I'm a huge fan of sub sandwiches of all varieties, especially the type usually advertised as "italian". One thing I've come to love is oil and vinegar - whenever it's offered as a condiment in a sandwich shop, I always ask for it.

I'm working on duplicating my favorite sandwiches in my own kitchen, but I'm getting stuck on this - what kinds of oil and vinegar do sandwich shops use? Would it just be olive oil and balsamic, or something else? Are there specific types or varieties that will give me better results?

I understand that this varies by shop (one of my favorite places touts a top-secret proprietary blend of oils), so I'm looking for what types of oil or vinegar are most commonly used by sandwich shops.

  • 2
    This varies widely and is probably too broad to answer on this site. You could begin with a simple splash of olive oil and red wine vinegar. I doubt it would be much more, otherwise you get into dressing territory.
    – moscafj
    Nov 21, 2017 at 19:11
  • Asking for specific recommendations takes this into opinion-based territory, as taste is subjective. While this could be edited out, it would still be too broad.
    – Cindy
    Nov 21, 2017 at 19:38
  • 3
    I'd consider this a valid "restaurant mimicry" and/or "reverse engineering" question. Nov 21, 2017 at 23:02
  • 5
    Before trying any special oils and vinegars, try: - changing the sequence in which you add them. Do not assume "oil first", or "vinegar first", or "make a vinaigrette first", are all the same. --- - if salt, pepper or spices are added, pay attention to quality, when they are added, and texture - how salt or pepper is ground makes a huge difference in mouthfeel and taste Nov 21, 2017 at 23:03

2 Answers 2


It depends. At Subway sandwich shops (the fast food chain), "oil and vinegar" means a blended vegetable oil and an inexpensive red wine vinegar. That is all. Some Subway shops may have one oil bottle and one vinegar bottle and put some of both on when you ask for oil and vinegar. A better Subway will have a third bottle that is a mix of oil and vinegar that can be shaken before applying to make it temporarily suspended, which also ensures a consistent proportion of oil and vinegar.

I find that at Subway, the oil and vinegar topping really works best if you also have the "Italian seasoning/herbs" and "salt and pepper" added as well. The latter is just salt and pepper. The former is actually Italian herbs including oregano, thyme, I think rosemary, and maybe some basil. The oregano and thyme are definitely prominent.

Other delis and sandwich shops are probably doing something similar to Subway. They may be mixing different proportions, using better or cheaper oils and vinegars, and/or they may mix the herbs and salt and pepper in with the oil and vinegar to make a complete dressing.

If I were doing this at home, I would make my own blend inspired by my favorite sandwich shop. I would use:

  • 100% extra virgin olive oil instead of an oil blend, but if you find the oil to be too strongly flavored you can switch this for a canola oil or soybean or blended oil. Nut oils like peanut might give a strange flavor.
  • A nice red wine vinegar and not balsamic, because balsamic could be too strong and wasted on a sub that already has strong meat and cheese flavors. I'd go with about 2/3 oil to 1/3 vinegar and adjust to taste. You could try a white wine vinegar, malt vinegar, or cider vinegar but the latter two will taste much less "Italian".
  • Salt and finely ground pepper to taste.
  • Herbs, strong on the oregano and thyme, I might put in dried basil also. Rosemary would have to be finely ground or omitted because it can be "spiney" if not cooked in.

I would put it in a bottle I can shake vigorously right before I apply it, and I would want to apply it to a pile of shredded lettuce and other vegetable so it doesn't just run out, and I Would want the bun to soak it up a bit.

Instead of shaking vigorously, you could add a little bit of mustard flour or prepared mustard or an emulsifier and whisking it or shaking it to emulsify it before applying. Again, this helps ensure it applies evenly and the proportions stay constant.


Just me but I would try olive oil, white wine vinegar, fresh lemon juice, and a little garlic.

Now that I answer this is a recipe and opinion so it should be closed.

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