If you’re in the mood for classic New Orleans fare, now you can have it in the comfort of your own home!
This sandwich is about as good as they come. We’ll show you how to make the bread and the olive salad, both essential for that authentic taste. It’s fun to prepare, impressive to serve, and beyond delicious!
How To Make a Muffuletta
Before we get into how to make it, you may be wondering, what is a muffuletta and why is it called that?
The word muffuletta is a Sicilian word that actually refers to the bread: A round Sicilian sesame loaf.
An Italian immigrant named Salvadorte Lupo, owner of Central Grocery Co. in New Orleans, created the sandwich in 1906 for hungry immigrant workers. It has become a classic that has its roots firmly planted in New Orleans. Learn more here.
Now, you can make it home, and we’re going to show you how!
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How to Make Muffuletta Bread
Unless you live in, or near New Orleans, finding homemade muffuletta bread is nearly impossible.
But, making it at home is easier than you think.
EXPERT TIP: We start off by bringng the dough together in our stand mixer. The dough won’t form into a ball immediately, but that’s normal. We like to then knead the bread on a lightly floured surface for 10 minutes until soft and pliable. You can certainly let your stand mixer do the kneading with the dough attachment.
Place the dough in an oiled bowl and set it in a non-drafty, slightly warm area for 90 minutes until it has doubled in size. (See video above for visual reference).
Now, it’s time to form the loaf.
Transfer the risen dough to a lightly floured surface and use your hands to carefully shape the dough into a 9-inch circle.
Spray the top of the dough with water and then sprinkle on a copious amount of sesame seeds all across the surface.
Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise again for another 60 to 90 minutes.
EXPERT TIP: Bake the bread at 425°F for 10 minutes, and then lower the temperature to 375°F. Cook until golden brown and hollow-sounding when tapped. This typically takes about 20 minutes (30 minutes total). But ovens can vary, so keep an eye on it. An egg wash ensures a golden exterior.
Use a serrated knife to carefully and slowly slice the bread in half (top to bottom). Start cutting just where the loaf is beginning to dome. Too low of a cut will give you a thin lower half and too thick for the top.
What You Need to Make Olive Salad
Another key component to an authentic muffuletta is the olive spread.
You can find olive spread already bottled in New Orleans, in gourmet food shops, or online.
But, why not make your own? It’s easy and so good! Here are the ingredients you’ll need:
- Olives – we like a mix of green (stuffed with pimentos) and kalamatas
- Pickled banana peppers or pepperoncini
- Fresh parsley
- Dried oregano
- Red wine vinegar
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
EXPERT TIP: The olive salad gets better after it has time to chill for a while. We prep the salad and then refrigerate it in a jar with a lid for at least 24 hours, but a minimum of 1 hour if okay, too.
Building The Muffuletta
Once the bread has cooled and you’ve sliced it in half and after the olive salad has time to rest for at least an hour in the fridge, it’s time build the muffuletta!
Start by adding a good helping of the olive salad on the cut-side of the top and bottom of the bread. Don’t put too much of the liquid from the salad on the bottom half (it will get a little soggy if too much liquid is added).
Next, add a layer of the Italian meats. We do a layer of coppa (Italian cured ham) and then mortadella (Italian bologna).
Then on to the sliced cheeses. We go with top-notch sliced provolone and mozzarella. They use sliced Swiss down in Central Grocery Co in NOLA along with the provolone. You choose your favorites.
Top with a couple of layers of genoa salami.
EXPERT TIP: To limit the olive salad from falling from the bread, we carefully transfer the bottom layer of the sandwich to the top layer. The layers of meat and cheese help keep the bottom layer of olive salad in place. Then carefully flip the sandwich upright. Some of the salad will no doubt fall out, but that’s okay. Either stick it back in the sides of the sandwich, or just pop them in your mouth. It will be your little secret!
How to Serve
Central Grocery Co. in New Orleans serves their classic sandwich chilled or at room temperature. This is delicious.
However, some places serve them warm. We had one of the most amazing sandwiches we’ve ever had in our lives at the amazing chef Donald Link’s eatery named butcher. He serves his warmed.
If you want to serve it warm, simply cut the sandwich into quarters, and then wrap it in foil. Place in a 325°F oven for about 15 minutes. You want the cheese to just start to get melty. If you heat too long, the bread will get overly crisp and the meats will become greasy.
EXPERT TIP: This sandwich is big. We quarter it, which will comfortably serve 4 people. Kettle chips, pickle spears, and ice-cold beer are the perfect accompaniments.
Other Louisiana Classic Dishes
If you can’t get down to the Big Easy, you can bring Louisiana and the Bayou home to your own kitchen.
Here are some of our all-time favorite Cajun, Creole, and/or New Orleans recipes:
- Shrimp and Okra Gumbo
- Andouille and Chicken Gumbo
- Crawfish Étouffée
- Red Beans and Rice
- Dirty Rice
- Fried Catfish Po-Boy
- Cafe Du Monde Beignets
In the meantime, don’t you think it’s time to whip up a batch of these? Every bite is a New Orleans sensation!
Ready to make the sandwich this side of Bourbon Street? Go for it!
And when you do, be sure to take a photo of it, post it on Instagram, and tag @HowToFeedaLoon and hashtag #HowToFeedaLoon!
For the Muffuletta Bread
- 1 cup water warmed to 110° - 120°F
- 2¼ tsp instant yeast or active dry
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ tsp salt fine, not coarse
- 2 tbsp shortening or lard, or butter (chilled)
- 2 tbsp olive oil for greasing the bowl
- ¼ cup sesame seeds
- 1 large egg
For the Olive Salad
- 1 cup olives stuffed with pimentos, roughly chopped
- ¼ cup brine from the olives jar
- 1 cup Kalamata olives roughly chopped
- 3 stalks celery finely chopped
- ¼ cup banana peppers chopped
- ¼ cup capers drained
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tbsp parsley fresh, chopped
- 1 tbsp oregano dried
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- ½ tsp Kosher salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
For the Sandwich
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ lb coppa Italian ham, thinly sliced
- ¼ lb mortadella Italian bologna, thinly sliced
- ¼ lb provolone cheese thinly sliced
- ¼ lb mozzarella cheese thinly sliced, or Swiss cheese
- ¼ lb genoa salami thinly sliced
Make the Muffuletta Bread
- In the bowl of your stand mixer, add the warm water and gently whisk in the sugar and yeast. Allow to rest for 5 minutes, until foamy.
- Meanwhile, in a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour with the salt. Use your fingers to work the shortening into the flour.
- With the dough attachment in place, turn the mixer on medium-low. Slowly add the flour mixture, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula. After a minute or two, the dough should start to come together. A ball of dough won't form, but it will start to form a rough (or shaggy) dough.
- Remove the dough from the bowl and form into a rough ball in the palms of your hands. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface. Use the palms of your hands to knead the dough for 10 minutes, until it becomes soft and pliable. Alternatively, knead the bread with the dough attachment in your mixer for 7 to 8 minutes.
- Take the dough and use your fingers to smooth it into a ball. Add 1 or 2 tbsp olive oil to a bowl. Add the ball of dough to the bowl and turn to coat it with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm, non-drafty area for 90 minutes, until it has doubled in size.
- Transfer the risen dough to a lightly floured surface and use your hands to form a 9-inch disc. (The dough will expand to 10 inches as it rises and then bakes).
- Spray a little water with a spray bottle (or your fingers) over the top of the dough. Sprinkle the sesame seeds all over the top. Transfer the dough to a baking pan that has been lined with parchment paper and lightly sprayed with cooking oil. Cover with a kitchen towel, and place in a warm, non-drafty area for 60 to 90 minutes.
- Preheat your oven to 425°F.
- Make an egg wash by mixing together the lightly beaten egg with two tbsp of water. Brush all over the surface of the bread dough.
- Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 375°F and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes. Once the bread is golden on top and hollow-sounding when tapped, it's done. Let cool on a rack. Use a serrated knife to cut the bread in half, starting just above where the loaf is beginning to dome.
Make the Olive Salad
- Use a large wooden spoon or rubber spatula to mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl.
- Cover with plastic wrap and let chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour or up to 48 hours.
Build The Muffuletta
- Brush olive oil all over the cut side of the top and bottom portion of the sliced bread.
- Add half of the olive salad on the top portion of the bread, and then the remaining olive salad on the bottom. Don't add too much of the liquid to the bottom half (it will get soggy if you do).
- Next, add a layer of the coppa, then a layer of the mortadella.
- Top with layers of sliced provolone and mozzarella. Next, add the salomi layer.
- Very carefully flip the bottom half of the sandwich onto the top. Then flip the sandwich over. (It's okay if some of the olive salad falls out of the sandwich, this is almost impossible to prevent).
- Wrap the sandwich with plastic wrap. Place a heavy object on top of the sandwich (such as a cast-iron skillet). Let is rest for 1 hour, or up to 12 hours.
- Remove the plastic wrap and use a large sharp knife to cut the sandwich into 4 equal portions. Serve at once, or wrap in foil, and heat in a 325°F oven for 15 minutes.