I used to hate toasting any of my sandwiches. I hated the mess of crumbs each bite created, and I was too impatience to wait even longer for my food for the sake of a toasty slice. I can proudly say I’ve grown up since then, and I do recognize the value a good toasted bread can add to a sandwich.
Certain sandwiches like a panini or a grilled cheese would be nothing without toasting. The merits of a classic grilled cheese are so obvious it might seem stupid, but a grilled cheese is the perfect example of why toasting a sandwhich matters. Although cheese and bread can be delicious on their own, a little butter (or mayo) added to the exterior and grilled up creates an entirely different experience. You might want to argue that grilling and toasting are not the same thing, but the main point here is that bread that holds this sandwich has essentially gotten a good tan.
In fact, there are some sandwiches that are immediately made better by the simple addition of a golden crust to hold it all together.
It’s my belief that the best sandwich is a properly stacked one, and both BLT’s and club sandwiches are a fine testament to that. A layering of strips of savory bacon, fresh lettuce, and firm tomato slices with the possible addition of turkey or another protein held together by a triangle of toasted bread sounds like heaven.
But, this could all come crashing down if the bread becomes soggy. A key ingredient in a BLT is the “T” for tomato, and tomato juice can soak into the bread leaving it to fall apart. A toasted bread slice means you’re going into each bite with a firmer outer shell to hold in all the good stuff.
This isn’t to say that toasted bread won’t ever become soggy, it just has a better chance of holding things together than a plain slice of bread. Plus, starting off with a crisp bite is much better than biting into mush.
You might think, “who doesn’t toast a bagel?” Well, some people (my childhood self included) enjoy the chewiness of an untoasted bagel. However, the lack of toasting does make them more work to eat. When the bagel is toasted the outer crust of it just breaks off more easily.
Plus, when you use a bagel as the shell of a sandwich but don’t toast it, any condiments you use will end up soaking into the bread and just adding to the chewy factor. A toasted bagel acts as a barrier keeping each layer of the sandwich separate.
Toasting the bread provides another texture to contrast the mushy consistency of a salad filling. I like chicken salad the best, but I think this applies to all “salad-based” sandwiches. Sure, you could always add chips or a lovely pickle for some added crunch, but the toasted bread just cradles the innards of a sandwich in an incomparable way. Note: this does not mean you should toast the entire sandwich. Salad sandwiches should be served chilled atop warm, toasted bread.
There’s a reason sandwich shops like Subway or Quiznos ask if you want your sandwich toasted—they know what they’re talking about and want to give you the best possible option. So, if you want to level up your lunch in just one simple step, I suggest toasting it.