Baked Ham & Cheese Bunwiches

By Ann Fulton

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The classic ham sandwich is redefined with two kinds of cheese, a flavorful spread, and a quick trip to the oven. These toasty bunwiches are easy to make ahead and as well suited to casual entertaining as they are to a quick weeknight meal with a side of soup!

The classic ham sandwich is redefined with two kinds of cheese, a flavorful spread, and a quick trip to the oven. Toasty bunwiches are easy to make ahead and party perfect!

 

Over the course of two decades and three houses, these toasty sandwiches appeared at many of our game day parties and casual get-togethers. But somehow, somewhere along the way, they fell off my radar, only to be rediscovered last year.

With entertaining taking a backseat over the past 18 months or so, I reintroduced the make-ahead sandwiches, which were originally inspired by an old Junior League cookbook, as a much-enjoyed dinner. Served with a bowl of soup or side salad, they offer a satisfying supper and feel a little special when served for lunch. 

Conveniently, the recipe comes together quickly and scales up easily, making it ideal when cooking for a crowd or sharing a meal with a friend in need. The bunwiches freeze well, too, so they come in handy when kids need a speedy meal or hearty snack and when making a simple dinner for one or two. 

So what makes these sandwiches more exciting than an ordinary toasted ham and cheese sandwich, you may ask?

For starters, a buttery, Dijon-spiked spread infuses the bread, upon which two kinds of cheese create layers of flavor around the salty ham. After filling the rolls, the sandwiches are wrapped in foil and baked to crusty, melty perfection.

My favorite part is how the savory spread permeates the soft interior of the roll, creating a welcome counterpoint to the crusty exterior.  

Emily and Donovan recently commented that the tasty sandwiches are reminiscent of a Cuban sandwich, which contains pickles. That led me to the discovery that my 7-day pickles are a delightful addition.

Of course, if dill chips or horseradish-infused pickles are more your style, feel free to add those. To maintain their cool, crisp appeal, tuck the pickles, if using, into the sandwich after baking. 

The next time I make these, I might add a spoonful of horseradish to the spread.

A few more things: 

A note to those who avoid Swiss cheese: resist the urge to substitute. My 7- and 10-year-old nieces gobbled up these sandwiches recently, and the younger of the two marveled at how much she liked them because, as she said, “I really do not like Swiss cheese!” My younger son would tell you the same.

While I use sandwich rolls that are roughly the size of standard hamburger buns, you could make any size sandwich, from hoagie to slider. Simply swipe a nice layer of the spread over each side of the roll, top with cheese, ham, and the other type of cheese, and bake until hot throughout.

Feel free to double the spread recipe and store it in the refrigerator for several weeks for easy bunwiches at the ready. For easier spreading, soften to room temperature before using. 

When serving for a party or casual get-together, I keep the baked sandwiches in the foil wrapping and place them in a basket or bowl, where people may help themselves as they please. They make a satisfying dinner with a pot of soup or a veggie tray with hummus or another dip of choice.

We also like them as a filling addition to a game day charcuterie board (coming soon!).

Cooking for a gluten-free diner?

Gluten-free rolls are fair game. When making one or two gluten-free sandwiches as a part of a bigger batch of traditional rolls, I like to mark the foil of the GF bunwiches with a Sharpie as soon as I wrap them. That way, there’s no confusion. 

 

The assembly is easy:

The classic ham sandwich is redefined with two kinds of cheese, a flavorful spread, and a quick trip to the oven. Make-ahead & party perfect!

The buttery, mustardy spread goes on the rolls first. You may use your favorite ham, chipped or sliced. I typically choose a smoked variety.

The classic ham sandwich is redefined with two kinds of cheese, a flavorful spread, and a quick trip to the oven. These toasty bunwiches are easy to make-ahead and as well suited to casual entertaining as they are to a quick weeknight meal with a side of soup!

Two kinds of cheese lend extra flavor. One goes under the ham, the other on top. To keep the cheese from melting out of the sandwiches, I break the edges and tuck them inside. 

The classic ham sandwich is redefined with two kinds of cheese, a flavorful spread, and a quick trip to the oven. These toasty bunwiches are easy to make ahead and as well suited to casual entertaining as they are to a quick weeknight meal with a side of soup!

Served with soup or salad, the toasty sandwiches make a delightful meal. They’re also great for a casual buffet, in which case I place the warm, foil-wrapped sandwiches in a basket or serving bowl. If one or more gluten-free rolls are needed, simply write on the foil with a Sharpie when wrapping. 

Convenient advance prep makes these crowd-pleasing sandwiches ideal for entertaining.

Baked Ham & Cheese Bunwiches
Yield: 8 sandwiches (easy to scale recipe up or down)
The classic ham sandwich is redefined with two kinds of cheese, a flavorful spread, and a quick trip to the oven. Toasty bunwiches are easy to make-ahead and party perfect!

If using a smaller sandwich roll, you could stretch the ingredients to get 10 sandwiches. Similarly, you could make sliders, adjusting the ingredients accordingly and baking for 10-15 minutes, depending on precise size.

Pickle lovers may enjoy adding a few slices to the sandwiches after baking.
Ingredients
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • ¼ cup (60g) Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup minced onion (I use yellow)
  • 2 teaspoons poppy seeds
  • 8 slices ham (or a little over a ½ pound of chipped ham)
  • 8 slices Swiss cheese
  • 8 slices Muenster cheese
  • 8 round sandwich rolls, split (brioche, sesame-topped, or whatever you prefer)
  • Fresh black pepper to taste
Instructions

In a small bowl, stir together the butter, mustard, onion, and poppy seeds until fully incorporated. Spread a layer of the Dijon mixture evenly over both sides of the buns.

Place a slice of one of the cheeses (either the Swiss or the Muenster) on the bottom half of each bun. Top with the ham. Sprinkle with black pepper, and then top with a slice of the other cheese. (Tip: I break the cheese so that the edges aren’t hanging over the edge of the roll, tucking the broken pieces inside so the cheese doesn’t melt out when baked.)

Wrap each sandwich individually with a sheet of aluminum foil. At this point, the sandwiches may be refrigerated or frozen in a plastic bag (see recipe notes for details).

When ready to eat, preheat the oven to 350℉. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the sandwiches are hot throughout.

Notes

Advance prep options: You may prepare the spread up to a few days in advance and then cover and refrigerate. Soften at room temperature before spreading on the rolls. The sandwiches may also be fully prepared one day in advance. Make sure they are well wrapped and then refrigerate until ready to bake. The unbaked sandwiches may also be frozen for longer storage. For best results, thaw before baking.

To freeze: Wrap the sandwiches but do not bake. Place in a zip-top bag or airtight container and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw and bake in the foil as directed. (I have baked from frozen, adding 5-10 minutes to the cooking time, although the bread has the potential to dry out before the center is heated through.)

The Fountain Avenue Kitchen https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/

 

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