The Difference Between Hoagies And Subs

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Sandwiches are some of the best options for throwing together a quick meal. Plus, you can make them so many different ways. Whether you like tons of meat or lots of veggies, sandwiches are incredibly versatile.

The term sandwich encompasses a variety of foods. You’ve heard the terms – grinder, sub, hoagie, hero, and the list can go on. Sometimes the name varies based on what’s on the sub and sometimes people just call those delicious sandwiches whatever name they prefer at the time. 

So how do you know what all these types of sandwiches mean? Are they the same or are they really made differently?

What’s the difference between a hoagie and a sub sandwich? While you might consider these terms interchangeable, and they primarily are, there are a few things that set them apart. Hoagies are traditionally served cold on a 6-12 inch bread roll. Subs, on the other hand, can be served hot or cold and can be made in a variety of shapes and sizes.

In this guide, we will cover the differences and similarities between a hoagie and a sub sandwich. They’re really quite similar but the terminology could potentially mean different things to different parts of the world. It’s quite interesting to know just how they differ. 

Keep reading to learn the differences between hoagies and sub sandwiches, as well as how they are really the same. 

A Complete Guide to Hoagies and Subs

The terminology for various sandwiches tends to all meld together. They are commonly referred to in similar ways and there are what seems like a multitude of names that can categorize a sandwich. 

Some of the terminologies vary based on where you are from while some of the names might be established based on what’s on the sandwich and how it’s made. 

Sub sandwiches and hoagies are very much alike when you break down the details. 

We will break each type of sandwich down in individual detail to give you a clear picture of what they are individually. We will then round out the similarities and differences in a summary review to give you a quick reference as to how they compare. 

Shall we get started?

What You Need To Know About Hoagies

A hoagie, by definition, is a long sandwich. It’s made on a long roll and then filled with meat, cheese, and salad toppings. The thing about the hoagie is that while you can vary the toppings slightly and still keep the title, it kind of has a set style for toppings. 

Typically, a hoagie contains Italian meats as well as cheeses and salad-based toppings. The most common toppings include ham, turkey, pepperoni, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and provolone cheese. You can also add various dressings to the hoagie. 

The title for hoagie developed from Italian immigrants who made the sandwich. They originally termed the sandwich a “hoggie,” because they worked in the Hog Island shipyard making standard sandwiches. 

The term hoagie is incredibly common on the East coast in areas like New Jersey and Philadelphia. The hoagie is essentially a form of the submarine sandwich and could also easily be compared to heroes and grinders, as well as other forms of sandwiches. 

One of the most unique things about the hoagie is that it is almost always served cold. It is rarely heated or toasted prior to serving and it also does not include warmed ingredients. The hoagie is for cold cuts and cold toppings. 

You can easily associate the hoagie sandwich with Italian-American culture and you see bits of Italian culture into the very presence of the sandwich. 

Making a Hoagie Sandwich

Let’s talk about how a classic hoagie is made. It’s a simple process and it doesn’t take a considerable amount of time or effort. You can often use items you have on hand to fill your hoagie. 

To illustrate the sandwich, we are using a hoagie recipe directly from Philadelphia, in the heart of hoagie territory. Some might say the hoagie can outdo a sub sandwich any day because it’s simply a special classic sandwich. 

Here’s our take on making a hoagie sandwich. 

  1. You will need a lengthy Italian roll (typically 6-12 inches in length), salt, pepper, oregano, boiled ham, salami, capicola, provolone cheese, tomato, onion, sweet peppers, and lettuce. You might also want Italian dressing or you can make your own using olive oil and red wine vinegar. 
  2. Slice your roll lengthwise and open it up to place your toppings. 
  3. Start by brushing the top and bottom insides of the bed lightly with your dressing. If you’re going to add optional seasonings, sprinkle salt and oregano with your dressing. 
  4. Lay first your ham in a layer on the roll. Fold it and add as much as you like. 
  5. Then add salami and capicola in a similar manner. 
  6. Top the meat with provolone cheese. It may be oversized, it’s purely optional whether you slice it or leave it oversized. 
  7. Next add a layer of tomatoes, onion slices, and crushed or sliced sweet peppers. 
  8. Finish with a layer of lettuce and some black pepper. 
  9. You can drizzle additional dressing here if you would like. 
  10. Close the sandwich, cut it and enjoy! 

The hoagie sandwich is pretty basic. It’s very simple to make. The thing that sets it apart the most is that it is made with classic Italian toppings compared to using just any cheeses and meats. 

What You Need To Know About Sub Sandwiches

Sub sandwiches are a broad category. The title sub sandwiches really encompass all of the sandwich terms – hoagies, heroes, grinders, and much more. 

The signature of a sub is to top it with whatever meat you like, whatever cheese you like, and whatever additional veggie toppings and dressings you like. Subs are not necessarily a cultural dish like the hoagie is. 

In a hoagie, you see the Italian culture presented but in a sub, you see a compilation of whatever sounds good to you turned into one big and delicious sandwich. Subs can also be served heated or cold. The most common way to serve a sub is cold but they can be warmed as well. 

The sub sandwich was originally named so because it’s a long sandwich and the shape and size reminded the creators of a submarine. This term is used heartily across the nation to cover a sandwich made in this format. 

Sub sandwiches are made on a long roll of bread, typically something that is no less than 6 inches in length. The roll is often quite wide as well so you can fit plenty of meat and toppings to fill your belly. 

The sub is wholly customizable rather than a sandwich that is traditionally made with the same ingredients every time. 

Making a Sub Sandwich

The sub sandwich is hard to define since you can make it just about any way you want. The process to make your own sub sandwich is pretty simple. You simply need to determine which toppings you will want to add to the sandwich. 

Your toppings can include a variety of meats, your choice of cheese, and a variation of vegetable toppings (I personally love adding avocado to my sandwiches). You can also add whatever type of condiment or dressing you prefer. 

Here is a quick walkthrough of how you can prepare a sub. 

  1. Determine your toppings – remember you can have anything you want on a sub! 
  2. Determine whether you will be heating the sub. 
  3. Slice open your roll lengthwise. 
  4. Start by first applying your choice of meats to the bread in layers. You may use multiple meat options. 
  5. Apply your cheese of choice. You can use any cheese you like and even more than one if you want. 
  6. If you are heating your sandwich, do it now. 
  7. Add veggies and any additional toppings of choice
  8. Add your choice of condiments, seasonings, and dressings. 
  9. Close the sandwich, slice, and enjoy! 

A sub is straightforward and built to your liking. 

Hoagies vs Subs: Comparison Summary

When it comes down to it, you can best describe the differences between a hoagie and a sub by understanding that a hoagie is a type of sub. 

Both of these are a form of a sandwich. The primary difference is what they contain. 

A hoagie is Italian-American in nature and the meats, cheese, toppings, and dressing all reflect this culture. It’s classic in that way but it’s ultimately the same every time. This sandwich is an Italian sandwich and the toppings vary very little across the board. 

In contrast, a sub sandwich can be made to your liking and served either hot or cold. You can change the toppings and add whatever you want to the sandwich. It’s a blank canvas for you to create whatever you want. 

Related Questions

We hope that you find this guide to understanding the differences between hoagies and subs informative. 

We invite you to review our question and answer section for some additional information.

How Much Bread Do You Need for a Sub? 

Any form of classic sub typically requires a bread roll that is a minimum of 6 inches in length.

Can You Change the Veggies on a Hoagie? 

You can alter the veggies you use to some extent but keep in mind that this is an Italian sandwich and so traditionally made with common vegetables used in Italian cuisine. 

So now that you know the differences between hoagies and subs, here’s a traditional Italian-style sub tutorial by Crouton Crackerjacks on YouTube. Enjoy!

One Comment

  1. It’s nice that you talked about how sandwiches are some of the best options for throwing together a quick meal. I’ve been quite busy lately and I barely have any time to eat. I want something quick to eat, so maybe I should get some sandwiches.

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