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Hawaiian Style Flying Saucer Recipe

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This flying saucer recipe is a take on a popular fair food in Hawai’i. Ground beef smothered in a sweet and tangy sauce, gooey cheese, and sealed in perfectly toasted bread. And best of all no special tools are needed.

close up of sectioned flying saucer

Fair foods are some of the best foods around, but why wait for the once a year event to enjoy it? Especially these Hawaiian style flying saucers or funnel cake.

There’s just something about the nostalgia of fair foods that can’t be beat. Sweet and tangy tomato based sauce mixed with savory ground beef and cheese. And all of it sealed in toasted bread. The perfect hand held meal.

What are flying saucers?

Flying saucers are a fair favorite food here in Hawai’i. It’s a sandwich with a sloppy joe like filling that is sealed and toasted.

This quick and simple recipe can be made in the comforts of your own home in just 30 minutes.

flying saucer filling

What you will need is:

  • Your cooking oil of choice. I like to use a little bit of avocado oil.
  • Round onion. Sweet Maui onions are amazing if you can get your hands on some.
  • Green bell pepper. You totally can use any color bell pepper you’d like.
  • Garlic. Fresh garlic is best, but you could use garlic powder or garlic salt as well.
  • Ground beef. Traditional flying saucers use ground beef, but you could also use ground pork, ground chicken, or make it vegetarian and use tofu.
  • Salt. To enhance the flavors.
  • Pepper. Simple black pepper works well here.
  • Ketchup. This adds a little sweetness to the dish.
  • Beef broth. This deepens the flavors. You could substitute with chicken broth or water as well.
  • Brown sugar. This is for a little sweetness as well. You can totally use granulated sugar if you’d like.
  • Dijon mustard. You’ll only need a small amount. You can also use prepared mustard.
  • Worcestershire sauce. Say that 10 times fast.
  • Corn. Don’t like corn? You can omit it if it’s not your fave.
  • 16 slices of bread. Any bread will do here.
  • Butter. Well because butter makes everything better, right?
  • Optional: cheese. Although optional I’d recommend it.

Flying saucers are round, why are these square?

The classic flying saucer recipe is made with a special tool like this sandwich grill iron, but you’re in luck you don’t need one for this simple homemade version. You can toast this in the frying pan or toaster oven. If the nostalgia of the round shape is important to you, you can definitely cut the bread into a circle shape. I opted to keep it square and not waste the extra bread that would be trimmed off.

flying saucer on a cutting board

How to store flying saucers?

These sandwiches are best eaten fresh. If you have leftovers you can store the filling or the already assembled flying saucer in an airtight container in the refrigerator. 

How long do flying saucers last?

Flying saucers will last for 3-4 days in the refrigerator.

Can you freeze this flying saucer recipe?

You sure can. You can either freeze the filing separately, which is what I would recommend, or assemble it into a sandwich and then freeze. This will last 2-3 months in an airtight container in the freezer.

hand picking up flying saucer

How to reheat flying saucers?

If the filing is stored separately, you can reheat it in the microwave. If the sandwiches were stored assembled I would suggest reheating slightly in the microwave then either toasting it up in the frying pan or toaster oven to get that toasted crunch to the bread back.

Tips to make this yummy flying saucer recipe:

  • Be sure to drain the oil after the ground beef has cooked. You don’t want soggy, oily sandwiches right?
  • If you have picky eaters that do not like onions or bell peppers you can omit it or what I like to do is dice the veggies up really small. Most times the kids don’t even notice.

Other quick and easy beef dishes

How to make Hawai’i’s favorite flying saucer recipe?

***SORRY I said shoyu instead of Worcestershire sauce in the video***
  1. Add about a tablespoon of cooking oil to a large pan set over medium high heat. Add onion and bell pepper. Cook until onions just become translucent. Then add in garlic and cook until fragrant.
  2. Next add ground beef, salt, and pepper. Cook until beef is is no longer pink. Drain excess oil and return to the heat.
  3. Then add ketchup, beef broth, brown sugar, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Mix until well combined, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Add corn. Cover and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes stirring occasionally.
  4. Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. Now for the assembly. Lay a slice of bread down. Add shredded cheese and a few tablespoons of the beef mixture. Top with another slice of bread. Trim off the crust and press the edges of the sandwich together to seal it.
  6. Add about a teaspoon of butter to a pan set over medium high heat. Place the sandwich in the pan and fry for a minute or two or until golden brown. Flip and repeat on the other side, adding more butter to the pan if needed.
  7. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. ENJOY!
close up of sectioned flying saucer

Flying Saucer Recipe

Yield: 8 sandwiches
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Flying saucers are a popular fair food in Hawai’i. Ground beef smothered in a sweet and tangy sauce, gooey cheese, and sealed in perfectly toasted bread. And best of all no special tools are needed.

Ingredients

  • cooking oil of choice
  • 1 small round onion, diced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup corn
  • 16 slices of bread
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • optional: cheese

Instructions

  1. Add about a tablespoon of cooking oil to a large pan set over medium high heat. Add onion and bell pepper. Cook until onions just become translucent. Then add in garlic and cook until fragrant.
  2. Next add ground beef, salt, and pepper. Cook until beef is is no longer pink. Drain excess oil and return to the heat.
  3. Then add ketchup, beef broth, brown sugar, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Mix until well combined, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Add corn. Cover and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes stirring occasionally.
  4. Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. Now for the assembly. Lay a slice of bread down. Add shredded cheese and a few tablespoons of the beef mixture. Top with another slice of bread. Trim off the crust and press the edges of the sandwich together to seal it.
  6. Add about a teaspoon of butter to a pan set over medium high heat. Place the sandwich in the pan and fry for a minute or two or until golden brown. Flip and repeat on the other side, adding more butter to the pan if needed.
  7. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. ENJOY!

Notes

*If you are not an onion, bell pepper, garlic, or corn fan you can opt to leave it out.

*You can also use chicken broth or water if you do not have beef broth on hand.

*Dijon mustard can be replaced with prepared mustard.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 459Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 69mgSodium: 906mgCarbohydrates: 46gFiber: 2gSugar: 14gProtein: 23g

Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.

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By on October 11th, 2020

About Relle

Aloha, my name is Relle and welcome to my little home on the internet where I like to share all my favorite Hawaiian recipes (and local ones too).

I am a wife, mom of two, and nurse practitioner here in the beautiful state of Hawai’i. I was born and raised in Hawai’i and I am of native Hawaiian descent. In my spare time I love to cook and bake and I have compiled many of my favorite recipes here for you to enjoy.

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