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What is a Club Sandwich?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 16, 2024
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The club sandwich is a tremendously popular sandwich that has been made since the late 19th century. The first recipe for it appears in 1903, in Isabel Gordon’s Good Housekeeping Everyday Cookbook. Many believe an exclusive men’s club in New York, the Saratoga Club, which featured a casino, may have invented the sandwich. Three restaurants at the St. Louis World Fair of 1904 featured a club sandwich in various forms.

The Good Housekeeping recipe is not a double-decker sandwich, which is a traditional way of serving it today. Instead it merely calls for two toasted slices of bread, thin slices of turkey or chicken, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise. It’s unclear when the two slices of bread became three, or even four or five in some versions. Some call this a flagrant disregard for the original club sandwich, and others love the crispy middle piece of toast that adds extra mayo and separates the bacon and turkey layers.

Today’s club comes in a lot of variations. Though the double-decker is still a classic way to put ingredients together, there are differing opinions on what those ingredients should be. Some believe in adding more meat to the club, offering turkey, ham and bacon. Others make their clubs out of turkey and ham and omit the bacon. There are club versions with cheese, made with un-sliced half chicken breasts that have been grilled, and many other incarnations.

It is difficult to find consensus about what condiments are best to use. The club sandwich purist may insist in having mayonnaise only, while others want mustard too. Just about the only thing you’re likely to find on all clubs is lettuce and tomato, but from that point forward, expect lots of differences.

When club sandwich fans have agreed on what to put on their sandwich and how many pieces of toast to use, the next big question is how this dish should be served. A traditional offering, especially when at least three pieces of bread are used, is to cut the sandwich diagonally into fourths, and hold each piece together with a toothpick. Restaurants may offer choices on side dishes. French fries are a typical accompaniment, but some people feel that the four sections should surround potato salad. Chips are another choice for some.

However you slice it, serve it, or vary it, the club sandwich is steeped in lore, and remains a classic offering in most diners and lunch restaurants. It’s popular in the UK too, where you’ll find even more ideas on how to make one.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a DelightedCooking contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By whiteplane — On Jun 26, 2012

I like to make club sandwiches with roast beef. I know that must sound like heresy to some people but it makes sense to me and it is delicious. It is almost like a burger. Beef, bacon, lettuce, bread. Who wouldn't like that?

Have you ever tried cheese on your club sandwich? Sometimes I like to put a thick slice of sharp cheddar or pepper jack in.

By Ivan83 — On Jun 25, 2012

Its funny that the club sandwich has basically become the standard sandwich. Think about it, turkey or chicken or ham on bread with mayo, bacon, lettuce and tomato. Doesn'nt that sound like a lot of sandwiches. I suppose that the club is distinct for being double decker but that seems to be a dying feature. I got a grilled chicken club sandwich recently and it was basically like a sandwich from McDonald's. The cub has conquered the sandwich world.

By chivebasil — On Jun 24, 2012

I love a good turkey club sandwich but they are so common and all of them are the same. I feel like I have eaten 300 of them in my life and they are all exactly alike. I am looking for ways to take the basic idea of the sandwich and make it more interesting. I am all for adding or subtracting ingredients and adopting flavors from around the world. Basically, I am looking for something new.

Are there any cooks or sandwich lovers out there that have made inventive club sandwiches? Maybe you have had one in a restaurant that always stuck in your mind. I am a decent cook but not very imaginative when it comes to breaking our of the mold so any suggestions you guys could give me would be a big help.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a DelightedCooking contributor, Tricia...
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