Nawlins Muffuletta: A Taste of New Orleans’ Iconic Sandwich

The Muffuletta sandwich traces its roots back to Sicily. Sicilian immigrants brought their culinary traditions to New Orleans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A staple in Sicily, the Muffuletta bread is a round, sturdy loaf covered in sesame seeds. Traditionally, this bread was used to hold a variety of cured meats, cheeses, and vegetables, making it perfect for long workdays. If you want an authentic sandwich experience, understanding its Sicilian origins is essential.

Birth in New Orleans

The Muffuletta’s transformation into an iconic New Orleans sandwich began at Central Grocery in the French Quarter. Established in 1906 by Salvatore Lupo, an Italian immigrant, the grocery served the local Sicilian community. Workers from the nearby French Market, also of Sicilian descent, sought quick, convenient meals. Lupo combined their favorite ingredients into a single sandwich using the Muffuletta bread, creating the famous Muffuletta sandwich. This innovation provided a practical and delicious meal solution, embedding the Muffuletta in New Orleans culinary culture.

Together, these events highlight the Sicilian influence and innovative spirit that birthed the Real Nawlins Muffuletta, a testament to the rich cultural exchange in New Orleans.

Key Ingredients of a Real Nawlins Muffuletta

The Bread

The bread for a Real Nawlins Muffuletta is a round, sesame-seeded loaf. Its texture is unique: crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. Central Grocery’s original recipe uses a loaf about 10 inches in diameter, easily fitting the sandwich’s rich fillings. Artisanal bakeries may replicate this type of bread.

The Meats and Cheeses

A typical Muffuletta includes a mix of cured meats and cheeses. Common meats are Genoa salami, mortadella, and capicola. Popular cheeses include provolone and mozzarella. These ingredients should be sliced thin and layered generously to balance flavors and textures.

The Olive Salad

The olive salad defines the Muffuletta’s distinct taste. Ingredients often include green and black olives, garlic, celery, cauliflower, and carrots. These elements are marinated in olive oil mixed with oregano and other spices. The spread provides acidity, crunch, and an unmistakable flavor profile.

Where to Find the Best Muffuletta in New Orleans

Iconic Shops

Central Grocery on Decatur Street is the birthplace of the Muffuletta sandwich. Since 1906 it’s served this Sicilian-inspired delight, making it a must-visit. The sandwich here features the classic combination of sesame-seeded round bread, Genoa salami, provolone, and signature olive salad. This shop is a cornerstone in the French Quarter, providing an authentic taste of history and tradition.

Napoleon House, located on St. Louis Street, is another iconic spot. It’s famous not just for its Muffulettas but also for its historic ambiance. The Muffulettas here come warm, which distinguishes them from others, offering a slightly different yet equally delightful experience. The olive salad, cured meats, and melted cheese meld to create a symphony of flavors you’ll remember.

Local Favorites

Verti Marte, a 24-hour deli on Royal Street, has garnered a loyal local following. Known for serving hefty portions, its Muffulettas are dense with cured meats, cheeses, and olive salad. It’s an ideal spot for an indulgent late-night snack or casual lunch to savor in the heart of New Orleans.

Cochon Butcher, an artisanal meat shop and sandwich counter, brings a modern twist to the traditional Muffuletta. Located in the Warehouse District, it emphasizes quality ingredients like house-made meats and fresh bread. The combination of gourmet elements and classic preparation makes it a favorite among locals and tourists alike.

By exploring these shops, you can experience the essence of Real Nawlins Muffuletta.

Making Your Own Muffuletta

Required Ingredients

For a Real Nawlins Muffuletta, you need specific ingredients to capture the authentic flavor:

  • Sesame-seeded round bread: Choose a 10-inch round loaf for traditional size.
  • Genoa salami: Slice 8 ounces thinly.
  • Provolone cheese: Get 8 ounces of thin slices.
  • Mortadella: Use 8 ounces sliced thinly.
  • Ham: Select 8 ounces, thinly sliced.
  • Olive salad: Use 1 cup of pre-made or homemade olive salad.
  1. Prepare Bread: Slice the round loaf horizontally. Keep the top and bottom halves intact.
  2. Apply Olive Salad: Spread half the olive salad on the bottom half of the bread, pressing it gently.
  3. Add Meats and Cheese: Layer the Genoa salami, ham, mortadella, and provolone cheese on top of the olive salad evenly.
  4. Top with More Olive Salad: Spread the remaining olive salad over the layered meats and cheese.
  5. Cover and Press: Place the top half of the bread over the filled bottom half. Press gently to set.
  6. Wrap and Rest: Wrap the entire sandwich tightly in plastic wrap. Let it sit for at least one hour to let flavors meld. For a more intense flavor, refrigerate overnight.

By following these steps, you create an authentic Real Nawlins Muffuletta at home that rivals the renowned versions from New Orleans itself.


Embarking on the journey to create a Real Nawlins Muffuletta at home lets you savor a slice of New Orleans’ rich culinary heritage. With its distinct blend of flavors and textures, this iconic sandwich brings the vibrant spirit of the Crescent City right to your kitchen. Whether you follow the traditional recipe or add your unique twist, the Muffuletta promises a delightful and satisfying experience. So gather your ingredients and enjoy the taste of New Orleans anytime you crave it.

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