Iowa State Fair Grinder Sandwich

These are also known as Guinea Grinders by MOST people who have had the pleasure of eating these sandwiches at the fair. But calling them “Guinea” grinders is a bit of a racial slur against Italians. So the original stand changed it’s name to Jennie Grinder. And actually these are more of a Gizmo which comes from the Carl’s Gizmo stand. I always eat from Jennie’s stand at the fair. But I like sauce and broiled cheese. Sue me, okay?

Confused yet? Yes.


These contain Graziano’s sausage, as any good grinder does. But unless you either live in Des Moines or have an unlimited supply straight from there, you’ll need to use regular italian sausage from the grocery store.

Here’s a secret. And seriously, don’t tell ANYONE I told you. It all tastes pretty much the same in the end!

These also contain “award winning” garlic. I’m not sure if it ACTUALLY tastes better. But I feel like it does. It does smell better. Garlicy but not smelly. So that’s something, right?

But really, you need to try these as soon as you possibly can! The fair is over for the year, but luckily I’m posting this recipe so you can try them whenever you want!

I do recommend going to get a grinder at the fair. And a pickle dawg, and a red velvet funnel cake, and a turkey leg, and some bacon wrapped smokies, and a lemonade shakeup, and and and…. Just, promise me you’ll eat your way through the fair, okay?

Actually, the Iowa state fair is the best. I live in Nebraska, and our fair suuccckkkksssss. The local news station polled people on Facebook about which fair is better (they’re about the same distance from Omaha), and EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON. said the Iowa state fair. If that tells you anything!

We go every year. Last year we went twice! Once to see Toby Keith and once to see Alan Jackson. And both days we spent all day at the fair before the concerts. And by the end I had blisters on my feet, and my legs hurt, and I was sunburned, but it was so worth it!

So make them already!

Here’s the printable recipe card!

Iowa State Fair Grinder Sandwich
Recipe Type: Sandwich
Cuisine: American
Author: Sam (Sizzling Mess)
Serves: 6
  • 6 deli rolls (I used 2 loaves of Jimmy John’s day old, and cut each one into 3)
  • Jar of pizza sauce (amount will vary by taste, but about 1 tablespoon per sandwich)
  • 8 oz mozzarella cheese (shredded or sliced)
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground sausage (any spice level)
  • 1 teaspoon pizza or italian seasoning
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Start by browning your beef and sausage over medium-high heat. When it’s about 1/2 done, toss in all of your seasonings and minced garlic. Keep cooking until the meat is completely brown. You DO NOT want to eat undercooked pork.
  2. Once the meat is done, drain it of most of the grease and let it cool a tad to make it easier to handle while you split the bread. Turn the broiler on low heat (if you have that option) and let it preheat.
  3. If it’s not already split, cut the bread about 3/4ths of the way through and open it up (enough to stuff it, but not so much that it’s 2 separate pieces of bread).
  4. Start assembling your sandwich. Set the bread pieces upright in a baking pan like the top picture on the blog post, add some pizza sauce and spread it onto the sides of the bread (I used a silicone brush), add some meat to each one, and then top it with the cheese.
  5. Toss it into the broiler (my rack was on the middle rungs, but it doesn’t matter), and broil for 4 to 5 minutes until the cheese is melty and the bread is kind of browned. Keep an eye on it since broilers turn food from nice to charred in seconds.
I didn’t this time, but if you like cheese, I would recommend putting bread, sauce, cheese, meat, cheese. So that way you get cheese in each bite.[br][br]If you’re not going to eat all of the sandwiches right away, leave the extras unmade until you’re ready. Otherwise the sauce and the grease will soak through the bread. Just refrigerate everything and make them when you’re ready. It will also freeze!


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