What are the best deli meat brands to buy? Here are some top picks from a Registered Dietitian that have simple ingredient lists and are great on sandwiches and more!
Today we’re talking about deli meat. I often get asked for the best deli meat brands, along with more information including whether they’re safe to eat, how often to eat them, what ingredients to look for and more!
So today we’re going to cover all of that. In case you’ve missed any of the other “best of store-bought” posts, you can catch up below:
Snacks from certain stores:
Types of snacks:
Deli Meat FAQs
Before I get to brand recommendations, let’s address some of the most common questions I get related to deli meat:
What are processed meats?
Processed meats include things like deli meat, sausage, hot dogs, pepperoni, beef jerky etc.
Reasons to limit deli meat consumption:
Links to cancer: High consumption of processed meats has been associated with increased risk for some types of cancers such as stomach and colorectal cancers
The preservatives often used in processed meats contain cancer-causing substances such as nitrates and nitrites, heterocyclic and polycyclic amines which are produced when meat is cooked at very high temperatures
Saturated fat: Many deli meats, especially ham, salami, roast beef and bologna, are high in saturated fat which is linked to increased risk of types of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity
You can help limit saturated fat content by choosing lean cuts of deli meat like turkey breast, chicken breast, and some hams.
High sodium: Deli meats can be very high in sodium which can increase the risk of high blood pressure/heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity
Aim to choose low/lower sodium deli meats when possible. You can also seek out fresh deli meats at your local grocery store deli counter. They’re often lower in sodium and don’t contain nitrates/nitrites often found in packaged deli meats.
This doesn’t mean you have to eliminate deli meat from your diet but my best recommendation is to limit consumption to a couple of times a week or less!
Ingredients to avoid in deli meat:
Nitrates/Nitrates– While these are not carcinogenic themselves, they can create compounds (like nitrosamine compounds) that are carcinogenic, especially when deli meats are heated.
Sodium nitrate is an ingredient commonly used in deli meat.
Excess sodium – This typically means greater than ~450mg per serving
How To Approach Eating Processed Meats
Aim for less than 5 ounces of processed/deli meats per week
Deli meat slices typically vary from 1-3 ounces depending on how thinly they’re sliced
Try to choose fresh deli meat instead of pre-packaged when you can
Local grocery stores have fresh deli meat available which is typically less processed and lower in nitrates and sodium
Choose low-sodium deli meats when possible
And be sure to note the portion size when eating!
Pairing high-sodium foods with plenty of water and potassium-rich foods helps too
Ex: add avocado to your sandwich, add fruits such as banana, cantaloupe, or oranges with your meal or have a side of potatoes (try some roasted potatoes or a baked potato)
Chose Nitrate/nitrite-free deli meat
Usually labeled “Uncured”
Best Types of Deli Meat
So let’s review some of my favorite brands of deli meat to choose from when you’re out shopping:
Deli Meat Chicken
Chicken Breast is a great lean meat that is low in saturated fat and typically lower in sodium. A couple of my favorite brands are:
Plainville Farms Oven Roasted Chicken Breast (10g protein, 0.5 g fat, 470mg Sodium)
Dietz & Watson Chicken Breast (10g protein, 1.5g fat, 340mg Sodium)
Applegate Naturals Oven Roasted Chicken Breast (10g protein, 1g fat, 290mg Sodium)
Deli Meat Turkey
Turkey, like chicken, is also a lean deli meat, low in saturated fat, and often lower in sodium. These are just a few of our favorite brands that are sure to be a hit for your next sandwich!
Dietz & Watson Presliced Organic Roasted Turkey Breast (12g protein, 0.5 g fat, 390mg Sodium)
Plainville Organic Pre-Sliced Oven Roasted Turkey Breast (13g protein, 0g fat, 300mg sodium)
Good & Gather All Natural Turkey Breast (10g protein, 1.5g fat, 350mg Sodium)
Applegate Naturals Oven Roasted Turkey Breast (11g protein, 0g fat, 250mg Sodium)
Boar’s Head Roasted Turkey Breast (11g protein, 0.5g fat, 360mg Sodium) or Boar’s Head Simplicity
Organic Valley now also makes deli slices of turkey and roast beef. Check to see if they’re in your area yet!
Deli Meat Ham
These brands are a great option if ham is your sandwich meat of choice. These are low in saturated fat and high in protein. Ham does tend to be higher in sodium than turkey or chicken so just be sure to check your nutrition label if have a sodium-restricted diet.
Dietz & Watson Black Forest Ham (12g protein, 1g fat, 400 mg Sodium)
Good & Gather Lower Sodium Uncured Ham (9g protein, 2g fat, 310mg Sodium)
Applegate Naturals Black Forest Ham (12g protein, 2g fat, 470mg Sodium)
Plainville Farms Uncured Honey Maple Ham (10g protein, 2.5g fat, 460mg Sodium)
Deli Meat Roast Beef
If you have a roast beef lover in the house, this section is for you! These options are lower in saturated fat and sodium. Some brands have a lower-sodium or no-salt options too.
Boar’s Head Low Sodium Roast Beef (15g protein, 3g fat, 80mg Sodium)
Applegate Organics Roast Beef (13g protein, 3g fat, 400mg Sodium)
Organic Valley Organic Roast Beef (12g protein, 1.5g fat, 400gm Sodium)
Dietz & Watson Angus Roast Beef (12g protein, 2g fat, 190mg Sodium)
Niman Ranch Uncured Roast Beef (11g protein, 6g fat, 420mg Sodium)
Deli Meat Salami
Salami is a party favorite, especially if you love a good charcuterie board! Just keep in mind that salami can be quite high in saturated fat and sodium so it’s better for occasional consumption. Salamis also tend to have added nitrates/nitrites so be sure to check your labels! These options are all nitrate/nitrite free!
Dietz & Watson Napoli Salami (8g protein, 7g fat, 430mg Sodium)
Applegate Naturals Uncured Genoa Salami (7g protein, 8g fat, 420mg Sodium)
Natural Choice Uncured Hard Salami (6g protein, 10g fat, 450mg Sodium)
Good & Gather Uncured Hot Calabrese Salami (8g protein, 7g fat, 430mg Sodium)
Boar’s Head Uncured Hard Salami (6g protein, 9g fat, 470mg Sodium)
Best Jerky Stick Options
Jerky is a great high protein on-the-go snack, but it can also have added nitrates and nitrites and be high in sodium. Here are some good options for an occasional snack.
Chomp Sticks (9g protein, 6g fat, 290mg Sodium) – they also have a turkey jerky option with less fat
Vermont Meat Sticks (6g protein, 8g fat, 380mg sodium)
Country Archer Original Beef Jerky Strips (8g protein, 6g fat, 390mg Sodium)
The New Primal Grass Fed Beef Sticks (6g protein, 6g fat, 280mg Sodium)
EPIC Chicken Siracha Snack Strips ( 9g protein, 2.5g fat, *440mg Sodium)
Lorissa’s Kitchen Original & Jalapeno Sticks (6g protein, 11g fat, 310mg Sodium) *these are a bit higher in saturated fat than the others
Most of these companies also have traditional jerky options vs sticks.
That’s for now. I’d love to hear your favorite deli meats!