Pittsburgh Style Ham Barbecue Sandwich

This iconic Pittsburgh style ham barbecue sandwich is a craveable chopped meat sandwich simmered in a sweet and sour sauce. Every family in Pittsburgh had their variation on the recipe.  My family adored pickle relish in ours.  I love the tart, dill pickle tastes with the ham.

An iconic childhood sandwich - Pittsburgh Style Ham Barbecue Sandwich on a toasted Kaiser roll.

Every once in awhile I get a craving for this sandwich.  The difficulty is finding the ‘right’ ham.  In Pittsburgh, we would use Isaly’s Chipped Chopped ham, which was a boiled, chopped, and compressed ham that probably bordered on mystery meat, but was delicious in this recipe.

This craving is directly attributed to my dear friend, Vince who spoke of bringing pounds of chipped chopped ham home with him after a trip back to where he grew up.  After speaking with him, I found myself craving this sandwich.

The closest thing the ‘right’ ham product that I found was boiled ham that I had shaved and just chopped into smaller bits when I got home.  Not ideal, but still pretty darn good.  

Be prepared to have lots of napkins ready.  This is one messy sandwich and well worth it!

An iconic childhood sandwich - Pittsburgh Style Ham Barbecue Sandwich on a toasted Kaiser roll.


  • Butter to saute the vegetables – and everything tastes better with butter
  • Onion and garlic – for flavor…and to get a few vegetables into the dish
  • Boiled ham – shaved and then chopped.  You could also leave it into very thin slices.  I like the chopped bits.
  • Ketchup.  Okay, this one is crucial. You HAVE to use Heinz ketchup.  There aren’t any other options (I mean there are, but you want it edible, right?)
  • Pickle relish. I like dill relish, but if you want a sweeter sandwich, sweet pickle relish is a great option.
  • Vinegar for the ‘sour’ component
  • Water – this really depends on how long you want to simmer your meat, how thick you want your sauce, and if you are timing the meat to finish with your side dishes.  Start with ¼ cup because it can always add more.  
  • Brown sugar for a little sweetness
  • Yellow mustard
  • Worcestershire sauce 
  • Kaiser rolls – I like using Kaiser rolls because they can stand up to this juicy sandwich.  Buttered and toasted is even more delicious.  My mom used to serve it to use on toasted white bread and they were still yummy.




This Pittsburgh Style Ham Barbecue Sandwich is a crave-worthy, iconic, chopped ham sandwich in a sweet and sour sauce.

  • Author: Millie from Eats By The Beach
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 8
  • Category: Main Dish - Sandwiches
  • Method: Saute
  • Cuisine: American, Pittsburgh



¼ cup butter

1 small onion, finely minced

1 garlic clove, finely minced

1 ½ pounds boiled ham, shaved

2 cups Heinz ketchup 

1 cup dill pickle relish

⅓ cup white vinegar

¼½ cup water

3 tablespoons brown sugar

2 teaspoons yellow mustard

2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

8 Kaiser rolls, split

¼ cup butter


Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.  Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat mat.  Set aside.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter.  Saute the onion and garlic in the butter until the onion is translucent, but have not started to turn golden.

Meanwhile, roughly chop the ham.

Once the onion is translucent, add the ham to the skillet and begin to separate the pieces as you toss and mix it with the onion and garlic.  Cook for 5 minutes, breaking up any lumps of meat.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, stir together the ketchup, relish, vinegar, water,brown sugar, yellow mustard, and Worchestershire sauce.  

Pour the sauce over the ham and stir well to completely combine.  Allow the mixture to simmer, stirring often to keep the mixture from sticking, until the sauce has thickened and reduced – about 20-30 minutes.

Spread both sides of each Kaiser roll with butter.  Place on the prepared baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 5-7 minutes until lightly toasted. 

Assemble the sandwich by scooping the ham barbecue mixture onto the bottom of each roll.  Top with the toasted top and serve hot.

Keywords: Pittsburgh style ham barbecue sandwich, iconic sandwich, ham sandwich recipes, barbecue sandwiches, Pittsburgh food,