Maine Italian Sandwich

Growing up in a small town in Downeast Maine, our go-to lunch when doing summertime activities was “Italians” (aka the Italian Sandwich). It’s a harmonious flavor I will never forget. In this recipe, I will share some of the traditional secrets that made them so delicious!

Plant-Based Italian Sub With Smokehouse Ham

Maine Italian Sandwich

A mouthwatering New England regional classic sub sandwich.


  • Soft Italian bread (Fresh or gently heated French baguette can be used as pictured)
  • Plant-based smokehouse ham (or Green Forest Ham)
  • American-style cheese (omit if desired)
  • Tomato, sliced
  • White onion, sliced or diced
  • Green bell pepper, diced
  • Dill pickle slices
  • Finely shredded iceberg lettuce (or similar lettuce)
  • 1 pinch Black pepper
  • 1 pinch Oregano
  • 1 small pinch Cayenne pepper or Paprika (I like smoked hot paprika)
  • 1 splash Red wine vinegar (only if you like vinegar on your sub)


  • To keep the recipe straightforward, I have tucked most of the nuances into a section of this blog post called "The Secrets". It's a great resource if you want some thoughts on customizing your Maine Italians.
  • Assemble as seen in the picture. Everything listed is optional but legit Maine-style. Everyone has their own preferences, maybe someone wants yellow mustard and no vinegar, plenty of people are averse to tomatoes, and others may even want a little salty punch of olives – no matter your preference, go for it!


A note on oil: traditional New England-style subs use a neutral vegetable oil, what used to be referred to as a salad oil, however it’s not a deal-breaker to omit that oil as I have done. If you REALLY want that experience, simply add just 1/2 teaspoon neutral vegetable oil (not extra virgin olive oil) to the diced onions in a small dish and then add them to your sub.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Maine Italian Sandwich
Maine Italian Sandwich

Ham is the standard meat of a Maine Italian. More specifically, that really generic, “cooked ham”, the stuff that’s used in this guy’s Maine Italian video. I used my plant-based smokehouse ham, and it was awesome! I also make a tofu Green Forest Ham and will add that recipe to the site, you can currently find it in my Instagram highlights.

The Secrets

You get to pick-and-choose what you want on a Maine Italian. I used to pick off the tomatoes. I added oregano in this recipe but like everything it’s optional.

Don’t go crazy piling up the ingredients. Maine Italian is all about balance and harmony. Look at the photo, it’s a pretty good representation. You don’t want pickles overlapped. Next time I will dice up the onions and tuck in some sliced green peppers in true Maine Italian form!

The Number One Most Important Secret of the Maine Italian that NOBODY ELSE IS TELLING YOU…

Make them ahead of time! These are very, very good fresh, but like many things, the flavors will really start to shine after a few hours. For the real experience, wrap them in wax paper.

A Note About Cheese

Lastly, traditional Maine Italian sandwiches will have white American cheese on them. If you’re feeling the need, feel free to cheese/plant-based cheese it up, but this sandwich holds its own without the cheese!


I found a video of a Maine Italian that’s actually fairly legit, though the guy is an absolute animal with the tomatoes.