Hanky Panky Recipe (Quick and Easy Appetizers) - Grits and Pinecones (2024)

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There is nothing improper about this Hanky Panky Recipe for old-fashioned, delicious co*cktail rye bread appetizers.

Sometimes called Polish Mistakes, Hanky Panky appetizers feature a combination of sausage, hamburger meat, and, what else, lots of gooey cheesy goodness!

If you have never had a Hanky Panky appetizer, you are in for a treat! They are one of my favorite snacks because they only take a few minutes to prepare and even less time to heat up and serve.

Hanky Panky Recipe (Quick and Easy Appetizers) - Grits and Pinecones (1)

Hanky Pankies are perfect for holiday parties, game day parties, and the Super Bowl, along with Fried Oysters, Potato Skins, Chicken Egg Rolls, Oven Baked Baby Back Ribs, and Fried Crab Claws. They also make a great light lunch or dinner.

Reader’s comment from Prairie: “We make and freeze these every year. They’re an integral part of the holidays! You can heat up just a few for a wine snack or take a tray full to a get-together. Don’t turn your nose up at the Velveeta cheese. It’s the “glue” that holds them together without being oily.”

These little jewels are also a make-ahead wonder and freeze beautifully, so you can stock them in your freezer for impromptu guests or just when you want a little snack or individual appetizers.

Have no fear when it comes to making hanky pankies! They are simple enough for beginner cooks, and I have included a short “how-to” video and easy step-by-step directions.

Jump to:
  • What are Hanky Pankies?
  • Ingredient notes and substitutions:
  • How to make Hanky Pankies:
  • Serving suggestions:
  • Recipe variations:
  • Topping ideas:
  • Leftovers, storage and reheating:
  • Recipe FAQs:
  • Expert tips and tricks:
  • More appetizer recipes:
  • 📋 Recipe:

What are Hanky Pankies?

Hanky pankies are a popular appetizer that are baked and often served at parties, especially in the American Midwest. They consist of a savory mixture of ground beef, sausage, and melted processed cheese (like Velveeta cheese) spread on co*cktail rye bread or party bread.

Ingredient notes and substitutions:

Hanky Panky Recipe (Quick and Easy Appetizers) - Grits and Pinecones (2)
  • Ground beef: there are many different types of ground beef available. I usually look for an 80/20 mixture for this recipe, meaning it’s 80% meat and 20% fat. A higher fat percentage means more flavor, and the meat will be juicy. You can also use ground chuck or ground turkey.
  • Hot pork sausage: this sausage is also called breakfast sausage, and it usually comes in rolls wrapped in plastic wrap. Jimmy Dean’s is a common brand. It comes in hot, regular, and mild sausage. For this recipe, I like to use the hot. You can, however, use medium or mild if you don’t want any heat. The cheese tones down the heat, but it is spicy. For a different taste, you can substitute sweet Italian sausage.
  • Processed cheese: if you were around in the ’90s, I’m sure you remember processed cheese. It doesn’t have to be refrigerated and comes in big blocks or loaves. Velveeta cheese is a common brand, and it’s often used to make queso dip. The big plus with processed cheese is that it melts easily and is smooth and creamy when melted.
  • Party Rye or co*cktail Rye Bread: sometimes called party bread, these thin slices of bread only measure about two inches by two inches and are the perfect size for appetizers.
  • Spices and Seasonings: oregano, garlic powder, crushed red pepper, and fennel seeds all come together to add maximum flavor to these party rye bread appetizers.

Complete measurements are in the recipe below.

How to make Hanky Pankies:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Add ground beef and sausage to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir and cook until browned.
Hanky Panky Recipe (Quick and Easy Appetizers) - Grits and Pinecones (3)
  1. Use a potato masher or large fork to break up any large clumps of meat.
Hanky Panky Recipe (Quick and Easy Appetizers) - Grits and Pinecones (4)
  1. When the meat has browned, drain off any excess fat.
  2. Add oregano, garlic powder, crushed red pepper, and fennel seeds. Reduce the heat to low and continue cooking for 20 minutes.
Hanky Panky Recipe (Quick and Easy Appetizers) - Grits and Pinecones (5)
  1. Cut the cheese into cubes and add to the meat mixture.
Hanky Panky Recipe (Quick and Easy Appetizers) - Grits and Pinecones (6)
  1. Stir until the cheese has melted and everything is thoroughly blended, and then remove from the heat.
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  1. Use a small ice cream scoop (about one and a quarter inches in diameter) or a tablespoon to add a dollop of the meat and cheese mixture to each piece of bread.
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  1. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the bread is toasted and the topping is bubbling. Serve hot or at room temperature.
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Serving suggestions:

Hearty Hanky Panky appetizers are filling, so you might want to serve something a little lighter, such as Redneck Caviar, Baked Ricotta Cheese Dip, or Easy Artichoke Stuffed Mushrooms.

If you are serving them as a light lunch or dinner, you could just add a salad such as my House Salad, Tomato Avocado Feta Salad, Southern Cucumber and Tomato Salad, Southern Potato Salad, or Southern Broccoli Salad.

Recipe variations:

This hanky panky recipe is extremely versatile, and you can change it up to suit your family’s preferences:

  • You can transform it into Hanky Panky Dip by adding a can of Rotel and cooking everything in a crock pot or slow cooker until the cheese is melted. Serve with sturdy chips like tortilla chips or Frito scoops.
  • This recipe is spicy. If you prefer less spice or heat, substitute regular sausage for hot sausage and leave out the crushed red pepper flakes. On the other hand, if you want to make the Hanky Pankies spicier, use spicy Veelveta cheese or add a bit more crushed red pepper flakes.
  • You can also substitute turkey sausage or Italian sausage for the breakfast sausage. And, you can leave out the hamburger meat and use all sausage.
  • Add a few drops of Worcestershire sauce to the meat mixture while it cooks.
  • Make it gluten-free by swapping out gluten-free bread.
  • Party rye bread or pumpernickel bread can be used.

Topping ideas:

The recipe for hanky pankies is delicious on its own, but if you’re looking to change things up a bit, here are some ideas for toppings you could add:

  • Bell Peppers:Finely diced colored bell peppers not only add flavor but also a burst of color.
  • Jalapeños:For those who like a bit of kick, thinly sliced jalapeños or even pickled jalapeños would be nice.
  • Diced Tomatoes:Fresh or sun-dried tomatoes can add a tangy twist.
  • Green Onions:Sliced thinly for a mild onion flavor.
  • Olives:Sliced black or green olives can be a salty addition.
  • Bacon:Crumbled bacon or bacon bits bring a smoky flavor.
  • Parmesan:A sprinkle of grated parmesan can add a salty, nutty touch.
  • Blue Cheese:For a bolder flavor, crumble some blue cheese on top.
  • Feta:Crumbled feta can bring a tangy twist.
  • Pesto:A dollop of basil pesto can complement the flavors.
  • Hot Sauce:A dash of your favorite hot sauce can elevate the heat.
  • BBQ Sauce:Drizzle a little barbecue sauce for a smoky, tangy flavor.
  • Sour Cream or Plain Greek Yogurt:A small dollop can add creaminess and a tangy note.
  • Salsa: Adds a spicy Tex-Mex flair.

Leftovers, storage and reheating:

Hanky Pankies are best eaten hot right after baking; however, leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for three to four days. It’s best to freeze them if you wish to keep them longer (up to two months).

To freeze:Allow the hanky pankies to cool to room temperature. Place them in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze for one to two hours. This step will prevent them from sticking together when stored in a container or bag.

Transfer them to an airtight storage container or a resealable freezer bag once frozen. If using a container, stack them with parchment paper or wax paper between the layers to prevent sticking. They can be stored for up to two months.

To reheat: Preheat your oven or toaster oven to 350°F. Place the hanky pankies on a baking sheet in a single layer. If they were stored in the freezer, there’s no need to thaw them; you can reheat them directly.

Heat them for 10-15 minutes or until they’re hot and the cheese is melted. The time may vary based on whether they were refrigerated or frozen. The bread is so thin it does tend to dry out quickly, so be careful when reheating.

Although it’s quicker, reheating in the microwave will change the texture of the bread making it softer so I don’t recommend it. If using the microwave, place the hanky pankies on a microwave-safe plate and heat in 20-30 second intervals until hot.

Recipe FAQs:

What are hanky pankies made of?

They typically consist of a mixture of meats and cheese spread on small pieces of co*cktail rye bread or similar mini-toasts.

Can you make this recipe ahead?

Yes, and this is one of the best things about this recipe. You can make the topping up to 48 hours ahead, and then top your bread and bake it when you are ready to serve it. Or, you can make the recipe as directed and freeze the unbaked hanky pankies until you are ready to bake and serve them.

How to freeze unbaked hanky pankies?

Place the prepared unbaked Hanky Pankies on a cookie sheet in a single layer. Cover loosely with foil and place the cookie sheet in the freezer for an hour or so until they are frozen. Remove from the baking sheet and store in a gallon-size plastic freezer bag in the freezer. When ready to bake, place the frozen Hanky Pankies on a baking sheet and bake as directed above.

What can you substitute for co*cktail rye bread?

co*cktail pumpernickel bread is a good substitute if you can’t find co*cktail rye bread. Also, thinly sliced rye or pumpernickel bread cut into quarters can be substituted.

Did Pepperidge Farm stop making party rye bread?

Pepperidge Farm stopped making their popular party rye bread several years ago. Fortunately, several other brands are available, depending on where you live. It is usually easier to find it around the holidays.

Expert tips and tricks:

  • I recommend using processed cheese like Velveeta in this recipe; if you’re not a fan, you can experiment with cheeses that melt well, such as Fontina or Monterey Jack.
  • Be sure to drain off any excess fat after cooking the meat mixture to prevent the mixture from becoming too greasy.
  • The meat and cheese mixture should be creamy and spreadable but not runny. It might not spread well on the bread if it’s too thick, and if it’s too runny, it could make it soggy.
  • Serve hanky pankies warm. If they cool down and the cheese solidifies, you can reheat them in the oven for a few minutes.

More appetizer recipes:

  • Easy Crunchy Taco Cups Recipe
  • Easy Hot Corn Dip Recipe with Cream Cheese and Rotel
  • Easy Cranberry Jalapeño Cream Cheese Dip

If you need more appetizer menu ideas or recipes, check out my collections of 40+ Quick and Easy Game Day Snacks and Appetizers or 47 Christmas Party Appetizer Recipes.

Or, here are links to all of my appetizer or snack recipes.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐⭐⭐ If you make this dish, please leave a comment and give this recipe a star rating. I would love to know how you liked it!

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Hanky Panky Recipe (Quick and Easy Appetizers) - Grits and Pinecones (14)

Hanky Panky Recipe (Quick & Easy)

Sharon Rigsby

If you have never had a Hanky Panky, you are in for a treat! There is nothing improperabout this Hanky Panky Recipe for old-fashioned, delicious, co*cktail rye bread appetizers, sometimes called a “polish mistake,” topped with a combination of sausage, hamburger meat and, what else, lots of gooey cheesy goodness!

5 from 16 votes

Print Recipe Pin Recipe

Prep Time 10 minutes mins

Cook Time 40 minutes mins

Total Time 50 minutes mins

Course Appetizer, Snack

Cuisine American

Servings 36 pieces

Calories 126 kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ pounds ground beef
  • 1 pound hot pork sausage, I used Jimmy Dean’s
  • 1 pound processed cheese, I used Velveeta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon ground oregano
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 pinch fennel seeds
  • 1 loaf thinly sliced party rye bread, sometimes called co*cktail rye bread

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400° F.

  • Add ground beef and sausage to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir and cook until browned. Use a potato masher or large fork to break up any large clumps of meat.

  • When the meat has browned, drain off any excess fat.

  • Add oregano, garlic powder, crushed red pepper, and fennel seeds. Reduce the heat to low and continue cooking for 20 minutes.

  • Cut the cheese into cubes and add to the meat mixture. Stir until the cheese has melted and everything is thoroughly blended, remove from the heat.

  • Use a small ice-cream scoop (about 1¼ inches in diameter) or a tablespoon to add a dollop of the meat and cheese mixture to each piece of bread.

  • Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the bread is toasted and the topping is bubbling.

  • Serve warm or at room temperature.

Notes

You can change this recipe into Hanky Panky Dip by adding a can of Rotel and cooking everything in a crockpot or slow cooker until the cheese is melted. Serve with sturdy chips like Frito scoops.

I recommend using processed cheese like Velveeta in this recipe; if you’re not a fan, you can experiment with cheeses that melt well, such as Fontina or Monterey Jack.

Be sure to drain off any excess fat after cooking the meat mixture to prevent the mixture from becoming too greasy.

The meat and cheese mixture should be creamy and spreadable but not runny. It might not spread well on the bread if it’s too thick, and if it’s too runny, it could make it soggy.

Serve hanky pankies warm. If they cool down and the cheese solidifies, you can reheat them in the oven for a few minutes.

Nutrition

Calories: 126kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 7gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0.4gCholesterol: 33mgSodium: 302mgPotassium: 92mgFiber: 0.03gSugar: 0.3gVitamin A: 137IUVitamin C: 0.1mgCalcium: 136mgIron: 1mg

Tried this recipe? Tag me today! Mention @gritspinecones or tag #gritspinecones!

Hanky Panky Recipe (Quick and Easy Appetizers) - Grits and Pinecones (2024)
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