5 Key Details: What Is Spiced Ham & Best Grocery Store Picks

Spiced ham is a tasty deli meat made with ham and various spices, offering a blend of sweet, salty, and savory flavors with a hint of spice, perfect for sandwiches or various dishes.

Spicy Deli Ham

A broad selection of lunch meats will be laid out whenever you go to a deli. There for your perusal and eventual choosing, all different types of meat can make picking one out a hard decision to make. You’ll see beef, chicken, sausages, and you will definitely see ham.

Ham has been a staple of American diets since the Colonial era. As pigs were an accessible animal to breed and farm, ham became increasingly popular as cooks figured out how to prepare the cut and turn it into delicious meals.

Ham is still one of the most consumed meats and is a favorite main meat dish for holiday tables.

There are so many ways to cook ham that it renders a whole bevy of different deli meats. If you’re leaning toward the ham direction, you’re not alone.

However, instead of selecting what you always do, how about being a bit adventurous and trying something new? Why not take a leap and try some spicy deli ham? If this scrumptious deli meat isn’t new to you, but it’s been a while, it’s time to revisit it.

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How The Deli Came To Be


Back in the 18th century, European Jewish communities popularized delicatessens as they began receiving imported foods from other regions around the world.

The word itself roughly translates to “delightful place to be” and that proved to be true as thousands of these specialty markets sprung up around Europe and made their way to America.

At first, delis were more boutique in nature, specialty markets that different communities could visit to get very specific items that were otherwise hard to find.

Eventually, delis became more widespread and well-known, able to import various meats and cheese with in-store butchers preparing items for patrons.

While you can still find neighborhood delis, many grocery stores feature deli sections with a full staff ready to provide the same services as an old-school corner deli.

The nice thing about the expansion of delis is that it lays a foundation for the diversity of meats. What you can’t find at one deli counter, you should be able to find at another one.

The even better news is this: If you’re looking for spiced ham, you’ll probably hit the jackpot at the first deli you visit.

What Is Spiced Ham Deli Meat?

Spam Classic, 12 Ounce Can (Pack of 12)

If you have ever heard of or tried SPAM, then you already have some idea of what spiced ham is or tastes like. SPAM is a combination (or portmanteau) of spice and ham.

The name itself was born out of a contest that the Hormel company held for a new line of spiced ham.

While that was over 80 years ago, the product has stuck around and still continues to ride shotgun in many grocery carts.

Yet, that’s the type of spiced ham that you’ll find on the store shelves, not at the deli counter. Spiced ham is exactly what it sounds like.

It’s ham that has been cooked with various spices that ultimately provides diners with flavorful cuts of meat. Spiced ham tends to have a blend of sweet, salty, and savory spices, sometimes rounded out with a kick of spice.

The reason that products like SPAM are so popular is that people really enjoy the taste of spiced ham. Beyond the iconic blue can that has been around for decades, spiced ham is a delicious deli meat that can be found in fresh cuts, ready to slice to your preferred thinness. You can get it prepackaged, too. However, that takes the fun out of the unique deli experience.

What’s The Difference Between Spiced Ham and Spiced Pork?

Many people realize that ham comes from a pig, but pork does, too. So, what makes spiced ham different than spiced pork?

First, put the spice aside for a moment and examine the difference between ham and pork. Pork is any cut that comes from the entirety of the pig.

Pig is pork and pork is pig. Ham is a particular cut from the pig, generally drawn from the hind leg of the animal.  While there will be multiple pork cuts from all parts of a pig, the ham will only come from a specific area.

A whole ham would be the complete hind leg. When the deli prepares ham shavings and slices, customers can usually choose from bone-in ham cuts or boneless. Most spiced deli ham comes from boneless spiced ham cuts. 

Both ham and pork can be spiced if it’s cooked with hot seasoning and peppers.

What Is Spiced Ham Made From?

Petit Jambon de Paris - 6 lb -made with Amish pork, delicately spiced, slowly cooked in its own juice, and wrapped in its skin

Spice has to be infused into the ham and that happens during the cooking process. Different ingredients can be used to give the ham a spicier flavor.

It really depends on the level of heat and the type of flavor that you want. For instance, spiced ham could be made with a variety of peppers (like different chilies), garlic, and onion.

Spiced ham could also be cured or marinated in vinegar to lend it a briny type of taste to enhance spicy flavors (though high in sodium).

There really isn’t a set formula for creating spiced ham. Different companies, butchers, and people (and countries) may have dedicated recipes that result in spectacularly spiced ham cuts that can be sliced and served in a delicatessen-type of way.

You could probably develop or replicate a spiced ham recipe of your own that results in dynamically delicious deli ham slices.

What To Make With Spicy Deli Ham

When meat is spiced, it’s bound to serve a specific culinary purpose. It’s either going to counter another flavor set (such as sweet) or it’s going to be the sole focus of a given dish.

When you’re dealing with spiced deli ham, you’re working with short cuts of a whole spiced ham. Therefore, it’s probably going to be more of a component of a dish as opposed to a starring ingredient.

However, as with any deli meat, there are some exceptions. The most logical way to go with deli cuts is to make sandwiches (though there are plenty of other lunch meat meals).

Here are some examples of the types of sandwiches you can make with spiced deli ham cuts.

  • Grilled Ham Sandwiches
  • Hot Spicy Italian Subs
  • Spicy Thai Sandwiches
  • Italian Cold Cut Subs
  • Deviled Ham Sandwiches

As it is an extremely versatile meat, the potential for spiced ham recipes is endless. You might want to experiment a bit with taste and flavor profiles to decide what may work best for you.

Types of Spicy Deli Hams

That’s a matter of debate and opinion. Anyone could technically create a spiced ham to turn into deli meat, but there are some types that could easily be found at the deli counter, too. Those include:

More FAQs

Do they still make spiced ham lunch meat?

They no longer produce spiced ham lunch meat, but HORMEL® used to offer a delicious and top-notch deli product with a great value. Its firm texture made it perfect for thin, whole slices that were highly appealing.

Is deli ham real ham?

Deli ham is indeed real ham, as it is typically made from baked or smoked hams that are injected with salt, water, and phosphates. Despite the various labels such as baked, smoked, Virginia, maple, Black Forest, and honey, these deli hams maintain the texture and qualities of a genuine ham.

What is spiced ham?

Spiced ham is a type of ham that is made with high-quality pork and skillfully seasoned to create a tangy taste. Boar’s Head’s Spiced Ham offers a harmonious combination of savory and sweet flavors in each delightful slice.

How do you spice up a store bought ham?

To spice up a store bought ham, you can go beyond traditional glazes and explore more exciting options. Enhance the smoky savoriness of the ham by balancing it with a touch of sweetness. Consider using peach preserves, hot pepper jelly, or maple syrup as delicious bases for glazes. These not only add a glossy finish but also infuse the ham with unique and flavorful tastes.

What is spiced lunch meat?

Spiced lunch meat is a type of luncheon meat known as Dutch loaf, also referred to as old-fashioned loaf or spiced luncheon loaf. It is made by combining or coating coarse-ground lean pork and beef with spices, shaping it into a loaf, and smoking it over a hardwood fire. This flavorful meat is widely enjoyed in America as a popular choice for sandwich fillings.

How long does spiced ham last in the fridge?

Spiced ham lasts in the fridge for up to five days and in the freezer for a maximum of six months, making it advisable to discard after these time periods to ensure optimal freshness.

What is a spiced ham made of?

A spiced ham is made of ham, water, salt, dextrose (less than 1.5%), sugar, sodium phosphate, flavoring, sodium erythorbate, and sodium nitrite.

What’s the difference between a deli ham and a regular ham?

The difference between a deli ham and a regular ham lies in their preparation and form. Deli ham refers to ham that is specifically shaped into loaves for thin and uniform slicing. It is typically cured and may also be smoked. On the other hand, regular ham can come in various forms, including canned ham where boneless ham meat scraps are packed tightly into a can.

What’s a good deli ham?

A good deli ham option includes Dietz & Watson Black Forest Ham with 12g of protein, 1g of fat, and 400mg of sodium. Another choice is Good & Gather Lower Sodium Uncured Ham, which provides 9g of protein, 2g of fat, and 310mg of sodium. Additionally, Applegate Naturals Black Forest Ham offers 12g of protein, 2g of fat, and 470mg of sodium. Lastly, Plainville Farms Uncured Honey Maple Ham is a suitable option with 10g of protein, 2.5g of fat, and 460mg of sodium.

Is deli ham healthy for you?

Deli ham is not healthy for you due to its association with an increased risk of colorectal cancer. Even consuming small amounts of processed meat, such as a single slice of ham on a sandwich (equivalent to 15 grams), can lead to a 4 percent higher risk of cancer.

What part of the pig is deli ham?

The part of the pig that deli ham comes from is the hind leg. Ham is a pork cut that can be cured, fresh, country-style, Black Forest, or hickory-smoked. A whole ham with the bone intact is a complete cut taken from the hind leg of the pig.

Is deli ham from a pig?

Deli ham is made from a pig. It is produced by curing the pork leg, traditionally through a process of dry curing where it is rubbed with a salt mixture, smoked, and then allowed to air-dry and mature, ensuring its preservation for extended periods of time.

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