Monkey Meat… it’s not what you think

Before you run away, let me clarify – no monkeys were harmed in making this Monkey Meat.

There are also no bananas… let me explain…

Monkey Meat! It's a delicious 3 ingredient sandwich spread that kids go bananas over!


We’re talking family recipes this week, and this Monkey Meat is an OLD family recipe. I was actually just introduced to Monkey Meat last month, and I was extremely intrigued at the name alone. I was at a family reunion, so my mom and her three siblings were there, and at the mere mention of “Monkey Meat” they would tilt their heads back, close their eyes, smile and make an, “mmmmm.” sound.

I simply had to know what it was, and what was in it. Oh, and WHY the name?

So here’s what it is – it’s a sandwich spread (also makes a great dip for crackers) made from bologna, dill pickles and a little bit of mayo.

Monkey Meat! It's a delicious 3 ingredient sandwich spread that kids go bananas over!

Here’s WHY – When my grandparents were younger and had 4 hungry kids (living on a very modest income) my grandma looked for ways to “expand” their pantry. By grinding up the bologna and her homemade pickles, she was able to stretch the meat out a little further and save a few extra pennies. My grandfather was a Science teacher, and the name “Monkey Meat” was most certainly coined by him. He passed away when I was just 9 years old, but I remember him always having the quirkiest jokes and always being the life of the party. I actually went off to college with aspirations to become a science teacher myself.

But alas, I ended up here. Sharing Monkey Meat with my friends. (we’re still friends, right?) 

Monkey Meat! It's a delicious 3 ingredient sandwich spread that kids go bananas over!

When I made these sandwiches for my kids and told them it was “Monkey Meat” they were a little confused. Ok, I had to do some serious talking with my 4 year old to convince her there was actually NO monkeys in it. She finally took a bite, and LOVED IT. My oldest kids requested these in their lunch box, and I couldn’t be happier.

With our school being a nut free zone, they can get sick of their regular sandwich selection.

Plus they can brag to their friends about it. I hope I don’t get any notes home from the principle… 

Monkey Meat! It's a delicious 3 ingredient sandwich spread that kids go bananas over!

Look, we all know family recipes can be a bit… well, odd. And yes, this one definitely is, but it’s totally worth a try!

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Monkey Meat… it’s not what you think

Monkey Meat recipe is a delicious sandwich spread or dip with crackers!

  • Author: Shawn
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 5 servings 1x
  • Category: Appetizer
  • Method: no cook
  • Cuisine: American


  • 1 lb. stick bologna, cut into cubes
  • 5 to 6 baby dill pickles, drained
  • 1/2 cup mayo, + more if needed


  1. In a food processor pulse the bologna several times until it becomes very finely chopped, place in a large bowl.
  2. Wipe out the food processor and add the dill pickles, pulse a few times until very finely chopped. Add the dill pickles to the bologna along with the mayo. Stir to combine, keep chilled and spread on butter crackers or in-between to pieces of bread for a delicious sandwich!

Keywords: bologna, dill pickles, mayo

About the author

Shawn is the Owner and Creator of I Wash You Dry. She loves to create and share simple, family-friendly recipes. Mom to 5 adorable children and dwells in the desert of Southern Utah.
182 Responses
  1. Sharon Humlicek

    My kids ( in their 50’s ) still request this. I too grind the bologna, add a little miracle whip and dill pickle relish. I serve it open faced on sliced French bread. Really a favorite around here

  2. Donna

    My mom grew up during the depression. She raised all of us kids on monkey meat.
    Mom is now 95 and still going strong. I think the name ‘monkey meat ‘ has been around a long time.

  3. This was passed from my grandma to my mom
    then my sisters and brothers. They called it ham salad and we used the hand crank grinder. We used Miracle whip, vinegar, sugar and a little milk to thin the Miracle Whip.
    Since my kids have all left home I don’t make it any more.

  4. Rozanne

    I grew up on monkey meat. Reason we were told it was named after the music grinders with their monkeys that played on the streets. We made it with the bologna, American cheese, onion, sweet pickles and mayo. Tastes better the second day after flavor meld together. Brings back good memories

    1. Sorry you didn’t have great results with the food processor Cheryl. If you pulse the food processor too many times it’ll definitely get blended all together and have a mushy consistency. Just a few pulses is all you need! 🙂

    2. Kathy M

      That’s how my mom, grandmother and I make it. We all used the old hand crank meat grinder for the bologna and the pickles. My sons call every so often and ask me to make some for them still (they’re in their 40’s).

  5. Michele Szot

    OMG…my mom made this with ring bologna…and she used a meat grinder. I think I still have it somewhere packed away. I really need to make it…brings back so many memories!!!

  6. Lynn

    My mom called this “sandwich mix” and made it with a sausage grinder. The same ingredients as the recipe here, but with American cheese in the mix. One slice of cheese per slice of bologna. My husband and I served it now and then at our barbecue restaurant and many customers loved it. I don’t eat it as often now, but I have found that when one of my dogs is ill/needs medication, they will scarf up a sandwich mix sandwich.

  7. Carrie Birdsall

    My Mom always made something like this…she just called it bologna spread. She added a hard boiled egg and used with sweet pickles and Mircle Whip. She also ran it thru a meatgrinder for a finer texture

  8. Jb

    Thanks. Nice to know others have made this. My husband’s family has made this for at least 50 years – we’re not sure how much further back than that it goes – and they have always called it monkey meat. They use sweet pickles.

  9. Margaret

    I have been having something similar since I was a little kid….We did not call it MonkeyMeat however….and what I had and still make is ham salad….I use leftover ham and chop it up in my food processor and add chopped sweet pickles and mayo or salad dressing…..served on toasted rye it is great…

  10. Sarah

    My grandma always made this. Growing up during the depression. We add ground cheese substitute sweet pickles and salad dressing. Also make it with him. Very good.

  11. Pat Campbwll

    Ground bologna sandwiches. Grew up on them. Still make them occasionally. I like the name “Monkey Meat” better lol.

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Shawn Syphus Hi, I'm Shawn and I'm a busy mom of five; pretending to live on a budget. I love to cook, and explore new recipes, but they have to be quick and easy with as few dishes as possible.

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