How to Keep Sandwiches From Getting Soggy (with images)

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Sandwiches are a great food for picnics because they are easy to pack and eliminate the need for flatware. 

The bread also protects your hands from becoming sticky or greasy, and you can pile on the protein in the middle to give you the energy to keep going

But, how do we keep sandwiches from going soggy? 

While we love packing sandwiches in our picnic baskets, when we take them out, we want them to be just as fresh as when we put them in

We’ll share our best tips to keep sandwiches fresh on the way from our home to our picnic spot, for our lunch breaks, or for any outing adventure.

How to keep sandwiches from getting soggy

1. Limit juicy items

crusty sandwich without juicy items

Add-ons like pickles, tomatoes, roasted vegetables, and dressings are some of the biggest reasons that your sandwich may become soggy. 

You can choose to limit or eliminate juicy items or find ways to work around them. 

We’ll also show you how you can still incorporate these foods into sandwiches, but keep your sandwich as tasty and fresh as possible.

2. Choose a whole wheat crusty bread

whole grain crusty bread sandwich with meat

The final freshness of your sandwich starts with the bread you choose. Choosing a hardier whole wheat bread, or a crusty ciabatta will hold up better to moisture. 

White “sandwich bread” ironically becomes soggy much faster than other types of bread. While sandwich bread has a melt-in-your-mouth sensation when you eat your sandwich right away, it can’t withstand moisture well for longer periods of time.

Instead of melting in your mouth, it just starts melting on the journey while wrapped up in your picnic basket.

3. Toast the bread

toasted bread sandwich with fries

To add an extra layer of protection to your sandwich, you can toast the bread to make it harder to travel. This can add a crusty surface to softer breads and prevents (or, at least, delays!) liquids from seeping through.

4. Protect your bread with butter

butter layer on bread slices

Create a moisture-resistant coating by spreading your bread with a fat such as butter, mayo, or a cheese spread. Just like an oilskin rain slicker, this layer of oily fat will form a barrier of protection to keep your bread from becoming mushy.

5. Use large lettuce leaves

large lettuce leaf inside sandwich

Lettuce is not only a healthy addition to a sandwich, but its leaves are a nice moisture shield! Using large leaves on the outsides of other veggies will help to keep juices inside your sandwich and away from the bread.

6. Place juicy vegetables between meat or cheese slices

perfect sandwich layering to keep moisture away

If you are not a fan of lettuce, or it just doesn’t add to your sandwich creation, you can also block juices from getting to your bread by using meat and cheese

Veggies like tomatoes and pickles are some of the biggest culprits of soggy sandwiches, so you can stick these between meat and cheese to keep your sandwich fresh.

7. Assemble later on-site

outdoor picnic table food assemby
If you have the containers and set up space to assemble your sandwiches on-site, this will give you the freshest sandwiches! You can set up a sandwich station on a picnic table. Slice meat, cheese, and veggies before you arrive and pack them in separate containers. 

To make your station, you can cover a picnic table with a plastic tablecloth, and use 3 cutting boards to set out bread, meat and cheese, and veggies.

Then each picnicker can create their own sandwich smorgasbord-style!

This insulated lunch box organizer can be a helpful tool for keeping your sandwich contents separate and fresh and also at safe temperatures!

RELATED: 11 Smart Ways to Keep Food Cold Outside

8. Use parchment paper as a wrapper

woman holding a sandwich wrapped in paper at picnic
Plastic wrap can be useful for keeping your ingredients together but it actually can contribute to a soggy sandwich. 
Plastic wrap and baggies keep all moisture inside and don’t allow a sandwich to breathe. 
These are more useful for protecting your carrying bag from sandwich leakage than keeping a sandwich fresh.
To preserve freshness, you can wrap a sandwich in parchment paper (or even a paper towel will do!) and place them in brown paper sacks. If you want to use plastic baggies to keep your sandwiches from leaking into a bag, you can leave them slightly open to let your sandwich breathe.
Plastic wrap can be effective, however, for separating sandwich contents to make a travel sandwich.

How to make a “travel sandwich”

Extra Tip

If you won’t have space to easily set up a sandwich station or you will be eating on the go, you can make a “travel sandwich.” 

  1. Layer the contents of your sandwich and wrap them in plastic wrap.
  2. Put this packet inside your bread layers and wrap the entire sandwich in foil.
  3. When each person pulls out their sandwich from the picnic basket, they can simply unwrap the sandwich contents and slide them on the bread for a sandwich feast!

How to stop wraps going soggy

Wraps tend to stay fresher than sandwiches because a tortilla is more moisture-resistant than bread.

For a picnic, you can bring a whole wrap per person or slice your favorite wrap on-site and serve as a finger food hors d’oeuvre.

1. Choose ingredients carefully

wrap sliced in half

For wraps, you should choose your ingredients carefully. Ingredients like tomatoes, olives, pickles, and capers can make your wrap go soggy. You can choose to eliminate these ingredients from your picnic wraps or package them separately and let each person add them later if desired.

2. Add dressing later

adding dressing to wrap on site

Spreads like mayo actually can help your wrap stay fresh… but hold off on dressings until you arrive at your picnic spot!

3. Lettuce wraps

rice and lettuce veggie rolls

You can also just skip the bread entirely by choosing to use lettuce and rice paper instead of a tortilla or bread. A chicken salad lettuce wrap with pecans and cranberries can be a tasty addition to a picnic. 

Just be sure your lettuce is not in direct contact with ice in the cooler, or it could cause it to wilt.

Final thoughts

That’s a wrap on our thoughts for keeping your sandwich from becoming soggy. We hope that at your next picnic you can enjoy a sandwich that tastes as fresh as when you made it. 

Happy eating and may your sandwich never be soggy!

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