Spiedies are a traditional sandwich from Binghamton NY which are easy to make and delicious! They are cubes of meat marinated, put on skewers, grilled to perfection and served as a sandwich.
Now if you’ve never had a spiedie you are probably thinking, so what? Skewers of meat are hardly a revolutionary meal idea!
But spiedies are unique because of the special marinade, made from oil, vinegar, lemon juice and spices, which keeps them tender and juicy. I love spiedie sandwiches and they deserve to be more widely made!
Why You Will Love Spiedies
- A portable meal on a stick is always fun.
- These are very versatile, since you can use your favorite meat – pork, chicken, beef, lamb, whatever.
- They make a nice change from always serving hot dogs and burgers as the sandwiches at a cookout.
Origin of Spiedies
The dish was invented by Italian immigrants to New York’s southern tier region. The name spiedies comes from the Italian word “spiede” which more or less translates as “skewer”.
A few different people in Binghamton are crediting with inventing spiedies in the 1930s, so who really knows? Now everyone in the area makes them!
Spiedies are so popular the city has an annual Spiedie fest which is combined with a hot air balloon festival. Hopefully the festival will be able to take place again in 2021!
The acidic marinade with lemon juice and vinegar is what makes these skewers of meat special. And the cubes of meat need be in the marinade for at least 24 hours!
Here are the key spiedie marinade ingredients:
Lemon juice – Lemon juice infuses the meat and gives it a nice subtle lemon flavor. Bottled lemon juice works, but fresh lemon juice is better if you have lemons.
Vinegar – The acid in the vinegar and lemon juice chemical “cooks” the meat. I usually use white vinegar, but red or white wine vinegar works well too.
Olive oil – The olive oil helps keep the meat moist. Since this recipe uses a lot of oil I usually don’t use expensive extra virgin olive oil and use a pure olive oil instead.
Garlic – This is an Italian American recipe, of course you need a lot of garlic!
Spices – I combined thyme, oregano and basil with salt and pepper. You could also just use an Italian seasoning blend.
If you want to experience spiedies without making a fresh marinade you can buy a premade spiedie marinade. Grocery stores in upstate New York and Broome county stock them, or you can order online from Amazon.
Meat for Spiedies
Most kinds of meat work well in spiedies. Originally spiedies were made with lamb, but nowadays chicken is the most commonly found.
If you are making chicken spiedies use chicken breasts for better flavor. For pork spiedies (which are featured in my pictures) use pork loin or pork tenderloin.
Beef sirloin or turkey breast cubes also make delicious spiedies. The one thing that doesn’t work well is seafood. The marinade is too acidic for fish or shellfish.
How to Make Spiedies
1. Make the Marinade
Combine the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, minced garlic, thyme, oregano, basil, salt and pepper and stir to mix well. This recipe makes 2 cups of marinade, enough for about 3 pounds of meat cubes.
2. Add the Meat
Cut your chosen meat into cubes about 1 inch in size. Then put them in a bag with a zippered closure.
Pour the marinade over top to cover the cubes. If you have extra marinade it will keep in a container in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.
Refrigerate the bag with the cubes for 1-3 days.
Tip: Don’t be tempted to try to cut the marinade short and cook these after a few hours. This meal should be planned at least a day in advance.
If you are use wooden skewers put them in water to soak for 30 minutes before adding the cubes of meat.
Once the skewers are ready preheat your grill. Then take the meat out of the marinade and thread it onto skewers.
Put 6-7 cubes per skewer, enough to fill your bread or roll. Leave a little bit of space between the pieces of meat, don’t squish them together.
Grill the skewers for about 8 minutes, rotating them every 2 minutes so they cook evenly. They should be brown on the edges and look juicy.
I cooked these on my Blackstone griddle because I love my new griddle and have completely abandoned my gas grill. Plus I can toast my Italian bread right along side the skewers and I like the bread a little toasted.
But for this recipe it doesn’t matter if you are using a gas grill, charcoal grill or a flat top griddle. Spiedies work the same on any of them.
How to Serve
Traditionally these are served on a slice of Italian bread. Just pick up a piece of bread, put the skewer on top, wrap your hand around it and pull the skewer out.
The meat is tender and juicy and tastes faintly of lemon and spices. Sometimes spiedies are served on an Italian roll. But that is too much bread for me, since the roll can kind of overwhelm the spiedie.
These are also traditionally served without condiments. No mustard, no ketchup, no onions, no mushrooms, just meat and bread.
They really are moist enough not to need an extra sauce, but I usually put a garlic aioli sauce on the table because my kids love aioli sauce.
How to Store
Leftover skewers of meat keep in the refrigerator for 1-2 days. You can heat them up before serving leftovers or just eat them cold.
Find More Upstate NY recipes
- 3 pounds meat (chicken breast, pork loin, pork tenderloin, beef sirloin or turkey breast)
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 3/4 cup vinegar
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme *see note
- 1 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano *see note
- 1 1/2 teaspoon dried basil *see note
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- Sliced Italian bread
- Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, minced garlic, thyme, oregano, basil, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix well.
- Cut the meat into cubes and add it to a zippered bag. Pour the marinade over top cover the meat.
- Let the meat marinade, refrigerated, for 1 to 3 days. Turn the bag over occasionally in the refrigerator.
- If you are using wooden skewers soak them in water for 30 minutes before assembling the spiedies.
- Preheat your grill on medium-high.
- Remove meat from the marinade and thread onto skewers. Put 6-7 pieces per skewer, enough to fill your bread or bun. Grill for 8 minutes, turning every 2 minutes.
- To serve, pick up a pieces of bread, put the skewer on the bread, fold the bread over and pull the skewer out.
- These are traditional served without condiments, but if you want to include a sauce garlic aioli is my favorite.
You can substitute 1 Tablespoon of Italian seasoning for the oregano, thyme and basil.
Don't cut the marinade time short, these really should marinade for 24 hours.
Serve on a hoagie roll if you prefer.
You can buy pre-made spiedie marinade in some grocery stores or online.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 852Total Fat: 63gSaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 44gCholesterol: 208mgSodium: 535mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 63g
Nutrition facts are estimates.