I Tried 10 Classic Subs at Subway & the Best Was Hefty & Tasty (2024)

Though it has closed hundreds of locations over the past several years, Subway remains America's biggest sandwich chain. With some 20,000 restaurants coast to coast, a fresh-made sub is rarely hard to find. The predominant chain keeps giving customers new reasons to visit, from footlong snacks to sandwich wraps, but its lineup of classic subs remains a constant draw.

More than a decade ago, I worked as a Subway "sandwich artist." I loved Subway growing up—so much so that I wanted to work there as soon as I was allowed. I liked building subs for customers, and, of course, whipping up some off-menu creations on the side. But even though I worked there for a year or two, I never actually tried most of the classic subs at Subway—until now.

Over the course of about two weeks, I sampled 10 classic Subway sandwiches to see which one reigns supreme. In order to level the playing field, I made sure not to add any fancy customizations, and avoided sauces or vegetables that were sure to overpower the taste of the meats, like olives, pickles, or hot peppers. I standardized the veggies across all sandwiches for the most part, unless it didn't warrant any, like the Meatball Marinara.

For sauces, I chose the one that made the most sense, but for the most part, I opted for mayo. I followed the suggested bread, cheese, and veggies outlined on the Subway website, as well as whether the sub should be toasted or not. I finished each sub off with salt and pepper to level the playing field. I also took a photo of each sub as quickly as I could, so no sub had an unfair advantage or sat for too long.

Although there are 13 classic Subway subs, I only had access to 10 of them. (The Grilled Chicken, Buffalo Chicken, and Roast Beef are regrettably missing from this survey.) Prices for each classic sub come from a location in Brooklyn, N.Y., though prices can vary based on each franchise.

Here are 10 classic Subway subs ranked from worst to first, according to this former Subway sandwich artist.

Black Forest Ham

I Tried 10 Classic Subs at Subway & the Best Was Hefty & Tasty (1)

Nutrition: (Per 6-inch Sandwich)
Calories: 320
Fat: 4 g (Saturated Fat: 1 g)
Sodium: 860 mg
Carbs: 42 g (Fiber: 5 g, Sugar: 7 g)
Protein: 20 g

Subway describes this classic sub as a "delicious, thin-sliced ham," and I'll respectfully disagree. The Subway website suggested opting for the Hearty Multigrain bread, American cheese, and lettuce, tomato and red onion, which I did. I topped it with mayo. Price: $6.09.

The look: It's a sad looking sub. The tomatoes were haphazardly tossed onto the sub, and the cheese is hanging off the side. The mayo makes for a messy-looking sub.

The taste: I must have ran across a bad batch of bread, because the multigrain bread was hard and tasteless. The end of the bread was very dry and crusty. The meat failed to excite. The ham tasted very low quality. There was no sweetness or any taste at all really. The best part was the crunch of the lettuce and the creamy cheese. I would not get this again.

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Cold Cut Combo

I Tried 10 Classic Subs at Subway & the Best Was Hefty & Tasty (2)

Nutrition: (Per 6-inch Sandwich)
Calories: 320
Fat: 10 g (Saturated Fat: 3 g)
Sodium: 1,000 mg
Carbs: 41 g (Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 6 g)
Protein: 17 g

Subway's Cold Cut Combo features salami, ham, and bologna, which are all turkey-based. The official website suggests American cheese, lettuce, tomato, and red onion on Italian bread, which I followed. I topped it off with mayo and salt and pepper. Price: $5.69.

The look: It was a well-built sub, and this one definitely boasted more meat than the ham. The white bread sufficiently held all the insides, making it a compact sub that was easy to eat.

The taste: While the sub was really fragrant—it smelled like it would taste good—the actual meat was relatively tasteless, again. The lettuce and tomato offered a nice crunch, but the salt and pepper was doing most of the heavy lifting when it came to taste. I wouldn't order this one again, though perhaps a different sauce, like mustard, would have perked it up a bit.


I Tried 10 Classic Subs at Subway & the Best Was Hefty & Tasty (3)

Nutrition: (Per 6-inch Sandwich)
Calories: 470
Fat: 25 g (Saturated Fat: 5 g)
Sodium: 690 mg
Carbs: 40 g (Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 5 g)
Protein: 20 g

My strongest memory from working at Subway as a teen was preparing the tuna. I was horrified to learn that the popular fish—perhaps the most controversial ingredient in the chain's entire history—was mixed with an entire bag of mayonnaise! It's no wonder tuna is one of the more caloric options on the classic menu. Whenever I scooped a portion onto a sub, all I could think of was the mayo—and I actually like mayo. The Subway website suggested I order it on Italian bread with American cheese, toasted, and topped with lettuce, tomato, and onion, so I did just that. I also toasted it, aiming for that tuna melt vibe. Price: $5.99.

The look: I was surprised at the small amount of tuna. You can hardly see it in my photo. In fact, one may say the tuna was kind of aggressively pushed into the bread, which weirded me out. I opted to toast this one, and the Italian bread browned up nicely.

The taste: I was afraid to try this one, but honestly, it was nothing special. Despite the vast amounts of mayo I know is added to the tuna, this was actually kind of dry, and I even topped it with more mayo at the end. The tuna itself wasn't particularly fishy or offensive. Overall, it was a fine sub, but I think it would have been better with a cheddar cheese, a spicy sauce, or even banana peppers. As is, it was just too plain to make a real splash.

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Oven-Roasted Turkey

I Tried 10 Classic Subs at Subway & the Best Was Hefty & Tasty (4)

Nutrition: (Per 6-inch Sandwich)
Calories: 270
Fat: 4 g (Saturated Fat: 1 g)
Sodium: 820 mg
Carbs: 40 g (Fiber: 5 g, Sugar: 6 g)
Protein: 21 g

Subway bills the oven-roasted turkey as "full of flavor," which is only slightly accurate. The website suggested I order the turkey on multigrain bread, toasted with American cheese, and with the usual veggies: lettuce, tomato, and onion. I didn't get any sauce on this one. (I'm based in Canada, so I opted for the Chipotle Southwest sauce on the side, which has been discontinued in the States. Stateside, the closest match is Baja Chipotle.) Price: $6.39.

The look: Subway's subs always tend to look a bit sad when they're opened up like this. The meat and cheese were well-placed, and the bread toasted up nicely, but I think the sub could have had more lettuce and more appetizing-looking tomatoes.

The taste: I've been eating Subway's turkey (or turkey and ham) for years, so I was personally surprised to see the turkey sub land near the bottom of my list. But the meat just can't stack up compared to the taste of the better subs on the top of this list. The actual turkey itself was slightly better than mediocre, like a six out of 10. The crunchy lettuce and melted cheese were the saving grace.

Oven-Roasted Turkey & Ham

I Tried 10 Classic Subs at Subway & the Best Was Hefty & Tasty (5)

Nutrition: (Per 6-inch Sandwich)
Calories: 270
Fat: 4 g (Saturated Fat: 1 g)
Sodium: 840 mg
Carbs: 41 g (Fiber: 5 g, Sugar: 7 g)
Protein: 20 g

This was my go-to sub for the better part of a decade, though I usually went for Italian Herb and Cheese bread, Chipotle Southwest sauce, and banana peppers to complement the lettuce, tomato, and onion. However, the Subway website suggests Turkey and Ham be ordered on multigrain bread with American cheese, not toasted, and topped with lettuce, tomato, and onions. I did that, and added mayo. Price: $6.39

The look: This is a more appetizing-looking sub. I didn't toast it, and I like the way the cheese is distinct from the bread and meat. It's clear this sub is light on the meat, compared to veggies.

The taste: Now we're entering the "subs I would actually order" territory of the taste test, and I am glad for it. I like turkey and ham, always have, and this is no different. Crunchy lettuce and tasty cheese was the best part, and though it's a pretty basic sub, that's what I like about it. I would typically order this with hot peppers and spicy sauce, but I learned that sometimes it's nice to let the cheese and meat shine through more without being smothered in sauce. Also, this is a good example of a sub that doesn't need to be toasted. It actually tastes better cold.

Meatball Marinara

I Tried 10 Classic Subs at Subway & the Best Was Hefty & Tasty (6)

Nutrition: (Per 6-inch Sandwich)
Calories: 460
Fat: 20 g (Saturated Fat: 8 g)
Sodium: 1,110 mg
Carbs: 50 g (Fiber: 4 g, Sugar: 8 g)
Protein: 20 g

When I worked at Subway, I was always amazed by the amount of people who ordered the Meatball Marinara sub. Usually, they would just order it with meat and cheese—no veggies at all. Subway suggests you order the Meatball sub on white bread, toasted, with provolone cheese and topped with whatever you want, and a shake of parmesan. I opted for American cheese instead, because that's what I had access to. Price: $5.69

The look: I was impressed with this one. The four uniform meatballs were perfectly aligned, and the melted cheese looked appetizing. The marinara sauce leaked onto the wrapping paper, which was probably my fault, as I asked for extra on top. It wasn't a big deal though, and it wasn't messy to eat.

The taste: After secretly hating on Subway's Meatball sub for years, I was mad at myself for not trying it sooner. The marinara sauce perfectly complemented the white bread and surprisingly flavorful meatballs, while the parmesan was a nice addition on top. The white bread stood up well to the meatballs, and softened up with the addition of the marinara sauce, resulting in a moist sub. It was also relatively affordable for how filling it was, compared to similarly priced subs, like the Cold Cut.

Veggie Delite

I Tried 10 Classic Subs at Subway & the Best Was Hefty & Tasty (7)

Nutrition: (Per 6-inch Sandwich)
Calories: 210
Fat: 3 g (Saturated Fat: 0 g)
Sodium: 370 mg
Carbs: 39 g (Fiber: 5 g, Sugar: 6 g)
Protein: 10 g

A vegetarian staple, Subway's Veggie Delite is a free-for-all when it comes to toppings and veggies. This is another one of my go-to sub orders. Subway's website suggests I order it with lettuce, baby spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, and red onions on multigrain bread. I topped it with oil and red wine vinegar. Price: $4.99

The look: Even stacked up with cucumber, green peppers, and heaps of red onions, I'll admit the sub looks sad. When I was working at Subway, I always made sure to invert the second slice of triangular cheese in order to get the best coverage and no overlap, but that wasn't the case here.

The taste: While the bread left a lot to be desired—I find it quite bland and tasteless—the veggie sub was crispy and crunchy thanks to the assortment of veggies. I was surprised how present the American cheese was, I could really taste it through all the veg and bread. I don't typically combine spinach and lettuce, but I like it on this sub. I didn't toast this, and I was glad for it—it was crunchy enough on its own. Overall, it was a light, pleasant sub with lots of crunch.

Steak & Cheese

I Tried 10 Classic Subs at Subway & the Best Was Hefty & Tasty (8)

Nutrition: (Per 6-inch Sandwich)
Calories: 360
Fat: 10 g (Saturated Fat: 5 g)
Sodium: 1,040 mg
Carbs: 39 g (Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 5 g)
Protein: 26 g

It's been years since I had a Steak & Cheese sub from Subway. This one is best served toasted on Italian bread, according to the website, and topped with just green pepper and onion, which I found interesting. I opted for melted American cheese, a classic. Price: $7.49

The look: For the price, I was slightly disappointed with the amount of meat on the sub. However, it was a compact sub, well-toasted and looked cheesy.

The taste: I loved the crunch of the green pepper and onion, and the steak itself packed a good flavor, while the melted American cheese was very much front and center. I will say, the Italian bread was pretty bad. I was glad I didn't get multigrain bread, but in an ideal world, I probably would have gone with Italian Herb and Cheese bread. The Italian just leaves a lot to be desired. It's relatively flavorless, and it was by far the weakest part of an otherwise enjoyable sub.

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I Tried 10 Classic Subs at Subway & the Best Was Hefty & Tasty (9)

Nutrition: (Per 6-inch Sandwich)
Calories: 370
Fat: 15 g (Saturated Fat: 5 g)
Sodium: 720 mg
Carbs: 40 g (Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 5 g)
Protein: 18 g

I don't often order the B.L.T. from Subway, but I had a feeling that it would perform well compared to other classic subs on this list because I sometimes order the Egg and Bacon breakfast sandwiches. Subway's website says to order the B.L.T. toasted on Italian bread with lettuce and tomato, of course. I also asked for mayo and salt and pepper. Price: $6.09

The look: Overall, the tomato and bacon placement was top-tier, while the toasted Italian bread perfectly held in all the goods.

The taste: Really good. Naturally, he bacon was the star of the show, a salty and crispy addition to any sub. Combined with the lettuce and large tomatoes, it offered a good crunch that's missing from some subs. The salt and pepper really added to the understated sub, and I very much enjoyed the toasted bread. Simply put, the bacon is the best part, and the B.L.T. was stacked with a respectable amount of it.

Rotisserie-Style Chicken

I Tried 10 Classic Subs at Subway & the Best Was Hefty & Tasty (10)

Nutrition: (Per 6-inch Sandwich)
Calories: 310
Fat: 6 g (Saturated Fat: 2 g)
Sodium: 760 mg
Carbs: 40 g (Fiber: 5 g, Sugar: 6 g)
Protein: 25 g

Subway introduced its Rotisserie-Style Chicken way back in 2016, but I had never tried it until now. Subway suggests you order this on multigrain bread, toasted with American cheese, and lettuce, tomato, and red onions. I was inspired by the Subway Series #20 Elite Chicken & Bacon Ranch, so I topped it with Peppercorn Ranch sauce. Price: $7.19

The look: Looking at the chicken in the bin, I was afraid. But given its placement on this list, I didn't need to be. Again, the sub is an absolute mess of ranch sauce and veggies, but the taste was next level.

The taste: I really liked the chicken, it was absolutely overflowing with the stuff. It felt like a good bang for your buck compared to some of the other classic subs on this list. The chicken was tasty, and combined with the crunchy veggies and the creamy ranch sauce, it felt like a hefty sub. In fact, the chicken was threatening to burst out of the bread as I was eating it, but I blame that on the multigrain bread.

In the future, I would love to add banana peppers and order it on Italian Herb and Cheese—I think I found a new go-to sub!

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I Tried 10 Classic Subs at Subway & the Best Was Hefty & Tasty (2024)


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