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3 Classic French Baguette Sandwiches

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Say bonjour to better lunch.

There is nothing like a classic French baguette sandwich. The combination of crusty artisan bread and flavorful fillings makes for a wonderful meal that’s almost like being in Paris. Here are 3 French baguette sandwich recipes.

3 baguette sandwiches jambon beurre goat cheese pan bagnant on paper mat

Why We Love a French Baguette Sandwich

France may be known as the cradle of haute cuisine, but nothing says good French food like classic French baguette sandwiches. These are the simple baguette sandwiches sold in boulangeries, food stands, and cafés throughout France, each wrapped snugly in brown paper — pointy bread ends peeking out — stacked high for customers to grab and go.

In a perfect world, I would enjoy these baguette sandwiches on a sunny bench in the Jardin de Luxembourg, or perhaps while strolling along the Seine, sandwich in one hand and book in the other. (In both of these scenarios, an accordion would be playing “La Vie en Rose” in the distance, and I would look like Audrey Hepburn.)

Alas. Sometimes the best we can do for now is bring a little bit of France to us. And there is no better, or easier, way to do that than with a simple, honest French baguette sandwich.

ingredients for classic baguette sandwiches

Here are three of the most classic French baguette sandwiches, and how to make them.
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3 Classic French Baguette Sandwiches: Basic Principles

The French are snobs about quality, so you should be, too.

As a general rule, the fewer ingredients a recipe has, the better those ingredients need to be. So seek out the best, most crusty baguette you can find, good salted grass-fed or cultured butter, and the best-quality ingredients for the fillings. (A good tip: If your baguette has lost some of its crustiness and gone a little stale or soft, you can easily refresh it in the oven.)

Each of these recipes makes enough to fill one whole baguette, which can then be cut into several French sandwiches.

jambon beurre french baguette sandwich on wooden board

Baguette Sandwich Recipe #1: Jambon Beurre

The most quintessential and ubiquitous sandwich of all, this is the classic ham sandwich on a generously-buttered baguette, sometimes accompanied with triangular slices of Emmental or Gruyère cheese.

To make this sandwich:

  1. Generously spread the baguette with best-quality softened butter.
  2. Then, add layer slices of French-style ham.
  3. If you’d like, add thin triangle slices of Emmental or Gruyère cheese.

What is French-style ham? Use any simple, plain ham, preferably uncured. To be authentic, avoid black forest, no maple glazed, no smoked, no tavern, no pepper.

A butter non-sequitur: The best butter in the world, hands-down, is salted Beurre de Bordier, made using old-world techniques from grass-fed Normandy cows and large-flake French sea salt. As far as I know, you cannot buy it outside of France. But consider this as an F.Y.I. for the next time you go there. (I’m not telling you to wrap it tightly in plastic and smuggle it home, of course. But I’m not not telling you do do that, either.)

If you’re adding cheese, buy a block of Emmental or Gruyère and slice it into thin slices, then cut into triangles. Try to avoid deli Swiss slices.

goat cheese tomato baguette sandwich

French Baguette Sandwich #2: Chèvre Tomate Avec Herbes de Provence

I frequently encountered this sandwich in the South of France, often in panini form, and absolutely love it. This is simply a tomato goat cheese sandwich sprinkled with olive oil, dried French herbs, and maybe some arugula.

The key here is to use the right goat cheese. For the most authentic version, choose a bloomy rind goat cheese like Bucheron or Bucherondin. These have a more assertive, nutty flavor than fresh goat cheese, which holds up to the mild bread and tomato’s sweetness. A slice of ham or two is not amiss.

You can also substitute slices of fresh mozzarella, if you do not care for goat cheese.

ingredients for pan bagnant tuna egg vegetables dijon greens

Baguette Sandwich Recipe #3: Pan Bagnat

The pan bagnant sandwich recipe requires a little more effort, but it 100 percent worth it. Think of pan bagnat as Niçoise salad in sandwich form.

“Pan bagnat” means “bathed bread,” an accurate name called because the baguette soaks up olive oil and moisture from the filling until the entire thing becomes one delicious — and impressive — baguette sandwich of  marinated tuna, anchovies, vegetables, sliced hard-boiled egg, and black olives, all dressed with a light vinaigrette.

You’ll also like: How to Make Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs and How to Refresh Stale Bread

Pan bagnat is a make-ahead sandwich. It will still be fine fresh, but you’ll get maximum effect from letting the sandwich sit for two to 24 hours in the fridge. You want this to be room-temperature to serve, though. Plus, the baguette could lose its crustiness overnight in the fridge.

I have found that very lightly brushing the bread with water and warming the whole thing in a 200-degree Fahrenheit oven until room temperature is the best, and most food-safe, way to go.

Finally, don’t worry about the exact ingredients for pan bagnat. Play around with whatever vegetables you have on hand. Even the tuna is not necessary. The main idea is a Mediterranean-style sandwich with juicy baguette and lots of flavor.

3 Classic French Baguette Sandwiches - UnpeeledJournal

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3 baguette sandwiches jambon beurre goat cheese pan bagnant on paper mat lunch ideas

3 Classic French Baguette Sandwiches

Bring a little "oh la la" to lunch with these easy, essential recipes for classic French sandwiches on a baguette.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time0 minutes
Course: lunch
Cuisine: French
Keywords:: baguette, baguette sandwich, French, French sandwich, lunch, no-cook, pan bagnat, sandwich, tuna
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Ingredients

Jambon Beurre (Ham and Butter)

  • 1 fresh, crusty baguette
  • 3 tablespoons best-quality softened butter (salted cultured butter or grass fed would be good options)
  • 1/2 pound French-style ham, sliced
  • 1/2 pound Emmental or Gruyère cheese, sliced by hand into thin triangles

Chèvre Tomate (Tomato and Goat Cheese)

  • 1 fresh, crusty baguette
  • 1 or 2 ripe tomatoes, sliced
  • 1/3 pound bloomy rind goat cheese, such as Bucheron
  • 1/3 pound French-style ham, optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon herbes de Provence
  • 1 small handful of fresh arugula, optional
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, optional

Pan Bagnat: For the Vinaigrette

  • 1 tablespoons minced parsley
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (just eyeball it)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 12 turns fresh black pepper
  • 2 anchovies
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot (about 1/2 of one shallot clove)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Pan Bagnat: For the Sandwich

  • 1 fresh, crusty baguette
  • 1 6.7 ounce jar of Italian oil-packed tuna, drained
  • 1/2 bell pepper, red or green, sliced very thin
  • 1 small handful raw haricots verts or green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces.
  • 1 large handful arugula (about 1 ounce)
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and sliced
  • 10 to 12 pitted black olives, preferably Niçoise, chopped
  • 1 tomato, sliced

Instructions

For the Jambon Beurre

  • Slice the baguette in half lengthwise, almost all the way through, and open.
  • Slather both sides with the butter. Layer with the ham and cheese. Close, press, and divide into two or three sandwiches.

For the Tomato Goat Cheese

  • Slice the baguette in half lengthwise, almost all the way through, and open. Drizzle the top and bottom baguette halves with olive oil.
  • Slice the tomato slices in half, so they are in half moons. Slice the goat cheese into thin rounds, then slice them in half into half moons.
  • If using, layer arugula, then ham onto the bottom of the sandwich. Then add alternating slices of tomato and goat cheese along the length of the sandwich.
  • Sprinkle with herbes de Provence. Close the baguette, press, and divide into halves or thirds.

For the Pan Bagnat

  • Make the Vinaigrette: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the parsley, vinegar, Dijon, salt, pepper, anchovies, shallot, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Whisk until emulsified.
  • Slice the baguette in half lengthwise, almost all the way through, and open. Drizzle the top and bottom baguette halves with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  • To the vinaigrette, add the tuna, bell pepper, haricots verts, and arugula. Stir to mix well. The tuna will break apart somewhat.
  • Spread the tuna mixture along the bottom half of the baguette. Layer the sliced hard-boiled egg and olives atop the tuna mixture.
  • Sprinkle with herbes de Provence. Close the baguette, press hard, and let rest for 2 to 24 hours, preferably weighted down.
    Tip: Suggestions for weighing down the pan bagnat: the bottom of a cast-iron skillet, or sheet pan with heavy cookbooks on it. Slice into halves or thirds, and serve.
    Note: If the sandwich will rest for more than two hours, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Before serving, allow to return to near room temperature.

15 comments

  • Steven Starr

    4 stars
    1. French-style ham is, in fact, cured in a brine, much like any other ham. This is because the process of curing in a brine is what distinguishes ham from being merely a chunk of pork.

    2. Emmental and Baby Swiss are exactly the same thing.

    3. You can make a butter similar to salted Beurre de Bordier by using heavy whipping cream and kosher flaked salt. Place the heavy whipping cream and your desired quantity of kosher flaked sea salt in a canning jar with a lid, and shake it until the butter separates from the milk. Alternatively, you can achieve this using a stand mixer.

  • Maureen Brunn

    Could your method to refresh baguette after being in they fridge overnight .thern refreshing in the oven have an adverse affect on the filling? How long would you recommend leaving it in the oven.?
    Cheers,
    Maureen

    • Unpeeled

      Hi, Maureen! Reheating/refreshing the bread this way will also heat the sandwich filling a bit. This might not be the worst thing in the world, though! Your call. I always refresh a baguette at 325 degrees F for about 10-25 minutes.

  • Janie Watchutka

    5 stars
    I made the jambon beurre after returning home from a trip to france and this took me right back. Thank you/merci!

  • The quignon (the heal of the bread) is the only socially appropriate food to eat in public in France. Whoever was playing La Vie en Rose would have stopped to snicker to his neighboring busker at the rude American walking while eating.

    Nice sandwich ideas though. Would be good to impart good habits into the reader so they don’t embarrass themselves abroad.

    • Unpeeled

      You are RIGHT about that!! I remember learning during one of my study abroad stints in France that it is rude to eat while walking (with the exceptions of the heel of the baguette, and ice cream cones). But in my Parisian dreams, it’s allowed 🙂

  • Francis Zanger

    5 stars
    I prefer the jambon et fromage version of the jambon beurre sandwich, available at the same little bars/cafés, with either a glass of the local wine or a (admittedly not all that good) French beer.

    For the hot version, I like the Portuguese tosta mista even better than the croque monsieur— and for the fancier version, a Portuguese “Francesinha”,, with Flamengo cheese from the Azorrs, ham, sausage, and roast beef, with a beet-based sauce that includes brandy, butter, chicken stock, and I don’t know what all else— it sounds too busy, but the flavours really work together..

    • Unpeeled

      That all sounds delicious! I also like a jambon fromage and can picture it right now with the little pointy triangles of Comté sticking out! Good call. I have to look into the tosta mista because it sounds absolutely amazing.

    • Ouch! That should be beer-based, not beet based. Sorry!

  • Alana Dean

    5 stars
    pan bagnant is outstanding. worth the effort.

  • 5 stars
    one vote for the goat cheese and tomato sandwich! Excellent flavors. Everything is better on a baguette 🙂

  • Isabella

    5 stars
    Jambon Beurre is now my new favorite sandwich. Definitely an upgrade from old-fashioned American ham and cheese, but just as easy to make. The pan bagnant is up next.

  • ines a.

    one more vote for jambon beurre 🙂 I use salted cultured butter, always.

  • 5 stars
    I made the pan bagnant and let it rest for 2 hours and thought it was perfect. It was a little bit of effort for a sandwich, but tasted delicious. This would be a good thing to cut into smaller pieces and serve on a tray in a group. I look forward to trying the other sandwiches as well..

4.82 from 11 votes (3 ratings without comment)

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