A pan de mallorca adventure

Get ready for multiple sandwiches made from sweet pan de mallorca.

Read Time: 9 minutes

This is a sandwich that was invented in a United States territory in the Caribbean Sea, made from an enriched sweet bread that was originally baked on a Spanish island in the Mediterranean Sea. Based on the ingredient list, you’ll see that this is a simple sandwich at its core, but as usual, I will find a way to shake things up a little.

This sandwich was the suggestion of a member of my Patreon community, Jim Behymer. Jim happens to be the driving force behind Sandwich Tribunal and he also just happens to be an Internationally recognized sandwich expert. Jim suggested the mallorca de jamon y queso to see what my take would be on this sandwich that he also wrote about in 2017.

Read along to take a sandwich adventure with me and see where the bread, cheese, and meat takes us!

What is this sandwich?

First, we need to know more about this sandwich we’re making. Let’s break it down.

Pan de mallorca

Mallorca (spelled Majorca in English) is a Spanish island found off the eastern coast of Spain in the Mediterranean Sea. On that island, they bake a sweet bun known as ensaïmadas. In the early 1900s, this style of bread migrated across the Atlantic Ocean and people in Puerto Rico started baking a version of it. They changed the name of this sweet roll to pan de mallorca in honor of the island where the original recipes originated.

Jamón y queso

You can probably figure this part out but just in case: Jamón translates to ham in English and queso equals cheese.

So, this is a ham and cheese sandwich on a sweet bun with origins in Puerto Rico and influences in Spain. The meat and cheese portion of this sandwich sounds simple, but first, we need to work on the bread.

Even Burger King serves mallorca jamón y queso in Puerto Rico.

A mallorca de jamón y queso example from a restaurant in San Juan, Puerto Rico that I found on Instagram. This one has cheddar and is pressed.

Let’s talk a bit more about the bread or buns.

Pan de mallorca

Pan de mallorca is a sweet, flavored bread from a heavily enriched dough that is formed and shaped in a spiral and then typically served dusted with powdered sugar. These buns would traditionally be served alongside other breakfast items or as an afternoon snack.

Since I’d never had pan de mallorca prior to starting to write about this sandwich, I chose to visit a local Puerto Rican-focused bakery. San Juan Bakery is in the neighborhood of Humboldt Park which is just down the street from where I currently live in Chicago.

Humboldt Park contains a stretch of Division Avenue that has been named Paseo Boricua which roughly translates to Puerto Rican Promenade. According to Wikipedia (citations needed), this area is the only officially designated Puerto Rican neighborhood in the 50 United States.

Puerto Rican immigrants started coming to Humboldt Park in the 1950s and 60s, leaving other neighborhoods in the north of Chicago due to gentrification.

So, if you want to try Puerto Rican-style bread without actually going to Puerto Rico, the Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago is probably one of your best bets.

San Juan Bakery in Chicago has two different types of mallorca rolls (they spell them mayorcas -which is sort of how I think they should be pronounced).

San Juan Bakery serves a plain version that you can buy either already dusted with powdered sugar or without the sugar. They also sell what they are calling mayorcas rellenas which I thought would mean that they are stuffed but what it really means is they are topped with cream cheese and/or different fruit flavorings. I tried all of them and ended up with plain, strawberry, and pineapple flavors to turn into sandwiches.

The selection of mallorca buns on a Friday morning in August at San Juan bakery in Chicago.
San Juan sells both powdered sugar dusted mallorca and some without powdered sugar. I bought both and ate the one with powdered sugar immediately after getting home and used the non-powdered one in a test sandwich later that day.

There was a bit of a language barrier at San Juan bakery or at least that’s how it felt. Maybe I wasn’t being clear, but I ended up getting one of each mallorca they sell. And somehow, they were lower priced than they should have been. I got 5 pan de mallorca buns for around 7 bucks and it wasn’t until I got home and looked at the photo that it seemed like maybe I wasn’t charged tax or something. I don’t really know. I do know that after I was finished making these sandwiches and was writing this post another local sandwich/breakfast place announced a Puerto Rican-themed pop-up with mallorcas and on their menu theirs were 4 bucks each. So, hit up San Juan for reasonably priced, tasty pastries.

Banana, strawberry, and plain, powdered sugar mallorca buns. The two fruit versions also have cream cheese on top.
These things are big. One thing I wanted to do with my homemade versions was to get them down to a little bit more reasonable sandwich size.

The bakery purchased mallorca buns were great so I decided to make some “test” sandwiches out of them.

Mallorca de Jamón y Queso

In testing these sandwiches I first used mallorca buns that I bought at San Juan bakery before I made my own.

Bakery fresh mallorca de jamón y queso

For this version, I chose to use deli sliced ham and American cheese. If you look up recipes for this sandwich you will find all sorts of cheese used, but American seems to be popular. I tried a few other versions and I think most sliced cheese will work just fine. Swiss seemed to be the most interesting to me, but cheddar slices appear on menus occasionally and they would be great as well.

I bought this mallorca bun and then toasted it and built the sandwich before I finally dusted the top with powdered sugar.
This is a tasty sandwich that is simple, but if you don’t nail the important things like toasting the bun and searing the ham, you miss out on a lot of textures and flavor.

The sandwiches I made with the store-bought buns required a lot more meat and cheese to balance the ratios. Otherwise, there would have been too much bread. I ended up changing the recipe I used to create smaller mallorca buns which allowed me to use less meat to make a slightly smaller and more reasonably sized sandwich.

I sliced this one in half to get a cross-section. Not beautiful, but if you like ham and cheese, it’s very tasty.

I did not press any of these sandwiches with a panini press but it appears that some Puerto Rican restaurants do serve them in a pressed format. I just wanted to enjoy the bread without crisping and squishing it.

Fresas rellenas de Mallorca con jamón y queso

I don’t know if Google translated this properly, but I decided to make a ham and cheese sandwich on one of the strawberry and cream cheese “stuffed” mallorca buns and it was very tasty and just a bit messy.

The savory ham and melty cheese paired well with cream cheese and strawberry jam. Much like the original McDonald’s McMuffin with jam, this combo really hits the spot.

A very lightly butter toasted, sliced strawberry and cream cheese topped mallorca bun ready for ham and cheese.
This was the sweetest ham and cheese on mallorca sandwich that I tried this week. It was still really good as long as you’re a fan of the combo of savory and sweet like I am.

Homemade pan de mallorca

Instead of creating my own mallorca recipe, I felt it was best to look toward someone who has some experience in eating this style of bread in Puerto Rico and also making their own. It turns out that King Arthur Baking published a new mallorca recipe and accompanying informative Puerto Rican mallorcas blog post in February of this year (2023). King Arthur Baking is the best (except for next week’s recipe—stay tuned).

Instead of making the 6 large mallorcas that King Arthur’s recipe suggests, I made 8 smaller sandwich-sized buns. I also used butter instead of lard. The butter for lard switch might be controversial, but in digging through online mallorca recipes and reading deep into the comment sections of these recipes it seems like lard isn’t always the default fat for this type of roll.

Shaped pan de mallorca rolls, ready for proofing and then a final bake.
One hour later, these are the same buns ready for their egg wash and bake time.
Four of the eight buns I made from this batch.
Making 8 instead of 6 rolls still produces large sandwich buns.

Without the powdered sugar, this bun is still much sweeter than your typical sandwich bun or roll. It’s soft, a tiny bit chewy and it has a pretty soft crust, setting the whole bun up as a pretty good sandwich roll in my opinion. Adding powdered sugar takes the breakfast-y sweetness up a notch and makes me understand why this bun is popular alongside morning coffee.



Here’s the recipe from King Arthur Baking that I used to make my pan de mallorca buns.

Making the sandwich

As I’ve said a few times, this is a simple sandwich, so you want to make sure you nail all the essential items on the mallorca de jamón y queso checklist.

First off, don’t powder the tops of these buns until you are ready to eat them. Powdered sugar does not last very long on top of pastries or buns. It will melt into the tops and mess up the visuals of your bread. Dust them when you’re ready to eat.

This sandwich is easy to make. These are the required ingredients (I also added mayonnaise). Note: if you have a small strainer it works great as a powdered sugar duster.
Cool the toasted buns on a wire rack to allow airflow which keeps the bread from steaming itself.

Pan de mallorca is a soft bun that greatly benefits from toasting in butter prior to the sandwich-building process. You can, and I did toast in a toaster oven just to get a little crunchy factor to the bread, but the versions I pan-toasted in butter were much better.

Just make sure you rest your toasted buns on a cooling rack for a minute or two after toasting. Otherwise, if you place toasted bread on a flat surface, it will steam itself and become soggy.

As I said before, toast the bun first and THEN dust it with powdered sugar after it has a moment to cool off a little.

A naked pan de mallorca bun.
A pan de mallorca bun putting on its shirt.
A fully clothed pan de mallorca bun.
Use whatever cheese you think pairs best with ham. I think Swiss was my favorite.
I made one mallorca de jamón y queso with a sunny-side-up egg.

To egg or not to egg?

That’s up to you and depends on how you want your ham and cheese sandwich on the day that you’re making it. In my opinion, egg doesn’t add much. It’s good and does provide a bit of what almost appears as a sauce from the yolk when it is cooked sunny side up or over easy, but if you prepared it as a folded egg or scrambled egg, it almost might provide more to the sandwich.

I used Swiss and American cheese primarily in these sandwiches and I think I enjoyed Swiss a bit better.
For those of you keeping track, this is the second runny yolk that has appeared on this sandwich blog.

The recipe

Here’s the recipe I used for my mallorca de jamón y queso. You do need to make your own buns unless you’re lucky enough to have a bakery nearby that specializes in Puerto Rican-style pastries.

Mallorca de jamón y queso view printable page for this recipe

Want a stellar ham and cheese sandwich? This one hits all the high notes: savory, sweet, melty, and toasted. For this recipe, you will first need buns. Here is the pan de mallorca recipe.


  • 1 mallorca bun
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4 slices of deli ham
  • 1 to 2 slices of cheese (American, Swiss, Cheddar or other)
  • mayonnaise or mustard
  • powdered sugar


Slice the mallorca bun and butter both sides.

In a medium pan over medium-high heat, toast the buttered sides of the bun.

Remove the bun from the heat to a cooling rack when it is toasty and golden brown. Wipe out the pan and reduce the heat to medium.

Add four slices of ham to the pan and cook for 2 minutes per side. When you flip the ham the second time, arrange it on the pan in a pile and top with cheese. Cook for another two minutes until the cheese starts to melt. 

Spread any condiments you would like on the sandwich on the bottom of the bun. Top the condiments with the pile of ham and melty cheese.

Cover the cheese with the top bun. And dust the top of the sandwich with powdered sugar. 

Serve and enjoy.


The recipe I used for pan de mallorca is from King Arthur Baking. I used butter instead of lard and I shaped my mallorca dough into eight buns instead of six. Do not dust your buns with powdered sugar until right before you want to eat them. The sugar will melt and disappear if you powder them too far in advance.

What about Monchi burgers?

Now that we’ve got extra pan de mallorca buns, what else can we do with them?

Not only is Burger King in Puerto Rico using pan de Mallorca, but McDonald’s has as well.

During my research on mallorca buns, I found advertisements from early 2022 on Facebook and YouTube with Monchi burgers/sandwiches from McDonald’s in San Juan on pan de mallorca. This video is from an advertising agency in PR and was posted for a Monchi burger campaign on April 12th, 2022.

This is a wild, 30-second commercial with all sorts of craziness going on. It’s supposed to be promoting the Monchi burgers at Puerto Rican McDonald’s.

It’s not as easy to find, but McDonald’s in PR has also had a regular mallorca de jamón y queso on their menu and after digging through some comment sections on Facebook I found out that they had an option for the addition of an egg as well.

But let’s get back to the Monchi burger because I made one. Even though it’s not really a burger. Here are some stills from the Monchi burger commercial. $3.49 is a good deal!

The pollo (chicken) version of the pan de mallorca Monchi burger.
This Monchi burger is sandwiched between a pan de mallorca bun.

I chose to make the chicken version so first, we need some seasoned fried chicken patties.

I used my food processor to grind up some chicken thighs to form patties before I froze them. I did not do a great job of grinding into small enough pieces but it still worked great.
Then I froze the patties and fried them in 350-degree F oil for 6-ish minutes until they reached an internal temperature of 165 F and the exterior was crispy and golden brown.

Once you have a fried chicken patty, this sandwich is super easy to construct.

The McDonald’s version did not use powdered sugar on top of the mallorca bun, so I didn’t either. I now sort of regret that I didn’t try it though.
If you like fast food chicken sandwiches you’d like this sandwich. Crispy and crunchity.
The mallorca buns I made were around 4.5 inches across, so I had to make fairly wide chicken patties to compensate.
The heat from frying will wilt the slice of cheese, but you could stick it under your broiler for a couple of minutes to get a better melt.

Here’s my recipe for a Monchi chicken “burger.” Again, you need pan de mallorca buns first, but I have linked the recipe I used and some extra info in the recipe notes section about all of that.

1 hour and 27 minutes
Monchi chicken burger (McDonald's copycat)

The Monchi burger is a savory fried chicken patty sandwiched between a sweet mallorca bun. The Monchi burger/sandwich is based on a McDonald's menu offering from Puerto Rico. See the notes below the instructions for the mallorca bun recipe.

Get Recipe

Come back next week

I wrote last week that this week would have croissants. I lied. Next week there might be a croissant though.

You can support this site by joining my Patreon community for behind-the-scenes updates about future sandwiches. All those supporters knew that croissants got pushed a week. They had the inside scoop!

Support this sandwich blog and unlock behind the scenes content. Follow along with what I am working on next. Click the banner below to join our Patreon community.

Enjoyed reading? Subscribe and I'll email you the next time I post a new sandwich.


1 comment on A pan de mallorca adventure

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.