Quick and Easy Cuban Paninis

As the new week approaches I start thinking about our week of meals, as I’m sure some of you do too.  I don’t typically plan well, often having to make 2 or 3 trips to the grocery store between Sunday and Friday.  If I want to make one trip on Sunday or Monday it helps me to plan out our meals and how I’m going to use leftovers.

Every couple of weeks I make a pork tenderloin (99% of the time it’s the pre-marinated kind from HEB, the Italian herb flavor) and we eat it with rice or potatoes and vegetables or salad.  It’s a really simple dinner and one that doesn’t involve a whole lot of work.  But since there are only 2 of us eating we always have leftovers.  While slicing the extra pork and piling it onto a salad is a great and delicious way to use it, sometimes I want something hot and melty, especially when it’s cold out.  That’s where these super easy Cuban panini sandwiches come in. cubanpanini2 Cuban sandwiches typically contain pork, ham, swiss cheese, mustard and dill pickles.  And that, along with some bread, is all you need for these paninis.  I used ciabatta rolls, but French bread is probably closer to true Cuban bread.  I love the flavor combinations in this sandwich and especially love the pickles.  They’re so wonderful warm, and the pickle juice gets down into the whole sandwich.  I do like pickles.  cubanpanini1 If it’s been a long day this is a super fast dinner and you don’t have to do any cooking if you’re using leftover pork.  Sometimes I make a salad to round out the meal, and sometimes I just put a bag of chips on the table, eat a few baby carrots, count pickles as vegetables and call it good.  Use a panini press if you have one.  If not, just treat this like a grilled cheese.  Press the sandwich down firmly with another pan while it’s cooking to press everything together.

The recipe below is for 2 sandwiches.  Just double or triple the ingredients to make the number you need.  I did not measure the amount of pork I used, but it was close to 1/4 of a whole tenderloin, about 4 thin slices per sandwich.  I opted for the higher amount of cheese and pickles in my sandwiches.  I also mixed up both yellow and dijon mustard, in equal parts, to spread on the bread.  Use what you like.  I do suggest cheese on both sides of the sandwich to keep things together.  Do you have any quick and easy dinners or delicious ways to transform your leftovers?

Cuban Paninis

Makes 2 sandwiches


  • 2 ciabatta rolls, other sandwich sized rolls or sliced french bread
  • pork, roasted and sliced, about 4 slices per sandwich
  • 2-4 slices of swiss cheese
  • 2-4 slices of ham
  • 4-6 dill pickle slices
  • mustard (regular yellow, dijon, or a half and half mix)
  • olive oil


  1. Heat panini press or large skillet over medium heat (or medium low if your burners run hot like mine).
  2. Spread some mustard on either one or both sides of the roll.
  3. On the bottom slice of bread layer 1 slice of cheese, a few slices of pork, 1-2 slices of ham, your desired number of pickles, a little more cheese and top with the other piece of bread.
  4. Brush or drizzle a little olive oil on both sides of the bread then place on the panini press or in the skillet.
  5. Press down firmly with the press or with a heavy skillet.  You’ll need to flip the sandwich if you’re doing it in a skillet, after 3 minutes or so depending on how hot your pan is, and repeat on the other side.  The panini press should let you know either by beeping or changing light from red to green, that it’s done.  Sometimes I let mine cook a little longer.  What you want is for the ingredients to be warmed, the cheese melted and the bread to be golden brown.  Slice sandwiches in half and serve.