The Differences Between Italian and American Hoagies: A Comprehensive Guide

Hoagies, also known as subs or heroes, are a beloved sandwich enjoyed by people of all ages. While the basic components of a hoagie remain the same – bread, meat, cheese, and vegetables – there are distinct differences between Italian and American hoagies. This guide will delve into the nuances that set these two hoagie variations apart, exploring their historical origins, ingredients, and cultural significance.

Historical Origins

The Italian hoagie traces its roots back to the late 19th century, when Italian immigrants brought their culinary traditions to the United States. These immigrants settled in neighborhoods like Philadelphia’s Italian Market, where they established delis and grocery stores that catered to their community. The Italian hoagie, with its combination of cured meats, cheeses, and vegetables, became a staple food in these communities.

The American hoagie, on the other hand, emerged as a variation of the Italian hoagie in the early 20th century. As Italian immigrants assimilated into American culture, their culinary traditions began to blend with American ingredients and preferences. The American hoagie incorporated American cheeses, such as provolone and American cheese, and deli meats, such as ham and turkey.



  • Italian hoagie: Typically made with a long, crusty Italian roll.
  • American hoagie: Can be made with a variety of breads, including Italian rolls, sub rolls, or even hamburger buns.


  • Italian hoagie: Typically includes a combination of cured meats, such as prosciutto, salami, and capicola.
  • American hoagie: Typically includes a combination of deli meats, such as ham, turkey, and roast beef.


  • Italian hoagie: Typically uses provolone or mozzarella cheese.
  • American hoagie: Can use a variety of cheeses, including provolone, American cheese, or cheddar cheese.


  • Both Italian and American hoagies typically include lettuce, tomatoes, and onions.
  • Italian hoagies may also include roasted peppers or olives.


  • Italian hoagie: Typically dressed with olive oil and red wine vinegar.
  • American hoagie: Typically dressed with mayonnaise, mustard, or a combination of both.

Cultural Significance

The Italian hoagie holds a special place in the culinary traditions of Italian-American communities. It is a symbol of the cultural heritage and identity of these communities and is often served at family gatherings and celebrations.

The American hoagie, on the other hand, has become a ubiquitous sandwich enjoyed by people from all walks of life. It is a staple of American cuisine and can be found on menus at delis, restaurants, and even convenience stores.

While both Italian and American hoagies share the basic components of a sandwich, they are distinct in their ingredients, origins, and cultural significance. The Italian hoagie, with its cured meats, cheeses, and vegetables, pays homage to the culinary traditions of Italian immigrants. The American hoagie, with its deli meats, American cheeses, and condiments, reflects the assimilation of Italian culinary traditions into American culture. Both hoagies offer a delicious and satisfying meal, enjoyed by people of all ages and backgrounds.

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My recipe for Italian subs is so simple to make! Just scroll down to the recipe card for even more step-by-step instructions!

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Halve the hoagie roll, but do not cut it in half. Place it faceup on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet.

Slather 1/2 Tablespoon of basil pesto on each inside half.

Place slices of mozzarella cheese, ham, salami, and pepperoni on top of each side.

Bake for ten minutes, or until the cheese has melted and the bread has toasted.

Top with the toppings of your choice.

Drizzle with red wine vinegar and olive oil to taste.

Give a sprinkle of salt and pepper and dried oregano.

Fold to form a sandwich and serve warm.

Why are Deli Subs better than homemade ones?


What is an American hoagie made of?

Thinly sliced ham, salami and Deli American combined with Italian dressing, lettuce, tomato and onion create a classic deli sandwich.

What is an Italian hoagie made of?

Making a New York Style Italian Sub (aka hero or hoagie) doesn’t have to be difficult. It’s all about the ingredients: crispy, seedy Italian bread, layers upon layers of paper-thin capicola, salami, pepperoni and ham, vinegar-drenched shredded lettuce, fresh tomatoes, sliced onions, and cherry peppers.

Are Italian subs an American thing?

The Italian sandwich originated in several different Italian-American communities in the Northeastern United States from the late 19th to mid-20th centuries.

Do Italian subs have pickles?

Besides loads of meats and cheese on an Italian sandwich, it usually has a chopped mix of pickled and crunchy vegetables to round out the sandwich. Whether you call it an Italian sub, a hoagie, or just a party sandwich, this is something that should definitely be in your recipe arsenal!

What is the difference between a hoagie and 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.

Where did the word hoagie come from?

Another explanation is that the word hoagie arose in the late 19th to early 20th centuries, among the Italian community in South Philadelphia, when “on the hoke” meant that someone was destitute. Deli owners would give away scraps of cheeses and meats in an Italian bread-roll known as a “hokie”, but the Italian immigrants pronounced it “hoagie”.

What is in a hoagie sandwich?

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.

Is a hoagie served cold?

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.

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