How Funeral Sandwiches Got Their Name–And Why We Love Them

These big-batch sandwiches belong on every Southern spread.

Ham-Stuffed Biscuits With Mustard Butter
Photo: Photo: Tina Cornett

If your Southern spread is missing a batch of funeral sandwiches, someone's sure to notice. You'll likely recognize this sandwich, a two-bite appetizer that's a necessity when feeding a crowd. It's traditionally prepared for funeral spreads, which is where it gets its name. The sandwich is a versatile dish, though, and can also be found at other Southern celebrations, specifically church homecomings, Easter get-togethers, and tailgate parties.

Funeral sandwiches could also be called "party sandwiches" because the point of the dish is that it's easy, delicious, and can feed—and please—a big group. Most variations include just a few ingredients, including a sweet-ish bun, meat (usually ham), cheese, and a spread such as mayonnaise or mustard. The goal of the funeral sandwich is to serve a big group of people in a short period of time and to provide them with something delicious and filling.

Funeral sandwiches are a straightforward appetizer that can be served hot or cold. They're reliable and simple to prepare—and they're a hit with adults and kids alike. They can be prepared ahead of time, and they travel well, too. The classic funeral sandwich is made with Hawaiian rolls, filled with ham, your choice of cheese, and a simple spread or special sauce. They're assembled and then baked in a big batch on a baking sheet to ensure quick prep and plenty of servings—a tall stack of warm sandwiches for the group that's gathered.

If you'd like to make a sandwich or two (or twenty), check out our favorite recipe for funeral sandwiches, which combines the traditional flavors and warm, filling satisfaction the dish is known for. Another delicious variation of the funeral sandwich is made with biscuits—try these ham biscuits for another great addition to a lunch spread.

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What's your go-to recipe for funeral sandwiches? Do you make any substitutions to the Hawaiian roll-ham-cheese combination?

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