Chopped Cheese Sandwich: A New One On Me!

I guess you have to be a New Yorker to know such things. But I just learned about a ‘different’ (to me) street food that’s purportedly a staple of bodegas (diners) in the NYC Latino community: The Chopped Cheese Sandwich. You can make it at home!

Chopped Cheese - © Capriotti'sCapriotti’s new Chopped Cheese Sandwich: Homage
to the NYC Latino community food culture…

What it is

The Chopped Cheese Sandwich is basically a hamburger patty chopped up into a crumble while cooking on the flattop grill. It’s then mixed with American (Processed) Cheese until the cheese melts, and plopped on a toasted sub roll. Toppings can be pretty much anything you have on hand.

Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop in New York has débuted the city’s first ‘above street level’ version of the Chopped Cheese. It’s toppings include: grilled onions, lettuce, tomatoes, mayo and ketchup.

Who loves it?

As I said, it’s considered a fast food staple in the Latino community. It’s not hot or spicy, and that kind of follows along the lines of the ubiquitous Cubano Sandwich.

I think anybody who’s ever had a Sloppy Joe can readily imagine the experience of eating this drippy, oozy delight.

A cheap, easy supper

Even those of us who are working on restricted food budgets can afford to enjoy Chopped Cheese sandwiches.

I priced it out, based on feeding a family of four using 1 lb. / 450 g of ground beef. All veggies were calculated based on prices of today, at Canada’s largest supermarket – Loblaw’s.

Here’s the ingredient list:

  • Ground Beef: 1 lb. / 450 g  =  $7.00
  • American (Processed) Cheese: 8 slices  =  $6.00
  • Onions: 400 g  =  $1.20
  • Lettuce: 4 large leaves  =  $0.75
  • Tomatoes: 2 medium  =  $2.40
  • Sub rolls: 4 standard  =  $3.29
  • Mayo: 100 ml  =  $0.62
  • Ketchup: 100 ml =  $0.40

The grand total supermarket bill for this meal comes to: $18.53. Let’s assume you already have Mayo and Ketchup in your pantry. The bill is reduced to $17.53. Divided by 4 servings, that’s just $4.38 per serving. Compare that to a Big Mac at (C)$ 6.19 and a Quarter pounder at (C)$ 7.29. Those two popular fast food choices cost about 1/3 more per serving than the price of your home-made Chopped Cheese.

Other differences…

One big cost factor: Your homemade Chopped Cheese is about twice the size of the McD’s burgers. You’d have to spend an average of $12.38 to get the same amount of food in Big Macs.

The Chopped Cheese will contain two or three times the fresh veggies you’d get on a Big Mac.

And, your Chopped Cheese sammy will contain only as much added salt as you decide to use. The Big Mac clocks in at 920 mg of salt – about 40 percent of the daily recommended allowance!


Caramelize the onions in a little Canola or Vegetable oil, adding a couple of pinches of brown sugar to hasten and deepen the browning. Cook the beef-and-cheese filling in the same pan.

Toast the rolls in the fraying pan in which you made the chopped beef and cheese mixture. There will be some leftover fat, and the bread will also pick up any bits of the filling that remain.

You can add fresh Jalapeños or Chili Powder to make this dish spicy, if you want.

Following the quantities recommended in this post, you’ll have fatter sandwiches than the one shown in the photo of the Capriotti’s product. You might find that half of one will fill up a light eater or a pre-teen kid. Save even more cash!

You can make the ground beef crumble in a big batch. Add the cheese at the time you want to serve. The pre-cooked meat will quickly reheat and meld with the melting cheese. Save more by buying the meat in Family or Club pack format. Freeze in meal-sized ziplocks what you don’t use the first night.

And don’t forget: You can use those meal-sized packets to add substance and flavour to any number of other inexpensive meals you might have up your sleeve!

The bottom line:

I think almost any family will love this Latino favourite. And you can make your scarce food bucks go farther!

~ Maggie J.