14 Ways To Upgrade Your Bologna Sandwich

There are gourmet sandwiches. There are everyday sandwiches. And then there are bologna sandwiches, dishes so pedestrian that they can be easily overlooked. Bologna doesn't have the succulent allure of smoked ham or the healthy incentives of turkey. It doesn't have the powerful flavor of pastrami or the indulgence factor of brisket. In fact, some people might not even be clear what bologna is. Broadly speaking, it's a type of processed meat typically made with beef, turkey, pork, or chicken, that has been packed into a casing like a sausage and cooked or smoked with various spices. In other words, it's a meat product rather than a type of meat, so it makes sense that its precise definition can be hard to pin down. All this vagueness can make bologna sandwiches sound unexciting, but that's where we can help.

Bologna has been around for a while, which also may lend to its uninspiring reputation. It made its way to America thanks to European immigration — though whether it was German immigrants or Italian is disputed. Its popularity soared during the Great Depression due to its affordability, and once it landed in American sandwiches, its fate was sealed. They may not have the sophistication of a croque madame or the intense flavor of a Reuben sandwich, but there's a reason bologna sandwiches have endured all these years, and there are plenty of ways to upgrade them so they will rival even the most gourmet options.

1. Fry the bologna

If you don't have any unusual condiments in your fridge, don't worry — you can upgrade your bologna sandwich without using any special ingredients. All you have to do is fry the meat. This simple step will make the cold, springy lunch meat warm, crispy — and just the right amount of greasy — thanks to the melting of the fat. As a result, this run-of-the-mill deli meat lunch is transformed into something akin to a crispy bacon sandwich worthy of a restaurant.

Before cooking the bologna, make several half-inch cuts around the edges or an "x" in the center of each piece. This prevents each piece from curling into a bowl shape as they heat, leading to uneven cooking. Sauté the meat over medium-high heat for about two minutes on each side until it's browned and crispy on the edges. If you want the whole sandwich to be warm and toasty, fry the bread in the same skillet and top the bologna with pieces of cheese while it's still hot.

2. Use toasted garlic bread

Our gourmet fried bologna sandwich recipe takes things to the next level. Not only is the meat sautéed until it's crispy and caramelized, but the bread is given a flavorful makeover that upgrades the entire sandwich. The whole recipe only takes eight minutes, which has to make it one of the most efficient gourmet sandwich options out there.

To start, mix butter and garlic salt until they are fully incorporated, and spread a generous amount onto each half of the bread. Our recipe calls for ciabatta — which is thick, crusty, and absorbs the melted butter without getting soggy — but if you don't have any on hand, you can try regular sandwich bread. Place the bread cut sides down into a hot skillet and toast it until it is crispy and browned. Then, fry the bologna in the same skillet, allowing it to absorb some of the garlic butter flavor. Assemble the sandwiches with your favorite toppings. Our recipe includes mayo, Dijon mustard, lettuce, onion, and sharp cheddar. You can also add pickles for a crunchy, tangy edge.

3. Try your hand at Snoop Dogg's version

If you've ever watched Snoop Dogg cook alongside Martha Stewart in the Emmy-nominated show "Martha & Snoop's Potluck Dinner Party," you'll know that the rapping legend is serious about his culinary pursuits. In 2018, he released a cookbook called "From Crook to Cook: Platinum Recipes from Tha Boss Dogg's Kitchen," which features 50 recipes including brownies, a birthday cake, and, of course, gin and juice. One of the standout recipes is for a fried bologna sandwich, and it's so delicious you'll want to put it on permanent lunchtime rotation.

The recipe calls for three slices of bologna, three slices of American cheese, white bread, mustard, and barbecue potato chips. Start by toasting the bread in a buttered skillet, then cook the bologna until crispy. Top each slice of meat with a slice of cheese and spread mustard on the bread. The most ingenious addition comes at the end; when you assemble the sandwich, add a layer of barbecue potato chips. The results are crunchy, salty, and bursting with barbecue flavor.

4. Make bologna salad

Bologna salad supposedly arose as a more affordable option than ham salad, but as far as we're concerned, it's worth making even if you do have ham in the fridge. Made with bologna, hard-boiled eggs, celery, onions, sweet pickle relish, mayonnaise, and mustard, it's creamy and flavorful.

To make it, you need to chop the ingredients into a smooth consistency, like tuna salad. A food processor is best, but you can do it by hand if necessary. Pulse the bologna, hard-boiled eggs, celery, and onions in a food processor until they reach the desired consistency. Then, mix in the mayonnaise, mustard, and relish by hand. This preparation of bologna is extremely versatile. Ditch sandwich bread and serve it on crackers, or grab a few carrot sticks and use it like a dip. You can also play around with additional ingredients. Swap the sweet relish for dill pickle relish, or throw in a handful of walnuts for a crunchy texture and buttery flavor.

5. Turn it into a breakfast sandwich

Fried bologna is strikingly similar in flavor and texture to Canadian bacon, so it should come as no surprise that it makes a delicious breakfast sandwich. It also happens to be much more affordable than most types of bacon, so you won't even have to feel like you're splurging to enjoy your favorite breakfast food.

There are as many ways to make a breakfast sandwich as there are ways to make a lunchtime sandwich. For a classic meat, egg, and cheese option, start by toasting your bread of choice in a buttered skillet. Sandwich bread is a good standby, but an English muffin or croissant will provide delicious twists on the usual formula. Once the bread is toasted, sauté the bologna until it's browned and crispy. Fry an egg, top the bologna with your favorite type of cheese, and assemble the sandwich.

If you want something new, there are many ways to give your breakfast sandwich an upgrade. Add kimchi. Use waffles as bread. Throw in some hash browns. Whatever you choose, the fried bologna will carry the day. And remember: don't skimp on cheese.

6. Make a BLT

What do you call a sandwich made with bologna, lettuce, and tomatoes? A BLT of course. And yes, we know what you're thinking, bologna is no stand-in for bacon, but once you've tried this recipe, you might think differently. Once you've fried up the sandwich meat, it can, in fact, rival bacon for crispness and saltiness, and if you have top-quality lettuce and tomatoes to bring to the table as well, you'd struggle to find a more delicious version, bacon or otherwise.

BLTs are one of the few recipes that have the ingredients list built into the title. It's not rocket science, but there are some tips and tricks for building a better BLT that will really pay off. For starters, don't try to make it too fancy. As soon as you start messing with the formula, it becomes something else, and there's a reason there are still only three letters in the acronym. Frying the bread instead of toasting it is also a must, because it will make it crispy and buttery without any hint of sogginess. Instead of frying it in oil or butter, now is the time to try mayonnaise. Believe it or not, the silky spread has enough oil to do the job, and the flavor speaks for itself. Last but not least, make sure to dry your lettuce and dab the tomato slices to remove excessive surface moisture. Both of these steps will keep the sandwich crispy.

7. Transform it into a muffuletta sandwich

Muffuletta sandwiches are a fixture of the New Orleans culinary scene. Made with olive salad, Italian deli meat, and cheese, they have a few hallmarks of a generic lunchtime sandwich, but as soon as you bite into them, the intricacy of the ingredients shines through, from the sesame seed bread to the medley of meats. Making a muffuletta sandwich takes time and will almost certainly require a special trip to the store, but the results are more than worth it.

Most muffuletta sandwich recipes call for mortadella. Since this particular deli meat is one of the direct ancestors of bologna, it's easy to swap them, though you should try to use a type of bologna that has plenty of flavor to compensate for the peppercorns, olives, and pistachios that mortadella has. Additionally, you'll need cured whole cuts of meat, such as prosciutto or speck, and cured sausages, such salami or pepperoni. For the olive spread, you'll need olives, garlic, and olive oil at minimum, though pickled vegetables like celery and cauliflower are also common. The bread is just as important. Traditionally, muffuletta sandwiches are made on large, circular, flat loaves covered in sesame seeds. These can be tricky to find outside New Orleans, so our recipe calls for an Italian loaf, which, though it doesn't have sesame seeds, provides the ideal balance between soft and crusty.

8. Add a hint of sweetness

One of the best ways to overhaul any savory recipe is to add an element of sweetness. Far from causing flavor dissonance, a hint of sugar deepens the complexity of a dish and highlights flavors that might otherwise be drowned out. It also works overtime as an equalizer, taking the edge off of saltiness, sourness, heat, and bitterness and creating flavor harmony. This is one of the reasons cranberry sauce and turkey taste so good together, and why salt and caramel are so often paired.

As a salty, savory meat, bologna is a prime candidate for a hint of sweetness. There are many ways to incorporate a sugary element into a sandwich, with jelly being the most obvious choice. Check your fridge door for a jar of raspberry or blueberry jelly and slather a teaspoon or two onto the bread before adding the meat. Another option is to use fresh fruit to put a sweet spin on the savory sandwich. Add thin slices of apple, or turn to a can of pineapple rings. When used sparingly, a scant amount of fruit in your sandwich will take the flavor to a whole new level.

9. Make a pizza-inspired panini

Considering that bologna is named after an Italian city, it feels appropriate to pair the meat with another Italian classic: pizza. Add a panini element to the mix and you've got an Italian trifecta. This recipe is ideal for anyone who loves pepperoni pizza but can't quite bring themselves to order a whole one for themselves. All you need is 20 minutes and a short list of ingredients, and you'll have a sandwich that tastes just like a delicious pizza and your favorite sandwich rolled into one.

To make it, you'll need sourdough bread, butter, garlic powder, provolone cheese, bologna, marinara sauce, and mozzarella cheese. Keep in mind that bologna is milder and softer in texture, so feel free to use an extra slice or two. Before assembling the sandwich, fry the meat to ensure it has a crispy texture. Then, spread butter on the bread, and top it with the provolone, bologna, marinara, and mozzarella. Cook the sandwich in the panini press for about five minutes on each side. Serve the sandwich immediately while it's hot and the cheese is still gooey.

10. Add kimchi and cheese

Grilled cheese is a comfort food that never goes out of style. At its most basic, it requires nothing more than bread, cheese, and heat. Adding butter to the bread makes it even crispier and more luxurious, while adding fillings can help balance out the creaminess of the cheese. One of the best additions is kimchi, a Korean condiment made with salted, fermented vegetables. Its tangy flavor cuts straight through the richness of the cheese, creating a contrast that immediately upgrades this staple of childhood snacking to a sophisticated grown-up lunch. While we're not going to argue that bologna adds to the sophistication, it does add another layer of flavor and substance that is equally delicious.

To make it, gather bread, butter, kimchi, bologna, American cheese, and Gruyere. You can use whichever type of cheese you prefer, of course, but American and Gruyere have the perfect gooey texture when melted. Fry the bologna until it's crispy and brown. Then, fry the bread alongside it (butter side down) and top each slice with cheese. Spoon kimchi over top, add the bologna, and close the sandwich. Once the cheese is gooey, remove the sandwich from the skillet and dive in.

11. Turn it into bologna Welsh rarebit

The age-old misconception about Welsh rarebit is that it's made with actual rabbits. In reality, it's a fully vegetarian dish that bears a strong resemblance to open-faced grilled cheese. Traditional Welsh rarebit is made by smothering thick pieces of crusty, toasted bread in a silky sauce made of butter, flour, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, beer, cream, and cheddar cheese. It's usually served as an accompaniment to soups and salads, but when you add a few pieces of fried bologna to the recipe, it can stand alone as a complete meal.

Make sure to use sturdy bread with a tight crumb, rather than soft bread or a loaf that has lots of holes in it (classic sourdough may not be the best option here). Since the sauce is runny, it will leak straight through any gaps and leave you with an unwanted puddle on your plate. When it comes to choosing beer, stout and porter are the best options, because they provide a strong flavor that isn't bitter. Since fried bologna is not a traditional addition to rarebit, there are no rules about when to put it onto the bread. However, for the sake of texture and cohesion, it's best to add it after the bread has been toasted, but before the sauce is poured on top. That way, if you're broiling the rarebit after the sauce is added, the bologna won't burn.

12. Add grilled vegetables

No matter what low-fat, high-protein credentials a package of bologna boasts, the fact is that you might want to think twice about eating processed meat in any form. The World Health Organization classifies processed meat – such as bologna, pepperoni, and hot dogs — as carcinogens, citing epidemiological studies showing that it can cause colorectal cancer. Added to this concern is the fact that bologna contains high levels of sodium and fat, which also contribute to poor health, particularly heart disease. With all of this in mind, it's a good idea to add nutrients wherever possible, and luckily, doing so with bologna sandwiches will also improve the flavor.

Our grilled vegetable sandwich recipe is chock-full of marinated veggies, including eggplant, zucchini, peppers, and arugula. Instead of looking for a bologna sandwich recipe, make this flavorful, nutrient-rich recipe instead and add bologna to it. To boost the grilled texture and taste of the veggies, fry the bologna first. The results will be meaty, flavor-packed, and satiating. You won't even notice that it's healthy.

13. Make it Monte Cristo style

Steeped in storytelling lore, the mighty Monte Cristo sandwich is a must-try for grilled cheese enthusiasts. Possibly named after Alexandre Dumas' classic 17th century novel "The Count of Monte Cristo," it rose to prominence in the late 1960s when it appeared on the menus of two Disneyland restaurants, the Blue Bayou (where it can still be ordered) and the Tahitian Terrace (which no longer exists). It's a cross between French toast and a grilled ham and cheese sandwich — and regardless of any alarm bells that description sets off — it somehow comes together in a mouthwatering harmony of flavors and textures. Although Monte Cristo sandwiches are usually made with ham, you can easily use bologna instead.

Start by slathering two pieces of bread with mayonnaise and mustard and layering on slices of bologna and shredded cheese. Close the sandwich, and dip both sides in a bowl of beaten eggs. Then pan fry the egg sandwich until it is crispy and fried on the outside and gooey and custardy on the inside. For a classic finish, dip them in jelly or add a dusting of powdered sugar.

14. Use spicy mayo

One of the best ways to upgrade a sandwich is to upgrade the condiments that go into it. Depending on what recipe you're following, mayonnaise is a good place to start. Known for its creamy, mild flavor, it's just begging to be livened up with other ingredients — and we have a few options to get you started. Once you can give your sandwich a powerful kick of flavor just with mayonnaise, you don't have to worry about doing anything fancy. Simply make a classic bologna sandwich using the zhuzhed up condiment and you've got a different recipe entirely.

The most famous version of flavored mayonnaise is aioli, the Mediterranean sauce mixing mayonnaise with garlic. It's simple, delicious, and intensely flavored, and will immediately add spark to your sandwich. Our roasted garlic aioli recipe adds another layer of flavor by roasting the garlic. An even quicker option is to simply add one ingredient to your mayo. Sriracha is the ideal hot sauce for spicy mayo, providing a tangy, only mildly spicy result.