How to Create a Build-Your-Own-Sandwich Bar for a Crowd

How to Create a Build-Your-Own-Sandwich Bar for a Crowd

When my middle son turned 15, he requested a build-your-own-sandwich-bar for his celebratory meal. Years ago we established that a DIY-anything is pretty much the easiest way to feed a crowd, and after years of serving burger bars, mac and cheese bars, and even ice cream sandwich bars, we had yet to put together a sandwich bar, and I was intrigued by the idea.

The actual planning of this party took about 15 minutes, and the execution just under an hour. There was no cooking at all, just some slicing, dicing, and assembling to get enough food on the table for 23 people. Here’s how I did it:

Creating a DIY Sandwich Bar

Using a rough estimate of half a pound each of assorted meats and cheeses for every 6 guests, I determined the quantities needed for my crowd. Then, I made a list of which meats and cheeses were likely to be most popular and came up with the following list:

  • ½ lb. each roasted turkey and black forest ham
  • ¼ lb. each roast beef, mortadella, prosciutto and capicollo
  • ½ lb. each cheddar cheese, marble cheese, Swiss cheese and spicy Havarti cheese

To that, I made a list of the most popular sandwich fixings, which for us included:

  • Sliced red onion
  • Sliced tomato
  • Sliced avocado
  • Butter lettuce
  • Butter
  • Mayonnaise
  • Mustard
  • Hot sauce
  • Steak sauce

To accompany everything, I added the following to my spread:

  • Assorted buns (4 varieties)
  • Kettle chips
  • Pickle spread

We have toddlers in our crowd, and I know some of them don’t/won’t eat sandwich meat, so for them I kept the no-cook theme in place, but made it a little more kid-friendly by offering:

  • Crustless peanut butter finger sandwiches
  • Fresh fruit
  • Cheese
  • Raisins

As for the drinks, because this was a lunch event I didn’t offer alcohol, and instead filled a cooler with water, juice, and assorted sodas. I put everything on some ice and created a makeshift self-serve bar for all. We rounded out the meal with coffee, tea and hot chocolate, and a decadent four-layer cake that took me three days to make (but oh, was it ever worth the time!).

One more thing to note: naturally, this is a great menu for a birthday party, or casual gathering of any kind, but my husband, father-in-law, three brothers-in-law, sons, and five nephews unanimously decided it would also make for an excellent Super Bowl party menu. So, if you’re planning on putting something together for this Sunday night, and are looking for a crowd-pleasing no-cook option, I think we’ve just helped you plan your menu.



  1. nadia on April 9, 2017 at 11:31 am

    This is so helpful! Thanks for sharing

  2. Melissa on April 12, 2017 at 6:48 pm

    Thank you! I am doing a soup, salad, sandwich bar for a baby shower and this was the exact kind of list I as looking for!

  3. Nelly on August 8, 2018 at 11:34 am

    Did you feel as if the amount of meat was too much or not enough for the 23 ppl?

  4. Janna on April 5, 2019 at 5:59 pm

    Hi how come no pics if the sandwich bar??!! I have to see it to try, 😍😝☹️

  5. Calista on November 28, 2019 at 3:24 am

    Also you can get trays made up at deli of cheese and deli meats usually they will give estimate how much you would need and already comes garnished and ready for your party

  6. Orval Hogsett on October 15, 2020 at 8:05 pm

    At some good delis they put as last item on my sandwich, a mixture of (I think) vinegar, olive oil, water. Please correct me and let me (AND OTHERS) know the recipe.

    I know I’m close, but look to you for the right way.


  7. Sam on December 2, 2020 at 8:15 pm

    Love this! Thank you for including the breakdown of how much meat/cheese per person. I’m planning to make some kind of sandwich bar for my wedding and this is super helpful! How did you estimate how much of each topping you needed?

Leave a Comment