The chopped cheese sandwich is a staple of New York City bodegas, loved for its simple combination of juicy chopped beef, melted cheese and grill-crisped bread. This classic chopped cheese recipe uses just a handful of essential ingredients to recreate the iconic sandwich at home.
This cheesy, meaty sandwich is as satisfying as a burger but easier to eat on the go. Learn how to chop and griddle the ingredients for authentic chopped cheese flavor and texture. This cheap pantry meal is about to become a new weeknight favorite.
What is a Chopped Cheese Sandwich?
The chopped cheese originated in New York City bodegas (corner stores) and food carts. It’s made by “chopping” ground beef on the grill or flat top and combining it with sliced cheese that melts into the meat. That mixture gets piled onto a grill-buttered hero roll for a delicious hot sandwich.
Despite its humble ingredients, the chopped cheese has developed a cult following for its juicy, cheese-smothered beef flavors. It makes a filling and quick meal when you’re on the run.
This recipe teaches you how to cook a classic chopped cheese right at home with just a skillet and essential pantry items. Learn the easy technique for chopping and griddling the ingredients for authentic taste and texture.
Ingredients You’ll Need
For 1 sandwich:
- 1 tablespoon butter or oil for cooking
- 1⁄4 pound ground beef
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1⁄8 teaspoon each salt and pepper
- 2 slices American, cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
- 1 hero roll or hoagie bun
- Sliced tomatoes, lettuce or other toppings (optional)
Make it a meal:
Serve with crispy French fries or tater tots on the side.
Tips for Chopping Cheese Perfection
Follow these tips for a picture-perfect chopped cheese:
- Use 80/20 ground beef for optimum fat ratio. Avoid leaner meats.
- Chop beef into very fine crumbs 1⁄8-1⁄4 inch size. This texture is key.
- Chop onions fine to evenly distribute in meat.
- Use cheese slices not shreds for even melting and gooey factor.
- Griddle onions into meat so flavors combine. Don’t layer separately.
- Spread mixture on one side of bun and flip over to grill other side.
Now that you know the secrets, let’s learn how to put together this melted cheese and beef combo.
How to Make Chopped Cheese Sandwiches Step-By-Step
1. Dice the Onion
Peel and finely dice a small onion. Having even small pieces is important for this recipe. They will blend into the chopped meat.
2. Chop the Meat
In a bowl, form the 1⁄4 pound of ground beef into a flat patty. Use a sharp knife to dice the meat into very fine crumbs about 1⁄8 to 1⁄4 inch pieces. Break up any larger pieces.
3. Griddle the Onion and Meat
- Heat 1 tablespoon butter or oil in a skillet or griddle over medium high heat.
- Add the onions first and cook for 1 minute until starting to soften.
- Add the ground beef crumbles. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Cook for 2-3 minutes, chopping and mixing with a spatula to break up any larger lumps. Keep the beef in very small pieces.
4. Add the Cheese
- Once beef is cooked through, top evenly with 2 slices American, cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese.
- Let cheese start to melt into meat, about 30 seconds.
5. Chop and Combine
- Use your spatula to chop everything together, blending the melted cheese into the meat.
- Cook an additional 1-2 minutes, continuing to chop and mix until cheese is fully incorporated.
6. Grill the Bread
- Spread some butter or mayo on the inside of your hero roll or hoagie bun. Place the buttered side down onto the griddle.
- Spoon the hot chopped cheese mixture on top, pressing down lightly.
- Let toast 1-2 minutes until golden brown.
7. Finish and Serve
- Carefully flip the sandwich over to toast the other side of the bread about 30 seconds.
- Slice in half and fill with any extra toppings like lettuce, tomato or pickled jalapeños.
- Serve immediately while hot and melty. Enjoy!
Have some questions about making perfect chopped cheese at home? Here are some common FAQs.
1. What’s the best cheese to use?
Classic sliced American cheese provides the ideal gooey meltiness. Cheddar or Monterey Jack also work well. Avoid hard cheeses that don’t melt smoothly.
2. Can I use pre-ground beef?
For best texture, buy ground chuck and chop it yourself into fine crumbles. But in a pinch, extra lean ground beef will do. Chop into smaller bits.
3. What’s the best bread for chopped cheese?
A hero roll, hoagie bun or other 8-10 inch Italian sandwich bread is ideal for holding the juicy ingredients. Slice in half instead of using full rolls or subs.
4. Can I meal prep chopped cheese sandwiches?
It’s best to assemble chopped cheese sandwiches just before eating. But you can prep components like chopped meat and onions 1-2 days ahead. Keep chilled.
5. Should I toast the bread first?
You don’t need to pre-toast rolls. Griddling it right on the skillet makes the outside crispy and inside soft.
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