This muffaletta recipe is the ultimate sandwich from New Orleans, piled high with Italian meats, cheese, and a homemade spicy olive salad. Feeds a crowd!
Muffaletta Sandwich Recipe
We're making a big Muffaletta Sandwich in the Chili Pepper Madness kitchen today, my friends. Have you ever had a muffaletta? What a great sandwich!
I encountered my very first muffaletta on a foodie tour of New Orleans, where we were served a thick slice of the traditional version. Talk about delicious...and filling. New Orleans muffalettas have no equal. It is the ultimate classic New Orleans sandwich.
The muffaletta is layered with Italian cold cuts, including capicola, mortadalla and salami, lots of provolone cheese and a flavor powerhouse olive salad or spread that stands up to all that meat. It's all spread over round Italian bread, and meant to serve a small group.
I sometimes see it mistakenly spelled "muffuletta sandwich". The sandwich was reportedly invented by Sicilian immigrant Salvatore Lupo at the Central Grocery Co in New Orleans in 1906 and has clearly stood the test of time, a true tribute to its flavorful impact.
I like to make this advance for parties or for us for long hike days. Great lunch! I think you're going to love this one, my friends.
Let's talk about how to make a muffaletta sandwich, shall we?
Muffaletta Sandwich Ingredients
- FOR THE OLIVE SALAD MIXTURE (Olive Tapenade)
- Green Olives.
- Giardiniera. Or use pickled peppers.
- Roasted Red Peppers.
- Olive Oil.
- Red Wine Vinegar.
- Dried Basil.
- Dried Oregano.
- Salt and Pepper.
- FOR THE MUFFALETTA SANDWICH
- The Bread. 1 10-inch loaf of round Italian bread. Use Muffaletta bread if you can obtain it, though it is super rare outside of New Orleans. Italian bread is great.
- The Meats. I use thinly sliced capicola, mortadella and salami. Genoa salami is good. Deli ham is a common addition.
- Cheese. I use provolone cheese. Smoked mozzarella is a nice addition, too.
How to Make a Muffaletta - the Recipe Method
Make the Olive Salad (Tapenade or Spread). Mix together the olives, giardiniera, roasted red peppers, shallot, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, basil and oregano in large bowl. Season to taste with extra oil, salt and pepper.
ASSEMBLE THE MUFFALETTA
Prep the Bread. Slice the loaf of bread in half lengthwise and scoop out part of the interior to make room for the olive salad. Save the scooped out bread for another use if you’d like. Lay the bread slices down with the insides facing up.
Olive Spread. Spread the olive tapenade mixture evenly over the bread slices.
Layer it Up. Layer the bottom half of the bread with layers of meat - capicola, mortadella, salami and provolone cheese. Top with the other half of bread.
Let is Rest. Wrap the entire muffaletta sandwich with plastic wrap and set a cast iron pan or other weight over the top of the sandwich to lightly press it down.
This will let the tapenade juices soak into both sides of the bread and build a lot of flavor.
Set aside for at least 1 hour. Overnight to soak into the bread is even better for more developed flavor.
Unwrap and Serve. Unwrap the sandwich, slice it into 8 triangular pieces and serve it at room temperature, or into 4 large slices for very hungry people.
Boom! Done! Time to enjoy your awesome muffaletta sandwich! How are you slicing yours? Are you serving it to a small group? Appetizer platter? Maybe just for yourself!
Recipe Tips & Notes
- Muffaletta Bread. I can't find muffaletta bread sold anywhere outside of New Orleans, so I buy a large round loaf of Italian bread. It is traditionally made on round bread, though you an use others, such as focaccia or a sub roll. Any bread will do, but I suggest using thicker, denser bread to stand up to the olive spread.
- The Meats. Salami, mortadella and capicola are often used, though you can also use deli ham.
- The Cheeses. Provolone is very common, though Swiss and mozzarella are also used. Try smoked mozarella. Yum.
- Homemade Olive Salad. The olive tapenade is typically made with chopped olives mixed with chopped Italian style giardiniera ingredients (carrots, cauliflower, celery, peppers), though you can use other pickled vegetables and peppers with olive oil and Italian seasonings.
Storage and Leftovers
Leftover muffaletta will last 3-4 days in the refrigerator, wrapped in plastic or in a sealed container. It's great enjoyed cold, or taken out and served again at room temperature.
I do not recommend freezing the leftovers.
That's it, my friends. I hope you enjoy your muffaletta sandwich. Let me know if you make it. I'd love to hear how it turned out for you. I love this recipe.
Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.
FOR THE OLIVE TAPENADE MIXTURE
- 1 cup green olives chopped
- 1 cup giardiniera chopped (or use pickled peppers)
- ½ cup roasted red peppers chopped
- 1 shallot minced
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
FOR THE MUFFALETTA SANDWICH
- 1 10- inch loaf of round Italian bread use Muffaletta bread if you can obtain it, but Italian is great
- ½ pound sliced capicola or use deli ham, or both!
- ½ pound sliced mortadella
- ½ pound sliced salami
- ½ pound sliced provolone cheese
FOR THE OLIVE SALAD / TAPENADE
- Mix together the olives, giardiniera, roasted red peppers, shallot, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, basil and oregano in large bowl.
ASSEMBLE THE MUFFALETTA
- Slice the loaf of bread in half lengthwise and scoop out part of the interior to make room for the olive-pepper salad. Save the scooped out bread for another use if you’d like.
- Lay the bread slices down with the insides facing up.
- Spread the olive tapenade mixture evenly over the bread slices.
- Layer the bottom slice with capicola, mortadella, salami and provolone cheese.
- Top with the other half of bread.
- Wrap the entire muffaletta sandwich with plastic wrap and set a pan or other weight over the top of the sandwich to lightly press it down. This will let the bread soak up some of the tapenade juices and build a lot of flavor. Set aside for 1 hour.
- Unwrap the sandwich, slice it into 8 triangular pieces and serve.