Not Sad Desk Lunch

15 Summery Sandwiches to Take to the Beach

June 24, 2016

There are no real rules for beach lunches, except these three:

  1. You can't really beat a PB&J, and...
  2. If you're going to try, it has to be something that will come together quickly (or give you enough leftovers that it will be lunch tomorrow, too), because you can't waste time in getting to the beach...
  3. And who knows how long you'll be splashing around/napping/beachcombing before you're ready for lunch, so it has to be able to stand up in the cooler for a few hours.

Here are 15 summery sandwiches that pass muster. Don't forget your sunscreen (and a cold drink):

Cook the yolk nearly firm in this one!

What's in your beach bag? Share the menu in the comments.

Listen Now

Join The Sandwich Universe co-hosts (and longtime BFFs) Molly Baz and Declan Bond as they dive deep into beloved, iconic sandwiches.

Listen Now

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • patricia gadsby
    patricia gadsby
  • 702551
  • dymnyno
  • mawhorts
Writing and cooking in Brooklyn.


patricia G. July 7, 2016
Affinois with a crunchy lettuce leaf is our standard 'fishing sandwich." If it survives a day on the boat it will survive a trek to the beach.
702551 June 25, 2016
Most of these sandwiches -- at least if they are assembled according to the pictures -- are not suitable for taking to the beach.

The main reason is because they are loaded with moist ingredients placed directly on the bread. The bread will quickly absorb liquid and turn mushy. If you want to mitigate this, pack the ingredients separately and assemble on site, shortly before serving.

At least at the beach you have a chance of doing this. This is not a practical solution for, oh, let's say the ballpark. Trust me, I've schlepped plenty of sandwiches to ballparks because A.) they are convenient to eat, and B.) there are no places for food prep.

However, if you go to a football tailgate, you bring the ingredients and assemble on site, no problem.

Egg salad, avocado, hummus, green goddess dressing, tuna salad, curried chickpeas, these are all problem ingredients for sandwiches that aren't consumed right after assembly.

The most oddest suggestion here is the BEAT Breakfast Sandwich which features a fried egg which no doubt will almost certainly bust open with the lightest of pressure. That's part of the charm of this type of sandwich when served immediately. Also, not so sure how the food poisoning police are going to love the suggestion of holding a sandwich with a runny yolk for several hours.

These are mostly fine when assembled on site, simply poor when done hours in advance. I will eat my soggy sandwiches at the ballpark, but I'd never recommend that sandwiches are optimal for that situation. They are a compromise, a big one.

As for PB&J, I've never been a fan. It's probably worth mentioning that there are probably 6 billion people on this planet who would never think of taking PB&J sandwiches to the beach.

Again, PB&J is problematic because of the moisture. How many PB&J sandwiches did you throw away as a kid? At least one Food52 contributor through away *THOUSANDS*.
702551 June 25, 2016
Note: this is why I *NEVER* pack sandwiches for my lunch at work.

I don't think I've brought a sandwich to work for over two decades.

Oh, and it's "threw away" not "through away." ;0)
dymnyno June 25, 2016
French tuna salad aka le pan.. is the best sandwich I have ever made. It gets better as it gets soggier; the flavors become incredible. I have made it for many luncheons and picnics at the winery.
dymnyno June 25, 2016
ps: I have always hated PB&J . Reminds me of Catholic school hell when I forgot my lunch and HAD to eat 2 of them(bleh).
mawhorts July 3, 2016
A good PB&J can be assembled with what I call "structural integrity" so the bread does not become soggy. A thin layer of peanut butter on both slices of bread protects them, and I push the peanut butter to the very edge of the bread. Then jam in the middle, and the key is to seal the edges of the sandwich, peanut butter to peanut butter. There may be a few leaks, but you'll have mostly-dry bread if you don't squish it too much. And dymnyno, it all depends on the quality of the jam.
dymnyno July 3, 2016
I am sure you are right. Being forced to each 2 huge sandwiches instead of a satisfactory one is what made me hate pb&js forever. I am still not sure what those nuns were thinking!

mawhorts July 3, 2016
Yeah, I can imagine that being forced to eat something with peanut butter would be especially terrible - so dense! I only learned to like PB&Js once I started putting on more jam and less peanut butter. Thankfully no one ever forced me to eat something I actively didn't like. We had to give things a try in my family but if we didn't like something we didn't like something, and that was okay. I think that relaxed attitude let me develop tastes for things over time that I may not have liked to begin with.