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This Spicy Muffuletta Oven Panini combines the tart, complex flavors of homemade olive spread, crisped ham and melty provolone cheese with rich, flavorful Italian meats for the ultimate spicy panini that comes together in just 40 minutes!

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Bring NOLA home with my easy, Spicy Muffaletta Oven Panini!

My version of the New Orleans classic sandwich features pan-crisped Black Forest Ham, Pepper Salami, Hot Capocollo, Hot Calabrese, provolone and a delightfully brine-y olive spread, all pressed on a fresh take-and-bake loaf for a crispy panini that’s big enough for a crowd (but so good, you won’t want to share!)

muffaletta panini

Why use a take-and-bake loaf?

Take-and-bake bread is slightly underdone, so it will still stay somewhat soft inside, but will get ultra-crisp outside when you press it in the oven. You could also use an Italian or Ciabatta loaf, both of which would be equally delicious- but I like the texture you get from the take-and-bake loaf.

Why crisp the ham?

I love the extra flavor you get from crisping up deli ham in a skillet with a little butter. Not only does it take the chill off the ham and enhance the flavor, but it also browns the ham slightly, giving it a satisfying texture, which I feel adds complexity to the sandwich. 

Spicy Muffuletta Oven Panini

Do I need to press the Spicy Muffuletta Oven Panini?

Technically, no. BUT- I would. Not only does it help to make it extra crisp on both sides, but pressing the sandwich also makes it more compact, and thus- much easier to cut/serve. If you don’t have a cast iron skillet (please consider investing in one, they are a GREAT tool to have at your disposal, and last a lifetime) you could also use a heavy bottomed oven safe pan, or a heavy sheet pan to press the top of the sandwich down.

Spicy Muffuletta Oven Panini

Spicy Muffuletta Panini

Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Dinner, lunch
Keyword: italian meats, Muffuletta, olives, panini
Servings: 8

Equipment

  • aluminum foil
  • cast iron skillet
  • sheet pan
  • Food Processor
  • cast iron skillet or oven-safe heavy bottomed pot or baking dish

Ingredients

Olive Spread

  • 1 cup

    mixed olives (I used black, Kalamata and Spanish olives)*

  • 5-6 whole pepperoncini
  • 1 tsp capers
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • 1/4 medium shallot*
  • 1 scallion*
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp chopped pimentos
  • 1/2 tsp dry basil
  • 1/2 tsp dry oregano
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp liquid from Kalamata olive jar
  • 1 tsp liquid from pepperoncini jar

Sandwich

  • 1 16 oz Take-and-bake Italian bread loaf*
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 8 oz Black Forest Ham
  • 2 oz Pepper Salami
  • 2 oz Hot Capocollo
  • 2 oz Hot Calabrese
  • 8 slices provolone cheese

Instructions

  • To the bowl of your food processor with the blade in place, add olives, pepperoncini, capers, celery (rough chopped), 1/4 shallot, green onion (rough chopped), 2 cloves garlic, pimentos, herbs and spices, and jar liquids. Pulse to combine until a coarse paste/tapenade forms. Allow to sit in fridge at least 1 hour or up to 3 days to marinate before using.
    2. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a medium frying pan over medium-high heat, melt butter and crisp the ham until just lightly browned on both sides, about 2-3 minutes per side (it’s ok if the slices overlap slightly- ham will shrink as it cooks).
    3. With a bread knife, Slice open take-and-bake bread and spread olive spread generously and evenly on both sides (may have leftover).
    4. Layer 4 provolone slices evenly on one side (bottom), then crisped ham and Italian meats.
    5. Layer top of meat with remaining provolone and place the other half of the bread on top.
    6. Wrap the whole sandwich in aluminum foil, place on a sheet pan and put a heavy cast iron skillet on top. Press sandwich firmly but carefully on top of sandwich to flatten some/make level. bake (with cast iron skillet on top) for 30 mins. Serve immediately, or refrigerate and serve for up to 3 days. (this sandwich gets better as it sits!).

*Notes/Substitutions:

Use your favorite olives here! I also love Castelvetrano olives for this!

1/2 small onion may be substituted for shallot and scallion.

I like to use a take-and-bake bread, as it stays slightly softer during cooking, but you could also use your favorite fresh Italian bread, or even a ciabatta loaf for this and it would still be delicious.

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