Bread,  Breakfast,  Delicious,  Game Day,  Meat,  Sandwiches

Wisconsin Hot Ham and Rolls

I will admit that there are things about cooking that excite me. One of those things, and yes you can call me a food nerd if you want, is going to the deli counter, and watching the folks slice meat to my desired thickness. It was not too long ago however, when I thought how cool it would be to have my very own deli slicer. I quickly did some online research, looked at ratings, and put one on my wish list when any extra money would become available. I even announced it to my coworkers, and family members. I was that excited by the idea of having my very own deli slicer!

Wisconsin Hot Ham and Rolls

So this past Christmas, as the kids were opening gifts, family members slid over a box to me. I gave them the “look”, and with curiosity, began opening the gift. I saw the picture of the blade on the box, and tore into it like I was five again. It was a deli slicer!

My first instinct was what was I going to slice? What was I going to cook? Was my next trip to the deli to ask for the whole roast beef or ham, and take that home to slice? I had no idea, but then it dawned to me, why not make sliced ham, and make what is a traditional Sunday fare in Milwaukee, hot ham and rolls.

So as my wife was out and about shopping one morning and my kids were quietly tucked away in their bedrooms playing video games, I was in the kitchen hugging my deli slicer. Just kidding, I was not hugging it, but I was admiring this beautiful piece of machinery. My very own slicer!

After cleaning the slicer, and reading the instructions, I brought out some ham from the refrigerator, set the slicer on the thinnest setting and began to glide back and forth on the rotating blade. I lifted a piece of ham off of the tray, and actually giggled as it was so thin, and something to be so proud of in my very own kitchen. I continued to slice and slice and slice. My own deli, right at home.

Wisconsin Hot Ham and Rolls

Wisconsin hot ham and rolls is something bizarre, and if you have never been to Milwaukee, it is a must on a Sunday morning. I kid you not, people line up in the deli after church, and order hot ham, then head over and pick up their rolls, go home, and enjoy their hot ham and rolls. I remember them clearly as a kid, but never questioned the idea of why we were having hot ham and rolls for brunch on a Sunday morning. I am also not kidding when you can drive around town and see hot ham and rolls signs outside a gas station. Hot ham and rolls in Milwaukee is just that popular.

There is nothing to it however. It is what it is. Hot ham and rolls. Now with my slicer, I do not have to sit in a line at the deli, waiting on mediocre ham. I can have my own ham, cook it the way I want it and slice it paper thin. Hot ham and rolls any day of the week!


  • Ham, sliced paper thin
  • Soft rolls, sliced
  • 1/4 cup of water

Begin my heating up a small skillet on medium heat. Add in the water and ham, cover, and let steam for a minute or two. Remove and place on your roll. Yes, that is it folks. Hot ham and rolls. It doesn’t get any easier than that. Enjoy.


  • sue

    You’ve brought back memories…live in Bay Area (CA) now,
    orig from Beloit……How about some nice Potato rolls instead of
    the “plain” ones……Yum Yum !

  • Cathy Martin

    Ooooooh! You are making my mouth water! I live in a country
    where ham is basically non-existent. I would give anything for a
    ham on a bun right now. It’s amazing how things become so much more
    special when we can’t have immediate access to them.

  • Aimee Shugarman

    For a little zing, add some butter with garlic salt and
    caraway seed. We then wrap each roll in foil and set on grill (or
    oven) to heat.

  • Chad

    We recently moved from Milwaukee to Chicago and I cannot find a Sunday Hot Ham and Rolls ANYWHERE!!!!!!!!! Help! Anyone know of any places in Chicago that carries on that Milwaukee tradition of Sunday hot ham? I was at a deli today and I asked for hot ham and came home with spicy ham! Someone, anyone, help!

  • Sara

    Sadly, there is no place in Chicago (or any part of IL) that takes part in the hot ham and rolls tradition of milwaukee. I went from IL to WI and back to IL and look forward to moving back to WI in the new year. Hot ham and rolls to celebrate!

  • Hope

    As a kid growing up in Cudahy, we always had hot ham and potato rolls on Sundays. We would go to the liquor store in our “backyard” of Packard Plaza and we’d also get fresh donuts too. I remember waking up in my first apartment and while still sleepy, I was kind of expecting my dad to yell up the stairs and tell me it’s time for ham and rolls. I love those memories!

  • Jenny

    I love hot ham and rolls. Hope, I also grew up in Cudahy. I am fondly familiar with Packard Plaza. Did you ever swim at Sheridan Park Pool?? Thanks for bringing back those precious memories. And thanks for the hot ham and roll recipe. So simple and sounds delicious. I plan on doing this for my son’s First Communion Day luncheon.

  • Tammy

    Our family loves hot ham and rolls–for many years. I grew up in Greendale and this was a regular event on Sundays. Even now, my mother requested this menu for her Mother’s Day brunch gathering. Some ham and some rolls are better than others but certainly always fond memories growing up. Is it a Polish or German thing? Seems like there is something related to certain ethnicities??

  • Robert Young

    I never heard of this until Scott Walker spoke today in Iowa on CSPAN. I’m in Kula Maui but I’m going to try this with my daughter’s and grandchildren. Mahalo

  • Virginia Quick

    It’s been over 65 years since I lived in Milwaukee, but I remember hot ham and rolls. They were soooooo good. I can still smell the hot ham and the smell of the fresh hard rolls. Mmmmmmmm I laughed at Dax Phillips description of slicing his own ham and slicing it sooooo very thin. Such an important part of hot ham and rolls. Deli departments in other parts of the country have no idea how to slice ham for us Milwaukeeans! Ha! I do have Polish heritage!

  • Heather

    I grew up on hot ham and hard rolls with potato salad and chips on Sundays! I’m in Western Wisconsin now and asked a popular deli here if they carry hot ham and he was so confused! Thanks for your instructions I’m making it today!

  • Mary

    Wow! Looooooooooong loooooong time since Hot Ham and Rolls days in Menomonee Falls. I remember loving them on Sundays and they always tasted the best when St. Mary’s church served them.

  • Willie the wedge

    Every community has its traditions. In MKE it is hot ham and rolls. Where I’m from in NJ it is a fried egg sandwich on a hard roll or the king of it all Taylor ham ( Taylor Pork Roll), fried egg on a hard roll. YMMV

  • KitchenWitch

    I have lived in the Milwaukee Metro area all of my 60+ years. Hot Ham and Rolls is something that you used to pick-up hot after church on your way home, from a local bakery for lunch. The rolls were (and mostly still are) free when purchasing the ham. Every bakery had their own recipe for the liquid that they warmed it up in. As small family bakeries are getting harder to find, it is all starting to taste similar. Scardinas Bakery in West Allis used to have some of the best. They are no longer in business, but I wish I could get their recipe. Grebes Bakery still offers it both hot and cold, and it and offers both thin and thick shaved ham. It should be served on a hard roll or a potato roll; something that has some ‘chew’.
    It’s still a big deal here in Milwaukee area.

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