationwide
Add a clove of crushed garlic, 60ml white vinegar, ½ tbsp sugar and a pinch of salt to a bowl and mix until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Thinly slice a carrot and half a cucumber, and add to the bowl. Season a chicken breast and grill on a medium heat until cooked, then remove from the heat and slice. Slice baguettes and spread mayonnaise on one half, then top with chicken and the carrot and cucumber mixture. Add coriander and sriracha to garnish.
Scallop and bacon bap
Holly Chaves, chef founder, Wine & Rind, London
Heavily butter a crusty white bap. Add a rasher or two of smoked back bacon (crisped to perfection) – just enough to cover the base of the bap. Let the scallop sing! Three scallops, roe on. Pat dry and salt. Drizzle oil in a super-hot pan and give them a minute on each side, no more. Finish with a big knob of butter and a squeeze of lemon. Bundle it all into the bap and pour on the lemony butter. Tabasco optional.
Chorizo, cheese and watercress toastie
Keri Astill-Frew, head chef and owner, V Dorset, Dorset
Thickly slice 200g of cooking chorizo, and fry it in a little olive oil. Remove from heat and drain on kitchen paper. Take eight slices of sourdough bread. Butter each on one side. Fill your sandwiches (buttered side out) with the chorizo, 200g sliced gruyere, 200g sharp cheddar, half a finely sliced red onion and a bag of watercress. Place a clean, dry frying pan on a medium heat, add the sandwiches and cook for about four minutes on each side, using a spatula to press down. Ensure the cheese melts.
Cheddar rarebit with pickles and cornichons
Emily Watkins, winner of The Great British Menu 2014
Mix 150g grated vintage cheddar cheese, a tablespoon of dijon mustard, 100ml double cream and some black pepper in a bowl. Pour the mixture into a ramekin and bake for 10 minutes at 180C. Place four slices of sourdough on a heated griddle pan and press down. Turn and repeat. Cut into wide soldiers and serve with the rarebit, with pickled onions and cornichons on the side.
Tom Aikens, chef-owner, Muse, London
This is a five-minute job. Toast sliced brioche and give it a good buttering. Spread one slice with white cheese sauce (I like cheddar and gruyere and a good blob of mustard in mine), then top with ham, more grated cheese and a little more cheese sauce. Top with the other slice of brioche (butter side up) and fry in a pan until golden brown. Flip and cook for two more minutes. Top with cheese sauce and more grated cheese, and give it two more minutes under the grill until it’s bubbling.
Cajun pork baguette
Lewis Spencer, executive head chef, HotBox, London
Get a beautiful Saddleback pork chop, cover it in Cajun seasoning (supermarket-bought is fine) and render the fatty edge in a hot pan, then cook each side of the chop for four minutes only. Let it rest while you sort out everything else. Toast a sliced baguette in the pork fat left in the pan, remove it and then fry a couple of eggs with some sliced onions and chillies in the remaining pork fat. Build your sandwich next, by slicing your nicely rested pork chop into strips, then layering it with the eggs, fried onions and chillies, before adding your favourite condiments.
Chorizo and feta omelette sandwich
Irini Tzortzoglou, MasterChef champion, 2019
Toast two thick slices of good bread. In a bowl, beat two eggs with some salt and pepper and pour into a small, hot, non-stick frying pan. Use a spatula to move the egg as it cooks. Add chopped roasted peppers, kalamata olives, chorizo, other salami, herbs, chilli flakes – pretty much anything you have – to the omelette. When opaque but still soft and gooey, slide it over one piece of the toast. Crumble over some feta, sprinkle with oregano and drizzle with some extra-virgin olive oil. Put under a hot grill for a couple of minutes for the feta to become singed and gooey. Transfer to a plate, cover with the other piece of toast, cut in half and enjoy!
Ioannis Grammenos, head chef, Heliot Steak House, London
When I’m in a hurry and I need to eat something before the gym, I always make myself the mojito sandwich. It’s quick to make and absolutely delicious. I start by warming a pitta bread in a pan with a little Greek extra virgin olive oil. In the meantime I will grate some tomato, then mix it in with some crumbled feta. I then add olive oil, parsley, lots of fresh mint from my balcony, a few leaves of lettuce for crunch, and a teaspoon of organic tahini. Mix it all up and stuff into the pitta.
Refried bean and scrambled eggs on toast
Adriana Cavita, chef
This is a super-quick hot sandwich from Mexico. It seems like a brunch sandwich, but is suitable for all times of day. It’s thick slices of toasted brioche, spread with salted butter, slathered with hot refried beans and filled with scrambled eggs. Season with plenty of salt and pepper and add some greenery in the form of chopped pickled jalapeños and coriander, then finish with slices of avocado and your favourite hot sauce.
Ham and cheese toastie
Avinash Shashidhara, head chef, Pali Hill, London
My favourite sandwich is a version of a ham and cheese sandwich I had at Harry’s Bar. Thinly sliced bread with prosciutto and fontina mixed with Worcestershire sauce, a hint of Tabasco, a dash of cream and black pepper. It’s fried in a pan with a generous amount of olive oil and served with a delicious bellini. Bliss!
Mackerel and avocado brioche
Dorian Janmaat, executive head chef, The Idle Rocks, Cornwall
Gently heat smoked mackerel fillets, then remove from pan and flake the hot flesh. Use a stick blender to make garlic aioli: slowly add oil to egg yolk, salt, a touch of mustard and half a clove of garlic until the mayonnaise is the right consistency. Thinly slice spring onions, cut the avocado into slices, deseed a chilli and mix. Serve in a toasted brioche bun and add a squeeze of lemon.
James Toth, head chef, Cornerstone, London
A hot sandwich I love to make at home is my take on a chicken club. It starts with ciabatta bread, toasted. On the bottom piece I put a big dollop of mayonnaise, followed by six pieces of crispy smoked streaky bacon, cooked tender shredded chicken breast, half a ripe avocado seasoned with a squeeze of lemon, salt and pepper, topped with some crunchy spinach leaves. What really brings this sandwich together is a drizzle of seaweed sriracha (regular sriracha is fine), to finish it off. Delicious!
Bombay grilled sandwich
Aktar Islam, chef director, Opheem, Birmingham
Quick and tasty, this is always a go-to of mine. First slice your vegetables; I use cucumber, tomato, red onion and lots of green chillies. Grab your bread (white for me) and spread a nice layer of chutney as your base. I like mango but you can use any flavour. Load your sandwich with your veggies and a sliced boiled potato. I also like to add some coriander and mint. Finish with a heavy sprinkle of a grated cheese and grill for 2-3 minutes each side. Delicious.
Sausage breakfast muffin
Richie Hayes, chef and co-owner, Norman’s Cafe, London
Butter both sides of an English muffin, then grill until golden. Take a small handful of pork mince, add salt, cayenne pepper and black pepper. Form into a patty and fry both sides, adding a slice of red leicester on top for the last 30 seconds. Then fry an egg; you want it nice and crunchy on the bottom with a runny yolk. Finally spread brown sauce on to the muffin. We make our own brown sauce in house but HP fruity is a great alternative. Then add your pork patty and cheese, followed by the egg on top. This is great hangover food – you can even throw a hash brown in there as well.