Subway-Style Gluten Free Sandwich Rolls

Subway-Style Gluten Free Sandwich Rolls

You know those super squishy, soft-crusted rolls from Subway? Well, I made gluten free Subway-style sandwich rolls, and they’re fantastic.

Sandwich on white surface

These are maybe the softest sub rolls I have ever made (although the Hoagie Rolls from page 135 of Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread are still a big-time favorite of mine and I will make them again and again this summer, no doubt).

Believe it or not, I’ve been working on this recipe for weeks. Who knows if they really do have ground up yoga mats in their sandwich bread or not (urban myth?), but Subway rolls are just so, so soft and (frankly) delicious in their own way.

They’re not the super crusty artisan bread that I do know and love (hello No Rye Rye Bread (page 101) for the perfect reuben (page 263)!). But I do adore them for what they are.

Other than the perfect balance of ingredients including our gluten free bread flour blend, the secret to the super soft crust of these gluten free sandwich rolls? Covering the warm rolls with a tea towel for 30 minutes right out of the oven. Steam heat!

Sandwich rolls on brown surface

Even though I finally settled on the perfect recipe for these rolls, I actually had something else planned to post today (I’m gonna be a brat and not tell you what it was, but I do love you still). And then?

Then I woke up to the New York Times Dining Section today. They’re calling it “The Bread Issue.” I’m not gonna link to it because I’m too angry (don’t worry—I know the Times does not need my referral pageviews, but somehow, I just can’t … link).

They wax poetic all about the glory of slow-fermented yeast breads, including all kinds of lovely tidbits about flours. But do they mention artisan-style gluten free bread at ALL?? I won’t keep you in mock-suspense. They do not. 

Overhead view of sandwich on a white surface

In fact, the only mention of gluten free (okay I haven’t read every single word of the whole section, but this is the only one I’ve found) is of the new “Wholesome Cup4Cup” all purpose gluten free flour blend (with ground flaxseed and rice bran—I’ll give it a try when it comes out and let you know what I think).

But the real zinger? The quote that has me literally shaking as I type this? (Sorry for the drama but I’m actually being literal!): “With the addition of cream of tartar, egg whites and more xanthan gum, you can also use it in yeast baking, but don’t expect it to mimic wheat flour.” That’s what they said.

They think that’s the best we can do! Oh my goodness please please please tell everyone you know that that is NOT the best we can do. Go forth and bake amazing gluten free bread.

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 4 6-inch rolls


3 1/2 cups (490 g) gluten free bread flour, plus more for sprinkling

2 teaspoons (6 g) instant yeast

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

3 tablespoons (42 g) packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon (6 g) kosher salt

1 1/4 cups + 2 tablespoons (11 fluid ounces) warm milk (about 95°F)

4 tablespoons (56 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled


  • In the bowl of your stand mixer, place the flour, instant yeast, cream of tartar and brown sugar, and use a handheld whisk to combine well (working out any lumps in the brown sugar). Add the salt and whisk again to combine well. Add the milk and butter, and mix on low speed with the dough hook until combined. Raise the mixer speed to medium and knead for about 5 minutes. This is a lovely, smooth, enriched dough. It climbs up the dough hook during kneading but remains intact and smooth. Spray a silicone spatula lightly with cooking oil spray, and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl or proofing bucket large enough for the dough to rise to double its size, spray the top of the dough with cooking oil spray, and cover with an oiled piece of plastic wrap (or the oiled top to your proofing bucket). Place the dough in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours and up to 3 days. (See Recipe Notes)

  • Preparing the dough for shaping. On baking day, line a large rimmed baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper, and set it aside. Turn out the chilled dough onto a lightly floured surface and, using the scrape and fold kneading method and a very light touch, sprinkle the dough with more flour and knead it lightly, sprinkling with flour when necessary to prevent it from sticking, scraping the dough off the floured surface with a floured bench scraper, then folding it over on itself. Repeat scraping and folding until the dough has become smoother. Do not overwork the dough or you will incorporate too much flour and it will not rise properly.

  • Shaping the rolls + the final rise. On a lightly floured surface, divide the dough into 4 equal pieces, each about 8 ounces. Working with one piece of dough at a time (covering the rest loosely with a moist tea towel to prevent it from drying out), pat into a rectangle about 1/2-inch thick and about 5-inches long. Fold the rectangle along the length from bottom to top, each fold halfway up the width of the rectangle. Fold the now smaller rectangle in half, each side just folded over one another. Roll the dough back and forth to seal the edges and to elongate it slightly until the dough is about 6-inches long. For a visual guide to shaping hoagie-style rolls such as these, please see this post from my trip to Minnesota (scroll down a bit). Place the shaped rolls about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet, and dust lightly with flour to give the dough a “cloak” to rise into.  Cover the baking sheet with oiled plastic wrap (be sure to leave the dough room to rise under the plastic), and place in warm, draft-free location to rise only until about 1 1/2 times its original size (about 40 minutes). You don’t want a full doubling here.

  • Bake. As the dough is in its final rise, preheat your oven to 350°F. Once the dough has finished rising, uncover it, and slash each roll in 3 places with a lame or very sharp knife at a 45° angle, and about 1/2-inch deep (you want deep slashes). Place in the center of the preheated oven and bake for about 15 minutes, or until the dough is very puffy, just beginning to brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (yup, really. the toothpick test is actually more useful here than an internal temperature test). Remove from the oven and immediately cover the entire baking sheet with a clean tea towel, tucking the ends of the towel under the baking sheet to create a loose seal. Allow the bread to cool for at least 30 minutes under the towel. This will soften the crust to the squishy, Subway-like texture we are looking for. Uncover, slice and serve with your favorite sandwich fillings.

  • Adapted from the recipe for Pretzel Rolls on page 153 of Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread. Subway-style sandwich roll concept from Bless This Mess, as selected by you from my Must Make Gluten Free Pinterest Board.


Comments are closed.

  • Mie L Koll
    April 30, 2014 at 6:05 PM

    could I use harmonized vegan protein instead of whey protein isolate? Not sure if they are the same thing only one being vegan.

    • May 1, 2014 at 8:42 AM

      No, Mie, you cannot use that successfully as a substitute. They are not at all the same thing. I discuss dairy free protein powder substitutes for whey protein isolate in my book on pages 10-11.

  • […] Subway-style sandwich rolls. […]

  • Mary Kooistra
    April 27, 2014 at 3:14 PM

    Please, please, please, help me find the whey protein isolate and Expandex modified tapioca starch. I’m not sure I can find it locally (Fort Worth, TX) but I’ll be willing to buy online if I’m pointed to the right direction. Thanks in advance!

    • Kendra
      April 29, 2014 at 8:37 AM

      FORGET locally I live in arlington but am from fort wort,. for the expandex. I ordered form nature’s market in washington…check the resource page on this blog. you can get the isolate from amazon. I get mine from a tiny health food store in arlington that i don’t know the name of.

  • April 24, 2014 at 8:44 AM

    Boooo to the lack of mention of gluten-free bread in the “Bread Issue.” The NYT has done some pretty good coverage of the gluten-free diet, but I feel they tend to sideline it to the health section; they aren’t quite ready to mix GF food right in with the “real food.” Oh well. We know better.

  • Shari
    April 24, 2014 at 12:07 AM

    Just had to add this one: I used to do medical transcription and always wondered, “Why is everyone taking antidepressants, why is everyone taking meds for reflux, why is everyone taking thyroid medication?” Then I read an article listing all the body systems impacted by gluten allergy/celiac – finally, an answer!

    • Shari
      April 24, 2014 at 12:09 AM

      not to mention developmental conditions due to infants with gluten allergy not absorbing necessary nutrients for proper growth and development. oh, i’m on a rant here!

  • Shari
    April 24, 2014 at 12:00 AM

    Oh Nicole, people are in such denial about the impact of gluten upon those who have celiac disease AND those with intolerance or sensitivity. my family alone – totally undiagnosed – has had hashimoto’s thyroiditis leading to thyroid cancer, everybody has reflux and has had for years, hyperkeratosis pilaris runs rampant in my family, my husband’s father was diagnosed with celiac disease – it’s everywhere! most folks are in denial and do not understand at all. We cannot thank you enough for what you have provided in knowledge and enthusiasm. When I retire soon, I will have even more time to devote to your wonderful recipes and I cannot wait! God bless you, dear Nicole :)

    • Shari
      April 24, 2014 at 12:02 AM

      p.s. also strong family history of depression – all of these on list of symptoms for gluten intolerance and sensitivity. I feel like the guy running in the streets during Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and nobody is listening!! Thank you for all you are doing!

  • Carol
    April 24, 2014 at 2:42 AM

    http://www.qualifirst.com/en/expandex-tapioca-starch-1kg-royal-command This is where I bought Expandex in Canada last week. I had my order in 2 days. They also sell Ultratex 3. Tomorrow I will be baking these for sure.

  • Kelsi Tapper
    April 23, 2014 at 7:20 PM

    You’re my hero, and we share this world with some incredibly small minded people!

  • Jennifer S.
    April 23, 2014 at 3:29 PM

    I’m sorry those people are such PITAs. You rock and should write in and tell them where it’s at for GF bread. Geez people get out of the dark ages!!!
    On the other hand – I cannot WAIT to try this bread!! I love smelling Subway bread – so maddening.

    • April 23, 2014 at 6:10 PM

      I know, right, Jennifer?

  • Mel
    April 23, 2014 at 3:05 PM

    As a gluten-eater, I find that article maddening! Resist it they will, but gluten-free is not going anywhere. It drives me nuts when people get all hoity-toity and snobby. Thank goodness, gluten-free eaters/bakers have you to turn to for reliable, DELICIOUS gluten-free bread, Nicole.

    • April 23, 2014 at 3:27 PM

      Thanks, Mel! ;)

  • Linda F
    April 23, 2014 at 2:19 PM

    Well I have always know your were much nicer than I. I love the recipe and will try it soon. Sent this to the Bakery or whatever it’s called:

    Read your business partner Gadi Peleg’s statement in the Times this morning. Just wanted to let you know that this “fad” has me carrying 2 EPI pens everywhere I go in case I ingest wheat. I am severely allergic and it will shoot me into anaphalyxis which, in case he does not know will kill me. This “fad” can cause death to people with celiac disease. For his information please I’ve given some information below:

    Celiac disease is an autoimmune digestive disease that damages the villi of the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food.

    An estimated 1 in 133 Americans, or about 1% of the population, has celiac disease.

    Celiac disease can affect men and women across all ages and races.

    It is estimated that 83% of Americans who have celiac disease are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed with other conditions.

    I am so happy for your bakery and would love nothing more than to sit down with a freshly baked loaf and a stick of butter but alas my “fad” prevents me from doing so, I really, really like living!

    • April 23, 2014 at 3:27 PM

      Oh, Linda, I’m not really very nice. I’m just nice … in print (mostly). Ask anyone who knows me IRL. ;) I’m so glad you sent that note! Well done. :)

      • Linda F.
        April 25, 2014 at 7:58 AM

        Nicole received this email from “them” ….got a free meal if I ever go to NYC!

        Hi Linda,

        for your email and I am sorry if I may have offended you. It was not
        my intention. I have a friend who suffers from Celiac disease and he
        had a very rough life, until he was correctly diagnosed, may years
        before gluten was part of the daily language. It was not my intent to
        offend those who truly cannot eat gluten. It just seems that of late, a
        lot of people have stopped eating gluten with no real medical evidence
        to suggest that, for perfectly healthy people, it has any health
        benefits. I did a lot of reading on the topic and have found no
        long-term studies which suggest that there are benefits to a gluten-free
        diet to those who are not Celiac sufferers. That is that fad to which I
        was referring.

        Come visit us. It is not true that we have nothing gluten
        free. We have salads, soups and amazing coffee. It will be my treat.

        Thanks and sorry if I offended you,


        • April 25, 2014 at 11:09 AM

          Sounds like he knows he has egg on his face. I give him credit for writing back to you, Linda. That can’t have been easy. He should be careful when he opens his mouth, especially when what he says is about to be in a national newspaper!

  • Lorraine
    April 23, 2014 at 1:51 PM

    Oh man, Nicole….Subway! I LOVE them. Now a problem ….Expandex. Don’t think it’s available in Canada. I do find the length a little scary. Oh how I wish you’d move up here. I’d pay you to bake for me! Thanks again for all your hard work.

    • April 23, 2014 at 3:25 PM

      Lorraine, just follow the link in the ingredients (under “Bread Flour Notes”) for how to use Ultratex 3 in place of Expandex. That’s what is available online in Canada, and I explain how to use it in place of Expandex in the bread flour.

    • Dawn Rennick
      April 23, 2014 at 10:49 PM

      I use the ultrex, I love it, and modernist pantry has it, I have used both and may prefer the ultrex a little more, really nice texture

    • Dawn Rennick
      April 23, 2014 at 10:50 PM

      I use the Ultratex and love it, I think it gives a nice texture, I have used both very successfully, I order it from Modernist Pantry

  • MsGF
    April 23, 2014 at 1:40 PM

    Great post. And Dawn I love, love that comeback!

    Shame on the New York Times!

  • Dawn Rennick
    April 23, 2014 at 12:50 PM

    I am so tired of the “trend” comments, I left a comment on the article.

    Wonderful, so once again, my disease ( celiac) is considered a TREND. SHAME on you. But that is ok, because my source of gluten free baking includes multiple types of flour, wet dough, a long rise time of up to 5 days and a fabulous tasting crusty bread with lots of air pockets. Maybe you should check out Gluten Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread. Now there is an artist. Thank goodness because the rest of the world continues to believe our disease is a trend. I suppose peanut allergies should be considered a trend as well?

    • Lucy
      April 23, 2014 at 1:22 PM

      That’s a great comeback! well done!

    • April 23, 2014 at 3:24 PM

      You sing it, sister! Well said indeed, Dawn. :)

  • Kristy B.
    April 23, 2014 at 12:40 PM

    Yes “gluten free” is a fad to some….but how is it fair to exclude those with real food allergies and digestive issues? Scuse us dude, but they estimate it at something like one out of a hundred people have celiac disease. Uhhhhhh….sort of hard to ignore. It’s just plain bad business to ignore a market that is ready to buy. People have cash in hand like “yeah we want to give you money for delicious bread.” To me, saying it’s not possible and that it’s a fad is another way of saying you’re not capable. But that doesn’t mean nobody is.

    So Nicole, when you comin’ out with your own line of gf bread? I’ve got all your books and I do love to bake, but I would totally give you my money sometimes for you to make stuff for me. :P

    • Lucy
      April 23, 2014 at 1:24 PM

      I would be a costumer! Please make it available in Canada!

    • April 23, 2014 at 3:23 PM

      Seriously, Kristy! So stupid. And what’s his damage anyway? Why so angry? That is one thing I’ll never ever get. If I’m not imposing myself on you in any way, why in the world do you care what I eat or don’t eat, and why?
      Honestly, it’s been many, many years since I had any desire to open a GF bakery, but this article makes me feel like opening a GF bread bakery would be the only way to make our point!! (I’m still not going it, but I do appreciate the sentiment ;)

      • Carol
        April 23, 2014 at 4:30 PM

        It would be so awesome if you did open a Bakery, but we would all lose out because you wouldn’t have time to try all the tasty breads, etc that you take the time to make and share with us. I love and have all three of your cookbooks.

        • April 25, 2014 at 11:08 AM

          Thanks, Carol! I so appreciate the kind words, and that’s basically why I don’t plan to open a bakery. I’m happy doing just exactly what I’m doing! And super grateful that you’re here doing it with me.

  • Brad G
    April 23, 2014 at 12:32 PM

    I generally love the NY TImes, but they definitely need to get with the program. That’s an outrage, really.

    • April 23, 2014 at 3:20 PM

      They’ve proven incredibly lazy with gluten free, on occasion after occasion. I honestly think they just know of a few, extremely limited sources of information, and throw to them again and again, regardless of how knowledgeable they are or are not. It’s an outrage, Brad. I couldn’t agree more.

  • Mare Masterson
    April 23, 2014 at 12:06 PM

    I am not a fan of the soft Subway bread. I grew up in NJ, pre-Subway, when subs were on crusty bread, so your GF Hoagie rolls are what I need (and need to make–this weekend for sure)! But, for those who are missing Subway, make this recipe and get some Boars Head GF cold cuts and have at it!

    Now, I think we all need to start a letter writing campaign to the NY Times editor!

    • April 23, 2014 at 3:21 PM

      Hear hear, Mare!

      • Linda F.
        April 23, 2014 at 5:32 PM

        Agreed, we need to have our facts straight!!!

  • Lucy
    April 23, 2014 at 10:50 AM

    Nicole, I loved reading your post today! Really! Doesn’t “New York Times” have editor’s or do they fly by the seat of their pants… maybe Gadi Peleg should become CD and she what kind of trend gluten free bread is all about… now I’m MAD as well…
    On the other note…. love, love the subway subs… yummy! my girls love the flat bread have you copied that too?
    Have a great day!

    • April 23, 2014 at 11:09 AM

      Hi, Lucy,

      Is it wrong that I’m happy you’re mad, too? I can’t say the Times was dead wrong to quote him, as that’s what he said and it’s his business he’s representing (to his detriment!), but why no contrary perspective??
      I haven’t copied the Subway flatbreads, no, but that’s a great idea! Here’s a post with all the gluten free flatbread recipes on the blog to date. :)

      • Lucy
        April 23, 2014 at 1:28 PM

        Thanks Nicole on my way…:)

  • Linda
    April 23, 2014 at 10:25 AM

    Looks wonderful! My daughter was a huge Subway fan pre-diagnosis, and I’ve made the Hoagie rolls but they weren’t soft enough for her. Is this a case where using my couche would be a good idea during the final rise? I bought the thing and just want to use it more! :) Also, next request would be for a Subway “wheat roll” copycat! You’re the best!!

    • April 23, 2014 at 11:06 AM

      Sure, Linda, you could definitely use a couche for the rise. It would help coax the rise up more than out. The Subway “whole wheat” roll is definitely on the list. ;)

  • Moe Moe
    April 23, 2014 at 10:07 AM

    I can’t just use the Better Batter alone? I have to add the oher 2 items to make it into bread flour? Thanks.

    • Anneke
      April 23, 2014 at 10:44 AM

      Moe Moe — it looks like you might want to explore the blog a bit to read about Nicole’s revolutionary bread baking technique, which relies completely on the additional ingredients for the bread flour. I’d suggest following the links up top for “New? Start Here.” All the info there should help explain everything. Trust me when I tell you that the new method is totally worth the extra ingredients and the learning curve!

      • April 23, 2014 at 11:05 AM

        Thank you so much, Anneke! Moe Moe, you cannot use just Better Batter. The recipe will not work.

  • Anneke
    April 23, 2014 at 9:15 AM

    Not “too much!” Do I see a letter to the editor in your future? We’ll just keep baking the revolution, one Subway sandwich roll at a time!

    • April 23, 2014 at 9:15 AM

      LOL, Anneke! I like that. “Bake the GF Bread Revolution, one Subway sandwich roll at a time!”

      • Donia Robinson
        April 23, 2014 at 9:30 AM

        Great, now we’re going to get the Subway people all up in arms. Jared is not going to like this.

        I see a t-shirt in our future, though???????

  • Susan Bowers
    April 23, 2014 at 8:56 AM

    NYT lost cred years ago. Why anybody still reads it is beyond me. Keep it rockin Nicole!

    • April 23, 2014 at 9:15 AM

      They still have such reach, though, Susan! But their laziness w/r/t gluten free is just … maddening!!! Thanks for the fist bump. ;)

  • Donia Robinson
    April 23, 2014 at 8:45 AM

    I have to smile every time I see someone comment on your blog asking if they can substitute regular wheat flour for the GF flours called for. Your new response can be, “You can use wheat flour in baking, but don’t expect it to mimic GF flours.”

    • April 23, 2014 at 9:16 AM

      Okay now that would be rich, wouldn’t it, Donia?! (good one)

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