pressed picnic sandwiches in front of picnic basket

How to Make Pressed Italian Picnic Sandwiches

Perfect picnic sandwiches, these Pressed Sandwiches are great for Summer eating, whether a BBQ or a picnic. Easy to make ahead and they travel well!

These lovely Pressed Italian Sandwiches are perfect for Summer picnics or packed lunches, as they are hearty and filling, can be made well ahead and travel well. They are also great for Summer entertaining, as they are such pretty little packages that are easy to eat without plates. I love how all the flavours come together in this sandwich and notice how it’s red, white and green – just like the Italian flag!

While there are endless possibilities of fillings for sandwiches, my Italian version features homemade roasted red peppers, a variety of Italian deli meats, bocconcini (with a little balsamic drizzle) and arugula, all on a lovely ciabatta bun. Once assembled, these are tightly wrapped and refrigerated with a weight on to to “press” them overnight. The next day, simply trim the sandwich loaf, cut in to small pieces and wrap with a little parchment and twine.

These picnic sandwich will also keep really well in the fridge for several days, either before they are trimmed and cut or after. That makes them great for Summer snacking or when planning entertaining.

Pressed Italian Picnic Sandwiches

Cook’s Notes for Pressed Italian Picnic Sandwiches

Pressed sandwiches are endlessly customizable. You can swap out spinach for the arugula, or sun-dried tomato for the roasted red pepper. And so on. The possibilities are endless.

You can use any size ciabatta, from small buns to larger loaves. I like to start with a ciabatta baguette that I cut in half to make two 12-inch-ish loaves.

I like to trim the edges off the sandwiches to make them neat squares and to enjoy seeing all the layers. But don’t throw away the trimmings! Chop them up and combine with some leafy greens and a drizzle of balsamic or Italian dressing for an absolutely fabulous salad.

When it comes to adding a weight to press the sandwiches in the fridge, I use my cast-iron grill pan and the cast-iron press that came with it, topped with some cans to even out the weight. Refrigerate with the weight at least 6 hours or ideally, overnight.

To keep the sandwich freshest, keep in the fridge, tightly wrapped in the plastic wrap and un-trimmed. When ready to serve or transport, simply trim the side and end crusts and if you like, wrap in a strip of parchment paper secured with some twine. You can then re-wrap in plastic wrap, if needed to keep them from drying out while they wait to be eaten.

While it’s tempting to reach for a jar of roasted red peppers, I find that those packed in oil bring a little too much moisture to the pressed sandwich, making for the possibility of soggy bread. It only takes a few minutes to make your own, so I highly recommend that.

Pressed Italian Picnic Sandwiches

How to Make fPressed Italian Picnic Sandwiches (Video)


pressed picnic sandwiches in front of picnic basket

Picnic Perfect. Pressed Italian Sandwiches

Course: Lunch
Cuisine: American
Keyword: picnic sandwich ideas, pressed sandwich recipes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Energy: 288 kcal
Author: Jennifer
These are pretty and tasty sandwiches, perfect for a summer picnic or to stock in the fridge to grab for lunch. They are endlessly customizable. Just use your imagination.


  • 1 Ciabatta Baguette cut in half to make approx. two 12-inch pieces
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 3 medium red peppers
  • 3 cups arugula rinsed and patted dry
  • 2 cups bocconcini sliced
  • 10 oz Assorted Italian deli meats (I used Soppressata Salami, Capocollo and Napoli Salami)
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste


  1. To roast the red peppers: Set your oven to the Broil setting. Slice the sides off the red peppers and place skin side up on a baking sheet (*I like to trim the ends so they lie as flat as possible, as they will brown better than pieces that are sloped). Place under the broiler until very well charred (blacon top, about 10 minutes (watch closely after 5 minutes. You'll want them to be mostly blackened on top.) Remove from the oven and immediately place the peppers in a plastic ziploc bag. Pop in the refrigerator for 30-40 minutes. Remove peppers from bag and peel off the blackened skin with a knife. Discard the skin and slice the peppers in to strips. Place in a bowl and drizzle with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set aside.

  2. To prepare the sandwiches: Cut your ciabatta in half and butter each piece (or you could brush with a bit of olive oil, if you prefer, but butter will help prevent moisture from getting into the bread. Place a generous layer of cold meats (4-5 over-lapping layers). Top with cooled roasted red pepper strips. Take your Bocconcini slices and place on a piece of paper towel. Top with another piece of paper towel and pat to dry a bit. Top the red peppers with a layer of the Bocconcini slices. Drizzle some balsamic vinegar over the Bocconcini slices and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with a generous layer of arugula. Top with top slice of ciabatta.

  3. Wrap each sandwich tightly with plastic wrap and place on a platter or baking sheet. When all the sandwiches are prepared, place the platter in the refrigerator. Place a heavy skillet on top of sandwiches to apply weight (if you don't have a heavy skillet, top with another baking sheet and place some large cans on top for the weight).
  4. Refrigerate at least 6 hours or ideally, overnight.
  5. When ready to serve, remove from plastic wrap. If desired, you can trim the sides and ends of the sandwiches to make neat sides and to enjoy the wonderful colours of these sandwiches.

Recipe Notes

Be sure to read the "Cook's Notes" in the original post, for more tips, options, substitutions and variations for this recipe!

Pressed Italian Picnic Sandwiches

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  • Such a delicious sammy Jennifer. As a matter of fact, just looking at them is making me want to plan a picnic just so that I have an excuse to make them. The hubby and I love Italian sandwiches but reserve them for special occasions since they aren’t the healthiest of food options. A picnic is certainly a special occasion. P.S. I love how you cut them into perfect squares.

  • I’m thrilled you decided to update and re-share these Pressed Italian Picnic Sandwiches, Jennifer, because they look beyond amazing!! These beauties are stuffed to the gills with deliciousness! My husband is an Italian Sandwich lover, so I can’t wait to make him these!! I know they are going to be a huge hit!! Pinned! Cheers, friend!

    • Thanks Tricia and yes, they really are delicious little sandwiches. I make them often. I love them for Summer lunches :)

  • Reading the recipe, tells me these sandwiches will be delicious but hands down, your presentation knocks this recipe, out of the ball park! Simply, this is the most beautiful of sandwich recipes. I suppose I should have reserved comments until I had tried your recipe,but as a new subscriber,seeing so many beautiful displays of food, I felt compelled to address, well, the obvious! I’m having a wonderful time looking at all of your recipes and soon, will enjoy eating them!

    • Thanks so much, Julie :) I am firmly in the “we eat with our eyes first” camp, so I’m all about the presentation! And of course, it needs to taste delicious, too (and these really are yummy little sandwiches).

    • Thanks Milena and me, too! It feels so special when you sit down with one of these sandwiches and only takes a minute :)

  • Wow – truly excellent presentation! These would be fabulous for a baby shower in a mountainous pile, tied up with pink or blue strings! Or even made into smaller, finger sized sandwiches for more of an hors d’oeuvres presentation! I love how squared off and linear looking they are! Brava!

  • These are so pretty! I’m usually pretty casual when it comes to a picnic, but I feel like I’d need a fancy little picnic basket and a tablecloth to eat these from! How fun!

  • I love those perfect squares and the video is great. I had lunch not long ago but I’d love one of these right now.They look like they’re loaded with wonderful flavor!

    • Wow Carol. You are ambitious! I would go for the large ciabatta bun/loaf. My grocer sells ones that are about 8-inches by 10-inches or so. Each one can then be cut into 4 or 6 sandwiches (depending on finished size). It’s just easier to do one large loaf than 6 individual ones. The brown parchment is just unbleached. I get mine at my local health food store (or anywhere that sells “green” products like unbleached muffin liners etc.) Hope that helps and good luck!

  • Hi Jennifer, thank you for your reply, I am very appreciated it. I am sure your sandwich recipe will amaze my friends:). have a good weekend

  • Hi Jennifer. thank you for this wonderful sandwich. I am a fan of pesto, do you think I can add pesto into this sandwich? Will the bread become saggy if I add pesto? I am prepare a picnic in 2 days. 25 sandwiches….hope I can survive.

    • Hi Tammi, I think pesto would be great in this sandwich. I’d put it between the cheese and the arugula. That way the arugula will be a barrier between the pesto and the bread, so should be fine. Enjoy the sandwiches!

  • These look absolutely amazing. I love, love, love arugula and everything else you feature on this beautiful sandwich. Your newer salted chocolate brownie cookies are what brought me to your blog, and it is consistently beautiful recipes and pictures that will keep me coming back!

  • wow, these look yummy!

    did you know these were featured in the national British newspaper the Guardian today? That’s what led me to your site!

    Katie x

    • Hi Katie, Yes, I was thrilled and honoured to have my little sandwiches in the Guardian. (I did know ahead, as they emailed me to get permission to publish it.) Thanks though and for thanks for popping over here.

      (Link to the Guardian article, for anyone interested in checking out the other goodies in the article)

  • Hi Jennifer,
    I feel like a late bloomer but I have never heard of a pressed sandwich and I am wondering what is accomplished by pressing it. Does the texture change or flavors? I read all the comments and noone seems to question this so maybe its just me? Regardless of the reason…I love Italian sandwiches and plan on trying these. Thanks.

    • Hi Carm, Before I made them, I wondered the same thing. Pressing makes these sandwiches shorter of course (so easier to eat), but most importantly I think, the fillings seem to meld together, so when you eat them you don’t get any of that filling shifting that often happens with layered sandwiches. Means you get all the flavours from top to bottom with every bite.

  • Oh my goodness! These look absolutely delicious, Jennifer! I’m also really hungry right now, as I’m in the middle of a 24 hour fast :-(. I, too, came across you via Pinterest.

  • This looks delish! I plan on making these on our vacation and taking to the beach! My family will love these. Being it is a vacation, I’ll probably just bring red pepper spread from Trader Joe’s instead of roasting the peppers (I’m lazy like that on vacation). I can’t wait to try these. Glad I came across this on pinterest!

    • Thanks Patty. You could also use jarred roasted red peppers. Just pat them dry a bit. Enjoy your sandwiches and your vacation!

  • These are gorgeous! You made them so beautifully. My mom and I keep talking about getting the family together for a picnic now that warm weather has FINALLY arrived — this is wonderful inspiration!

    • Hi Sophie and thanks so much. I’m glad the warm weather has found you. It’s been very hot here so far this summer. I hope you get to have that picnic!

  • I love these! I am planning to make an all Italian menu for my husband’s fiftieth birthday party next month. I love that I can make these a day or two ahead and I LOVE the way you wrapped them up with the parchment and twine. I think a huge tray of about 50 of these sandwiches will be a huge hit!!! Thanks for the recipe.

    • You’re welcome, Marla. These would be perfect for your party! If you’re making these a couple of days out, be sure to butter well under the red peppers. They are moist and may soften the bread a bit underneath if they are sitting a couple of days. The butter will help prevent that. Have a wonderful party.

    • Thanks Antonia. These are great sandwiches and I love that they can be made well ahead and keep quite a while in the fridge, too.

    • They would! I loved how pretty they were and wrapping them in parchment makes them feel really special.

I love hearing from you, so if you have a question or something isn't quite clear, I'm happy to help. If you made this recipe, I'd love to know how you liked it ~ Jennifer

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