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Is Pizza a Sandwich?

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Ever found yourself amidst a casual conversation that suddenly pivots to the burning question, “Is pizza a sandwich?” At the heart of this debate lies the versatility and varied interpretations of what defines a sandwich and where pizza fits in. So, is pizza a sandwich? The short answer: it’s a delicious gray area.

Pizza does match some sandwich criteria, as it involves toppings on bread. Yet, if that alone qualifies, toast with jam could technically be a sandwich too. Some firmly believe pizza parallels an open-faced sandwich, given its singular bread base crowned with toppings. However, others argue pizza mirrors a pie, pointing towards the crusty embrace of toppings in styles like deep-dish.

Further muddling this culinary conundrum are variants like calzones and pizza sandwiches, which toe the line between pizza and sandwich definitions. Cultural interpretations add another layer to the discourse. In locales like New York City, it’s customary to term a pizza a “pie”. Elsewhere, it’s just pizza.

Across its myriad forms, from the classic Italian versions to innovative American twists, pizza showcases its adaptability, proving it doesn’t neatly fit one label. But if you’ve ever wondered why is pizza called pizza, that’s a tale steeped in history and culture. Regardless of where you stand in the “pizza as a sandwich” debate, there’s an indisputable truth: pizza is universally loved.

Is Pizza A Pie Or A Sandwich?

Ah, the age-old culinary conundrum! But before we dive into the cheesy debate, let’s first set the stage by understanding our contenders: the pie and the sandwich.

What is a Pie?

A pie is a delightful baked dish typically made of a pastry dough casing that envelops or encloses various fillings, which could range from sweet fruits to savory meats and veggies. Remember that comforting chicken pot pie or the sweet allure of an apple pie? Yep, that’s the stuff! The primary characteristic of a pie is its thicker crust, which is baked to perfection, offering a crunchy embrace to the liquid or solid insides. And because of its often-messy nature, don’t even think about picking it up! You’ll need a trusty fork or knife to conquer this dish.

So, Why Do Some Say Pizza Is a Pie?

Well, it starts with the crust. Just like a pie, pizzas have a crust, albeit sometimes thinner, that plays host to a multitude of toppings. When you slice a pizza, especially the deep-dish kind, the profile can indeed resemble that of a pie slice. It’s no wonder then that in cities with a rich pizza heritage like New York and Chicago, you’ll often hear people referring to their pizza as a “pie.” “Hey Tony, get me a slice of that pie!” is not an uncommon shout across the bustling streets of Brooklyn.

Moreover, how a pizza holds together its toppings with the help of its crust makes a compelling argument for the pie camp. After all, doesn’t a pie crust do the same for its filling?

Is A Pizza An Open-faced Sandwich?

Have you ever looked at a piece of bread loaded with toppings and thought, “Is this a sandwich or just a really loaded toast?” If so, you’ve probably encountered an open-faced sandwich. Let’s dig into this and see if our beloved pizza fits the bill!

What’s an Open-faced Sandwich Anyway?

An open-faced sandwich is essentially what it sounds like – it’s open, without the typical top piece of bread that characterizes most sandwiches. Think of it as the free spirit of the sandwich world: unbounded and unrestrained. This foodie favorite comprises a single piece of bread adorned with various toppings, from the classic butter and jam to more elaborate arrays like smoked salmon, cream cheese, and capers. Due to the often generous and gravity-defying mound of toppings, tackling an open-faced sandwich with your hands might result in a delicious mess. Hence, just like with a pie, it’s best to approach it with a fork and knife in hand.

Now, the Piping Hot Question: Is Pizza an Open-faced Sandwich?

Pizza does have some elements that make it seem like a distant cousin of the open-faced sandwich. First off, just like an open-faced sandwich, pizza has a singular base (that delicious crust) that’s generously layered with toppings. From oozy cheese and pepperoni slices to bell peppers and olives, it’s a smorgasbord on a crust.

The argument for pizza being an open-faced sandwich gets stronger when you consider the variations that allow it to be folded or sliced into smaller bits, much like how one might cut up an open-faced sandwich to make it more manageable.

On the flip side, while you can draw similarities, pizzas are traditionally seen as an entity of their own, with a rich history and culinary legacy that sets them apart. While you might fold a New York slice or roll a thin-crust pizza like a wrap, this adaptability doesn’t necessarily translate to it being a sandwich. It just means pizza is versatile and ever-evolving!

In essence, while some might argue that pizza has a lot in common with the open-faced sandwich, others could say it stands alone, atop a pedestal (or should we say pizza stone?), in its own category of deliciousness. And honestly, as long as it tastes good, who’s complaining? Whether pizza or an open-faced sandwich, it’s a win-win for our taste buds!

What Classifies As A Sandwich?

The debate about what makes a sandwich truly a sandwich is as layered as the dish itself. Let’s dive into the various criteria that people across the world use to define this culinary classic.

The Legal Definition

In the intricate web of legislation, even the humble sandwich requires a definition. In certain jurisdictions, the identity of a sandwich hinges on its ingredients, preparation methods, or the manner it’s served.

It might sound mundane, but this classification can influence taxation in establishments from local cafes to international chains. Though this approach offers businesses a clear taxation guide, it often stumbles into the pitfalls of arbitrariness and inconsistency. For instance, while a wrap might be taxed as a sandwich in one place, another jurisdiction might deem it an entirely separate category. 

The Structural Definition

For those who like to keep things straightforward, the structural approach to defining a sandwich revolves around its anatomy.

Classic enthusiasts might argue that a sandwich necessitates two pieces of bread with fillings in between. But this raises questions: Where do open-faced sandwiches or wraps fit in? While the structural definition is celebrated for its simplicity, it’s often criticized for its rigidity. It might disregard several dishes that, while not traditional sandwiches, embody its spirit. 

The Functional Definition

Venturing into a more philosophical terrain, the functional definition posits that if it operates as a sandwich, it must be one. Here, any handheld, portable food that offers a balanced meal could qualify. This inclusive perspective welcomes various foods into the sandwich fold, adapting to evolving culinary trends. However, its broad nature is also its Achilles’ heel. The lines get blurry, sparking debates. If convenience and portability are the primary criteria, does a slice of handheld pizza or a pie also wear the sandwich badge?

How Do You Make A Pizza Sandwich?

A pizza sandwich! It’s like the universe heard our cravings for pizza and sandwiches and decided to grant us a heavenly fusion of the two. So, what’s a pizza sandwich? Let’s dive in!

A pizza sandwich is essentially the love child of a pizza and a sandwich. Made with bread, cheese, pizza sauce, and a plethora of toppings ranging from meats to veggies, this sandwich promises a burst of pizza flavor with every bite. The primary distinction between a regular pizza and a pizza sandwich is the structure.

While a pizza boasts a single dough base, a pizza sandwich envelops its fillings between two slices of bread. Additionally, instead of the usual baking method for pizzas, pizza sandwiches are more often than not grilled or toasted to perfection.

Steps to Craft the Perfect Pizza Sandwich:

Step 1: Begin with two slices of your favorite bread. You want something sturdy, like a ciabatta or sourdough. Lavishly spread pizza sauce on one side of each slice, ensuring even coverage for maximum flavor.

Step 2: It’s cheese time! Sprinkle a generous amount of mozzarella or your preferred cheese on top of the sauce. Remember, the cheese acts as the glue holding everything together, so don’t be shy!

Step 3: Now, unleash your inner artist. Add your favorite pizza toppings. Whether you’re a pepperoni aficionado, a ham enthusiast, or even someone who believes pineapple belongs on pizza (controversial, we know!), layer them on one slice of bread.

Step 4: Ready to close up shop? Place the second slice of bread, sauce side down, on top of your toppings. Press down gently.

Step 5: Heat up a skillet or a sandwich press. Grill or toast the sandwich until it reaches a golden-brown hue and the cheese inside is deliciously melted.

What Is A Pizza Sandwich Called?

Across the globe, the irresistible combination of pizza ingredients within a sandwich has been adapted and reinvented in countless ways. Depending on where you are, the name and precise ingredients of a pizza sandwich might differ, but the core idea remains consistent. Let’s embark on a global tour of some of these variations:

Toast Hawaii

This is Germany’s delightful take on a pizza sandwich. Toast Hawaii combines the tropical flavor of pineapple with savory ham and cheese. To make it even more appealing, there’s sometimes a cherry added on top, serving as a sweet contrast to the saltiness of the ham and cheese.


From the chic cafes of Paris comes the Croque-monsieur. This isn’t a traditional pizza sandwich, but it shares some similar characteristics. It’s made with bread, a generous helping of ham, rich cheese, and smothered with creamy béchamel sauce. For those wanting a bit extra, topping it with a fried egg turns it into a “Croque-madame.”


Down under in Australia, the jaffle reigns supreme. This sandwich is prepared using bread, cheese, a dash of tomato sauce, and a variety of fillings, such as bacon, egg, or beans. The defining feature of the jaffle is how it’s made: it’s cooked in a distinctive device known as a jaffle iron, which seals the edges and gives it a unique pocket shape.


Lastly, in the vast culinary landscape of the United States, we have the pizzawich. As the name suggests, it’s the American spin on a pizza sandwich. Comprising bread, cheese, a spread of pizza sauce, and often filled with pepperoni, this sandwich can either be microwaved for a quick meal or baked in an oven for a crispy finish.

What Is Folded Pizza Called?

The allure of pizza has resulted in countless adaptations worldwide. One popular variation is the folded pizza, where the dough is bent over to encase a medley of fillings. This method not only gives the dish a distinct shape but also affects its texture and flavor profile.

Folded pizzas stand out by their very design. Instead of the open-faced, flat structure commonly associated with pizza, folded varieties bring the dough over the toppings to seal them in, somewhat resembling a pastry. Compared to their conventional counterparts, folded pizzas generally boast a more substantial crust, a condensed form, and a slightly moister interior due to the trapped steam and sauces inside.


Originating from Italy, the Calzone is perhaps the most iconic of folded pizzas. It is meticulously crafted with pizza dough filled with cheese, tangy tomato sauce, and an assortment of other ingredients ranging from ham and salami to spinach and ricotta. Once prepared, it’s baked to perfection, ensuring a golden crust outside and a molten core inside.


An American creation, the Stromboli offers a slightly different take on the folded pizza. While it shares similarities with the Calzone in terms of ingredients, its defining feature is its cylindrical shape. The dough is layered with cheese, sauce, and various toppings like pepperoni or sausage, then rolled into a log before baking.


Taking inspiration from Mexico, the Quesadilla is not a traditional pizza, but it shares the same ethos. Two tortillas envelop melted cheese, zesty salsa, and a choice of fillings, be it succulent chicken, spicy beef, or hearty beans. This concoction is then crisped up on a griddle or skillet, creating a delightful contrast between the soft interior and crunchy exterior.


Borrowing from Spanish cuisine, Empanadas are delicious pastries filled with a combination of cheeses, sauces, meats, or vegetables. While they are more closely related to pastries than pizzas, their essence of enclosing flavorsome fillings within dough makes them worthy of mention here.

These varieties, while being different in origin and execution, all celebrate the universal love for encapsulated flavors in dough, presenting the world with diverse interpretations of what many would call a “folded pizza.”

Other Famous Food Debates

The culinary world has always been a melting pot of opinions, traditions, and innovation. With passionate food lovers around the globe, it’s no wonder that certain topics elicit heated discussions. Here are some of the more renowned food controversies:

Is a Hot Dog a Sandwich?

One of the most famous debates, this question has sparked countless discussions. While many argue that the hot dog’s structure aligns with that of a sandwich (bread with a filling in the middle), purists believe its unique preparation and presentation set it apart from traditional sandwiches.

The Correct Way to Eat an Oreo

This age-old dispute revolves around how to consume an Oreo cookie. Do you twist it apart and eat the cream first or do you bite into it whole? While Nabisco, the makers of Oreo, claim there’s no wrong way, many beg to differ.

Pineapple on Pizza

The inclusion of pineapple as a pizza topping, popularly called “Hawaiian pizza,” has caused quite a stir. Critics argue that the sweetness of the pineapple clashes with other flavors, while proponents enjoy the contrast it provides.

The Great Scone Debate

Originating from England, this debate is about the proper way to assemble a scone with jam and clotted cream. Should the jam or the cream be spread first? The choice can sometimes denote regional loyalties, with Cornwall and Devon having opposite preferences.

Ketchup on Mac and Cheese

While some enjoy the tangy addition of ketchup to their creamy mac and cheese, others find the combination off-putting, arguing that it dilutes the rich flavors of the dish.

Cilantro: Love it or Hate it?

Cilantro (or coriander) is a divisive herb. Some praise its fresh and citrusy notes, while others claim it tastes like soap. The aversion for some is genetic, with certain people having a gene that makes cilantro taste unpleasant.

FAQs – Is Pizza A Sandwich?

Is a hot dog a sandwich?

A hot dog is traditionally placed between a split bun, which has led many to categorize it as a type of sandwich. However, due to its distinct preparation and presentation, purists argue that it stands in its own category.

Why is pizza sometimes called a pie?

Pizza is often referred to as a “pie” primarily in regions like New York City and Chicago because of its crust that encompasses toppings, similar to how a pie crust encloses its filling.

Can pizza be considered an open-faced sandwich?

Some people argue that since pizza consists of a single piece of bread with toppings, it can be viewed as an open-faced sandwich. However, traditionalists might assert that pizza’s unique preparation and ingredients set it apart.

If a sandwich needs two pieces of bread, what about subs or hoagies?

Subs and hoagies, despite being on a single roll, are often considered sandwiches because the roll is typically split, not fully separated, allowing for fillings to be placed in between.

Does the type of bread determine if something is a sandwich?

Not necessarily. While bread is a common component of sandwiches, what primarily defines a sandwich is the presence of fillings or toppings between bread pieces, be it slices of bread, buns, or even tortillas in the case of wraps.

Do pizzas need to have tomato sauce to be considered pizza pies or sandwiches?

No, pizzas come in a variety of styles. White pizzas, for example, forgo tomato sauce in favor of ingredients like olive oil, garlic, and cheese. Whether or not a pizza has tomato sauce doesn’t influence its classification in the pizza vs. sandwich debate.

Is a calzone a folded pizza or a sandwich?

A calzone is often considered a folded pizza because it’s made from pizza dough and typically contains pizza toppings. However, due to its enclosed nature, some might argue it shares similarities with sandwiches.

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Jeff is a pizza enthusiast with over 15 years of experience of working in pizzerias.