The Best Grilled Turkey Pesto Sandwich

by | Mar 15, 2021

Not much beats a delicious turkey pesto sandwich. I don't know about you, but I haven't met a single person who doesn't like pesto. Add in some cheese, crusty bread, and warm turkey grilled to perfection and you've got a lunchtime winner, every time.

The garlicky goodness of fresh basil pesto sets the tone for this quick and delicious warm sandwich. I love that this recipe tastes more complicated than it is. Try this recipe out for your next lunchtime meal!

How To Make The Perfect Turkey Pesto Sandwich

This turkey pesto sandwich reminds me a lot of the one that Costco used to serve at their food kiosk. Remember that? If you've never tried it, not to worry, this recipe is better!

turkey pesto sandwich close up photo with french fries

The key to an amazing sandwich is making such that each element is fresh, flavorful, and full of texture. This is why I prefer to make as many of the ingredients as I can from scratch, like the pesto in this recipe. If you don't have the time or don't like to cook, you can grab a jar of pesto from the store (I won't tell!). If you can find pesto made in Italy, that is best for flavor.

ciabatta bread rolls on a wooden cutting board for the making of a turkey pesto sandwich

Next, on to the bread! Dare I say the bread of a sandwich is the most important part? I like to use French rolls, but ciabatta or focaccia bread works great too! Anything with a hearty, strong crust that is soft inside is perfect for this turkey pesto sandwich!

How To Prepare Homemade Pesto

A turkey pesto sandwich would be nothing with out the star of the show…pesto! Homemade pesto is the best way to go if you want full flavor and freshness. The best part is that it's pretty simple with the help of a food processor and some simple ingredients! When making pesto at home start with fresh basil leaves, garlic and pine nuts. I like to use toasted pine nuts for extra flavor, but regular ones will work just as well. If you can't find toasted pine nuts in the store, you can toast them yourself in the pan over low heat!

Grab your food processor and pulse your garlic, pine nuts, and basil until everything is coarsely ground. Next, slowly add olive oil to the mixture while blending.

homemade pesto in a jar to make turkey pesto sandwich

The olive oil is one of the most important parts of a pesto. A lower quality oil can ruin the flavor of this special sauce. I use organic extra virgin olive oil for the best flavor and health benefits!

Grab your block of Parmigiano-Reggiano and grate it finely into a measuring cup. Then, add the contents of the food processor into a large bowl and combine it with the grated cheese! Stir it well so that the cheese is evenly distributed. This pesto is the most flavorful addition to our grilled turkey pesto sandwich.

Tip: Freeze the unused portion of the pesto in ice cube trays and top with additional olive oil. Use frozen pesto cubes in soups or stews for additional flavor, as needed. 

Assembling The Turkey Pesto Sandwich

To assemble your turkey pesto sandwich, start by cutting the French rolls in half lengthwise and butter the inside portion of both halves. Place the buttered side down on a pan or grill pan heated over medium-high heat. Press down on the outside of the roll to achieve even toasting.

When golden brown, remove from heat and spread a generous amount of pesto on the warm, grilled portion of each piece.

Next, heat the turkey in the microwave with a little bit of chicken or vegetable stock until warm. It should not be longer than 30 seconds. Place the turkey on top of the pesto and a slice or two of provolone cheese on top of that.

Then, grab a sharp knife and cutting board and slice your heirloom tomato into a few thin slices. Add the slices of tomato on top of the cheese and lay a few pieces of arugula on top.

Place the sandwich back in the pan and pop on the last piece of bread. Press the sandwich down so that it gets warmed through. Flip the turkey pesto sandwich to the other side so that the cheese begins to melt. When the cheese is gooey, remove from the heat and enjoy!

a finished turkey pesto sandwich cut in half on a plate with french fries

 This post may contain affiliate links which won't change your price but will share some commission. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Tools You May Need To Make A Turkey Pesto Sandwich

  • Large Bowl. Use a large bowl to toss and season your homemade pesto in. This bowl is a good one to have in your kitchen!

  • Food Processor. A food processor always comes in handy if you like to make sauces, dressings, and crusts in-house. This one works well and is easy to clean!

  • Sharp Knife. There's nothing better than getting a good clean cut when slicing tomatoes or your sandwich in half! Don't miss out on this good quality knife!

  • Pan. Use a pan to lightly toast and warm your bread, you can also use a panini press if you have one!

The Best Grilled Turkey Pesto Sandwich

The Best Grilled Turkey Pesto Sandwich

Yield: 2 sandwiches
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 4 minutes
Total Time: 14 minutes

In this turkey pesto sandwich, grilling the bread and warming the turkey enhances the natural flavors of the ingredients and rewards you with warm, gooey, melted cheese mingled with fresh basil and toasted pine nuts.

Ingredients

Pesto

  • 3 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup toasted pine nuts
  • ½ cup high-quality extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup hard cheese, like Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated
  • Half a lemon

Sandwich

  • 2 crusty French rolls
  • 2 T. butter, unsalted
  • 5 T. pesto (recipe included)
  • 6-8 oz. deli turkey breast, thin sliced
  • 4 oz. Provolone cheese, sliced
  • 2 slices heirloom tomato
  • handful of arugula

Instructions

  1. To prepare the pesto, combine basil, garlic and pine nuts in a food processor container.
  2. Pulse until coarsely ground. Slowly add the olive oil and blend until the mixture becomes smooth.
  3. Transfer to a large bowl and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Stir in grated cheese until thoroughly combined.
  5. Freeze unused portion in ice cube trays and top with additional olive oil. Use frozen pesto cubes in soups or stews for additional flavor, as needed.
  6. Slice the heirloom tomato into a few thin slices
  7. Cut the French rolls in half lengthwise and butter the inside portion of both halves.
  8. Place buttered side down on grill pan heated over medium-high heat. Press down on the outside of the roll to achieve even grill marks.
  9. When golden brown, remove from heat and spread a generous amount of pesto on the warm, grilled portion of each piece.
  10. Heat turkey in the microwave with a little bit of chicken or vegetable stock until warm.
  11. Add turkey and Provolone cheese to each roll.
  12. Top the cheese with one slice of tomato and a handful of arugula.
  13. The heat from the turkey and the grilled roll should melt the cheese. Serve immediately.

An Always Delightful Lunchtime Sandwich

Sandwiches can be simple, but if done right, will wholly satisfy anyone who's biting into it. This turkey pesto sandwich is the perfect combination of easy to make, flavorful, and impressive. Serve it alongside some French fries or a light green salad for a filling and deliciously satisfying meal.

If you love sandwich recipes and are looking for more don't hesitate to checkout our Chicken Salad Sandwich Recipe or our Instant Pot Italian Beef Sandwich recipe, both are sure to be a hit!

CHECK OUT WHAT'S NEW ON BETSI'S WORLD

Have you ever made homemade pesto? Let us know if you try it in the comments below!

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