Recipe: Most Excellent Ground Bologna Sandwich Spread

Last updated November 13, 2019

One of my Ground Bologna sandwiches on white bread, on February 28, 2016. Yeah, I like them even thicker than this.

There’s a deli/butcher shop in Burton, Michigan, called Nehring’s Market. We’re more than acquaintances with the Nehring’s as Ralph and his wife are my late younger sister Janet’s Godparents. Ralph and his crew of cutters make a Ground Bologna Sandwich Spread that tastes almost exactly like this recipe. This recipe is what my mom made for at least five decades.

Somewhere down the line, we think mom’s recipe, and what the Nehring’s crew offers in the store, crossed paths and are, in fact, of the same lineage.

A working bin of the spread at Nehring’s Market, December 30, 2008, in the middle of being transferred to the small tubs for sale in the case.

This lunchtime and picnic favorite is available by the pound in some variation in just about every deli and butcher shop in the midwest. It’s simple to make: Kids absolutely love helping grind the bologna in the meat grinder. A lot of this recipe doesn’t actually need to be measured. This is one recipe you can make ingredient-by-ingredient, tasting as you go, creating your own flavor, and using different brands and various flavors of each of the ingredients.

Ground Bologna Sandwich Spread goes by at least a couple different names. There are likely others, which I’m attempting to find. In some places it’s known as:

  • Ham Spread/Ham Salad: This seems a misnomer, as there’s certainly no ham in the recipe. But this appears to be similar to what Irma S. Rombauer called Mock Chicken Drumsticks (City Chicken) in the original versions of her Joy Of Cooking. The 1943 edition lists both pork and veal as ingredients, but no chicken. Many versions of City Chicken today only use pork. So a Ham Salad that contains bologna but no ham also makes sense.
  • Bologna & Pickle Spread: But of course.
  • PM Sandwiches: This is the term used in northeastern Pennsylvania, according to Jackie who commented on this post on March 29, 2018. In explaining the term, Jackie wrote “We called them PM sandwiches, meaning pickles & meat or party meat because it wasn’t a party without it.”
  • Funeral Salad: So-named because in some areas it’s regularly served at wakes.
  • Monkey Meat: This is mentioned in the comments, and Google users search for Monkey Meat and land on these types of recipes. I have no idea why it’s called this in some areas. But please, eat no monkeys. Ground bologna is much better.

Regional variations on the recipe also include American or cheddar cheese, dill pickles, or chopped hard-boiled eggs.

Historical Notes: In chats with Hungry Christel up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, we believe the historical recipe this preparation came from is what’s called Fleischsalat. A simple staple in Germany that’s loosely translated as “meat salad”, it’s different from the similar preparation Wurstsalat or “sausage salad” in that Fleischsalat contains a German mayonnaise that’s mostly sunflower oil, among other differences. You can use a German ring bologna (aka “ringwurst”) for Fleischsalat, and you need to use a German pickle as well … but it’s the German delicatessan mayonnaise (there’s another style that’s a different preparation) that you’ll find to be expensive.

You can take the leap to make your own Leberkäse, which is a baked loaf of meat, to use instead of the ring bologna. It would also certainly be less expensive to make your own sunflower oil-based German mayonnaise. Be aware though that homemade mayonnaise only has a life of a couple days due to the use of raw eggs in its preparation. But remember, for authenticity German-style ingredients matter.

It appears as though a modified version of Fleischsalat was served as a sandwich to German & Italian Prisoners Of War held by Americans during WWII. Volume 2 of 3 of “Prisoner Of War Operations” consists of a number of documents beginning with a “War Department Policy With Respect to Labor of Prisoners of War” dated January 10, 1943:

“Suggested types of work for such prisoners are employment in War Department owned and operated laundries; brush clearance and construction of fire breaks; mosquito control, soil conservation and agricultural projects; construction and repair of highways and drainage ditches; strip mining and quarrying; and other work of a character similar to the foregoing.”

ASF Circular 150 dated April 1945 from Headquarters Army Service Forces lays out a suggested menu for German prisoners:

“II—PRISONERS OF WAR.—1. Shortage of meat in the commercial market and difficulties attending the procurement of both canned and fresh meat and other critical items for the armed forces make it imperative that such items used for prisoner of war messes be reduced to a minimum and that meat be confined to varieties which are in least demand by American citizens … Issue charts will indicate a maximum of 4 ounces of meat per man per day including eggs.
e. Sausage products will be limited to those products authorized by OPA specifications for civilians according to MPB 389; bologna and frankfurters, types 3 and 4; liver sausage other than Braunschweiger; liver loaf; pork, or breakfast sausage, types 3 or 4; minced luncheon meat; berliner sausage; meat loaf, miscellaneous, types 3 and 4; Polish sausage, type 3, MPR 389, and scrapple.”

Finally, a “Prisoner Of War Menu Guide for German And Italian Prisoners Of War” dated August 4, 1945, specifies 20 lbs of bologna per 100 men in each instance of it being served during a 10-day menu, which fits the specification of “a maximum of 4 ounces of meat per man per day.”

The modified Fleischsalat then appears as item #4 within this Menu Guide under Sandwiches:

“c. The following is a partial list of sandwiches which have been made from the issue and used successfully by many work details:
(1) Bologna, sliced
(2) Bologna & pickle
(3) Bologna & cheese
(4) Chopped bologna, mustard, chopped eggs, and chopped pickle
(5) Bologna loaf (chopped or ground bologna, mixed with bread or cooked oatmeal, flour, onions; baked and sliced cold)
(6) Meat loaf (briskets, shanks, or mutton boned, ground; ingredients added as in 5 above)
(7) Sliced egg
(8) Chopped egg & pickle
(9) Chopped egg & chopped cheese
(10) Sliced cheese with mustard
(11) Marmalade
(12) Marmalade & peanut butter or apple butter
(13) Peanut butter and syrup
(14) Fish Loaf, (prepared as in 5 above)
(15) Fat back, sliced
(16) Fat back and cooked beans (mashed, with mustard or pickles added)
(17) Cheese Loaf (ground cheese, eggs, mustard, vinegar, oil and pepper)
(13) Fish and Bean Spread (cooked fish and cooked beans mashed and mixed with bread or cracker crumbs with added condiments)
(19) Cheese, lettuce and pickle”

This is the real article here; Nehring’s Homemade Sandwich Spread, made with Koegel’s Bologna and photographed in Nehring’s own Koegel meat case.

Of course, ya’ gotta have good meat. Finding the right ring bologna is an important step as it affects the flavor of the finished spread. The most popular ring bologna, such as Ekrich and many others, have roots in the Pennsylvania Dutch communities. What you want to find is a good German ring bologna, as the Pennsylvania Dutch versions won’t taste the same whatsoever.

Koegel’s Ring Bologna is the only stuff most home cooks use for this recipe. Albert Koegel was raised in the city of Durlach, Germany, in the late 1800s. When he was of age he joined one of Germany’s well-respected apprenticeship programs under the supervision of a Master Butcher. In a few years he had earned his Meister Wurstmacher designation, indicating he was a Master Sausagemaker. The product I use, shown below, is his own original recipe from the early 20th century. Find yourself a good local German meatpacker (there are many, such as at Alpine Village in Torrance, California) and use their ring bologna.

There’s another option as well, which is what Nehring’s uses. We’ll get to that shortly …

Koegel ring bologna, one of the preferred products for this recipe.

In the recipe below for Ground Bologna Sandwich Spread, I include a step about skinning the ring bologna before grinding it. However, the hot dogs in natural casings for the Homestyle Flint-Style Coney Sauce that I make regularly don’t get skinned before being sent through the same grinder. Unfortunately one day my brain swapped the two procedures. I made a batch of this spread for Mary and I … while only glancing at the recipe for ingredient amounts. As I was grinding the ring bologna, I noticed the ground bologna seemed to stay inside of the grinder more than usual. I thought maybe the disks on the front of the grinder were simply stuffed so, using a butter knife, I dug all the meat out of the disassembled grinder, then finished the batch of sandwich spread.

The following day after eating sandwiches made from this batch for lunch, we had a good laugh (more Mary than myself as it was at my expense!) over having to dig large pieces of natural casing from each bite of our sandwiches.

Chunks of Koegel bulk bologna from a 10-lb chubb, the other preferred bologna for use here.

In January 2017 while visiting up north near Flint, and at Nehring’s Market itself while getting some ring bologna for this recipe, I asked for a couple lbs of beef bologna from a 10-lb chubb. I asked for it not to be sliced as I was planning on slicing it about 3/8″ thick, especially since I already had the ring bologna for the spread. The meat cutter looked at me strangely and, while holding the chubb of lunchmeat bologna, said “But this is what we use for the spread.” Ummm … what?? It turns out home cooks have likely used the ring bologna because it’s more readily available in most stores. (I’ve found Koegel’s ring bologna as far away as Lafayette, Indiana.) But the chubbs of beef bologna are generally only found in delis in Genesee County and surrounding areas, while grinding slices from the 1-lb packs is a royal pain.

The bottom line: Ring bologna is not a requirement. You could also use a good German-style beef lunchmeat bologna. (Again, for accurate flavor make sure it’s not from a Dutch-style company.)

The only two commercial mayonnaise that are acceptable in this recipe. While using Hellmann’s for decades, we’ve switched to Duke’s for its extra creaminess and richness, and almost zero “twang”.

A few notes about the ingredients:

  • Bulk bologna and ring bologna are spiced differently, so final seasoning of the resulting spreads will differ.
  • Yellow onions aren’t as harsh as white onions, so we specify yellow.
  • Duke’s Mayonnaise has a nicer flavor profile than Hellman’s, but as Duke’s can be difficult to find outside the south using less Hellman’s to get the same type of flavor and texture is fine.

The best batch I’ve made so far uses Koegel bulk bologna, Duke’s Mayo, French’s yellow mustard, yellow onion, sweet gherkins, and no salt or pepper whatsoever.

The original image for this post, circa 2008.

Make all kinds of good stuff, and to enhance your reputation in the kitchen, make sure you can repeat it. And be sure that I will skin the ring bologna for the Ground Bologna Sandwich Spread from now on.

Ground Bologna Sandwich Spread

This lunchtime and picnic favorite is available by the pound in some variation in just about every deli and butcher shop in the midwest. This is one recipe you can make ingredient-by-ingredient, tasting as you go, creating your own flavor, and using different brands and various flavors of each of the ingredients.
Prep Time20 minutes
Course: Sandwiches
Cuisine: American, German
Keyword: bologna, bologna & pickle, fleischsalat, funeral salad, ground bologna, ham salad, ham spread, monkey meat, pm sandwiches, sandwich, spread


  • Meat grinder, manual
  • Glass dish, 8" x 8"
  • Mixing bowl, large
  • 2-quart Storage container


  • 1-1/2 lb Bologna, ring or bulk, unsliced German, not Dutch
  • 2 - 3 ea Gherkins, sweet
  • 3 ea 1/8" slices yellow onion, medium
  • 1 cup Mayonnaise Duke's or Hellmans
  • 2 tsp Mustard, yellow prepared
  • Salt & pepper (optional)


  • If using ring bologna: Remove any strings or clips off the ends. Cut the bologna into 4 sections for easier handling. Slit one side of each section lengthwise and remove the casing.
  • Install discs onto the front of the meat grinder for a fairly small grind and grind the bologna into the glass dish. After digging the rest of the bologna out of the grinder, dump the bologna into the mixing bowl.
  • Finely-chop the sweet pickles till you have about 1/2 cup, and then do the same with the slices of onion. Add the chopped pickle and onion to the ground bologna in the mixing bowl, then add the mayonnaise and mustard and mix it all together till it’s smooth. Taste it, adding some salt and pepper to punch up the flavor if necessary.
  • Transfer it to the storage bowl and refrigerate the spread until it’s ice cold. Use a fork to put a layer of spread about 3/8″ thick (my kids like it about 1/2″ thick on a slice of white bread, then close with another slice. Serve with kettle-cooked potato chips or steaming-hot French fries.


  • Koegel’s bulk bologna from a 10-lb chubb or original-flavor ring bologna are the preferred choice. The garlic or pickled varieties also make for an interesting flavor. Other brands from other “real” German meat suppliers may be acceptable substitutes.
  • While it’s possible to grind the bologna in a food processor, a better texture is created using an old-fashioned hand-driven meat grinder. These are available in specialty and antique shops, commercial food equipment dealers, and the cooking section of stores such as Cabela’s in Dundee, Michigan.
  • Both Nehring’s Market and Grandma Joyce used Miracle Whip dressing instead of the mayonnaise.  She also ground the pickles and onions through the grinder instead of chopping them separately. Grinding the pickles and onions also squeezes their juices into the ground bologna, which adds an interesting touch to the already tangy flavor of the Miracle Whip dressing. Oddly enough, she liked my version better, even though she insisted on using Miracle Whip for her own batches!


Add a Comment
  1. Dave,

    I used to eat Peanut Butter, Bologna, Mayo, and iceberg lettuce sandwiches with salt and pepper to taste on white wonder bread. It was my favorite lunch ever. This was back in the mid-’60s….I’m going to make this for lunch tomorrow. Thanks for reminding me!!! Also, I’m sure I used to eat ground bologna sandwiches where we bought it in a plastic tube-shaped package (like liverwurst comes) called “sandwich spread” by Oscar Mayer I love it, but I haven’t seen it in the market in a long time.

  2. I haven’t eaten ground bologna but if my mom packed me a lunch for field trip, etc….it was Vienna sausages mashed with a fork, Hellman’s Mayo stirred in on a sandwich or with saltine crackers (my favorite). In my mind I am thinking the bologna salad may taste similar.

  3. Reminds me of What I have Had in the Past,and always I make a Really Big Batch, Because it goes Fast. Originally from Durand, Michigan Now in the South. But I Think it’s just a Tad better with Miracle Whip.

  4. Mom made this on grocery shopping day. She ground the bologna, cut up onion,sweet pickle relish, miricle whip and grated velveeta cheese. She would put it on hot do buns, open face and toasted them, melting the cheese. Guess what I just ground up in the fridge for dinner tonight. I can’t wait. There is nothing better to eat than childhood memories.

  5. What about replacing the sweet pickles with green olives stuffed with pimento?

  6. Hi Terisa … It sounds fine to replace the pickles with green olives. One of my favorite cheeseburger toppings is mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, with chopped green olives on the mayo. So one of the ways I enjoy a ground bologna sandwich is with a slice of mild cheese underneath, such as Meunster or Gouda, and a layer of those same chopped green olives on top, with or without pimiento.

  7. We ate a version of this spread called ” Spanish filling”…but it also included ham, boiled eggs, and blk & green olives. We always thought it was a southern recipe because my Aunt from Louisiana made it often.

  8. My mom made it with onion, sweet pickle or relish, Velveeta, pimento. And miracle whip. I loved It then and still do! I think we may be having this for lunch this week.
    Mom also made pimento cheese spread. Grated velveeta, a jar of pimento chopped and miracle whip. This was one of my favorites on saltine crackers.

  9. Dagmar Luft-Vonbernewitz

    YumEEE! I subbed a kosher dill for the sweet gherkins and Löwensenf for the yellow mustard( low carb diet). I used to make Wurstsalat , but the stringy cut bologna was hard to maneuver. This is awesome – and much less messy and easier to stuff into those ripe tomatoes( the best combo in my book) Guten Appetit!

  10. WOW, I was looking for a ground bologna recipe and I came upon you from Luna Pier! I was raised in Luna Pier, moved away and returned in 1975. We lived in Allen’s Cove until 2005. It’s a small world! I enjoyed reading your blog. Thank you and have a happy, safe and healthy new year.

  11. Hi Dave,
    Thank you for the recipe! Growing up in Dubuque, Iowa we would love to see Mom get out the meat grinder – that meant Minced Ham sandwiches! She used simple ingredients like yours – ground up a chunk of bologna, sweet gherkins, onions and mixed with Miracle Whip. Nothing better than that!
    Wanting to make the recipe now I searched for “Minced Ham” and all I got were recipes using real ham. When I substituted “Bologna” for the “ham”, your recipe finally pooped up! Yea!

  12. Tip for those households lacking either a grinder or a food processor (or you just don’t feel like hauling them out): I remove the casing from a ring of bologna(ALWAYS Koegel’s) and grate in through the large holes of a cheese grater. Simple,fast, easy – just watch those fingers! Save the chunks at the end of the grating process to munch on.

  13. My mom used to make these sandwiches when I was growing up. We called them “Dogmeat Sandwiches.”

  14. so I’ve been looking all over online for what we called at CJC (Colorado Justice Center) “Schmeat”. I think most of the ingredients in your recipe are correct. But I’m fairly certain we didnt use Mayo, or the pickle relish. If any of you fine, law abiding citizens have a better line on the ingredients of this marvelous dish? I’d ve grateful

  15. clint l folkerts now I’m curious. Which prison was it? I’ll be glad to try to contact someone there.

  16. I remember this living in Ohio.. bologna, sweet pickles and mayo. It was a great lunch!

  17. At a Correctional Facility in Milpitas, CA they have a lunch spread that the inmates called “Cat Food” it was so yummy! I seriously hope this is from or a variation from that recipe. Fingers crossed.

  18. I grew up in western PA, and my mom made this for us. She got it from my German grandmother, but added cheddar cheese to her monkey meat. I currently live in Germany and eat “Fleischsalat” on a regular basis. The difference is that the Germans slice the meat and pickles and use more Mayonnaise (no cheese).

  19. The Koegel’s truck came thru Tx and we stocked up on Viennas, ring bologna and pickled bologna. This weekend my brother and I will try our hand at making your recipe. Excited to try!

  20. Our mother’s recipe was only ground bologna (made with a 1-2 lb chub), 1-2 dill pickles and mayo and a squirt of mustard. Love it and that’s the only way I make it to this day. Tried sliced bologna and it just did not have the same texture in the end.

  21. We call it ham salad in Western Pennsylvania. I’m from Pittsburgh area but now I live in AZ. Can’t wait to make this!

  22. Oh My, haven’t had Bologna Pickle mix in over 50 yrs!! I can still taste it. We have a bit her in town..hoping he has bulk bologna..y mouth is watering!!

  23. This was so great to come across. I now live in California but I grew up in Michigan. My folks used to visit Luna Pier often. I vaguely remember it had something to do with frog legs, I think. Our family favorite sandwich spread was called pickle-puss. It was ground ring bologna, mayo and pickles. I remember mom pulling out the meat grinder to make a nice big batch. Thanks for reviving the memory.

  24. Carin, you’re welcome! The restaurant was likely the Frog Leg Inn in Erie. For many years Tad and Catherine Cousino operated it as a French Bistro, with frog legs being on their Starter menu. The Inn is still there, but is now a sports bar.

  25. Can bologna spread be frozen? I never got an answer.

  26. I grew up in the WV panhandle and our local grocer made in-house ham salad – the market has changed hands over the decades and I called them a few months ago to ask if they still made it and if I could get the recipe – NO! was the answer.

    I thought they must have used some sort of pressed ham like Dubuque canned ham, sweet relish, onion, small amount of pimento and maybe a bit of sugar (it had a bit of sweetness) – are you telling me that this could be the recipe? Has anyone heard of a recipe like I have stated?

    I have to give this a try

  27. I always add celery..really gives it a great flavor! And,being from ohio,we use miracle whip salad dressing instead of mayo.

  28. Patricia Rahikainen

    My mom used to make this every time we traveled far enough from home that we wouldn’t be home for lunch. Due to a younger sibling asking her one time “Mom, could you make that “Stuff” cause he couldn’t figure out what it was called, every member of our family now refers to it as “Stuff.

  29. I live 2 miles from Nehrings Market. Think I’ll go buy me a tub today!

  30. We made this growing up using all of your ingredients but we added boiled eggs in the grinder. Made it tasty and went farther. I loved it and still make it for my family. We also used miracle whip and added a jar of drained pimentos. Mmmmmm

  31. I grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska. When in grade school, i either has a bologna sandwich with lettuce and mayo or ground bologna with sweet pickles and mayo every day. I make some yet today about every 2 or 3 months, about a lb. of bologna, sweet pickle relish and Miracle whip. I am going to try mayo like mom did, I forgot she used it. Thanks for the reminder of my absolutely most favorite sandwich.

  32. My Grandpa used to make this with hot dogs if he didn’t have bologna.

  33. My mom used to make what we called ground lunchmeat. She used 3 kinds of lunchmeat,some are not available now so I use spam bologna and sweet pickles and mayonnaise. I use my moms old hand grinder and grind meat and pickles together and then mix in mayonnaise to taste. I find that this tastes as good as what she made in my youth.

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