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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4.86 from 7 votes

Monkey Meat… it’s not what you think

Monkey Meat recipe is a delicious sandwich spread or dip with crackers!
Prep Time15 mins
Total Time15 mins
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Servings: 5
Calories: 440 kcal
Author: Shawn


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


  • In a food processor pulse the bologna several times until it becomes very finely chopped, place in a large bowl.
  • 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!


Calories: 440kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 39g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 64mg | Sodium: 1582mg | Potassium: 346mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 210IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 104mg | Iron: 1mg
Keywords: bologna, dill pickles, mayo
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?don't forget to share a picture and mention @iwashyoudry on Instagram or tag #iwashyoudry!

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.
190 Responses
  1. Mary DeVore

    When I was little 60 years ago my mom said that called it monkey meet because you put in through the grinder to chop it up good the grinder had a crank Handel like a organ grinder that’s why it’s call rd monkey meet

  2. Dianne

    I grew up in the 50’s haveing this in my lunchbox almost daily! It was fun making it with mama too, She had a grinder which waas attached to the kitchen counter and we girls would do the cranking. But mom add hard boiled eggs to ours..

  3. Christian Sandberg

    Also try “Monkey meat Baboon roll-ups”
    Roll the monkey meat on medium thick deli slices of postromi with a layer of sour krout and a drizzle of spicy course mustard and roll up. You’ll be swinging from the chandeliers

  4. Darlene T Jones

    I use east this while i was growing up. My own mom made . love it and im making some to see if anyone else in the family will try it.

  5. Sherry

    My Mom makes this, but shes adds Velveeta cheese, and runs it through the meat grinder. My brothers & I are adults now, but when Mom makes it, we all still get a big bowl of it. Comfort food.

  6. Patty

    Back in Indiana during the 1960’s, we called it ham salad. We put the bologna, Cheddar Cheese, and boiled eggs thru the meat grinder. Than added pickle relish and mayo.

  7. Ashlynne

    My family makes this but also makes a version that instead of mayo they do mustard. Still good either way. And instead of a food processor they go old school and use a meat grinder.

  8. Kelly

    I’ve been eating this my entire kid and love it. However we did not call it monkey near. As well, I use a meat grinder, much better that way. Alsi I grind up half an onion. Very yummy

  9. Nancy

    We always called this sandwich spread and you could get it at the local deli. We used Miracle Whip because we don’t like mayo.
    They also made it with spam.
    When times were tough and you didn’t want to serve ring bologna and baked beans again you have to come up with something and this worked.
    Also had cut up ring bologna cooked in sauerkraut that is good too. Fried bologna and fried potatoes.
    You made do with what you had and we all had full tummies and everyone was happy.

  10. Carol DV

    We make this for Sunday night suppers. Add a little cheddar cheese and broil on open faced hamburger buns. Yummy my recipe dates back to my mom. Who made it for us in the 50-60-s

  11. Christine S.

    This is what my mother and her mother and her mother actually called ham salad. I use chunk bologna, onion, sweet pickle relish and Miracle Whip. Grind up the bologna and onion with a hand grinder. Add the relish and Miracle Whip. The spread on bread or crackers. It’s the absolute best thing in the world!!! ❤

    1. Cheryl

      I made this when my boys were small and we were going on a road trip (we didn’t have the money for restaurant food) So they would get so excited when I got the food grinder out because they knew an outing was planned. Great memories.

  12. I just cooked a ham and this is what I will make with some of the leftovers. I make my own pickle relish so I will mix it with that. I like the idea of adding hard boiled egg and a little mustard. Thanks for the recipe!!

  13. Paula Smith

    My grandpa used to make this but also added sweet pickles and onion. Called it ground bologna. Still one of my favorite summer sandwiches.

  14. Priscilla

    My former mother-in-law referred to it as “special” Ham salad, and sometime used sweet pickles in it. I think it depended on what pickles she had. She sometime added celery, or hard boiled eggs. She said she could serve it more often if she made a few changes, and back years ago most people were on a budget.

  15. Deborah

    My mother always made this when we were growing up and we all still love it. We did put the chopped pickles in it but we also put chopped hardboiled eggs and chopped oinion. So good! When my mom got the recipe, it was called “Poor Man’s Ham”. We all call it bologna salad. Every once in a while, we have Bologna salad sandwiches and Pimento cheese sandwiches along with chips as an after church on Sunday lunch for the whole family. We all enjoy it as much as some people enjoy steaks!

  16. Jackie J.

    I make something similar with ground bologna, sweet pickles or sweet relish, shredded cheddar cheese, ground up boiled eggs and miracle whip. Never heard it called monkey meat. I’ve heard it called combination spread or funeral meat because it’s served at funerals a lot in the south.

  17. Sandra Lierle

    My family got commodities from food distributions back in the early fifties and would get the canned meat or it was called lunch meat, like spam and she would make this monkey meat out of it so we would eat it but she also started making the ”BOLAGNA GRIND” as we called it. She run the cheese first as it gums up the grinder somewhat Then she run bologna, sweat pickles or relish, onion which would help clean the cheese out. Sometimes she would add boiled eggs if she was making for funeral or special occasion and mixed it together with the cheapest salad dressing and we loved it. (salad dressing as in like sore brand miracle whip type). She used this type of salad dressing in everything that called for mayo type dressing and no one could make a better. I didn’t find out why mine never tasted as good as hers until she was dying he told me. Back to Bologna Grind: when we all had married we started getting together at my mothers house for town wide and when I ask what we wanted for lunch they called for this so I make a huge bowl so we can pop in grab a sandwich and keep working. This brings back so many memories of our herd work and lots of great times on the farm. Something else make is “Dog Tick Pie”. My sister I laws favorite pie until she ask me what kind of pie I had made. She won’t touch it now. Actually it is Raisin Pie!

  18. Jessica Hall

    Omg, I grew up eating this deliciousness, it never had a cool name in our family though! ! I have 4 children and 2 of them won’t touch it, Lol. More for me, thank you for sharing!!!

  19. Lauri Hildebrandt

    My grandpa used to make this, then my dad, then me. I’ve changed it a tad and use the garlic dill and a little bit of onion. The original recipe I’m sure is way more than 50 yrs old.

  20. Susan Chalmers

    We had monkey meat all the time in Northeastern Pennsylvania. It was a staple at pot lucks and parties. The name is still a mystery but always called monkey meat! Thanks for the nice memory.

  21. Shirley

    Mom used bologna, boiled eggs, celery, pickles and Miracle Whip anda little mustard. With 10 children in the household she had to be careful with the grocery money and make things that stretched further to feed us all.
    We didn’t have any problems with freezing the sandwich meat, it was just as good after thawing as when it was made.

  22. Tonya S Lewis

    Thank you so much for this. My mother made this when I was a kid and I loved it, I never paid attention to what kind of meat she used so I always assumed it was ham, Saw a video of itand showed one of my brothers and he said yep that what mom made. So happy making it for my family tonight, Cant wait.

  23. missy

    to this day I still make this with the hand grinder and relish instead of pickles I am pa dutch and I got this from my grandmothers who were also dutch and german we call it nicker bocker

  24. Mary

    Or family always called this Ham Salad… although there’s ham in it. My mom used to make huge batches of this during the summer when every kid in the neighborhood seemed to show up at our house. She added hard boiled eggs to the mixture, stretching it just a little farther.

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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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