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.
186 Responses
  1. Cheryl

    They actually sold this at the little grocery store up the street. It was one of the reasons I loved going to my MIL’s house! Only it was called Ham salad. Not sure what was in it, but it sounds similar.
    Yum! Now I want some.

  2. Debbie

    My Mom (in the 1960’s) used Spam, sweet midges pickles and Mircle whip salad dressing, we would hand grind it…. it was sweeter that way…I still make it with her hand grinder, mmmmm

  3. David

    I grew up with a similar recipient. We grind up the balogna, then we grind up sweet pickles (definitely not dill) the bread and butter pickles are suitable but definitely not dill. Then we add mayo. I like it on soft white bread. Never 2 slices, I have it on soft white bread folded over on it like a taco wrap.

    1. Debra

      My mother would also make it with sweet pickles. Mom came to visit when I was pregnant with our first child. The minute she walked through the door I was craving it. My family loves it. Now I have to run to the store.

  4. 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

  5. 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..

  6. 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

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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

  12. 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.

  13. 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

  14. 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.

  15. 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!!

  16. 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.

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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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