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10 Best Bologna Sandwich Recipes: Fried, Grilled, & Cold

bologna sandwich

When the smell of fried bologna hits my nose, I am powerless. The marriage of nostalgia and sizzling cured pork turns into something that dashes any hopes of eating healthy — and in the best way — bologna sandwiches are divine.

Like any cuisine staple, people have lots of opinions on bologna sandwiches, and they usually tie back to how their family made them. You’ve got the Wonder Bread-only camp. The ketchup is a heresy camp. The chow chow camp.

Regardless of what bologna tribe you come from, I think it’s time we accept as a community that there is no one right way to make a bologna sandwich.

With that caveat out of the way, I’ve collected what I think is a good range of bologna sandwich recipes, so anyone should be able to find one that reminds them of home.

And if you have your own secret family recipe, please drop it in the comments so we can judge yours lovingly.

Before choosing a bologna sandwich recipe…

Before you choose a recipe, there are two things you need to consider: are you going for nostalgia or gourmet, and are you trying to be traditional or experimental?

If you want to play up the nostalgia or classic angle, you should buy the cheapest and most processed versions of everything. That means Oscar Mayer bologna, Wonder Bread, sliced cheese in the little plastic sleeves, mayo (or even miracle whip), and plain yellow mustard.

That will get you the diner coffee equivalent of a bologna sandwich. It will be cheap, it will be delicious, and it will not be good for you, which is precisely the point.

On the other hand, it is possible to make a bologna sandwich so gourmet and good it will blow the peanut butter off your PB&J. That means using ingredients like grass-fed beef bologna, stone ground mustard, fresh bread, in-season tomatoes, homemade mayo, grass-fed, aged cheese, and so on.

The second thing is whether you want to be traditional or experimental with your toppings. To stay traditional, just go with bread, mayo, mustard, bologna, and maybe lettuce or tomato (or whatever your mom used to make). If you’re willing to venture outside of tradition, you can open up a world of possibilities, from mixing mustards to adding potato chips, to caramelized onions — whatever. It’s your sandwich!

The 10 best bologna sandwich recipes

Here are 10 great bologna recipes, guaranteed to be a hit. And if someone doesn’t like them, please send me their plate instead.

1. Cold bologna and cheese sandwich

There’s nothing wrong with a pack-and-go classic. This “humble” bologna sandwich from Pastry Chef Online is as American as it gets.

2. Fried bologna sandwich

For the classic fried version, try this recipe from Southern Living out. You don’t have to add all the toppings they do and don’t forget to cut into your slices to prevent them from bowling up.

3. Memphis smoked bologna sandwich

Cooking bologna Memphis-style means treating it like a pulled pork sandwich. You smoke the bologna with a BBQ rub, drizzle it with BBQ sauce, and top it with coleslaw. And yes, this recipe from Tara Teaspoon is as good as it sounds.

4. Smoked bologna

If you’re looking to dive a bit deeper into smoking bologna, meaning smoking a whole chub of bologna instead of individual slices, this recipe from Hey Grill Hey is for you. The scoring makes the chub look really cool, too!

5. Southern bologna sandwich

Prepare your tastebuds (and your arteries). This southern-style bologna sandwich from Life’s a Tomato has homemade pimento cheese, mayo, and bologna.

6. Fried bologna and egg sandwich

This sandwich from Bake It With Love is close to a Jersey pork roll and the perfect way to start a slow Saturday. Use Kaiser rolls or Texas toast for the best results, and don’t skimp on the mayo.

7. Pittsburgh fried bologna sandwich

One of the silliest and best things people do with bologna sandwiches is adding potato chips or french fries as a topping. The crunch from the potato chips mixes so well with the cheese and bread, and it is one of my favorite ways to prepare bologna. This recipe from the Kitchen Whisperer does just that!

8. Make-ahead dagwood sandwiches

Dagwood sandwiches are those absurdly tall, layered sandwiches with multiple pieces of bread, and they’re named Dagwood because of the Blondie character Dagwood’s love for tall sandwiches. This Tablespoon recipe is a great party dish to make in advance, and bologna is the star here.

9. Gourmet fried bologna sandwich

If you’re wanting to go the gourmet bologna sandwich route, try this Mashed recipe that includes ciabatta buns, sharp cheddar, and other toppings. It’s like making a Chick-fil-a deluxe sandwich with bologna.

10. Grown-up bologna sandwich

The Dixie Chik Cooks have done something special with this bologna sandwich, and that’s adding fried onions on top. Combine those with Texas toast and sriracha while cutting the spice and salt with fresh avocado, and you have the recipe for a dang good sandwich.

Bologna sandwich cooking tips

Here are a few tips on making bologna from people who have made bologna many, many times.

  • Cut slits into your bologna before cooking. Cut 4 slices toward the center around each slice to prevent it from bowling up. This increases the surface area for more even browning and makes it look better in the sandwich. Some people cut triangles out, others just do slits. It’s your call. You can also stack multiple slices on top of each other for faster slicing.
  • Serve your bologna hot when frying. If you are opting for a fried sandwich over cold, don’t ever serve lukewarm bologna. As soon as it comes off the griddle or skillet, slap it on the bread and hand them out.
  • Add butter to help with the crispiness. Fry up your slices in butter to help get that characteristic crispiness we all know and love. You don’t have to use a lot, just enough to coat the pan.
  • Make the world your stackable sandwich. You can add almost anything to a bologna sandwich. Here are some popular options: tomatoes, iceberg lettuce, chow chow, potato chips, pickles, sauerkraut, cheese, diced onions, caramelized onions… and any other sandwich topping, really.
  • Add a spoonful of pickle brine before serving. Acidity in food balances flavors, which is why it is most often used as a finisher (think squeezing lemon or lime over a salad or taco). So try adding a bit of vinegary pickle brine to your toppings to put some extra oomph in your sandwiches.
  • Mix smooth and grain mustard. Similar to how people choose different meat cuts to add texture to their chili and ground beef blends, you can mix mustards to get the best of plain yellow mustard and coarse mustard.
  • Add brown sugar to the mustard to sweeten it up. If you’re already using miracle whip and cheap mustard, you may not need additional sugar, but adding a pinch of brown sugar to your mustard is a nice way to add some sweetness to a sandwich.
  • Toast your bread when using wet ingredients. If your style is to go heavy on the mustard and chow chow, toast up your bread just a tad to prevent it from turning into mush. You could also fry up the whole sandwich in the skillet with a bit of butter or mayo on both sides of the bread, but that will push it into panini direction.

What kind of bologna to buy

For the nostalgia angle, there is really only one brand in my opinion: Oscar Mayer. They built an empire off of bologna, and you only have to choose how thick and spiced your bologna should be. Thin slices are the most traditional, but I personally prefer thick-cut slices.

Once you venture outside of Oscar Mayer, I recommend picking up grass-fed bologna from good meat producers. You skip the health concerns of processed bologna and benefit from the wonderful taste and nutritional benefits of grass-fed meat. You could also experiment with mortadella, the Italian ancestor of sliced bologna, which usually includes pistachios and peppers added to the meat.

The bottom line

No matter how you choose to slice it or cook it, bologna is an American mainstay for good reason. That meaty goodness has the feel of a BLT with the savoriness of a hot dog, which is about as good as it gets. So choose whether you want to go nostalgic or gourmet, pick up some fresh ingredients, and get cooking!

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Nathan PhelpsNathan Phelps

Nathan Phelps owns and writes for Crafted Copy, a boutique copywriting shop that finds the perfect words for interesting products. He is also an ethical foodie, outdoors-aficionado, and hails from Nashville, TN. He splits his time between helping sustainable businesses find new customers and managing his ever-increasing list of hobbies, which include playing guitar, baking bread, and creating board games.