The Iowa “Hearty Party” Sandwich

Have you ever searched for the perfect sandwich recipe that looked good, tasted delicious, was easy to make ahead, and could easily be scaled to feed a crowd?

Welcome to the Iowa "Hearty Party" Sandwich. This little mini-sub works for all types of events and celebrations. These easy sandwiches are simple to put together and cheap! The secret to the gourmet taste are the blending of flavors in the special sandwich filling, paired with the chewy texture of the crusty steak roll -  the perfect size as a single serving, or cut into two (for slider size and kid-friendly!).

Iowa sub sandwich

The tasty Iowa "Hearty Party" Sandwich easily can feed a crowd.

A flexible gourmet budget sandwich with many uses

This sandwich recipe is for 24 individual French steak rolls  or 48 half sandwiches. To give you an idea for size, the mini-sub type sandwiches are less than 6" long. The cute sandwich size makes it perfect for so many scenarios.

Here are all the events that you can serve the Iowa "Hearty Party" Sandwich:

  • picnic
  • wedding
  • funeral
  • graduation party
  • baby shower
  • wedding shower
  • bachlor/bachelorette party
  • tailgating/Super Bowl party
  • drive-through food events
  • food for a clean-up event
  • school function
  • on-the-go lunch
  • field lunch / harvest meals
  • This Iowa sandwich is really an all-purpose crowd-pleaser. The sandwich easily dresses up or down for whatever event that you need it for. Make the sandwich ahead the night before your event, it even freezes if you've made too much (we found that out after making a ton of sandwiches for my daughter's drive-through graduation event in 2020).

    TIP: Make extra! In my experience, these little mini sandwiches seem to disappear while I'm making them.

    Why these are the best sandwiches for events

  • can make  a day ahead
  • awesome gourmet flavor
  • perfect size, not too big, not too small
  • can be easily packaged with foldable sandwich bag
  • cheap (see ingredient price list)
  • can be made quickly
  • use bread to combine with other sandwich fillings for a mixed platter or gourmet platter (how about gourmet peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, anyone?)
  • can be frozen for later use (up to two months)
  • FREE Iowa "Hearty Party" Sandwich recipe

    Click here to get the free Iowa "Hearty Party" Sandwich recipe + TWO MORE meat recipes that are yummy on steak roll buns!

    One batch feeds 24 people, or when cut in half, provides 48 servings. It all depends on what portion size you want to offer. So rounding to 25, it easily scales to serve 50, 100, 150, etc. They really do assemble fast. I don't mind making a batch or two by myself, but for a bigger group, grab some family and friends and these will be made in no time for your event!

    Directions to make the Iowa "Hearty Party" Sandwich

    This article has complete directions to make the sandwich or click here to get a concise PDF download of the Iowa "Hearty Party" Sandwich recipe.

    Steak rolls are the ingredient that makes these sandwiches special, they are the perfect combination of crusty outside texture and springy bread inside. Steak rolls can be ordered ahead from the Walmart Bakery to provide the peak of freshness for your event. They often can be purchased off the shelf in a bag of 24 rolls, which makes them handy to serve a crowd. 

    TIPS. The glossy texture of the steak roll crust allows any messy spread drips to be wiped away with a damp cloth to assure neat presentation. Fold top sandwich bags are an economical way to package each roll.  

    These mini-subs are the ideal size for parties or gatherings - get creative and add different sandwich fillings to make a variety sandwich platter or gourmet sandwich plate. Veggies like lettuce, spinach, cucumbers, green peppers, etc. can be added to make the sandwich even healthier.

    FREEZING. The bread itself can be frozen for later use, but best not to delay more than 2 weeks in the freezer before assembling the sandwiches. The entire sandwich can be frozen, even though it has a salad dressing spread. For ultimate freshness, this should not be stored for more than 2 months in the freezer.

    Making the sandwich...

    STEP 1. Assemble the ingredients for a single batch. Jump here to view the cost of an individual sandwich. I buy store brands when I can. Here in Iowa, we have Fareway Stores -their products are always top notch at a fair price.

    Sandwich ingredients for 24 steak rolls:

    • Walmart bakery French steak rolls, 24 count
    • Colby Jack cheese slices, 16 oz, 24 pack
    • Oscar Mayer sub kit, 1 lb 12 oz. (Ham/Turkey kit OR Ham/Salami)
    • 1/2 batch sandwich spread
    • Salad dressing (30 oz jar)
    • Yellow mustard
    • Salt, black pepper, sugar, celery seed, and water
    Iowa Hearty Party Sandwich ingredients

    The Iowa Hearty Party Sandwich ingredients.

    STEP 2. Mix the sandwich spread ingredients together with  a whisk. Let sit overnight for the flavors to blend for the ultimate taste experience!


    Single batch spread for 24 sandwiches:
    2 cups Miracle Whip or salad dressing
    1 ½ Tbls. yellow mustard
    1 ½ tsp. celery seed
    ¼ cup water
    1 Tbls. sugar
    ¼ tsp. salt
    ⅛ tsp. black pepper

    Double batch spread for 48 sandwiches:
    1 qt Miracle Whip or salad dressing
    3 heaping Tbls. yellow mustard
    1 Tbls. celery seed
    ½ cup water
    2 Tbls. sugar
    ½ tsp. salt
    ¼ tsp. black pepper

    sandwich filling for Iowa Hearty Party Sandwich

    Mixing sandwich filling for the Iowa Hearty Party Sandwich.

    STEP 3. Cut the steak rolls in half lengthwise with a serrated knife. Spread the filling on with a spatula spreader, this will aid in skimming the surface of the cut bread and stretch the filling farther then using a regular butter knife (instead of falling into the air pockets of the baked bread).

    Fold over two slices of deli meat and lay overlapped on the bottom slice of roll (feel free to mix or match meat types). Cut the square cheese diagonally and place offset on top of the meat. 

    Assembling Iowa Hearty Party Sandwich.

    Assembling the Iowa Hearty Party Sandwich.

    STEP 4. For final presentation, the rolls can be placed on a sandwich platter or serving tray. Cover with plastic wrap to keep from drying out. Optionally, the rolls can be packaged for individual servings by wrapping in a fold top sandwich bag. Note in the picture, that sometimes I have to give a quick wipe to the steak roll to remove a little messy sandwich dressing, luckily, steak rolls wipe nice!

    The advantage of packaging the rolls is that people don't come in contact with open sandwiches on a tray. With recent concerns of Covid-19, consideration of safe food handling in relation to spread of disease on buffets has resulted in precautions like this.

    Think of the scenario of taking food to a friend, funeral wake, etc. These sandwiches are already conveniently pre-packaged so when there are leftovers, the receiver can pop the sandwiches right into the freezer, making their life a little easier (be sure to tell them that they can freeze this sandwich, unless of course, you added lettuce to it!).

    Wrapping individual servings of Iowa Hearty Party sandwich.

    Wrapping individual servings of Iowa Hearty Party sandwich.

    SAFE FOOD SERVING. Here I show a batch of 25 sandwiches, cut in half for a total of 50 servings. Walmart must have been generous, as I actually counted an extra roll! I have some cheap food trays from the dollar store that just happen to fit in this jumbo carrying tray base.

    By adding ice on the bottom, I can have the peace of mind that the food stays chilled. I've brought these sandwiches several times to funeral wakes. I'll put one tray in the fridge and let the family know to replace it when the other tray empties.

    Don't forget, if you want a nice printable recipe format, click here to get a PDF download of the Iowa "Hearty Party" Sandwich recipe.

    keeping sandwiches chilled for serving on buffet.

    Keeping sandwiches chilled for serving on buffet.

    Cost of making the Iowa "Hearty Party" Sandwich

    I thought with food prices going up and a recession looming, it would be interesting to compare the cost of this sandwich when I last calculated cost. In 2022, it's still a good deal at $0.80.

    In 2/2020 this sandwich cost $0.75 (I did use a more expensive name brand Colby cheese at that time). The steak rolls went up $0.70 and the sub kit went up $1.59 in 2022. Figures do not include cost of mustard, salt, pepper, sugar, and celery seed. I've found I can get 25 servings of meat out of a sub kit, but sometimes you get a piece cut a bit "raggy" - I always pick the best pieces for each sandwich.





    Per Piece

    French steak rolls, Walmart

    24 rolls



    Store brand Colby Jack16 oz

    24 slices



    Ham/Turkey subkit OR Ham/Salami

    1#12oz (2 slices per sandwich)



    Store brand salad dressing


    $3.48 divided by 2 batches = $1.50 a batch






    (excluding mustard, salt, pepper, sugar, and celery seed in recipe)

    $19.21 divided by 24


    In conclusion

    These sandwiches have turned out to be a godsend. Finding the Walmart steak rolls was a real budget find. This sandwich concoction all came about because I was asked by a relative to set up food for a funeral wake and was looking for a more economical way to make it for a crowd. The spread recipe was from a family friend.

    The steak rolls are satisfying, have beautiful presentation, and the meat and cheese amounts are just right so it doesn't break the bank. My daughter graduated from high school in 2020 - the peak of Covid-19. We pulled off a successful drive-through graduation party and handed out this sandwich (one full roll), bag of chips, small bottle of pop, and a homemade jumbo cookie in it's own special bag - it was a hit!

    Regarding the French steak rolls... my husband and I have enjoyed trips to Germany where they have the most amazing bread rolls, it's a real game-changer when the right bread is used. I can't really compare Walmart French steak rolls to bread baked in German bakeries, but the Walmart bakery rolls do make a great difference in this sandwich recipe.

    Don't forget that you can order the rolls fresh-baked if you really are aiming to impress.


    signature, Renee editor EverythingPantry

    About the author 

    Renee Matt

    Renee is an Iowa farmwife with a background as a former kitchen designer. Supporting the family farm with hearty meals has been key to Renee's pantry readiness. She uses her professional IT background and expertise to bring the Everything Pantry website to life. Read more about this farmwife on her about page.

    {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

    Pantry Talk for Pantry Enthusiasts!

    Drag to Reposition
    Move Up or Down to Reposition
    Move Left or Right to Reposition