Chopped Cheese-Style Pastrami Sandwich Recipe

Sure, you could throw some pastrami onto two slices of rye bread and call it a day; but what if you could make it a melty, warm, onion-filled hoagie, instead? That's basically how chopped cheese sandwiches came to be when the late grillmaster at New York's Blue Sky Deli Carlos Soto made a cheeseburger into a hoagie sandwich. The oblong burger no longer included a patty, instead chopping the meat into pieces to serve under melted cheese and fresh toppings.

Echoing the ingenuity of Soto's sandwich, this recipe takes another famous New York sandwich and hoagie-fies it. Pastrami is a Jewish-American cured meat similar to corned beef, but smoked and steamed instead of stewed, making it tender and easily sliceable. You've likely seen pastrami between rye stacked with Swiss cheese and thousand island dressing for a Reuben, which is a classic and delicious way to enjoy the sliced meat. But what if you're tired of rye? This recipe developed with Michelle McGlinn is a delicious dinner or late-night solution for using the deli meat a new way, in a cheesy, crispy-delicious sandwich made in less than 20 minutes.

What you need for chopped cheese-style pastrami sandwiches

Grab a yellow onion, olive oil, hoagie rolls, provolone, stone-ground mustard, and pastrami. Your grocery store might not sell pastrami pre-packaged, so you'll likely need to order it at the deli counter. When ordering, ask for beef pastrami (some places may carry pork, but beef is most common), and ask for it thin sliced. You can also swap the cheese for white cheddar, Pepper Jack, or classic Swiss — use whichever cheese is your favorite here. We love mild, melty provolone.

Sauté the onions

We aren't quite caramelizing the onions here — that would be a little too sweet for rich, salty pastrami. Instead, very slowly brown the onions until they are soft, golden, and savory. If the heat is too high, the onions will crisp, browning past golden and soft. If you cook for too long, on the other hand, the onions will caramelize into a sweet, rich flavor. Give the onions around 10 minutes on medium low heat, then pull off the stove.

Chop the pastrami

You could just layer slices of pastrami on the hoagie roll, but for the real chopped experience, grab a large knife and roughly chop the slices into smaller pieces. Don't overthink this — chop a few at a time into ½-inch pieces and don't worry if the ends are jagged or some pieces are a little bigger. It should feel a little rough around the edges.

Prepare the hoagies for toasting

If you have a toaster oven, now's the time to use it. If not, a conventional oven will do the trick. All we're doing here is melting the cheese over the pastrami, effectively toasting the bread and lightly crisping the meat. To do this, split the buns so they lie flat, open faced on a sheet tray. Layer with chopped pastrami, then add the cheese. Slide the sandwiches into the oven to toast until melty.

Serving pastrami chopped cheese

Ideally, you'll be chopping the pastrami, building the sandwiches, and toasting the hoagies all while the onions are browning in the skillet. By the time you pull the sandwiches from the oven, the onions will be hot and ready. Add a few soft onions to the sandwiches, then drizzle with mustard and press closed.

These sub-style pastrami sandwiches make a great lunch, dinner, or midnight snack. You can switch up the toppings, adding sauerkraut, pickles, lettuce, or thousand island dressing. To serve, pair with crispy French fries, homemade potato chips, or a hearty bowl of potato soup. If you plan on storing for later, store the pastrami in a separate container, pairing with the onions if desired. Then, rebuild the sandwiches fresh when ready to eat — don't worry, this is still easy to do late into the night, too.

Chopped Cheese-Style Pastrami Sandwich Recipe
4.9 from 36 ratings
Enjoy this delicious hoagie bun loaded up with chopped pastrami, gooey cheese, and onions.
Prep Time
Cook Time
pastrami sandwich cut in half
Total time: 30 minutes
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound thinly sliced beef pastrami
  • 8 slices provolone
  • 4 hoagie rolls, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 4 tablespoons stone-ground mustard
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. In a small skillet, heat the oil over medium low heat. Once hot, add the onion slices and slowly sauté until very lightly browned and softened, about 10 minutes.
  3. Roughly chop the pastrami slices into small, ½-inch pieces. Once chopped, divide into 4 sections.
  4. Place hoagie rolls on a sheet tray and add pastrami to each roll. Layer with 2 slices of provolone cheese each.
  5. Place in the oven open-faced and heat until the cheese is melted, about 10 minutes. Pastrami will crisp slightly.
  6. Remove from the oven and top with 1 tablespoon of mustard each. Divide the onions into 4 sections and add to the sandwiches. Close the sandwiches and slice them in half to serve.
Calories per Serving 220
Total Fat 12.2 g
Saturated Fat 5.6 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 46.3 mg
Total Carbohydrates 9.8 g
Dietary Fiber 0.9 g
Total Sugars 0.8 g
Sodium 809.0 mg
Protein 17.3 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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