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This ham egg and cheese sandwich nails the New York-area classic recipe. Here’s how to make this specialty of delis, street carts, and bodegas just right at home.

a ham egg and cheese sandwich on a kaiser roll wrapped in deli paper
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Why we love this recipe

The ham egg and cheese sandwich is a classic variation one of a handful of truly iconic New York-area foods. Though a version of this meal likely originated in England as a hearty hand-held breakfast for folks on their way to work, over the years it’s become synonymous with the tri-state area.

This recipe gets each element just right:

  • Lightly scrambled eggs that stay tender and fold easily onto the sandwich
  • Good old deli ham (or whatever kind you like), griddled to perfection, which turns it into something surprisingly special
  • Plenty of good old American cheese
  • A basic, well-behaved kaiser roll that gets griddled with butter and then lightly steamed in deli paper (trust me)

What you’ll need

Here’s a glance at the ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe.

ingredients in bowls
  • kaiser roll is also called a hard roll or bulky roll. It’s straightforward, griddles well, and yields nicely to the bite.
  • You can use any eggs you like, but sourcing good ones makes all the difference in terms of flavor, animal welfare, and environmental health. I’ve devoted a short section below to helping you parse the details, if you’d like to.
  • You can use any kind of deli ham you like. Here I’ve pictured black forest ham from Applegate Farms. If you’ve never pan-fried ham in a little bit of butter before, you’ll be delighted by how delicious it becomes.
  • For a classic experience, use regular yellow American cheese from the supermarket, such as the Kraft singles pictured above. Or level up, if you like, with an organic version. (Applegate Farms is my longtime favorite.)
  • Even in a sandwich like this, I’m going to advocate for a really good-quality butter, because it just makes everything taste so much better. Here and virtually everywhere, I start with a cultured, salted butter from grass-fed cows. This sounds fancy but doesn’t have to be. Kerrygold, for example, is sold in most supermarkets at a reasonable price.

Sourcing eggs

The least-complicated (though often not the most convenient) way to source great eggs is to buy from local farmers whom you know and trust, either directly from the farm or at a farmers’ market or small grocery store.

If you’re shopping at a U.S. supermarket, things can get a little more complicated. Here’s a quick guide to the terminology that will and won’t help you choose the best eggs you can afford.

Words that mean something

  • Organic
  • Pastured (best) or free-range
  • USDA A or AA
  • Certified Humane or Animal Welfare Approved seals

Words that don’t mean anything

  • Natural (anything can be called natural)
  • Vegetarian-fed (chickens are natural omnivores)
  • No added hormones (this is required by the government)
  • Antibiotic-free (chickens are rarely medicated with antibiotics)

How to make it

Here’s an overview of what you’ll do to make a fabulous ham egg and cheese sandwich. You can see the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post, and get all the details in the recipe card below.

step by step
  1. First you’ll split, butter, and toast the roll.
  2. Briefly cook the ham.
  3. Scramble and cook the eggs and let the cheese melt on top.
  4. Assemble the sandwich, wrap it in deli paper and let sit for five minutes before cutting in half to serve. That’s it!

Expert tips and FAQs

Got any variations?

Sure thing. You may prefer a fried egg, cooked any way you like (more here). Try adding a thin slice of perfectly ripe tomato. Sub in a different kind of cheese, like Swiss or extra-sharp cheddar. Or swap in an everything bagel or a toasted english muffin for the roll.

Can I make this recipe in advance? What about leftovers?

I usually try to say yes to this question. But: Nope. This ephemeral delight peaks five minutes after coming off the pan, and the cooking process is a carefully calibrated dance. Plus, the whole thing only takes a few minutes from start to finish. Make it, enjoy it, remember it. You can always do it again tomorrow.

Sandwich leftovers are tricky and really depend on your tolerance for bread that’s no longer performing at peak levels. If you want to go for it, I recommend wrapping the leftovers in foil and reheating in the oven or toaster oven until warmed through.

More favorite breakfast sandwiches

a ham egg and cheese sandwich on a kaiser roll wrapped in deli paper

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a ham egg and cheese sandwich on a kaiser roll wrapped in deli paper
5 from 3 votes

Ham Egg and Cheese Sandwich

By Carolyn Gratzer Cope
This ham egg and cheese sandwich nails the New York-area classic recipe. Here's how to make this specialty of delis, street carts, and bodegas just right at home. Scale up the recipe to make as many sandwiches as you like.
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 15 minutes
Servings: 1 sandwich
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Ingredients 

  • 1 kaiser roll
  • 2 tablespoons (28 grams) butter, softened, divided
  • 2 slices deli ham
  • 2 large eggs
  • teaspoon salt
  • 1//8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 slices American cheese
  • Ketchup and/or hot sauce, optional, for serving

Instructions 

  • Set a 10-inch skillet or dark nonstick frying pan over medium heat.
  • Split the roll in half across the beltline and spread each cut face with about 1/2 tablespoon of the butter. Place roll cut-sides down onto the skillet and cook until lightly toasted. Set aside.
  • Melt half the remaining butter in the skillet. Add ham and cook, flipping once or twice, until warmed through and lightly browned on both sides. Place ham onto bottom half of prepared roll.
  • Crack the eggs into a small mixing bowl and add the salt and pepper. Beat with a fork until homogenous.
  • Melt remaining butter in skillet. Pour in the scrambled eggs. Cook, dragging the edges to the center from time to time and swirling the pan once in a while to encourage the uncooked top parts to wend their way to the bottom.
  • When egg is just about cooked, place the cheese slices on top to cover the surface and let them melt a bit.
  • Place the cheese-covered eggs on top of the ham and top with the other half of the roll.
  • For an authentic experience, you'll want the sandwich to steam a bit before serving. Wrap it in deli paper (or parchment or wax paper if that's what you've got) before cutting in half. Then wrap the whole thing in foil. Let it rest for five minutes before serving (with ketchup and hot sauce, if you like).

Notes

  1. A kaiser roll is also called a hard roll or bulky roll. It's straightforward, griddles well, and yields nicely to the bite.
  2. You can use any kind of deli ham you like. Here I've pictured black forest ham from Applegate Farms. If you've never pan-fried ham in a little bit of butter before, you'll be delighted by how delicious it becomes.
  3. Even in a sandwich like this, I'm going to advocate for a really good-quality butter, because it just makes everything taste so much better. Here and virtually everywhere, I start with a cultured, salted butter from grass-fed cows. This sounds fancy but doesn't have to be. Kerrygold, for example, is sold in most supermarkets at a reasonable price.
  4. I don’t recommend making this recipe in advance. This ephemeral delight peaks five minutes after coming off the pan, and the cooking process is a carefully calibrated dance. Plus, the whole thing only takes a few minutes from start to finish. Make it, enjoy it, remember it. You can always do it again tomorrow.
  5. Sandwich leftovers are tricky and really depend on your tolerance for bread that's no longer performing at peak levels. If you want to go for it, I recommend wrapping the leftovers in foil and reheating in the oven or toaster oven until warmed through.

Nutrition

Serving: 1, Calories: 678kcal, Carbohydrates: 37g, Protein: 31g, Fat: 45g, Saturated Fat: 24g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 17g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 479mg, Sodium: 2032mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 7g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Breakfast and Brunch
Cuisine: American
Tried this recipe?Mention @umamigirl or tag #umamigirl!

Hungry for more?

Subscribe to Umami Girl’s email updates, and follow along on Instagram.

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About Carolyn Gratzer Cope

Hi there, I'm Carolyn Gratzer Cope, founder and publisher of Umami Girl. Join me in savoring life, one recipe at a time. I'm a professional recipe developer with training from the French Culinary Institute (now ICE) and a lifetime of studying, appreciating, and sharing food.

5 from 3 votes (3 ratings without comment)

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