Food & Drink

Unexpectedly Delicious Sandwich Combos You've Never Thought Of

nutella sandwich
Cole Saladino/Thrillist

In one memorable moment of Pixar's Ratatouille, rodent-protagonist Remy animatedly extols the wonder of combining flavors to create totally new and unique taste sensations. And that little CGI rat was on to something.

Sometimes, odd flavor couples can make the most interesting partners. Such is the case with these idiosyncratic duos that you shouldn't be afraid to make into a sandwich. Though this isn't usually good life advice, just close your eyes and bite. You'll be happy with the results. 

Weird Flavor Combos
<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/yurilong/4917508295" target="_blank">Flickr/YuriLong</a>/<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevendepolo/14552677466" target="_blank">Flickr/StevenDePolo</a>

Lobster and Sriracha 

Spicy Sriracha sauce may or may not be dead, but pairing it with primo lobster meat (from a lobster that is definitely dead) may just be the route to resurrection (for Sriracha, not the lobster).

"I made lobster sliders before, decked out with a Sriracha aioli sauce. The Sriracha really amplifies the flavor of the lobster, it's a funky thing but it does really interesting things to the palate," said Bobby Will, executive chef of Saltaire Oyster Bar and Fish House in Port Chester, NY.

Peanut butter & jelly and bonito flakes

It just rolls off the tongue, right? For the record, bonito flakes are essentially dried fish flakes. 

"For PB&J, it's almost like adding bacon," said chef, author, and TV personality Justin Warner. "It gives it a little bit of smokiness, a little bit more character. I enjoy the subtle funk of fish with the classic PB&J."

weird flavor combo
<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/quinnanya/16008404122" target="_blank">Flickr/quinnanya</a>/Drew Swantak/Thrillist

Salmon and chocolate

"There's this theory going around, that claims foods that share some of the same flavor molecules are going to pair well together -- whether it's something as strange as blue cheese and pineapple, or tomato and black tea. Things you wouldn't expect may go well together because they share similar molecules," said Matthew Hartings, a food chemist who teaches "Cooking and Chemistry" at American University.

One such pair is chocolate and seafood... even funky seafood like salmon or eel. "The flavor you get with one of these -- if you eat salmon, or chocolate alone -- is one experience. When combining flavors, your brain gets the same molecules from two very different foods, and it confuses it... in a good way!"

Pastrami and swordfish

For the record, you don't need to use swordfish on your sandwich, according to Will. You can substitute any meaty fish, like tuna loin. 

"Swordfish (or any meaty fish) takes well to bolder flavors. When you pair it with the pastrami, it gets this a nice salty, spicy flavor that accents the fish so well," he said. 

Weird Flavor Combos
Drew Swantak/Thrillist/<a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:PeanutButter.jpg" target="_blank">Wikimedia/PiccoloNamek</a>

Bacon and peanut butter (or almost anything sweet)

OK, so this is one entry that you've probably already thought of -- but its inclusion is warranted as it's a true classic... and an Elvis favorite! "The sweet and savory flavors just accent each other so well," Will said. "Bacon and any sweet spread like Fluffernutter, or peanut butter, or even chocolate, work so well on a sandwich together."

The big-time burger guys at PYT agree, as they pair their burgers with bacon, chocolate, and donuts actings as buns. I think the arteries in my eyeballs just got clogged. 

Chicken and pumpkin

One offbeat suggestion from our food chemist, is the combo of chicken and pumpkin.

"Another two foods that may go well together because they share the same flavor molecules," Hartings said. "There are a lot of different sets like this, all across the food world. You think about flavor profiles that just 'brighten up' certain dishes. When our food is too heavy (flavor-wise) in one direction, having something to contrast that can really help balance the dish. 

"And this is a combo that just makes sense to me... it sounds pretty good."

Steak tartare and cheese

"So I always used to put steak tartare on a sandwich, beneath a slice of cheese, and it always came out banging, it's like a really raw or rare hamburger," Warner said. 

"I don't know why people don't do this more. Steak tartare is usually served with a slice of bread, but the second you add another slice, people just get weirded out. They shouldn't be."

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Wil Fulton is a staff writer for Thrillist. His favorite weird combination is the jelly bean and squid ink sando. Follow him: @wilfulton.