Cuban Tostones Sandwiches – Whole30 and Paleo friendly! A twist on the super famous Cuban sandwiches that is packed with lots of flavor, but is so simple to make.
One of my favorite sandwiches of all time is the Cuban sandwich. As my dad once said, “the Cubans really know how to make a sandwich.” They 100% do, and these Cuban tostones sandwiches will not disappoint. It brings me back to my childhood when my family and I use to live in Florida. Whenever my dad picked me up from school, and we had to pick up mom from work that day, he’d always stop by this little Cuban bakery/deli that made THE best Cuban sandwiches for us.
It’s some of my fondest memories as a child, and I would do just about anything to eat one of those sandwiches again. Since I don’t live in Florida and really good Cuban sandwiches are hard to come by, I knew I had to make a rendition of the sandwich that fit into my dietary needs. Let me just tell you now though, if I knew how to make homemade Cuban bread or could buy it from a trusted bakery, this Paleo version wouldn’t exist.
Anyway, before you all freak out because the recipe looks like it’s a mile long, this recipe isn’t complicated at all. The hardest part is waiting for the pork shoulder to marinate and cook.
FYI: I highly recommend marinating the pork shoulder overnight, but my prep time listed is for those who are impatient (me) and only want to marinate it for just 2 hours. I roasted my pork shoulder in the oven, but you can certain make it in a slow cooker or instant pot.
The slow cooker will take about 10-12 hours, and I’m not too sure about the cooking time for the instant pot since I don’t have one. Whatever way you decide to cook it, you’re going to love this pork shoulder recipe. It’s super fresh from the citrus and mint leaves, but has lots of flavor from the herbs and cumin.
I’m drooling as I type this thinking about it. Even if you don’t make the Cuban tostones sandwiches, make this shoulder pork recipe and serve it some other way.
If you’re doing the Whole30, you’re probably thinking where can I find compliant ham? Here’s a list of a few brands that carry sugar free ham. Some are traditional deli meats, and the others you need to slice yourself:
As for the tostones buns, I learned this method from Kitchfix when they took over the Whole30 recipes Instagram page. They are a genius, and I love this method. If you don’t want to go through the process of boiling the plantains first, you can follow my tutorial here and just fry the plantains both times.
I do recommend giving this boil and then fry method a try though! …especially if you’re one of the people who message me and say your plantains crumble every time you try to flatten it. This is fool proof.
Cuban Tostones Sandwiches
For the Cuban mojo pork*:
- 6-7 lb pork shoulder/butt
- 8 garlic cloves peeled and minced
- ¾ cup orange juice freshly squeezed if possible
- ½ cup lime juice
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 orange zested
- 1 lime zested
- ½ cup chopped cilantro
- ¼ cup chopped mint leaves
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1-2 tsp kosher salt
- 1-2 tsp black pepper
For the tostones buns:
- 3 large green plantains
- 4-6 tbsp coconut oil or cooking fat of choice
- kosher salt
For the Cuban sandwiches
- Tostones buns
- Pulled Cuban mojo pork
- Sliced ham
- Swiss cheese omit if doing Whole30 or dairy free
- Whole dill pickles sliced lengthwise
- Yellow mustard
- Mojo sauce
For the pork:
In a bowl, mix together minced garlic, orange juice, lime juice, olive oil, orange zest, lime zest, cilantro, mint leaves, oregano, and ground cumin. Mix together, taste to see how much kosher salt and black pepper is needed. Start with one teaspoon and go from there.
Pat your pork shoulder dry. Make a few small slits all over the pork shoulder.
Place pork shoulder in a large bowl or whatever container you want to marinate it in and pour mojo marinade over the pork shoulder making sure it’s coated.
Marinate for at least 2 hours to overnight, flipping it every so often if marinating in a large bowl.
Preheat oven to 300F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Place pork shoulder on baking sheet without the marinade and loosely cover with another sheet of aluminum foil. You want it sealed but still have enough room for air to circulate.
Roast for 3 hours, uncover pork shoulder, and roast for an additional 3-4 hours or until internal temperature is 195F and pork is tender.
Let the pork shoulder cool for about 30 minutes, and then pull apart, but don’t shred it. You still want big chunky pieces.
For the tostones buns:
Fill a large pot with water and salt, and bring to a boil.
Cut the ends of the plantain off, cut the plantains into 2-3 inch pieces (you should get about 3 pieces out of each plantain), and then cut the pieces in half length wise. You should have 6 pieces per plantain.
Add plantains to the pot skin on for about 11-12 minutes or until tender.
Remove plantains, cool slightly to handle and then remove the skin.
Smash the plantains into large tostones size buns using your hands or something with a large flat surface (plate, bottom of a pan, and etc).
Preheat skillet over medium heat with coconut oil. Stick a wooden chopstick or spoon into the oil, and if bubbles start to quickly form around it, your oil is hot enough.
Place plantains into the skillet (you may have to cook in batches) and fry until plantains are golden brown, about 3 minutes per side.
Season plantains with kosher salt and let drain on a paper towel lined plate.
For the Cuban sandwiches:
While still warm, lay two tostones buns on your surface. On the left side, smear it with yellow mustard, then swiss cheese, and then Cuban mojo pork (make sure it’s also still warm). On the right side, brush some of the mojo sauce and then layer a few pieces of ham, and then 1-2 slices of the sliced dill pickle. (You can add as much or as little filling as you want). Put the sandwich together, press down slightly, and enjoy!
*You will have leftover pulled pork. You can make more tostones buns to serve more people or freeze it for later use.
Slow cooker method: cook on low for 10-12 hours depending on size of pork shoulder.
Instant Pot method: cut pork into large chunks, add it to the Instant Pot with about a cup of liquid from the marinade. Close the lid, seal it, and then press the "pressure cook" or "pressure" button, set the time for 90 minutes on high pressure. Once done, let the Instant Pot naturally release or wait 10 minutes before manually release. Shred the pork and crisp up in a skillet if you want!
Pin this recipe for later!