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Muffuletta Recipe Inspired by New Orleans's Napoleon House

'Wich of the Week: Hot Muffuletta

Mardi Gras puts me in the mood for muffulettas, but this year I wanted to move beyond the classic recipe for the New Orleans cold-cut monstrosity. Invented by Sicilian immigrants in the French Quarter around 1906 — the Central Grocery lays claim to the original — a muffuletta actually tastes better after a few hours. Served at room temperature, the signature olive salad soaks the roll, making the salami, ham, mortadella, and cheese deliciously moist and creamy.

The last time I went to New Orleans, a friend of mine told me that she thinks the Napoleon House serves even better muffulettas than Central Grocery, so of course I had to try the sandwich at this cafe/bar founded in 1917. To hear all about it and get my re-created recipe,


The Napoleon House's version is served hot, and the topic of warm vs. cold muffulettas can lead to very heated debates around the Crescent City. In my mind, the two sandwiches offer entirely different experiences. A heated muffuletta doesn't improve with age, but it does deliver the greasy goodness of a hot pastrami sandwich with melted cheese.

The Napoleon House, in fact, replaces the mortadella with pastrami, alongside salami and Italian ham. Its olive salad was greener than what I've had in the past — and by green I mean it had lots of green olives and capers, plus chickpeas. The sandwich was delicious, but I think I still prefer my muffulettas cold; the heat made the olive salad too runny and messy. But if you love toasty-warm sandwiches, this twist is definitely worth trying. Muffulettas are typically served on special sesame-seeded buns about 10 inches in diameter, but if you can't find muffuletta bread (which you probably can't outside Louisiana), seeded Kaiser rolls work just fine. This sandwich is best served with a side of potato chips, since your belly won't be able to accommodate much more. Here's how to make it.

Hot Muffuletta Sandwich

Hot Muffuletta Sandwich

Hot Muffuletta Sandwich


  1. For the olive salad (makes enough for 6 to 8 sandwiches):
  2. 1 cup pimiento-stuffed olives, coarsely chopped
  3. 1 cup canned garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained, rinsed, and coarsely chopped
  4. 1/4 cup diced carrot
  5. 1/8 cup capers
  6. 2 gloves garlic, minced
  7. 1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
  8. 2 tablespoon dried parsley
  9. 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  10. 1 teaspoon pepper
  11. 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  12. 2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
  13. 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  14. For the sandwich:
  15. 2 slices pastrami
  16. 2 slices ham
  17. 4 slices Genoa salami
  18. 3 slices provolone cheese
  19. 1/4 to 1/2 cup olive salad (depending on size of roll)
  20. One muffuletta loaf or seeded kaiser roll


  1. Preferably one day in advance, make the olive salad. Combine all 12 ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Store overnight in a tightly sealed container.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  3. Slice the seeded rolls in half, hamburger-bun style. On the bottom slice, brush a thin layer of olive oil.
  4. Atop that base of bread, stack the ham, salami, and pastrami. Top with a layer of olive salad about 1-inch thick.
  5. Lay the cheese slices over the olive salad and cover with top half of bun.
  6. Place the entire sandwich in the oven for approximately 5 minutes, until bread is slightly toasted and cheese is melted.
  7. Slice in half and serve.

Makes one sandwich.

Join The Conversation
ViolaMorbid ViolaMorbid 5 years
I am dying to make a vegetarian version of this... so glad for lunch-meat style tofurky! 
Seka21 Seka21 8 years
Looks great but alas i feel i may live life and not go to N.O so i may never taste one!
aimeeb aimeeb 8 years
Hmm looks yum but I'm not sure about what's actually inside...
nancita nancita 8 years
Emalove, I used to hate olives, but even then I loved muffulettas. I've talked to other people who said the same. It's worth a try.
DCStar DCStar 8 years
These are SOOO delicious and I love the sign shaped like Napoleon's hat!!
emalove emalove 8 years
I'm not a big olive fan, but I'd try it.
tlsgirl tlsgirl 8 years
It's so true, syako, and especially painful right now!
syako syako 8 years
tls and I are Louisianans in exile!
audrina audrina 8 years
Oh my god, this sandwich looks soooooo good to die for. My mouth is watering right now. YUM!!! Can't wait to make it soon.
jennjennnbubba jennjennnbubba 8 years
a local cafe here (GA) makes a muffeletta pita that I adore!
lylpookie lylpookie 8 years
I just got back from a trip from New Orleans and the boyfriend and I discovered muffulettas there! YUM! Thanks!
Nan-Einhart Nan-Einhart 8 years
Muffelettas are right up there with the great sandwiches of the world. It is not a trip to New Orleans without one. And you have to have a Sazerac cocktail as well. And shrimp remoulad. And trout at Galatoire's. :)
tlsgirl tlsgirl 8 years
I've always wanted to like this sandwich, since it's so quintessentially New Orleans, but I just can't stand olives. But I agree with Syako about the chips!
syako syako 8 years
Ah, the Napoleon House. I've never tried their muffulettas, but I don't really like olives too much, so the sandwich in general just isn't appealing to me. I did want to say that I LOVE that you have a bag of Zapps potato chips in the photograph! That's perfect. :D
pinky8486 pinky8486 8 years
Yum your friend and you are so right! I love Central Grocery...but Napoleon House really does have a great Muffuletta. You definitely must eat it room temp...sometimes I even bring one home and put it in the oven...not traditional but it tastes so good!
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