The Ultimate Guide to Chopped Cheese Recipe – New York City’s Beloved Sandwich

Chopped cheese is a melt-in-your-mouth, flavor packed sandwich that originated right here in New York City. This quick and hearty meal has developed a cult-like following. Learn how to make it with my best chopped cheese recipe.

In this post, you’ll discover everything you need to know to make this iconic sandwich at home. I’ll walk you through choosing the right ingredients, special preparation tips, step-by-step cooking instructions, and plenty of serving ideas. You’ll even find troubleshooting advice for common issues.

Let’s dive in and get cooking!

A Brief History of the Chopped Cheese

While its exact origins are disputed, the chopped cheese sandwich likely emerged in Harlem bodegas in the 1990s. The simple concept combines ground beef with melted cheese in a hero roll. Chopped cheeses quickly became a go-to order at bodegas and luncheonettes all over New York City. Their speed, affordability, and deliciousness made them a hit with everyone from construction workers to college students.

This humble sandwich even gained some high-profile fans like Jay-Z and Cardi B. While it remains especially popular uptown in Harlem, the chopped cheese has developed a city-wide following. It’s become a classic NYC sandwich right up there with pastrami on rye and bacon egg n cheese.

Why Make Chopped Cheese Recipe at Home?

There’s nothing better than grabbing a freshly made chopped cheese from your local bodega. But when you want that taste at home, my recipe lets you recreate it with just a skillet and basic ingredients.

Making your own allows you to control the quality of ingredients. You can tweak flavors to your taste. Homemade chopped cheese also means enjoying that hot, melty sandwich without stepping outside.

This recipe lets you enjoy a New York City staple anywhere. Keep reading to learn how make it like a seasoned Harlem chef.

Ingredients Needed For Chopped Cheese Recipe

Chopped cheese sandwiches contain just a handful of ingredients, but quality makes all the difference. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Ground Beef – 1 pound 80/20 ground beef provides the right fat ratio for flavor and moisture. Go for freshly ground if possible.
  • Cheese – Use 6 to 8 slices of a melty cheese like American, cheddar, or provolone. Mix it up with different varieties.
  • Rolls – Soft hero rolls or Portuguese rolls allow the filling to melt into the bread.
  • Onion – 1/2 of a yellow or white onion, diced. Adds crunch and flavor.
  • Seasonings – Salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika amp up the flavor.
  • Butter – A small amount of butter crisps up the rolls.

Optional additional toppings: fried eggs, lettuce, tomato, mayo, hot sauce, etc.

Equipment You’ll Need

Part of the appeal of chopped cheese is how easy it is to make. You don’t need any special kitchen tools.

  • Skillet – Use a medium cast iron or non-stick skillet to cook the beef and melt the cheese.
  • Spatula – A sturdy spatula helps chop and stir the meat mixture.
  • Knife and Cutting Board – For slicing the onion, cheese, and bread.
  • Paper Towels – To drain excess grease from the beef.

That’s it! Now let’s get cooking.

Step-by-Step Cooking Guide

Follow my simple step-by-step instructions to make your own delicious chopped cheese sandwiches at home.

1. Prepare the Ingredients

  • Dice the onion into small pieces. Shred or slice the cheese.
  • Lightly toast the hero rolls in a toaster oven.
  • Season the ground beef with garlic powder, salt, pepper, and paprika.

2. Cook the Onion

  • Melt 1 tsp butter in a skillet over medium heat.
  • Add the diced onion and cook for 5 minutes until translucent. Transfer to a plate.

3. Brown the Beef

  • Raise heat to medium-high and add the ground beef to the skillet.
  • Use a spatula to break up and chop the meat continuously as it cooks.
  • Cook for 7-10 minutes until the beef is browned and crumbled.

4. Drain and Season the Beef

  • Transfer the crumbled beef to a plate lined with paper towels. Let drain 1 minute.
  • Return the beef to the skillet and season with a pinch of salt and pepper.

5. Assemble the Sandwiches

  • Place 2-3 slices cheese over the beef and lower heat to medium.
  • Cover and cook for 1 minute until cheese melts.
  • Scoop beef and melted cheese into the toasted hero rolls.
  • Top with cooked onions.

6. Dig In!

  • Add any additional toppings like lettuce, tomato or mayo.
  • Slice in half if needed, and enjoy your fresh homemade chopped cheese!

Cooking Tips for Chopped Cheese Perfection

  • Use a heavy skillet for even browning. Nonstick prevents sticking.
  • Chop and stir the beef often as it cooks for evenly crumbled texture.
  • Resist pressing down on the meat to avoid dense, rubbery texture.
  • Draining excess grease prevents a soggy sandwich.
  • Covering allows the cheese to melt evenly over the beef.
  • Layer cheese slices instead of shredding for better meltability.
  • Don’t overfill the rolls or the cheese can leak out.

Quick Variations

Customize your chopped cheese with these easy additions:

  • Bacon Chopped Cheese – Cook 4-6 slices chopped bacon with onions for a BLT vibe.
  • Jalapeño Popper Chopped Cheese – Mix in diced jalapeños and top with spicy queso.
  • California Chopped Cheese – Add guacamole, sprouts, and tomato for a west coast twist.
  • Breakfast Chopped Cheese – Fry an egg and use cheddar cheese for an AM sandwich.

Serving Suggestions

While chopped cheese tastes great on its own, here are some tasty sides to serve it with:

  • French fries for dipping into that delicious beef and cheese.
  • Pickles provide a refreshing, crunchy contrast.
  • Coleslaw or potato salad round out the meal.
  • Chips and hot sauce bring a spicy kick.
  • A cold beer or soft drink wash it all down.

Nutrition Information

A typical chopped cheese sandwich delivers a satisfying dose of protein and calories:

  • Calories: Around 650
  • Total Fat: 35g
  • Protein: 40g
  • Carbs: 40g

While high in protein and calories, chopped cheese is also high in saturated fat. Enjoy it in moderation as the occasional indulgent treat.

Storage and Reheating

Leftover chopped cheese sandwiches store well for 2-3 days refrigerated. Reheat them in the microwave or skillet to crisp up the bun again before serving. The melted cheese may separate slightly, but it will still taste delicious.

Troubleshooting Chopped Cheese

Having issues with your chopped cheese? Here are some common problems and how to fix them:

Problem: Beef is undercooked or pink in the middle.

Solution: Cook for a minute or two longer, breaking up the meat into smaller crumbles as it finishes cooking.

Problem: Buns are soggy from grease.

Solution: Drain beef well and blot with paper towels before assembling sandwich.

Problem: Cheese isn’t melting evenly.

Solution: Make sure cheese slices overlap slightly for full coverage. Cover skillet so steam helps melt the cheese.

Problem: Sandwich fillings are falling out the back.

Solution: Don’t overstuff the buns. Use only 2-3 slices of cheese and moderate amounts of onion and beef.


Got questions about making chopped cheese? Here are answers to some common queries:

What type of onion works best? Use yellow or white onions. Sweet onions like Vidalia are too mild. Red onion works in a pinch but may overpower.

Can I use turkey or chicken instead of beef? You can, but beef’s fat content makes it ideal for chopped cheese. Opt for 85% lean ground turkey or dark meat chicken.

What’s the best cheese for chopped cheese? American cheese gives an authentic melty texture, but also try cheddar, provolone, or Monterey jack. Avoid hard, crumbly cheeses.

Should I toast both sides of the bread? Lightly toasting just the inside helps the buns get crispy enough to hold the filling without getting dried out.

How long does assembled chopped cheese last refrigerated? Store assembled sandwiches up to 2 days refrigerated. Warm through before serving. Ingredients start to separate after that.

The Joy of Chopped Cheese

As a born-and-raised New Yorker, chopped cheese holds a special place in my heart. The flavor takes me back to eating these sandwiches on my high school lunch breaks in Harlem. I hope my easy homemade recipe lets you experience this NYC staple no matter where you live.

This sandwich is all about the juicy, flavorful beef coming together with melty cheese in a crispy bun. Savor the comforting mix of textures and flavors. Customize it to your taste. Just be warned – make it once, and you’ll start craving this sandwich again and again.

Let me know how your homemade chopped cheese turns out! Share your creations or leave any questions in the comments.

New York chopped cheese recipe

New York's Chopped Cheese Recipe

Yield: 3
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes


  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 4 slices American cheese
  • 4 sub rolls or hero rolls
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Vegetable oil for cooking
  • Ingredient Tips: Feel free to customize your Chopped Cheese with your favourite condiments, or add hot peppers for some extra heat.


  1. Start by finely chopping the onions and green peppers. Set them aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the mayonnaise, ketchup, and mustard to create the special sauce.
  3. Cut the sub rolls in half and set them aside for toasting.
  4. Now you're ready to start cooking!

Cooking Instructions

  1. Heat a skillet or griddle over medium-high heat and add a bit of vegetable oil.
  2. Add the chopped onions and green peppers, sautéing until they're soft and slightly caramelized.
  3. Add the ground beef to the pan, breaking it into small pieces with your spatula as it cooks.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste, continuing to cook until the beef is browned and fully cooked.
  5. Now, it's time to assemble! Place slices of American cheese on top of the beef mixture, allowing it to melt.
  6. Toast the sub rolls on the skillet until they're lightly crispy.
  7. Assemble your Chopped Cheese sandwiches by placing the beef mixture inside the toasted rolls.
  8. Drizzle the special sauce over the meat and serve immediately.
  9. Pro Tip: Press down on the sandwich with a spatula to get that signature flattened look.


  • Use a high-quality ground beef for the best flavor.
  • Seasoning the meat with your favorite spices can add depth to the flavor.
  • Don't skip toasting the rolls; it adds a delightful crunch.
  • Practice patience during the cooking process, allowing the flavors to meld together.

Serving Suggestions

Chopped Cheese is perfect on its own but pairs wonderfully with classic sides like fries or coleslaw. Enjoy it with a cold soda, iced tea, or even a craft beer.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 3 Serving Size: 6
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 1970Total Fat: 106gSaturated Fat: 33gTrans Fat: 2gUnsaturated Fat: 63gCholesterol: 393mgSodium: 3235mgCarbohydrates: 126gFiber: 6gSugar: 20gProtein: 124g

Please verify that a recipe fits your needs before using it. Recommended and linked products are not guaranteed to be gluten-free. The nutrition facts are automatically generated from an Application Programming Interface via the recipe plugin WP Recipe Maker. To accurately calculate the nutrition of any recipe, Americans Recipes recommends consulting a professional nutritionist. Nutrition info may contain errors, so please verify it independently. Recipes may contain errors, so please use your common sense when following them.

Love what you're seeing? Share the magic with your friends and be the source of inspiration today. Let's spread the love and knowledge together!

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

About The Author

Leave a Comment

Skip to Recipe