February 26, 2018

Grandma's Pittsburgh chipped ham sandwiches

Chipped ham sandwich on a plate with pickles and sweet potato fries.

Chipped (or "chip chopped") ham sandwiches are a diner food from the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania region of the United State. They are a simple, affordable, and crowd-pleasing dish for the whole family.

These are something my grandmother used to make when I was a kid and remind me of my childhood. 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. These sandwiches became famous from Isaly's, but there are various modifications and variations.

A chipped ham sandwich on a plate.

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. Our whole family always enjoyed them, including all my cousins and extended family. Before she passed away a couple of years ago I asked her a few times for her recipe for chipped ham. 

Chili sauce and properly cut ham "chipped" ham were the keys to a chipped ham sandwich she said. 

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

I also read a few recipes online and they seem to vary a lot - some had some barbecue sauce, some ketchup, some chili sauce, some sweet pickle relish, some even had cheese. These are a recreation based on my Grandmother's recipe. My finished product matches up well with my childhood memories.

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.

Chipped ham sandwich on a plate with side dishes.

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Yield: 6 sandwiches
Author: Amy (Savory Moments)
Grandma's Pittsburgh Chipped Ham Sandwiches

Grandma's Pittsburgh Chipped Ham Sandwiches

Chipped (or "chip chopped") ham sandwiches are a diner food from the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania region of the United State. They are a simple, affordable, and crowd-pleasing dish for the whole family.


  • 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 or Kaiser rolls


  1. 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.
  2. Stir frequently until it begins to bubble. Reduce and simmer for about 10-15 minutes, stirring often.
  3. Serve hot on split rolls with sweet pickles and side(s) of your choice.
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I hope you give these chipped ham sandwiches a try! Let me know in the comments below.

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Side view of chipped ham sandwiches on a plate.

Check out some other Pennsylvania family favorite recipes:

Pennsylvania Dutch Ham, Green Beans, & Potatoes

Ham, Bean, & Rivel Soup

Chicken, Corn, & Rivel Soup

Pennsylvania Dutch Flannel Pancakes 

Shoofly Pie


  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!

  9. Thanks for the recipe. I remember them from my childhood in a south Pittsburgh suburb of Pleasant Hills.

  10. I grew up in Pittsburgh in the 60's and my mother would take us to the Isaly's chain for one of their ice cream cones. The ice cream was not round on the cone but had slender scoops. My mother would always buy a pound or two of chipped ham. Loved it on white bread with mayonnaise.


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