10 Best Slimmer Sandwich Recipes


Sylvester Stallone used to eat Brussels sprout sandwiches as a kid, which proves that you can stuff just about anything between two slices of bread and call it a sandwich. But creativity or make-do alone won't cut the mustard for a sandwich worthy of your tastebuds. A well-made Dagwood is a well-thought-out combo of proteins and produce, flavors and textures, that come together quickly in a highly satisfying handheld package. Made right, with liberal stuffings, a sandwich is a real meal deal, as appropriate for dinner as it is for lunch. Below, you'll find 10 of our favorite sandwiches made leaner than regular. The only unfortunate thing about eating a truly inspired sandwich like these is that three or four days later you're hungry again. Add these to your dinner rotation, then check out our exclusive report on How to Stay Lean for Life!

Grilled Cheese With Sauteéd Mushrooms

This recipe calls in piles of mushrooms and caramelized onions to create a sandwich simple enough to be a quick meal for one, and sophisticated enough to be a cozy dinner for two.

½ Tbsp olive oil
2 cups cremini mushrooms, sliced
salt and ground black pepper to taste
8 slices rye bread
2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
1 cup caramelized onions
½ Tbsp fresh thyme
leaves (optional)
2 Tbsp softened butter

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for about 6 minutes, until caramelized. Season with salt and pepper.

Lay four slices of the bread on a cutting board. Dividing half of the cheese equally among the sandwiches, top the bread with it, then with a quarter each of the onions
and mushrooms. Add the thyme (if using) and the remaining cheese. Top with the remaining slices of rye. Spread the softened butter on both sides of the sandwiches.

Heat a large cast-iron or nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add the sandwiches, working in batches if you must, and cook for 5 to 6 minutes per side until fully toasted and golden brown.

MAKES 4 SERVINGS | Per serving: 340 calories / 12 g fat (6 g sat.) / 36 g carb / 22 g protein / 4 g fiber

Shrimp Roll

Lobster rolls are one of America's greatest food inventions. Problem is, lobster meat is pricey and restaurants still drown it in mayo and melted butter. We sub in ultra lean shrimp for the lobster and lighten up on the fat. The result: an amazing sandwich for half the calories and a fraction of the price.

1 lb cooked shrimp
2 stalks of celery, diced
½ small red onion, minced
2 Tbsp minced fresh chives + additional for garnish
2 Tbsp mayonnaise
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp hot sauce (we like sriracha)
salt to taste
4 hot dog buns

Mix the shrimp, celery, onion, chives, mayo, lemon juice, hot sauce, and salt together in a bowl, stirring carefully to mix.

Heat a cast-iron skillet or sauté pan over medium heat. Add the hot dog buns and toast the outsides until they are nicely browned.

Divide the shrimp mixture among the rolls. Garnish with more minced chives, if using.

MAKES 4 SERVINGS | Per serving: 300 calories / 9 g fat (1.5 g sat.) / 24 g carb / 27 g protein / 2 g fiber

Lean, high-protein foods like shrimp are just one of the 25 Foods Men Over 45 Should Eat!

Tangy Turkey Sandwich With Guacamole and Bacon

This baby puts ho-hum sliced turkey sandwiches to shame. Use leftover turkey from a roasted turkey dinner and jazz it up with even more protein and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats from the guacamole, which substitutes nicely for the standard mayo.

1 baguette
12 oz leftover roast turkey
4 slices Swiss cheese
1 large tomato, sliced
½ red onion, thinly sliced
pickled jalapenos
4 strips bacon, cooked until crisp and patted dry
¼ cup guacamole

Preheat a broiler. Carefully slice the baguette in half horizontally and place on a large baking sheet. Layer the turkey and cheese on the bottom half of the bread.

Place the sheet in the oven 6 inches below the broiler. Broil for 2 to 3 minutes until the cheese has just melted and both halves of the bread are hot but not too brown.

Remove from the oven and layer the tomato, onion, jalapenos, and bacon on top of the
turkey. Spread the top half of the baguette with the guacamole. Slice the baguette into 4 individual sandwiches and serve.

MAKES 4 SERVINGS | Per serving: 430 calories, 13 g fat (4 g sat.), 34 g carb, 25.3 g protein, 2 g fiber

Smoked Salmon Sandwich

This is a New York classic, minus the bagel. All the great flavors that make this such a satisfying breakfast are still here—the richness of smoked salmon, the bite of onion and capers, the sweetness of tomato—but by ditching the oversized bagel in favor of whole wheat toast, you save about 200 calories and trade a ton of refined carbs for a boost of fiber. The end result is a sandwich you can feel good about eating every day of the week.

8 slices of whole wheat or 9-grain bread, toasted
¼ cup whipped cream cheese
2 Tbsp capers, rinsed and chopped
½ red onion, thinly sliced
2 cups mixed baby greens
1 large tomato, sliced
salt and ground black pepper to taste
8 oz smoked salmon

Spread 1 tablespoon of the cream cheese on each of four slices of toast. Top each with capers, onion, greens, and a slice or two of tomato. Lightly salt the tomato, then add as much pepper as you'd like (this sandwich cries out for a lot of it). Finish by draping a few slices of smoked salmon over the tomatoes and topping each with one of the remaining slices of toasted bread.

MAKES 4 SERVINGS | Per serving / 280 calories / 10 g fat (3g sat.) / 26 g carb / 18 g protein; 5g fiber

Salmon has awesome benefits beyond makking a savory sandwich. It's one of 20 Amazing Healing Foods that can create a first-aid kit in your kitchen!

Sausage and Pepper Sandwich

Pork sausage can contain up to 30 percent fat, meaning a single link can pack 400 calories. Switching to a lean chicken or turkey sausage will bring that number to fewer than 150 calories.

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
1 yellow onion, sliced
salt and ground pepper to taste
½ Tbsp red wine vinegar
4 links uncooked chicken or turkey sausage
4 hot dog buns (preferably potato buns)
4 slices provolone
spicy mustard to taste

Preheat a grill or grill pan.

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the red and yellow peppers and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, until lightly blistered and soft.

Remove from the heat, season with salt and pepper, and add the vinegar. Reserve.

Grill the sausage until lightly charred and cooked all the way through, about 12 minutes. Heat the rolls on the grill until warm and toasted, if you like.

Lay a slice of cheese in each roll, drizzle with mustard, then top with a sausage. Divide the peppers and onions among the four sandwiches.

MAKES 4 SERVINGS | Per serving: 370 calories / 20 g f at (9g sat.) / 23.5 g carb / 2 7.5 g protein / 5 g fiber

Grilled Vegetable Wrap

Wraps from delis and cafes are among the worst options out there. Slash calories and cost by building your own.

12 asparagus spears, woody ends removed
2 Portobello mushroom caps
1 red bell pepper, halved, seeds and stem removed
1 Tbsp olive oil
salt and ground
black pepper to taste
2 Tbsp olive oil mayonnaise
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
4 large spinach or whole-wheat tortillas or wraps
2 cups arugula or baby greens
¾ cup crumbled goat or feta cheese

Roast the vegetables in the oil in a 450°F oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Slice the mushroom caps and pepper into thin strips.

Add the mayonnaise, vinegar and garlic to a small bowl and stir to combine. Heat the tortillas on the grill or wrap them together in damp paper towels and heat in the microwave for 30 seconds. Spread the mayo down the middle of each tortilla, then top with the greens and cheese.

Divide the grilled vegetables among the tortillas, salt and pepper, then roll up tightly and slice each wrap in half.

MAKES 4 SERVINGS | Per serving: 240 calories / 13 g fat (3.5 g sat.) / 30.5 g carb / 8.5 g protein / 4.5 g fiber

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Zero Belly Beef Burger

We've taken this all-American cookout classic and made it leaner without losing its substance and soul. The trick is using extra-lean ground beef and our flavorful black pepper marinade.

1 lb extra-lean ground beef (at least 90%)
3 Tbsp Black Pepper Marinade (see recipe)
1 tsp kosher salt
4 gluten-free English muffins or burger buns, toasted
1 beefsteak tomato cut into ½-inch slices
8 leaves Bibb lettuce
2 Tbsp ketchup
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard

In a large bowl, mix the ground beef, marinade, and salt and let sit for 10 minutes.

Heat an outdoor grill or a grill pan over medium-high heat.

Form the beef mixture into 4 patties and grill for 2 to 3 minutes on each side. The center should be pink and juicy.

Spread each toasted bun top with 1½ teaspoons ketchup and 1½ teaspoons mustard. Place a burger on each toasted bun bottom and top with slices of red tomato, 2 lettuce leaves, and a bun top.

Black Pepper Marinade:
Grind 2 Tbsp coriander seeds, 2 Tbsp peppercorns, and ½ Tbsp cumin seeds finely in a spice grinder. Place spices in the bowl of a small food processor and add 6 cloves garlic, peeled, 2 peeled shallots, ¼ cup olive oil, and ¼ cup (packed) brown sugar. Process.

Getting enough daily protein is one of the 30 Best Ways to Boost Your Metabolism After 30!

MAKES 4 SERVINGS | Per serving: 343 calories / 9 g fat / 41 g carb / 25 g protein / 2 g fiber

Italian Panini With Provolone, Peppers and Arugula

Typically, Italian hoagies—towering creations of fatty meat, cheese, and oil—pack about 1,000 calories apiece, but our version takes the same classic flavors and turns them into crispy melted paninis. We promise you won't miss the bulky bread, the mound of meats, or the calories.

8 slices sourdough bread
4 slices provolone
½ red onion, very thinly sliced
½ cup jarred roasted red peppers
4 cups arugula
8 slices reduced-fat spicy salami
8 oz sliced ham
1 Tbsp olive oil

Lay four slices of the bread on a cutting board. Cover each with a provolone slice, then top with onion, peppers, and arugula. Layer the salami and ham over the arugula and top with the remaining four slices of bread.

Heat ½ tablespoon of the oil in a grill pan or large cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat.

Add the sandwiches, being careful not to crowd, and weigh them down with something (if cooking individually, a teakettle partly filled with water works nicely; if cooking together, a few cans in a large pasta pot will do the trick). Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the bottoms have toasted nicely and the cheese has begun to melt.

Remove the weight, flip, reapply the weight, and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes. Cut the sandwiches on the diagonal and serve with baby carrots and hummus.

MAKES 4 SERVINGS | Per serving: 360 calories / 16 g fat (6 g sat.) / 13 g carb / 39 g protein / 3 g fiber

Chicken Fajita Burrito

Burritos have gone off the deep end. The combination of rice, sour cream, cheese, and guacamole lifts calorie and sodium counts into the thousands. This burrito is American in spirit—hearty and generously filled, but without the excess found at Chipotle, Baja Fresh, and the country's other burrito barons.

½ Tbsp canola oil
1 large onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 poblano or green bell pepper, sliced
salt and ground black pepper to taste
½ can (14-16 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
¼ tsp cumin
juice of 1 lime
hot sauce
4 (10") whole wheat tortillas
1 cup low-fat shredded jack cheese
2 cups shredded chicken (about ½ store-bought rotisserie chicken)
salsa (salsa verde is especially good here)

Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the onion and red and poblano peppers and cook until browned, about 7 to 8 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper.

Combine the beans with the cumin in a saucepan and warm. Add lime and a few shakes of hot sauce.

Preheat a griddle, cast-iron skillet, or large nonstick pan over medium heat. Microwave the tortillas for 20 seconds, just enough so they're pliable.

Building one burrito at a time, sprinkle on cheese, then top with beans, onion-pepper mixture, chicken and salsa.

Roll into a tight package. Place the burritos directly on the skillet, cooking for
a minute on each side until lightly toasted.

MAKES 4 SERVINGS | Per serving: 340 calories / 12 g fat (6 g sat.) / 36 g carb / 22 g protein / 4 g fiber

Banana-Nutella Panini

Sandwiches have always been defined as lunch, but there's no reason why you can't bookend your dessert with two slices of bread and call it breakfast. Toast the bread until the sandwich is crispy on the outside and hot on the inside, and the appeal of a handheld dessert/breakfast is all the more obvious. Few food combos taste better than banana and chocolate; no way this recipe could go wrong.

4 Tbsp chocolate-hazelnut spread
8 slices whole-wheat bread
2 very ripe, large bananas,sliced
2 Tbsp butter, melted

Preheat a grill or grill pan over medium heat. Divide the chocolate spread among 4 slices of the bread, pave completely with the banana slices, and top with the remaining pieces of bread.

Brush both sides with a light coating of melted butter (which will help the sandwiches brown and crisp easily).

Place the sandwiches on the grill and top with a light object—a clean pot or pan works great—that applies just enough pressure to weigh down the sandwiches and help them crisp. Grill for 3 to 4 minutes, until the bottoms are nicely toasted; flip and repeat. Cut the sandwiches in half on the diagonal and serve.

MAKES 4 SERVINGS | Per serving: 340 calories / 13 g fat (5 g sat.) / 20 g carb / 4.75 g protein / 6 g fiber

Did you know that bananas are one of the 10 Best Carbs for Your Abs?