HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


I miss Isaly's ham salad!

I grew up in Pittsburgh (Squirrel Hill) in the '50's and would always buy chipped ham and ham salad at the Isaly's on Forbes Ave. Now I live near San Francisco and have the occasional craving for the ham salad. (I'm not going to ask about chipped ham, since I'm assuming that requires special slicing equipment.) Can anyone give me a recipe? Not sure if this should have gone on the Home Cooking Board, but I figure it will appear in the correct place.Thanks!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Maybe they'd tell you! (they also sell some of their products!

    1. Why don't you see if they'll give it to you?


      1. Hey,
        I grew up in Monaca, PA and Ray Herk's ham salad was the best! Since he's gone and his store has become a car wash, I'm on a mission to recreate Western PA ham salad. I'm just north of SF, CA so we're close. What part of the Bay Area are you in? and are you interested in taste testing? My thoughts are: ground baked ham, mayo, relish. The relish will be the kicker....sweet? hotdog?... I'm betting Ray used Hertz.
        PS: a cousin living in LA about 30 yrs ago caused havoc when he saw a banner for "PA Chipped Chopped Ham" and crossed 4 lanes of traffic to hit the exit.

        1 Reply
        1. re: gingerdog

          That might be fun. I'm in Mill Valley. Maybe we could gather some other Western PA'ers for a taste test! Where is Monaca, PA?

        2. wow. I haven't thought about that for years. We used to go to Isaly's in Coraopolis for Klondike's -back when the chocolate was thick and the ice cream was good. That's what I miss!

          Anyone else from Coraopolis or thereabouts ? I also remember ordering square slices of pizza from a pizza shop there - you could order each slice separately and get what you wanted. A wonderful childhood memory - I remember it as great pizza. I'm not sure I would think that now,but it was wonderful back then!

          2 Replies
          1. re: harpandheart

            Square pizza makes me think of Beto's--one out by CMU and one on Banksville Road. Their square-cut pies were a delicacy of my youth. Tried Beto's again a couple of years ago, and the thrill is gone. Even the "hot & greasy" factor could not redeem these cheerless slabs. Goodby Beto's, hello Lanesplitters!

            1. re: harpandheart

              I am from coraopolis, and loved ham salad and pizza plaza pizza. My dad said the ham salad was boiled ham chunk of bologna,mayo and sweet pickles. One of my dear friends growing up was the daughter of original owners of pizza plaza. She would invite me to her house for lunch, her mom and uncle were making the big sheets of pizza crust for the night and we had pizza right out of the pizza oven from the basement kitchen. One of my fondest memories!

            2. I remember ham salad was my craving in my first pregnancy. It had celery, mayonnaise, and relish. At that time I worked in the Wall Street area in NY, and at lunch time I would have a delightful ham salad sandwich in the marine cafeteria nearby.

              1. I too grew up in Squirrel Hill in the 50's, went to Alderdice, walked up street everyday after school, had the wonderful ice cream cone at Isalys, but can't remember any ham salad.

                5 Replies
                1. re: Mother of four

                  I would have gone to Alderdice like my parents did, but, when I was in 6th grade at Linden School, we suddenly (in February of 1963) moved to Sausalito, CA. My parents wanted to be beatniks or something. I was, of course, furious! By the way, my favorite Isaly's ice cream flavor was Whitehouse Cherry. What was yours?

                  1. re: The Librarian

                    I grew up in Erie PA, with many trips to Pittsburgh (the BIG city) and relatives in Aliquippa. I remember Isaly's and Whitehouse Cherry was divine. I remember bbq ham and ham salad. It sure seems like it was chipped chopped ham w/mayo and pickle relish.

                    1. re: The Librarian

                      I honestly can't remember, but I do remember those large dome shaped cones! Yum! I went to Whiteman!!!

                      1. re: Mother of four

                        Grew up in Columbus, Ohio in the 60's and we didn't eat ham salad (kosher) but I remember Isaly's dome shaped ice cream cones. If correct, they were like 10-15 cents! They were a treat from Mom if you behaved well. This would truly verify what my kids suspect - I grew up when the dinosaurs were young - LOL!

                      2. re: The Librarian

                        Chocolate Marshmallow or Chocolate Almond Fudge, please. In a large cardboard tub.

                    2. My mom made the salad and said it was Isaly's.....over 50 years ago. Ground the ham...just ham with no flavors in it....ground sweet gerkin pickles and may with a touch of mustard. Easy and good. I lived in Carnegie, Pa. but know the dispair of not being able to buy chipped ham. I just get it shaved in Chicago. The chipped ham came out of a can and was really pressed ham. Still sell it in Giant Eagles in Pgh. area.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: D. Balach

                        Family history is now clicking into place. My MIL was from Youngstown OH where I know there was an Isaly's---she always made ham salad by grinding leftover baked ham and sweet pickles and binding this with mayonnaise. I have continued the same only with a little Dijon mustard added, and I now chop the ham in the Cuisinart rather than grind it. I am wondering now if Isaly's is where she got the idea for her signature sandwich filling (also very good piled on crackers).

                      2. I've never had their ham salad, but funny because my husband was born in Pittsburgh and lived in Squirrel Hill for the first few years of his life. Anyway, I grew up eating ham salad (in Southern IL) anytime my family cooked a ham, and I'm definitely very nostalgic for it. My dad always made it with ham put through a meat grinder, Miracle Whip, and sweet pickle relish. I don't have a meat grinder, so I use a food processor. The texture is slightly different, but it's still good. I also never buy Miracle Whip, so I use mayo with sugar added to taste. Now I have a craving for ham salad!

                        1. I grew up in the 50's and 60's in Greensburg PA. We would go to Isalys in Irwin for chipped ham, and other deli stuff. I've tasted thin sliced ham that was close-but never quite the same. On good days we would get a carton of hand packed ice cream. Life was good.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Delphine

                            So, based on various CH suggestions, I made my own ham salad. I used Niman Ranch ham (too upscale, I know), sweet pickle relish, and Best Foods Light Mayonnaise (probably should have used Miracle Whip). I used the Cuisinart and ended up blending it all a little too finely. I should have chopped the ham in the Cuisinart and then hand mixed in the other ingredients. It wasn't bad, but lacked a certain Isaly's je ne sais quoi. So I'm going to keeping messing with it. On the other hand, it was better than no ham salad at all!

                          2. You can absolutely get chipped ham in San Francisco, provided they have a slicer. I grew up in central/ne pa and we referred to it as chipped ham also. It's basicly just sliced so thin that it falls apart. I'm sure there's a bit more to it than that but... I now live in Charlotte NC and the influx of ne yankees has created a demand for, among other things, chipped ham. The delis have not learned how to do it.

                            I am a huge fan of ham salad (we call it ham spread, but it's the same thing). Everytime I go home I hit the local italian deli and buy me a pound and freeze it for the drive home. I also stock up on ham loafs. Ground ham mixed w/ ground pork and seasonings. You bake it w/ a brown sugar & mustard glaze - oh so good. I bought a meat grinder attachment for my Kitchenaid mixer just so I could attempt to grind my own ham and make my own ham loaf. I haven't tried yet. Wish me luck!


                            1. Librarian, I know you were looking for ham salad but the Isaly's comment reminded me of that great chipped ham. Here is a simple recipe for the Isaly's BBQ sauce...If you can locate some "real" chipped ham!

                              14 oz. ketchup, Heinz of course
                              1 T vinegar
                              1 T worcestershire
                              1 T water
                              2 T yellow mustard, Heinz of course
                              2 T brown sugar
                              Mix ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.


                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Davecli

                                Thanks! I always use Heinz ketchup, figuring I'll be struck by lightening if I don't. We used to go on factory tours there, and I always loved the "pickle room" which was like being in the middle of a jar of dill pickles...

                              2. Ham salad made from Spam is the best. A little mayo, some pickles or relish. That;s it, the spam is spicy enough enough

                                1. my favorite way to make ham salad is simply to cube up some baked ham (i've always done this with left overs), and toss it in the food processor with some celery, onion, mayo, dijon, salt, and pepper. maybe some pickle relish.

                                  1. You posted a question about Isaly's ham salad. I'm a Pittsburgh native, don't have the ham salad, but see the attached image for their barbecue chipped ham recipe. Maybe that will hold you over! This recipe was clipped out of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette years ago. Enjoy!!!

                                    1. Perfect topic! I grew up just outside Pittsburgh and we loved the chipped chopped ham (always used both words).