In this post, you’ll learn more about the different types of bologna, along with their short history, flavors, and how to best use them in your cooking.
Bologna is processed meat made from pork or beef. The concept dates back to Roman times. The word “bologna” comes from the Italian city Bologna where the sausage originally came from before being distributed throughout Europe and North America.
In fact, what Americans think of as “bologna” is very much the result of the legacy of Oscar Mayer, a German-American largely credited with Americanizing bologna & taking it to the mass market.
Over the years, different cuisines have adopted the processed meat and added a twist on the original concept, and developed several different types of bologna meat.
Here’s a list of the different types of bologna with their differences and best uses.
Classic bologna is a type of bologna that’s made from pork and beef. The classic sausage has a delicate, mildly sweet flavor and its smooth texture makes it an ingredient in many different dishes ranging from sandwiches to salads.
It is usually seasoned with onion and spices such as garlic powder, nutmeg, ginger, etc. There are a lot of brands ranging from Oscar Mayer to artisanal and regional brands.
Now, it is important to note that even “classic” bologna can be massively upgraded with the use of top-tier ingredients and condiments (and used for interesting recipes).
The classic bologna is fully cooked and can be enjoyed cold or pan-fried. A fried bologna sandwich is also a classic take.
Classic bologna is the original type of bologna and is often wrapped in a white casing and then sliced into 1/4″ disks. It is the quintessential lunch meat (though definitely not an unprocessed or low sodium lunch meat).
It’s usually best served as part of a bologna sandwich on white bread with other ingredients such as cheese, vegetables, etc – but can also be eaten in other ways.
- One 16 oz pack of Oscar Mayer Bologna Made with chicken, pork and beef added Sliced Lunch Meat
- Oscar Mayer Bologna, Made with chicken, pork and beef added, deli meat is made with quality meat and no fillers
- Made with chicken, pork and beef
- Add Oscar Mayer lunch meat to sandwiches, wraps or deli platters
- Fully cooked bologna is ready to eat
German bologna is a type of bologna that’s made with finely ground beef and pork, along with garlic and other flavorings associated with German sausages.
The flavor is a bit stronger and spicier than classic bologna and more similar to Hungarian or Polish sausage.
The German bologna is fully cooked and can be enjoyed cold or pan-fried just like classic bologna. It’s normally sliced thicker than classic bologna and is often browned or even grilled to get a charred outer crust.
Kosher or Halal Bologna
Kosher or Halal bologna is the same processed meat as classic bologna but without pork. The kosher bologna made by large brands like Hebrew National is usually exclusively a beef bologna
The Kosher bologna is fully cooked and can be enjoyed cold or pan-fried just like classic bologna. Without the pork, it will have a slightly different texture and fat content.
Lebanon bologna is a type of bologna that’s made with aged beef along with hearty spices like black pepper, mace, and nutmeg. The particular flavorings and aging process give the meat a robust spiciness & smokiness that makes it perfect for pairing with hearty sandwiches.
Lebanon bologna is usually thicker than classic bologna and is often best enjoyed on its own as a snack.
It’s named after Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, USA – not Lebanon the country – where it is quite beloved in Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine.
Lauantaimakkara is a type of bologna that’s made with pork, beef, pork rind, potato flour, and seasonings. The result is firmer, airier bologna that is easier to slice thinly for sandwiches or on its own as a snack.
It originated in Finland and is loved as a “Saturday sausage.” It has a very pinkish color with a mild taste.
Rag bologna is a type of bologna that’s made with cuts of beef and pork along with various protein fillers like soy protein, whey powder, flour, powdered milk, lard, etc along with sugar, salt, spices & curing agents. It originates in Tennessee, USA.
The flavor is salty-sweet and the texture of a semi-soft, moist sausage.
Rag bologna is fully cooked and can be enjoyed cold or pan-fried just like classic bologna. It’s often thinly sliced and served with cheese even on crackers for an appetizer.
It makes many appearances in sandwiches as well. Now, like Lauantaimakkara, it is highly regional bologna, so you are unlikely to find it outside of Tennessee or an online specialty shop.
Ring bologna is a type of classic bologna that’s made from a mixture of beef and pork, along with salt, sugar, spices
It originates in the American Midwest and takes its name from how it’s made – by forming the mixture into a ring and stuffing it into narrow casing. It’s often mostly beef and has a firmer texture than classic bologna, but is very mild in flavor.
The ring bologna is fully cooked and can be enjoyed cold or pan-fried just like classic bologna. It’s often thinly sliced and served with cheese even on crackers for an appetizer or on a simple charcuterie board. It makes many appearances in sandwiches as well.
- Two 16oz Ring Bologna: Berks plain ring bologna is made from a proprietary blend of seasonings and lean cuts of beef and pork. Two individually-packed 16oz pieces.
- Great Taste: Similar to a Kielbasa, Summer sausage or even mild pepperoni, ring bologna is a delicious Pennsylvania Dutch specialty typically found only in butcher shops and specialty grocery stores
- Family Favorite: these are perfect for barbecues, cookouts & picnics. Enjoy with cheese & crackers, grilled as a slider or added to your favorite side dish like mac & cheese
- Ingredients: Our products are made without artificial flavors, colors or fillers and do not contain MSG. We use beef, pork & an exclusive balance of flavors in our products
- Safe, Quality Food: Berks offers quality meat which are SQF certified (Food Safety) & USDA certified. Shipped to you frozen, in a Styrofoam cooler, with gel packs to ensure quality upon arrival
Polony is what much of the former British Empire calls “bologna.” It’s often packaged differently than bologna in North America, but it is usually fundamentally the same.
Polony, baloney, bologna – these are all words for a slice of processed meat that was brought slowly developed from across different food cultures since the Roman Empire.
Nowadays, we tend to call this type of meat “bologna.” While there’s no one true recipe for bologna and many types and flavors of the stuff exist, it is all a type of sausage that is derived from ground meat and typically formed into links, rings, or large chunks.
This type of bologna is often made from soy and wheat gluten. It has a meat-like texture and flavor, but it’s not derived from any sort of animal product. This variety of bologna is suited best for vegan cooking and recipes – like tofu scramble or grilled “cheese” sandwiches.
Bologna vs. Mortadella
People tend to lump bologna and mortadella together. They’re both sausage, after all. But they’re not the same thing in modern cuisine.
Mortadella is the “original” bologna that is made in Bologna, Italy. What North Americans call bologna is what evolved from Italian mortadella.
In fact, mortadella is a classic Bolognese ingredient. It’s ground pork meat that is mixed with cubes of fat (lardo) and spices like black pepper, coriander seed, nutmeg, garlic, and more (like pistachios and even wine).
All of that gets stuffed into a casing to form what looks like a giant sausage. Mortadella is often served at Italian celebrations like weddings and New Year’s Eve parties – sometimes cooked whole in the oven, other times cut into thick slices on deli trays.
The resemblance between bologna and mortadella is there. They’re both made with ground meat and fat, after all. But the fact that mortadella contains actual cubes of pork fat sets it apart from bologna.
This type of sausage is often called “Italian bologna” because of these similarities, but it’s more closely related to American bologna than it is to traditional bologna (i.e., especially compared to other flavored sausages like kielbasa or Hungarian sausage).
- Imported from Italy
- Pre-sliced for your convenience
- Traditional Italian mortadella containing pistachio nuts
- Sweet, mild flavor--like better bologna!
FAQs About Bologna
Here are a few FAQs about bologna.
What is bologna meat made of?
Bologna is a type of sausage which is made from ground meat, usually pork or beef. Seasonings such as salt, pepper, and spices are added to the meat before it is ground up and then formed into a sausage.
Is bologna made of horse meat?
No, bologna is not made of horse meat. It is made of pork and beef and sometimes poultry.
What part of the pig does bologna come from?
Unlike related types of ground sausage, neither classic bologna nor mass market (i.e., Oscar Mayer style) bologna has to come from a specific part of a pig. It only has to be finely ground.
What is actually in bologna?
The standard ingredients are smoked pork and beef*, pork fat, salt, spices. Some varieties have various flavorings added to them or some extra flavorings mixed in.
*unless labeled as turkey or chicken bologna.
Now, there are plenty of assertions, conspiracies, half-truths…and whole truths about the mass manufacturing of meat products, including bologna.
Since it is finely ground meat, companies are allowed by the USDA to have certain percentages of meat cuts, which means that technically bologna could have unpopular cuts of pork and beef.
The actual composition of ground pork & beef meat cuts will vary by batch, company, year, and market conditions.
However, using different meats (i.e., horse, game, etc) altogether while labeling it as beef / pork / poultry constitutes fraud and is illegal.
Why is bologna so cheap?
Bologna is cheap because it is a processed meat. It is made with pork, beef, and/or turkey. The animals are mixed together and then put into a machine that grinds them up. Seasonings are added and the mixture is then put into casings to form links.
Is bologna good meat?
It really depends. The quality of the bologna varies depending on the maker and preference of the taste buds.
Is there healthy bologna?
Bologna is a processed meat, so there’s no real “healthy” bologna, but, like low sodium lunch meat, there are better bologna meats. In the case of bologna, look for higher-quality ingredients and ground pork or beef from specific, quality cuts. This means lower-fat and higher-protein.
Is bologna healthy to eat?
Bologna is a type of processed meat that is high in sodium and fat. While it can be healthy to eat in moderation, bologna is not the healthiest food choice.
Is bologna pork?
Usually, yes. However, Bologna that is found in most grocery stores is a type of processed meat that is typically made from pork, beef, or turkey. It is often flavored with ingredients such as salt, sugar, smoke flavoring, and spices.
Final Thoughts on Types of Bologna Meat
It’s important to remember that every single kind of bologna is processed meat. That means it hasn’t seen any sort of preservation processes like smoking or curing – but it has been ground up, seasoned, and packed into some form of the casing. In many cases, you can see the individual chunks as they sit in the casing.
If you’re looking for a healthier, more sustainable option – the vegetarian bologna is probably your best bet. But if you want to celebrate with something truly authentic and Italian, go for mortadella.