Spiedie Sandwich History and Recipe

Spiedie Sandwich (SPEE-dee) – If you find folks who know of spiedies, they are most likely originally from Binghamton in Broome County, New York, or they know someone who is.  Broome County is in New York’s Southern Tier, southeast of the Finger Lakes and just north of Pennsylvania.

People who live in the area eat them at restaurants, from street vendors, buy from supermarkets, and even make their own at backyard cookouts.  Spiedies have been completely integrated into the food culture of the region, and natives who have moved away from the area have been known to have commercial spiedie sauce shipped, by the case, to their new homes.

Spiedie Sandwich Photo Credit: Tim Turner from “Weber’s New American Barbecue Bible.”


History of Spiedies, Spiedie Sandwich:

The name comes from the Italian spiedo meaning kitchen cooking spit.  Originally made from lamb, they are now made with virtually any meat.  It is chunks of lamb, pork, chicken, beef, or venison that has been marinated for days in a tart sauce and then grilled on a metal skewer, usually over charcoal or gas.  The traditional way of serving is between sliced Italian bread with extra sauce poured on top.  The Spiedie, skewer and all, is then inserted in sliced Italian bread.  The bread is used as a sort of mitt, wrapping around the meat.  Pull out the skew and you then have a wonderful and delicious hot sandwich.

An annual three-day community gathering is held featuring hot air balloons, live music, and hundreds of varieties of spiedies cooked and sold by countless vendors.  The weekend of entertainment and fun always concludes with the Spiedie Cook-Off on Sunday.

They originated with Binghamtons Italian immigrant population in the 1920s.  Augustine Iacovelli from Endicott, New York is believed to have popularized the Spiedie by introducing them in his restaurant, called Augies, in 1939.  The original sauce, which he called Zuzu, was wine vinegar, water, lemon juice, garlic and mint. His spiedies caught on so well among the local railroad workers and shoemakers that for years every little corner grocery had a spiedie stand on the street in front of it.


Spiedie Sandwich


A tray of spiedies from Sharkey’s at Binghamton, NY

Spiedie Sandwich TrayPhoto credit: Tony Cenicola – New York Times



Spiedie Sandwich Recipe – How To Make A Spiedie Sandwich:

Spiedie Sandwich History and Recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 8 minutes

Yield: 6 servings


2 pounds meat (chicken, lamb, pork or beef), cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes*
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
3/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon red (cayenne) pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely-ground pepper 
1 loaf Italian or French bread, thickly sliced
Metal Skewers

* Use boneless and skinless chicken breasts, pork tenderloin, top round steak, or leg of lamb.



In a large bowl, combine olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, and sugar. Add garlic, bay leaf, red pepper, thyme, basil, oregano, salt and pepper; stir until well blended.

Place prepared meat in a large re-sealable plastic bag set into a shallow dish. Pour marinade mixture over meat and close bag. Marinate in the refrigerator for a least 24 hours and up to 3 days; turn bag occasionally to distribute marinade. Remove meat from refrigerator and let stand in marinade at room temperature for 2 hour; drain, reserving marinade.

Spiede Sandwich meat marinading

Preheat barbecue grill.

Thread 4 to 5 cubes of meat onto each metal skewer. Place onto the prepared hot grill and cook approximately 8 to 10 minutes or until done to your preference, basting with reserved marinade. Remove from grill and serve immediately.

Spiedie Sandwich meat grilling


To serve, fold the bread over the contents of the skewer and pull the skewer out, leaving the meat sandwiched within the bread.

Spiedie Sandwich assembly

Makes 6 servings.



Spiedie Sandwich

Comments from Readers:

I was just introduced to your website recently and stumbled across the Spiedie history and recipe.  A number of years ago (about 30 or there about) I was on a business trip to Endicott, New York and was told of these wonderful sandwich delicacies that were indigenous to that area.  My traveling partner raved about the time he spent there at IBM and the lunch items available in the local facilities.  I was in a state of wild anticipation of our arrival and the opportunity to sample the fare.  As it turned out, we LIVED on Spiedies for the entire time we were there.  The only respite was breakfast which consisted of coffee and a Danish at the hotel.  We had beer and Spiedies for every other meal for four days.  What a wild adventure! When I returned home, I brought a case of Spiedie sauce with me.  The folks that I worked with from the New York area around Binghamton bought the sauce and had us all over for their versions of the sandwich.  Great times.  Thanks for the trip down memory lane.  Bob Devon, Lake Elsinore


I was just reading through your explanation of Spiedies and noticed you mention an annual “Spiedie Cook-Off with a recipe contest.”  I’d just like to pass along that it is a bit more than that these days, it is 3 days of community gathering, hot air balloons, live music, and hundreds of varieties of spiedies cooked and sold by countless vendors.  The weekend of entertainment and fun always concludes with the Spiedie Cook-Off on Sunday.  Last year’s event drew between 100,000-120,000 people and will be held again this weekend (annually the first weekend of August).  Despite the fact that it originated from Italian families of Binghamton and Endicott, and that every local ethnicity seems to have put its signature on it in some form, and that the Spiedies have adapted to popular tastes… i.e.  Buffalo Chicken Spiedies (like chicken wing sauce), Blue Cheese Spiedies, Philly Cheese Spiedies etc. . . just some of the more popular varieties at local restaurants.  The Lupo family seems to be the dominate commercial spiedie people with two groups of the family owning two separate competing restaurant chains – The Lupo’s Charpits and Spiedie & Rib Pits.  Commercially, Spiedie Sauce from local companies can be found on shelves of Wegman’s, Giant, A&P, and Price Chopper Supermarkets over much of the Mid-Atlantic states now.


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Comments and Reviews

10 Responses to “Spiedie Sandwich History and Recipe”

  1. John Schaefer

    Good history and recipe! I do not add mint and use apple cider vinegar, but equal to red wine vinegar. I also add 1/4 tea of red pepper flakes, or Tobasco sauce for some heat. I lived in Vestal, J.C., and Endicott for years and I think this is the best rendition of my favorite food from there. It is best paired with some Genisee Cream Ale, a slice of pizza and slip on your Endicott Johnson Bunny Slippers! P.S.: lookout for those Vestal Virgins!

  2. Carolee Pezzuti

    My husband Bob was born in Endicot in 1934. He is famous with his family for his spiedies. He does use fresh mint. He also uses lamb. He thinks it’s abomination two use anything else. I like this recipe and I might try it.

  3. Michalski bridget

    Grew up in Horseheads NY and loved the speidis at “Chef Italia” with the donkey in the back of the restaurant!

  4. Bill Getson

    I had never even HEARD of Spiedies until I moved to Vestal NY, (Binghamton, Endicott, Johnson City, NY area) after accepting a posiiton wth (BM Endicott. My new friends IMMEDIATELY decided to invite us over to try their famous dish SPIEDIES. The showed us how to take the skewer off the grill, place a Split Italian Bread Slice around the end of the skewere and slide the meat onto the bread. The meat was coated either with the Spiedie Sauce that the meat was marinated in or just plain ordinary Ketchup. Then, just fold over the bread around the meat and ENJOY, especially with a can or bottle of beer. I guarantee you that I had MORE THAN ONE spiedie that day, and have enjoyed them ever since. We either make our own marinade or we can buy Lupo’s in oour local Publix.

    When we invited our family from the Duryea, PA area to drive up to visit us, we told them that we would be having a “special” lunch that day. So, after cooking several skewers of Spiedies and breaking out the Italian Split Bread, we passed the skewer full of roasted Lamb (most likely) around to our family, but “Uncle Al”, didn’t think the would be interested in trying them. After some “cajoling”, he finally agreed to try ONE. After he chugged THAT one down he ASKED for another, and eventually had THREE (3) that day, himself. So, from Not being interestd to ENJOYING them, obviously, “Uncle Al” became an afficianado with out even realizing it and initially, against his will. He NEVER refused another Spiedie the remainder of his life.

    I’m getting hungry for a “batch” of them right now.

    Bill Getson
    Melbourne, Florida

  5. Roddy J Dryer

    I was born and raised in Endicott, growing up with spiedies being a part of life. But I left the area long ago and haven’t had spiedies since. I’m glad I found this recipe. I recall rosemary being in some recipes but I also recall numerous versions here and there, such as the one once sold by what (I think) was called Billy’s Meats. I’m still slightly surprised the trend hasn’t moved farther and around.

  6. Darien Sumner

    I lived in Elmira for two years, but ironically never had a spiedie until a (regrettably short-lived) spiedie shop opened up in Greenfield, Massachusetts. I felt like a fool when I discovered what I’d missed!

  7. Nicoletta Caforio-Sine

    Many fond memories of watching my dad make lamb spiedies and setting up outside Kelly’s in West Endicott and selling them for $.25. Always added fresh mint.

  8. Gerald Vlasak

    I grew up enjoying Spiedies. The “Lupo’s” sauce can be bought online and “State Fair” at major grocery stores such as Kroger’s. Both are said to be great. Many new varieties such as South-west are available.

  9. Tim Scott

    I grew up with spiedies at Augie’s on Nanticoke Ave in the 60s when Augie was still running the place. Went to Pancho’s too – then in Vestal below the long gone viaduct on Main St. Wonderful and genuine – lamb only with a slice of Italian bread (no rolls). When I left the east coast, Pancho gave me a recipe close to his. Took me 5 years to figure out what he left out. Never heard of Sharkeys until years later, but he didn’t invent them. Aside from the name being clearly Italian (from skewered meat), Spiedies’ ancestor Arrosticini is still served in Abruzzo (lots of sheep flocks) where the Iacovellis came from. Arrostocini are sometimes lightly marinated with olive oil and rosemary, or basted with that after cooking. Never have embraced chicken, beef or pork versions (even my own); venison is the best substitute for lamb. Oil, wine, wine vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, basil, mint, some more green herbs and pepper. I don’t remember any rosemary in them at all and Pancho didn’t use rosemary.

  10. Josiah Lutcher

    Lived in NY, for years, near the Elmira area. I lived on Spiedies for a large part of my life. This article is the most accurate recipe I can find online and I’m happy to introduce this beautiful sandwich to my friends and family.


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