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Have you ever tried a Muffaletta – aka stuffed Picnic Loaf? Like a sandwich.. But SO much better! Just pack some deli classics into our favourite Tiger Bread to make this super impressive looking treat. It’s easy, no pre-cooking, but has real wow factor.

A stuffed picnic loaf, half sliced, laid on a board and ready to serve.

I love making a stuffed Picnic Loaf for a special but simple lunch, a fancy picnic or as part of a buffet-style meal when entertaining. 

Mainly because not only does it look and taste great, it’s also perfect for making ahead of time (although if you’re making this as a main meal, it’s fine to throw together and serve in 15 minutes flat too!)

We’ve put the work in to perfect this version of a Muffaletta (see notes below on what this is), from the type of bread to use to the ideal filling-flavour combination and consistency. What we discovered was: 

➡️ A 400g fresh loaf works perfectly for 4 people (a small tiger loaf is perfect). We found a baguette too tricky and shallow to hollow out, and a large loaf took too much filling to hold its shape.

➡️ There are certain fillings, like tomato or cucumber, that can make the bread a bit too soggy if not eaten immediately, so bear this in mind. The combination in this recipe is spot on.


Why you’ll love this Muffaletta recipe

⭐️ Ideal quick or make-ahead cold meal

⭐️ An impressive buffet or picnic addition

⭐️ Fun to make and looks good too!


Two hands holding a stuffed picnic loaf, about to take a bite.

What is a Picnic Loaf {Muffaletta}?

This is an invention that dates back to the early 1900s, when Sicilian immigrants introduced a certain type of Italian bread – Muffaletta (a round sesame loaf) – to New Orleans, USA. 

It involves hollowing out the bread inside the crust, filling it with layers of ingredients like hams or cooked meats, cheeses, salad or vegetables, and olives or olive paste (we’re using pesto instead), then putting the lid back on and slicing it, or quartering it if it’s round, then it’s ready to eat.


More easy (but special) sandwich ideas…


Picnic Loaf Muffaletta Ingredients

Ingredients for a stuff picnic loaf - AKA muffaletta - laid out on a counter.
  • 400g fresh crusty bread – 1-2 day old Tiger loaf works perfectly
  • Mixed charcuterie – I chose one with salami and cheese
  • Green pesto – Or red if you prefer
  • Buffalo mozzarella balls – Cut into thick, even, slices
  • Grilled peppers in sunflower oil – This is sold as a 280g jar (I got mine from Aldi, most supermarkets have them)
  • Pre-prepared salad bag – Use what’s left as a side salad

How to make a Muffaletta Picnic Loaf

Step 1 in the method of how to make a stuff picnic loaf. Hollow out a loaf of fresh bread and remove the inside.
  1. Slice the top off the loaf and hollow out the bread middle with a spoon, and discard (see tips below).
How to make a picnic loaf, step 2. Spread pesto on the bottom of the hollowed out loaf.

2. Spread a layer of pesto on the bottom and sides of the loaf.

The next step to make a stuff picnic loaf is to add a layer of cheese.

3. Layer your fillings in whichever order you prefer until almost full.

Ham in a hollowed out bread loaf as the next layer in a muffaletta picnic loaf).

4. Scoop out the loaf lid, coat with pesto, add in the salad on top, sprinkle with salt and replace the lid. Slice width-ways when you’re ready to serve.


Substitutions

  • Fillings – You can swap pesto for the original olive spread recipe if you like, and you can add any other cooked meat or salad, veggie you think will work well.

    If you’re not eating this immediately though, be careful not to add anything that will make the bread go soggy.

Picnic Loaf leftovers

In the fridge You can keep this recipe in the fridge overnight before slicing and serving.

Using your leftover breadcrumbs!

Put these to one side and make into breadcrumbs if you have time. You can freeze in bags and use them later in recipes such as Popcorn Chicken, Homemade Fish Fingers, Courgette Fritters, Cauliflower Tacos or Easy Fish Pie.

How to make breadcrumbs: Simply whizz them up in a food processor until they’ve reached the right consistency. You can also pop the broken up bread into the oven before you do this for very dry breadcrumbs.

Top tips for making a Muffaletta Picnic Loaf

Slicing 

If you are cutting ingredients like buffalo mozzarella, try to make sure it is all the same thickness so the layers in your loaf are nice and even when you slice through it.

Making ahead of time

You can serve this immediately, however if you have time to store it in the fridge for anything from an hour until overnight, the loaf will improve considerably and the slicing will be much cleaner. 

If you do want to leave this before you serve, bear in mind that wetter ingredients like tomatoes or cucumber will make the bread soggy, so don’t add these if so. It’s fine if you’re eating straight away.

Muffaletta FAQs

What kind of bread should I use if I want to make a big serving?

The bread sizes in this recipe are for a 400g tiger loaf (this is the smaller size). If you buy a bigger one you will need considerably more filling.

If you do wish to serve 8, I would consider doing two smaller loaves as this will give you a better result and bread to filling ratio.

Can I add some roasted vegetables to the picnic loaf?

Yes! Make sure you slice it thinly, then cook in the oven for about 15-20 minutes on 200C or until they’re soft.

Allow them to cool fully before layering them up in the stuffed loaf.

Let me know how you got on and what you thought of these recipes. Please rate the recipe using the ⭐️ below.

Also I’d LOVE to see your cooking creations. If you’d like to share yours with me, you can tag me on Instagram (@tamingtwins).

5 from 7 votes

Picnic Loaf {Muffaletta}

This easy and delicious stuffed Picnic Loaf – AKA Muffaletta – originates from Sicily via New Orleans, and it’s an impressive addition to any cold meal or buffet. Ready in 15 minutes, you can eat this fresh and colourful creation straight away or leave it in the fridge overnight.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients 

  • 400 g Crusty loaf, I use Tiger bread.
  • 240 g Mixed charcuterie, I chose salami and cheese mix.
  • 4 tsp Green pesto
  • 250 g Buffalo mozzarella balls, 2x 125g packs.
  • 170 g Grilled peppers in sunflower oil, In a jar.
  • 90 g Salad leaves, Pre-prepared bag.
  • Sea salt

Instructions 

  • Carefully cut the top of your bread off horizontally using a serrated knife – this should be about a 5cm depth of your loaf.
  • Scoop out the inside using clean hands or a spoon/scoop, discard this bread (see notes below).
  • Coat the bottom and sides of your loaf with pesto.
  • Now neatly layer your fillings in whichever order you prefer until the hollowed out loaf is almost full.
  • Scoop out the inside bread from your lid and coat the inside in pesto.
  • Layer in your salad leaves until the loaf is full.
  • Sprinkle with sea salt.
  • Replace the lid.
  • Serve immediately, cut into slices width ways or wrap very tightly in foil and refrigerate (see notes) and then slice just before serving.

Notes

Nutritional value: The charcuterie is not added to this total as it will depend on which pack type you use. 
Slicing: Slice ingredients such and cheese evenly. Leaving to refrigerate will allow easier slicing. 
Breadcrumbs: Re-purpose the breadcrumbs you take out for other recipes. See above.
If using vegetables: Roast for 15-20 minutes beforehand and allow to cool fully.
 
 

Nutrition

Calories: 477kcalCarbohydrates: 57gProtein: 24gFat: 18gSaturated Fat: 9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 48mgSodium: 912mgPotassium: 299mgFiber: 4gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 2202IUVitamin C: 36mgCalcium: 1464mgIron: 4mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: Family Food, Mediterranean
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