February 26, 2018

Grandma's Pittsburgh chipped ham sandwiches

Chipped (or "chip chopped") ham sandwiches are something my grandmother used to make when I was a kid. These sandwiches come from the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area. My grandmother grew up in a small borough outside of Pittsburgh called Turtle Creek and this is a recipe she brought with her from her childhood.

My grandma was not a fan of cooking and I rarely remember her cooking any food for me except for these sandwiches on rare occasions (and tuna sandwiches if that counts haha. My grandfather made a mean breakfast). Before she passed away a couple of years ago I asked her a few times for her recipe for chipped ham. I thought that she had used pop (soda) in them, but she swore she didn't. Chili sauce and properly cut ham (see below) were the keys to a chipped ham sandwich she said. I also read a few recipes online and they seemed to vary a lot... some had some barbecue sauce, some ketchup, some chili sauce, some sweet pickle relish, some even had cheese... So, I went with the bare bones of what she told me to recreate what I remember eating as a kid. My finished product matched up well.

I would say that I probably liked these a lot more as a kid than I do as an adult, but for nostalgia purposes, they were great. They are also an easy, kid-friendly, and budget-friendly meal. Serve with sweet pickles on the side or on top along with a side like sweet potato fries, potato salad, or macaroni salad of your choice. This recipe will make about six sandwiches.

Chipped ham sandwiches
1-1/2 lbs. chipped ham*
1 (12 oz.) bottle chili sauce (like Heinz)
about 2 tablespoon water
1/4 cup ketchup
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 soft hamburger rolls

*When you go to the deli, you want to get one of the cheaper deli hams (think like the square ones/pressed hams). Ask the deli to shave it until it is falling apart. This will make the ham "chipped". For a less salty sandwich, rinse the ham in a colander with cold water and drain well.

Mix the ham, chili sauce, ketchup, and pepper in a medium saucepan. Add about two tablespoons of water to the chili sauce bottle, put the cap back on shake well, and pour into the pan. Stir frequently until it begins to bubble. Reduce and simmer for about 10-15 minutes, stirring often.

Serve hot on split rolls with sweet pickles and side(s) of your choice.

What was I cooking one year ago?: apple butter oatmeal muffins
Two years ago?: apple cornmeal muffins
Three years ago?: orange chicken
Four years ago?: spiced turmeric milk
Five?: maple & balsamic fig jam
Six?: smoky split pea soup
Seven?: black bean patties w/ mango salsa
8?: macademia coconut tart in a chocolate cookie crust

Check out some of my other favorite childhood recipes from PA like this Ham, Bean, & Rivel Soup or this humble dish of Ham, Green Beans, & Potatoes


  1. That looks like a great sandwich, esp. when served with sweet potato fries :-))

  2. What a terrific recipe to use up leftover Easter ham!!!

  3. so interesting! one of my husband's favorite childhood recipes is a baked chicken dish where you wrap chicken with bacon and cook it over a bed of chipped ham with a cream sauce. i had never heard of chipped ham before that--interesting to hear more about that!

  4. I love a good sandwich and ham sandwiches have a special place in my heart. I'd love to try these chipped ham sandwiches - they look so good!

  5. i've never heard of chipped ham, though i love me some chipped beef gravy. :) i love the heritage behind this, and i think it sounds tasty.

  6. Gotta love those Grandma recipes! YUM!

  7. Isaly's was the small chain in western PA and Ohio in the 40's, 50's & 60's that was a deli & ice cream mecca...they sold the cheaper lunchmeat ham that was used to make these sandwiches & sold the sandwiches, too. Their ice cream was good, too!

  8. How interesting, I've never seen anything like it but now I can't wait to try one!


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