Medianoche Sandwich: All About the Favorite Cuban Midnight Snack

The medianoche sandwich takes us directly to those late-night cravings, icons of Cuban comfort food and Havana’s lively nightlife. 

If you want to up your late night snack game while trying flavors and traditions from other cultures, this is the blog (and the sandwich) for you. 

The medianoche is a beloved staple in Cuban cuisine, cherished by both Cubans and Cuban Americans. Traditionally, it is enjoyed at midnight, hence the name “medianoche”, which means “midnight” in Spanish. 

The combination of roast pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard, all cooked in a panini press, makes for a truly luxurious comfort food experience. It is, without a doubt, the best and most indulgent of Cuban food. 

The medianoche, now a favorite of Cuban American cuisine, it’s the cuz of the famous Cuban sandwich, both originally consumed in the clubs of Havana. 

The only difference with the typical Cuban sandwich lies in the type of bread, since both share the same ingredients (was too explosive a combination to use just once). 

In the case of the midnight sandwich, which is a little smaller than the other one, it is prepared with a brioche, which is a yellow and slightly sweet bread. 

On the other hand, the cubano is prepared with the classic Cuban bread. Its texture is crunchier, a bit like a French baguette, but thicker and softer.

The medianoche sandwich, invented in the 1960s, owes its existence to Havana’s lively nightlife. This sandwich was known in the Cuban capital for being the favorite snack for those who went out dancing.

As its name indicates, it was served in the afternoon or late at night in bars and discotheques. Gourmet and hearty, it was the perfect snack to fill the hungriest stomachs after a long night of dancing and partying.

Being a variant of the Cuban sandwich, we can trace its origin to the early 19th century. It is said that, during this period, the Cuban sandwich was mainly consumed by cigar factory workers around Havana.

During the wave of immigration that followed the Cuban revolution in the 1980s, the medianoche was imported to Florida. Gradually, immigrants popularized it in Key West, Tampa and Miami (especially in the Little Havana district) and over the years, it has become an emblem of Cuban street food.

Making a traditional medianoche sandwich at home is a delightful way to experience the flavors of Cuban food.

To begin, you will need brioche, the characteristic sweet, eggy bread. Slice the bread in half and layer it with roasted pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard. We recommend spreading a little bit of butter on the bread beforehand to increase its moistness. 

Once assembled, the sandwich is typically pressed for about 3 to 5 minutes using a panini press. The result is a sandwich that is crispy on the outside and super cheesy on the inside. That’s it, your medianoche –a.k.a., your new favorite late night snack– is served.  

In conclusion, the medianoche is more than a meal, it is a celebration of Cuban culture and cuisine.

Either way, with this Cuban treat you can deliver the flavor and traditions of Havana to your own table.

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