- There are countless ways to cut a sandwich.
- The diagonal cut is an all-around favourite among sandwich-making chefs.
- The classic vertical cut has its benefits, too; it’s clean, compact, and picturesque.
- A high-quality bread knife and a bit of know-how will get you a well-sliced sandwich regardless of your cut preferences.
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.
Easily the most iconic handheld meal in existence, the sandwich comes in a multitude of forms. From bread to fillings to condiments, sandwich-making involves plenty of variables and plenty of opportunities to get creative. But one related question proves a bit more challenging than it seems: what’s the best way to cut your sandwich?
We asked a group of professional chefs for their opinions on the matter, and they delivered impassioned arguments for the “diagonal cut,” for the “vertical cut,” and useful tips for achieving the perfect slice, regardless of your directional preferences.
Whatever you do, don’t forgo cutting your sandwich.
Valid arguments can be made for cutting your sandwich into halves or for going the diagonal route… but at the end of the day, it’s really just important to cut your sandwich, period. Chef/owner Brian Poe of Bukowski Tavern in Cambridge, Massachusetts and the Tip Tap Room and Parish Café in Boston, Massachusetts explained why:
“Cutting your sandwich is important because, should you choose to [add] pickles, potato chips or slaw, you have no extra control over the hand holding the sandwich. With a sandwich [that’s not cut], you also risk losing ingredients.”
The right cut for your sandwich depends largely on the type of bread used.
As far as sandwich structure goes, all breads are not created equal. Different bread styles require different cuts in order to serve their sandwich-holding purposes, and executive chef Johanna Hellrigl of Doi Moi in Washington, D.C. broke it all down for us:
“[If you’re using] a loaf, it should be cut in half most of the time because it can break off when toasted and sliced in triangle form, and toasting is crucial for me when it comes to sandwiches. Submarine buns, like [the] pan de baston [we use] for our banh mi, are cut ‘Pac-Man style’ so you can hold everything in before slicing them in half. Ciabatta rolls can be sliced all the way through, and you can use a toothpick to hold it together if necessary, like when making a porchetta sandwich. “
But diagonal cuts won out with most of our chefs.
The popular sandwich-cut favourite among our surveyed chefs is undoubtedly the diagonal cut. Chef/owner Hiroki Odo of HALL in New York City told INSIDER that “we like to cut our sandwiches diagonally. Each bite is a little unique in its own way, so it feels like you’re getting something different [each time]. You never get tired of it.”
Grilled sandwiches benefit from the control offered by a diagonal cut.
It’s tough to beat the toothsome crunch of a grilled sandwich. However, that crispy bread can take a toll on your gums if you aren’t careful. Luckily, there’s an easy way to avoid excessive wear and tear on the inside of your mouth: cut your grilled sandwiches diagonally.
“If [I’m making] a grilled sandwich with sliced bread, I like a diagonal cut so you can manage the crunchy bread from the points to avoid cutting up your mouth,” explained chef and TV personality Roger Mooking of “Man Fire Food” on The Cooking Channel.
If you’re not a crust fan, diagonal cuts will reduce that part of the sandwich.
Sandwich crusts are a divisive subject; some diners adore them, but others prefer to remove them entirely (or, at least, to avoid them whenever possible). According to chef and cookbook author Andrea Anthony of “Eat Drink & Bake With Andrea,” a diagonal sandwich cut “gives the illusion that the sandwich has less crust, which is typically a person’s least favourite part of a sandwich.
“A diagonal cut also happens to be more appealing to the eye, creating two perfectly portable triangles,” she said. “And finally, studies show that triangular sandwiches just taste better. So what’s not to love about the shape?”
To play devil’s advocate, a vertical cut gives you a nice visual and a no-muss-no-fuss eating experience.
While most chefs we talked to prefer the portability and angular symmetry of the diagonal cut, some like to keep things simple with a classic vertical cut. One such chef is corporate executive chef Patrick Ochs of The Celino Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida, who told us that “the ‘best’ way to cut a sandwich is in half. This has worked for centuries and continues to work. Cutting a sandwich in half, [whether it’s] a panini or a sub or a burger, makes it a lot easier in terms of being able to actually eat the sandwich, and it allows you to see the different layers of the product as well.
“When cut in half, [the sandwich] becomes equally split and perfect to share. You really can’t go wrong with cutting it in half.”
However you choose to cut your sandwich, make sure that your knife skills are on-point.
There’s a valid case to be made for cutting your sandwich in either direction. However, regardless of your shape-based preferences, you’ll want to ensure that you’re working with the proper knife and that you have the proper skills to wield it.
Executive chef Craig Rispoli of fresh&co put it like this: “There is no perfect paradigm for cutting a sandwich – the flavours and textures are as diverse and unique as the people enjoying them. [The] most important factor when cutting a sandwich is the knife. Make sure it is a sharp bread knife (with smooth serrations). Hold the sandwich firmly, without squishing, across where you intend to cut, and with a gentle sawing motion, cut away. I find it easiest to slice the bread between my middle and ring finger.”
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