The sandwich is a food item typically consisting of two pieces of bread between which are laid one or more layers of meat, vegetable, cheese, or other fillings, together with optional or traditionally provided condiments, sauces, and other accompaniments. The bread is often either lightly buttered, covered in a flavoured oil when baked, or oil is added into the sandwich to enhance flavour and texture.

Sandwiches are commonly carried to work or school in lunchboxes or brown paper bags (sandwich bags) to be eaten as the midday meal, taken on picnics, hiking trips, or other outings. They are also served in many restaurants as entrées, and are sometimes eaten at home, either as a quick meal or as part of a larger meal. As part of a full meal sandwiches are traditionally accompanied with such side dishes as a serving of soup (soup-and-sandwich), a salad (salad-and-sandwich), or potato chips and a pickle or coleslaw.


The term "sandwich" has been expanded—especially in the United States—to include items made with other "breads" such as tortilla, rolls and focaccia. Thus hamburgers and "subs", for example, are called "sandwiches" in the United States, although not in the midwest, south or western states or most other English-speaking countries (since they are not made with slices of bread from a loaf).

The nearest traditional Scandinavian equivalent is generally known elsewhere as an "open" or "open-face" sandwich, i.e. a single slice of bread with meat, fish, cheese, etc. as a topping, although the sandwich with two slices of bread has become more commonplace in recent times. This open-face variation is also prevalent in Russia, where it is known as a buterbrod (from the German word for "buttered bread").

In India, sandwiches are often vegetarian, the most common type being the vegetable sandwich.

In the UK, particularly in the north of England they are known, informally, as 'butties' or 'sarnies'. This is particularly the case with sandwiches including freshly-cooked bacon and butter, though other forms of 'butty' use other ingredients and mayonnaise. A sandwich filled with chips (US: french fries) is known as a 'chip buttie' (also butty). In French countries you might see this referred to as un Belge: a Belgian (sandwich). In Scotland, sandwiches are called 'pieces'. One Australian slang term for sandwich is 'sanger' (or 'sanga'). In South Africa sandwiches are sometimes called 'sarmies'.

In the U.S., some children, and a few adults, pronounce the word sandwich as sammich, either out of difficulty pronouncing the word, or as a form of baby talk or stereotyped child's speech. However, some articulate adults use the pronounciation as "sammich" to be an appropriate indicator for sandwiches which rise above mundane day-to-day offerings. These adults hold that a "sandwich" will feed you, but a "sammich" will go further and is a great delight to the senses.