How to Say ‘Sandwich’ in Spanish (by country!)

Don’t you just love a well-prepared sarnie?

I know I do!

That’s why I rustled up a super useful infographic showing you EXACTLY how to say sandwich in different Spanish-speaking countries –



Read on for all the juicy deets (AND how to actually order the darn thing)!

Quick disclaimer: I’m not responsible for any side effects caused by this article, such as excessive salivation and a strong urge to go make a sandwich …


Words for a traditional sandwich


Sándwich

Notice that little accent on top of the ‘a’?

Well, that’s the only (aesthetic) difference between a ‘sandwich’ in English and a ‘sándwich’ in Spanish!

So, if you’re a bit shaky on your Spanish feet, just ask for a ‘sándwich’ and you probably won’t go too far wrong! It’s especially common in countries close to the U.S., like Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Mexico.

Cartoon of a typical sandwich

And how’s it pronounced?

Well, the accent is there precisely to remind Spanish speakers to stress the first syllable, just as we do in English … so it ends up sounding kinda similar.

Apart from that, just watch the final ‘i’ sound, in Spanish it sounds more like ‘ee’ (but it’s a short, sharp, sound … DON’T elongate it too much!)

En la escuela

Santiago – ¿Qué trajiste de lunch?

Isabel – Un sándwich de atún, ¿y tú?



At school

Santiago – What did you bring for lunch?

Isabel – A tuna sandwich, you?



Sánduche / Sánguche

These are the perfect examples of Spanish words “appropriated” from English that maintain similar spelling and phonetics to the original.

‘Sánduche’ will be your go-to word in Colombia, and ‘sánguche‘ rules the roost in Argentina and Peru. Since Mexico is closer to the United States, ‘sándwich’ is generally preferred.

Quisiera* aprender a preparar un sánduche de tocineta y lechuga. ¿Me podrías enseñar?

I’d like to learn how to make a bacon and lettuce sandwich. Could you teach me?

Expert tip – ‘QUISIERA’ can translate to ‘I’d like’, BUT it has some subtle nuances not shared with ‘me gustaría’. Check out the article we wrote on the two to find out more!


Emparedado

An ‘emparedado’ can be either a ‘prisoner’ OR a ‘sandwich’. That’s because a prisoner is locked within four walls (or ‘paredes’ in Spanish), and a sandwich’s filling is between two walls of white bread.

A prisoner behind bars


A Catalina le gusta cortar su emparedado en triángulos.

Catalina likes to cut her sandwich into triangles.

Bocadillo

In Spain, you can ask for a ‘bocadillo’.

BUT BEWARE, if you ask for a ‘bocadillo’ in Colombia or Venezuela, you’re gonna get a sweet prepared with guava pulp (not the end of the world if you ask me, but maybe not what you were looking for!), and in Mexico, you’d get a small portion of food, kinda like a canapé.

En Madrid preparan unos deliciosos bocadillos de calamares, únicos en el mundo.

In Madrid they prepare delicious squid sandwiches, they’re the only ones in the world.

Cartoon of a typical "bocadillo"

Bocata

A ‘bocata’ is a sandwich made with a baguette … just don’t be hoodwinked by that ‘a’ at the end, this is very much a masculine word (i.e., ‘un bocata’).

Just as with ‘bocadillo’, ‘bocata’ is mostly used in Spain.

Claudio – ¿Vamos por unos bocatas de jamón serrano?

Sara – ¡Venga! Pero que sea con una copa de vino.



Claudio – Shall we go for some serrano ham sandwiches?

Sarah – Let’s go! But only if we get a glass of wine too.


Other common types of sandwich


Torta

This is a SUPER common Mexican sandwich; it’s made with a ‘bolillo’, which is a traditional type of white bread.

HOWEVER, in Spain a ‘torta’ is a ‘pie’, and for the rest of the Spanish-speaking world it’s a ‘cake’, so this is one of those words that can mean something entirely different depending on the country that you’re in.

If you’re visiting Mexico, I do recommend going to a ‘tortería’ (that’s a sandwich place or street stall that serves up ‘tortas’), where you can try an array of fillings such as ham, sausage, egg, beans with cheese, and even ‘chilaquiles’ or ‘tamales’ (yep, as a filling!).

Cartoon of a typical "torta"


‘Tortas’ are an important part of Mexican gastronomic culture, so you’re sure to be in for a treat!

Yair – ¿Qué tienes pensado para el recalentado de Navidad?

Víctor – Voy a hacer unas tortas de bacalao. ¿Gustas acompañarnos?



Yair – What do you have in mind for the day after Christmas?

Victor – I’m going to make some cod sandwiches. Wanna join us?

Mollete

A ‘mollete’ is a traditional Mexican breakfast food (although it can be eaten at lunch or dinner too).

It’s basically a ‘bolillo’ cut in half and smeared with beans, grilled cheese, and ‘pico de gallo’ (literally ‘beak of a rooster’), which is a spicy sauce prepared with tomatoes, onions, and serrano peppers.

Cartoon of some Mexican "molletes"


There are other variations, but that’s pretty much your classic Mexican ‘mollete’!

Liliana – No se me ocurre qué hacer de desayunar…

Rosa – No te compliques; ahorita voy por pan y nos hacemos unos molletitos.



Liliana – I don’t know what to make for breakfast …

Rosa – Don’t worry, I’ll go for bread, and we’ll make some ‘molletitos’.

Chivito

In Uruguay, a ‘chivito’ is a traditional type of sandwich. It’s made of ham, bacon, egg, lettuce, and grilled mozzarella. They’ve gotten so popular that you’ll now find them in Spain as well.

Hungry yet?

Jimena – Es mi primera vez en Montevideo, ¿qué me recomiendas para la comida?

Pedro – ¡Tienes que probar un chivito! Te va a encantar.



Jimena – It’s my first time in Montevideo, what should I have for lunch?

Pedro – You have to try a ‘chivito’! You’re gonna love it.

Expert tip – there are many DIFFERENT WAYS TO SAY ‘LUNCH’ IN SPANISH (depending on which country/region you’re in), but in Mexico, it’s called ‘la comida’.


How to ask for a sandwich


At a street food stall

If you’re passing by a street food stall and suddenly feel yourself craving a sandwich, you can use the following phrases –

formal ‘usted’ form

¿Me da un sándwich de pollo, por favor?

Can I have a chicken sandwich, please?



informal ‘’ form

¿Me das un sándwich de pollo, por favor?

Can I have a chicken sandwich, please?

Just remember to switch out ‘sándwich’ for whichever word is used in the country you’re in!



If you’re after a ‘torta’ in Mexico, well, you can use the same phrase (but obviously use ‘torta’ instead of ‘sándwich’)!

You’re also probably gonna be asked the following by the ‘tortero’ (a guy who prepares tortas‘)

¿Con todo, joven*?

With everything, lad?

Rupert’s pro tip – it doesn’t really matter if you’re young, you’ll probably be called either a ‘joven’, meaning ‘lad’, or a ‘güero’, which means ‘blondie’!


To which I suggest you respond with –

Sí, con todo, por favor.

Yes, with everything, please.

“Everything” usually refers to tomato, onion, avocado, mayonnaise, beans, chipotle sauce, AND jalapeño peppers. You 100% won’t regret the added vegetables and dressings, BUT you might wanna test your tolerance to Mexican sauces and spices first!

At a restaurant

Since restaurants are more formal settings, I’d recommend saying the following –

¿Me podría traer un sándwich, por favor?

Could you bring me a sandwich, please?

Rupert’s pro tip – I’d probably use the formal ‘usted’ conjugation in both scenarios; most people in Mexico and other Latin American countries use the formal ‘usted’ form when addressing a waiter, tortero, bartender, etc.


So now you’re all set to ask for your favorite sandwich! Bon appetit!

Or should I say ‘buen provecho’?


Common sandwich fillings in Spanish


In order to specify exactly what kind of sandwich you’d like, just use the following formula™ –

sándwich/torta (México) / sánguche (Peru) / bocadillo (Spain) + de + filling of your choice



Some popular choices include –

sándwich de queso = cheese sandwich

sándwich de jamón = ham sandwich

sándwich de atún = tuna sandwich

sándwich de pescado = fish sandwich


And here are some other common ‘rellenos’ (‘fillings’), ‘salsas’ (‘sauces’), and types of bread, so that you can get real specific when ordering your favorite sandwich –

tocino (Mexico) = bacon

tocineta (Colombia / Venezuela) = bacon

salchicha = sausage

salmón = salmon

chorizo = chorizo

cochinita pibil (Mexico) = spicy pork meat

ternera (Spain) = veal

rebanadas de queso (Mexico) = cheese slices

queso en lonchas (Spain) = cheese slices

queso y crema = cheese and sour cream

rajas (Mexico) = chili slices

salsa verde (Mexico) = spicy pepper sauce

salsa roja (Mexico) = spicy tomato sauce

pan blanco = white bread

pan integral = wholemeal bread

kétchup (Spain) = ketchup

catsup (Mexico) = ketchup

mostaza = mustard

mayonesa = mayonnaise


Before you go …

There’s another scrumptious treat that can be kinda difficult to order in a foreign language … but fret not because we’ve cooked up an expert guide on exactly ‘HOW TO ORDER ‘STEAK’ IN SPANISH too!

¡Buen provecho!

Rupert's lived in Mexico for nearly a decade and has been working as a Spanish teacher for even longer (over 10 years now, wow!). He specializes in simple (yet effective) explanations and is a veritable grammar-whizz.

And some cheeky vids ...

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