chopped cheese

This beloved New York City classic is made with ground beef, onions, and American cheese, and can be customized with your favorite toppings.

With our step-by-step instructions and chef’s tips, you’ll be able to make a perfect chopped cheese sandwich in no time.

What is chopped cheese?

The Origins of Chopped Cheese

The chopped cheese sandwich has become a beloved fast food item in New York City, but its origins are somewhat murky. The sandwich is said to have originated in the early 2000s in Harlem, where it was sold at local bodegas and delis. Some people believe that the sandwich was created as a cheaper alternative to the Philly cheesesteak, while others think that it was inspired by chopped beef sandwiches popular in Puerto Rican and Dominican cuisine.

Regardless of its origins, chopped cheese has become a staple of New York City’s food scene, and has gained popularity beyond the city in recent years. The sandwich has even inspired variations and spin-offs, such as the “chop cheese” sandwich served at restaurants in other parts of the country.

Despite its humble beginnings, the chopped cheese has become a cultural icon in New York City, and is enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. Whether you’re grabbing a quick lunch from a bodega in Harlem or making your own version at home, the chopped cheese sandwich is a delicious and satisfying meal that embodies the flavors and spirit of New York City’s diverse culinary landscape.

What’s the difference between chopped cheese and a cheeseburger?

While both chopped cheese and a cheeseburger are made with ground beef and cheese, there are some key differences between the two.

Chopped cheese is made by cooking ground beef with diced onions and spices until tender and flavorful. American cheese is then added to the skillet and stirred in until melted and combined with the beef and onions. The mixture is then served on a hero or hoagie roll, and can be topped with condiments like mayonnaise, ketchup, or hot sauce.

In contrast, a cheeseburger is typically made by forming ground beef into a patty and grilling or frying it until cooked to a good burger doneness temperature. The cheese is then placed on top of the patty and melted before being served on a bun, along with condiments like lettuce, tomato, and pickles.

What does a chopped cheese taste like?

When you take a bite of a chopped cheese sandwich, you’re greeted with a burst of savory, salty, and slightly sweet flavors that come together in a mouth-watering combination. The ground beef is tender and flavorful, having been cooked with onions and spices until they’re just right. Then, the melted American cheese adds a creamy, tangy element that perfectly complements the meat.

The texture of the sandwich is also a key part of its appeal. The ground beef is broken up into small pieces, giving it a slightly crumbly yet satisfyingly chewy texture. The hero or hoagie roll provides a crispy, crunchy contrast that elevates the sandwich to a whole new level of deliciousness.

How to make a chopped cheese sandwich

Ready to make a chopped cheese sandwich? Let’s get started!

Ingredients

  • Bread: hoagie rolls or hero rolls
  • Ground beef: use ground beef with higher fat content, such as an 80/20 blend for flavor and juiciness.
  • Onion: The sharp and slightly sweet flavor of a white onion complements the other ingredients in the sandwich.
  • Butter: use butter instead of oil
  • Garlic powder: choose finely ground garlic powder for more even distribution of flavor throughout the sandwich
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • American cheese: American cheese is commonly used in traditional chopped cheese sandwiches. However, feel free to experiment with different cheeses if you prefer.
  • Lettuce and tomatoes: provide freshness, crunch, and additional flavor
  • Mayonnaise, ketchup, or hot sauce (optional) 

Directions

Step 1: Toast the Buns

Toasting the buns adds a delightful crunch to the sandwich. The slightly crispy surface helps maintain the structural integrity of the sandwich, making it easier to handle and enjoy.

  • Split the hoagie rolls or hero rolls horizontally.
  • Place the rolls on a griddle or in a toaster oven, cut side down.
  • Toast until the rolls are lightly crispy and golden.

Step 2: Cook the Filling

  • In a non-stick pan over medium-low heat, brown the ground beef for approximately 7-8 minutes, breaking it into small pieces as it cooks. Ensure it is partially cooked, not fully done.
  • Increase the heat to medium and add the onions and garlic. Cook for an additional 4-5 minutes until the vegetables soften. Season the filling with salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. Remove from heat.
  • Place a slice of American cheese on top of each portion, and cook until the cheese melts.

Step 3: Assemble the Sandwich

Once the cheese has melted over the filling, transfer each portion onto the prepared toasted buns. Top the sandwiches with slices of fresh tomatoes and a generous amount of shredded iceberg lettuce.

Chef’s tips for chopped cheese

  1. Use high-quality ground beef for the best flavor and texture. Don’t skimp on the onions – they’re a key ingredient in this sandwich!
  2. Experiment with different types of cheese, such as pepper jack or provolone, to find your favorite flavor combination.
  3. Toasting the rolls is crucial for achieving a crispy, crunchy texture that contrasts with the tender beef and cheese.
  4. Customize your chopped cheese sandwich with your favorite condiments or toppings, such as lettuce, tomato, or pickles.
chopped cheese

Chopped Cheese Sandwich Recipe

Elisa He
Want to try a classic New York City sandwich in the comfort of your own home? Try our chopped cheese sandwich recipe!
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Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 2

Ingredients
  

Filling

  • ¼ pounds ground beef (80/20 blend)
  • ½ white onion chopped
  • ½ tsps salt
  • ¼ tsps pepper
  • 4 slices american cheese

For the Bread

  • 2 hoagie buns sliced
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp ketchup

Topping

  • lettuce chopped
  • tomatoes sliced

Instructions
 

Toast the Buns

  • Split the hoagie rolls or hero rolls horizontally.
  • Place the rolls on a griddle or in a toaster oven, cut side down.
  • Toast until the rolls are lightly crispy and golden.

Cook the Filling

  • In a non-stick pan over medium-low heat, brown the ground beef for approximately 7-8 minutes, breaking it into small pieces as it cooks. Ensure it is partially cooked, not fully done.
  • Increase the heat to medium and add the onions and garlic. Cook for an additional 4-5 minutes until the vegetables soften. Season the filling with salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. Remove from heat.
  • Place a slice of American cheese on top of each portion, and cook until the cheese melts.

Assemble the Sandwich

  • Once the cheese has melted over the filling, transfer each portion onto the prepared toasted buns. Top the sandwiches with slices of fresh tomatoes and a generous amount of shredded iceberg lettuce.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!