Sandwiches to pack for a picnic this summer

A stack of fried chicken sandwiches on a platter
Fried chicken sandwiches, eaten hot or cold, are the best meals to take on your outdoor adventures this summer.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

Even though people may be out and about in the city — dining at restaurants and drinking at bars — more this summer than last the late-summer trip to the mountains for a hike, to the desert for sight-seeing or a drive to the beach for a relaxing nap on the sand is still a lure to escape the newly crowded streets. And with all that road tripping to (sometimes) remote locales, you might have trouble finding some good food. The solution is to always pack a good sandwich for the road, preferably one that gets better the longer it sits.

For something cold and refreshing, I love these artichoke tea sandwiches, which are tangy and bright and go down easy between sprints to and from the crashing waves.

For early morning trips, I love these smashed potato sandwiches, which fill the role of a breakfast sandwich but without the hassle of scrambling eggs when you’re trying to head out the door before the sun rises.

For warmer, more hearty fare, I love these fried pork sandwiches, complete with a spicy green sauce, and fried chicken sandwiches with chili crisp mayo. Both are great hot, but ironically taste even better when wrapped in foil for steaming, allowing them to become one with the bread by the time you unfurl the wrapping on top of a steep rock.


And for the most classic “let this sit for a long time and it gets better and better” sandwich, there’s the muffuletta. The olive and pickle salad soaks into the chewy Italian loaf and melds with the salty cured meats and cheeses, becoming more tender and flavorful the longer it sits, whether that’s one hour or four. If you get lost en route to your destination, you can relax knowing that your lunch is just getting better the longer your GPS tries to figure out where on earth you are.

Cold Artichoke Tea Sandwiches

The key to these sandwiches is serving them ice cold from the fridge, so store them there until just ready to serve. And while squishy sandwich bread works best here because it stays moist under refrigeration, you can use any type you like, or even serve the sandwich filling open-faced on toast. If you want to make the sandwiches vegan, simply use vegan mayonnaise.

Get the recipe.
Cook time: 30 minutes.

Artichoke Tea Sandwiches
(Ben Mims / Los Angeles Times)

Cheesy Smashed Potato Sandwiches

These simple pantry sandwiches deliver a hit of spice and the occasional crackle of crunchy potato skin between soft bread. Inspired by northern Indian aloo sandwiches, this version swaps smashed roasted potatoes for mashed boiled ones. If you happen to have fresh green chiles or cilantro on hand, chop them up and sprinkle them over the potatoes. And if you stock chutneys, you can smear those on the buns too.

Get the recipe.
Cook time: 50 minutes.

smashed potato melted cheese sandwich
(Genevieve Ko/ Los Angeles Times)

Enjoying this newsletter?

Consider becoming a Times subscriber.

Fried Pork Sandwiches

Chunks of leftover roasted pork shoulder are pan-fried and then topped with Peruvian pickled onions known as salsa criolla and maduros, which are fried sweet plantains. For the bread, use the standard 7- to 8-inch-long rolls for Cuban sandwiches: tubular like a French baguette, but without pointed ends. They are of the soft white-bread texture, so no artisanal sourdoughs here, please. In a pinch, you could use a Kaiser roll, banh mi roll or another feathery white bread bun.

Get the recipe.
Cook time: 20 minutes.

A fried pork sandwich, to-go, with green sauce made of cilantro, jalapenos, garlic, lime juice, avocado.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Fried Chicken Sandwiches with Chili Crisp Mayo

You can personalize this sandwich any way you like as long as you keep the key elements: soft sweet bun, mayonnaise mixed with something spicy, a flat boneless piece of fried chicken and some pickled vegetables. Swap chipotles in adobo for the chili crisp, try an ensaymada for the bread, use leftover restaurant fried chicken or double the spice with pickled jalapeños.

Get the recipe.
Cook time: 10 minutes.

Fried Chicken Sandwich
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)


A loaf of soft Italian bread is sliced in half, dressed with a pungent olive salad and layered with cured meats such as mortadella and salami with plenty of provolone. The oily olives help the sandwich adhere when it’s cut into wedges. Make sure to leave plenty of time for it to sit and marinate to blend the flavors.

Get the recipe.
Cook time: 1 hour.

Have a cooking question?

Email us.