What's the Right Way To Cut a Sandwich: Horizontal or Diagonal?

A recent recipe video on Instagram is getting called out for incorrectly slicing a sandwich—but which side do you take in the sandwich slice debate?

A turkey sandwich with lettuce and tomato cut on the diagonal.
Photo: Shutterstock

Picture this: The sandwiches are being made. Extra mayonnaise? Check. A gooey grilled cheese, hot off the griddle? Done. Now it's time to slice your creation. Do you cut the sandwich on a diagonal to create two triangles or right across the middle with a horizontal slice? Does that decision really have an impact on the final project and the sandwich's flavor?

A recent Instagram post by Smitten Kitchen's Deb Perelman got the discussion swirling on social media. Perelman is the popular cookbook author and writer behind the popular blog Smitten Kitchen. She recently shared a video on Instagram where she made a roasted-tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich.

The soup began with shallots, butter, and oven-roasted tomatoes blended together and finished with cream. In the video, Perelman then made a crispy, golden grilled cheese sandwich to pair with the tomato soup. And then it happened. At the last moment, Perelman sliced the grilled cheese sandwich in half on its horizon.

It was the slice of a sandwich heard 'round the world, and one that launched a heated conversation across social media the likes of which we haven't seen since the hot dog-sandwich debate. With some very strong opinions on the best (and only, according to some) way to halve a sandwich, here are both sides of the sandwich slice debate.

Team Horizontal

When Perelman spoke with the Washington Post recently about the sandwich debate, she confessed that it's just something she has always done. It's also the way her mother cut sandwiches, so it makes sense that she inevitably became a horizontal sandwich-slicer, too.

In the article, Perelman also said that no matter the shape of the bread she's cutting, she always tries to make the shortest cut possible. This allows for the structural integrity of the sandwich to not be compromised.

People who slice their sandwiches horizontally tend to agree on this point about keeping the ingredients inside intact. Less surface area along a slice means less room for delicate lettuce leaves, tomato or avocado slices, and condiments to slide out.

This theory can also apply to a melted-to-protection grilled cheese warm off the griddle like the one in Perelman's video. Nothing beats pulling apart the two halves of a grilled cheese and stretching the bridge of melted cheese, and a horizontal cut means less cheese is likely to be crushed or smushed out in the cutting process.

Team Diagonal

Sandwich lovers who favor the diagonal slice feel the presentation of two triangles makes the sandwich look more pleasing. A diagonal cut provides a better visual for the ingredients inside the sandwich, and creates optimal eating angles which means you can start from each corner and work your way in.

Not a fan of the crust on a sandwich? Cutting the sandwich on a diagonal creates the illusion of having less crust with one long, exposed part along the slice. There is, of course, no actual difference in the amount of crust on the sandwich, but the anti-crust crowd tend to prefer the look of sandwich triangles better.

When we recently spoke with J. Kenji Lopez-Alt about his perfect summer tomato sandwich, his final tip was to slice it diagonally because, and we quote, "it tastes better that way."

Survey Says

We polled our community of Allrecipes Allstars to get their take on the topic and see what they had to say about the sandwich slice debate. The results were nothing short of surprising.

The results revealed the diagonal slice as the top choice at 61%, followed by a 'square cut' at 20%, and 'other' which included slicing with Bento box/cookie cutters rounding out the results. Allstars say that when it comes to the horizontal slice vs. the diagonal it, "depends on the sandwich."

Many also like to shake up the number of slices, sometimes bumping up the sandwich sections to four per sandwich. Tuna sandwiches were a favorite with two diagonal slices of four triangles, and a PB & J is evidently just as tasty when cut into four squares.

Then there are those sandwich makers who favor not slicing the sandwich at all. For some of our busy Allstars, a 'no-slice' sandwich is undoubtedly the easiest of all to prepare. A number of Allstars recommended this laid-back method of sandwich prep, stating, "I don't cut my sandwiches at all. Just eat 'em as is." One reader summed it up this way, "I don't cut mine … it all ends up in the same place so what's the point?"

So, where do you fall on the sandwich slice debate?

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