Wednesday, April 8, 2015

How to Make Your Own Lunch Meat {Deli Meat, Like Salami}

"She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household,
and a portion to her maidens."
~ Proverbs 31:15

Because we butchered our Hereford last winter, we are blessed with a freezer full of home-grown, grass fed beef. One of our favorite recipes to make with our ground beef is this lunch meat! I love to have this on hand for family road trips, field trips and last minute lunches.

This is so easy to make! Simply add to your mixer, the following ingredients:
  • 4 pounds of ground beef (I am sure you can substitute other meats. We have also tried ground goat meat and that worked well too.)
  • 2 cups water
  • ¼ tsp. onion powder
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp. mustard seed
  • 5 tbsp curing salt (see below for more information on the salt for this project)
  • 4 tsp. sugar
  • 3 tsp. Liquid Smoke

Mix for 5 minutes on speed one.

Almost done!

Next, shape into 4 rolls/logs on individual foil sheets. You can also insert a piece of parchment paper between the foil and the meat if you would like (this is healthier to avoid the aluminum but I didn't have any on hand at the time).

Make sure that the shiny side of the foil is "touching" the meat if you are not using the parchment paper.

Seal up the meat in the foil and punch holes on the bottom side of each log with a fork – about 5 fork punches. Place lunch meat logs on a cooling rack and place it on top of a cookie sheet (with the fork holes facing down). Refrigerate for 24 hours.  

Once the proper time has elapsed, bake on the aforementioned rack with the cookie sheet underneath for 1 ½ hours at 325 degrees Fahrenheit.  The reason for this is to allow the fat to drip out from the meat and into the tray while baking. Let cool and enjoy! These also freeze very well.

Enjoy on sandwiches or with a cracker and cheese!

I realize some people have a concern for using sodium nitrate (curing salt) but with the amount of deli meat we consume (about 8 pounds a year for our family), this isn't something I worry about. However, you may want to visit this post for more information. I have also seen some recipes using Himalayan pink salt. As I am not trained in the science behind the salts, I am sharing the tried and true recipe that has been passed down to me in my family. If you have more information on the safety of switching to a different preserving agent on a recipe like this, I would love for you to comment!

***Update*** After I posted this article, I decided to email Carole Cancler (who has a BS in Food Science and Nutrition), author of the Home Preserving Bible (a favorite resource of mine), for her insight on this topic. She was so very helpful (thank you Carole!)! Please read her response below regarding the usage of different salts in a recipe like ours.

"Even though this recipe uses curing salt, this recipe isn’t a preserving method, rather a flavoring method. Therefore, you can substitute any salt you like (or no salt or a salt substitute product). However, non-curing salt, i.e. salt without nitrates/nitrites will produce a very different product. It will be like meatloaf or sausage (or rather it will *be* meatloaf or sausage), with a gray/brown color and “meat” flavor. If what you truly desire is the sweet flavor and pink color of “cured” meat, you may be disappointed if you substitute the curing salt with another non-curing salt.

When we talk about curing meats today, there are two basic processes. There is an explanation at the beginning of Chapter 5, which I’ll summarize here.

The modern method is a flavoring, rather than a preserving method. Modern cured meat products create a product that still requires refrigeration and is relatively perishable…perhaps lasting only a few days in the refrigerator after the package is opened. But it does have the pink color and flavor changes associated with traditionally cured meats.

Traditional curing produces a dried meat product that uses “cure” (nitrates/nitrites) to control spoilage during the preserving process. Traditionally cured meats go through a much longer (several weeks) and very carefully controlled (temperature and humidity) process that removes the moisture from the meat and produces a shelf stable meat product—some examples include Virginia ham, Italian Prosciutto di Parma and dry-cured sausages, and Chinese “lap cheong”. Some of these products use nitrites and some do not. In the ones that do not use nitrites, similar color and flavor changes occur due to the long, slow, controlled aging process. Hope this helps!"

~ Carole Cancler, Author of The Home Preserving Bible


  1. How neat! A must try for me! Thanks for sharing. Lovely blog!

  2. this looks delicious~! thanks for sharing

  3. Wonderful tutorial on making your own lunch meat! I've seen recipes for it, but never seen what it "looks like homemade". It really looks pretty amazing, and like you said, the process is not that difficult. Thanks for sharing your experience with making homemade lunch meat!

  4. Well, as a lover of cold meat sandwiches, this really looks delicious!

  5. I am going to have to try this! I always wondered if there was a way to make something like this.
    Thanks for sharing :)

  6. thank you so much for sharing this recipe-I wonder how this would be with venison-which has allot less fat I would think any salt of preference would work, and then just store in the freezer to preserve it

  7. Oh my, your homemade lunch meat looks so delicious. I'm wondering if you wouldn't mind sending me a couple of logs of it so I can try it out first to see if I like it before I actually make it myself? ROFL ... jk ...sorta.
    Seriously, I. must. make. Thank you for sharing your recipe.

  8. This is fabulous, my friend! My husband is a hunter so he brings home tha bacon, if you know what mean :) Usually it's elk or bear, but we have had mountain goat and mountain sheep in the past which is quite good! Anyway, we cut up and grind our own meat so this is something I would love to do because both my son and my enjoy sandwiches, but I must confess that I am not a fan of deli meat. Once again, thank you for teaching me something new.

    Hugs and blessings!

  9. Jess,
    We also enjoy a freezer full of family raised beef each year. I always get lots of ground beef, because I use it in lots of meals, but I have never made this! Thank you for sharing.

  10. It looks delicious! I'm not sure I'd make it for just the two of us. We eat simple meals since our nest emptied. No bread, no potatoes, etc. My daughter will love it though as they butcher beef, too. I love reading your posts -- so unique and interesting.

  11. JES, this is right up my alley, and reminds me so much of my summer sausage. My guys like it so well and it slices the same. Easy and practical for so many with extra meat on hand! I'll be doing this again soon, but using Himalayan or Celtic salt and deleting the smoke as it is highly heated and I am concerned about using it: . Thanks for such interesting reads :) Love you so much!

  12. Because this recipe is refrigerated and then baked immediately, would the curing salt be necessary for this recipe?
    Large chunk of meat bake for more than an hour sometimes. But. . . I suppose that's quite different than ground meat.
    Do you know?

    Thanks! This recipe looks so tasty! I've been buying bulk ground beef and would love a recipe to use it well. (You can only have so many sloppy joes. ;) )


    1. Hi Christina, A few of the women that shared above have no problem switching out the salts. I encourage you to read the comments. I really am not sure and I am not scientifically savvy in this area so I would be curious to see what a food science expert has to say about this specific recipe... Sorry I couldn't be of more help! But let me tell you, it is a great recipe for your extra ground beef! :)

  13. This looks really good. We have done a similar recipe with regular salt, but I like the pink look which the curing salt gives it.

  14. Looks very good and easy too. Much healthier than store bought lunch meat. Thanks for sharing.

  15. This is amazing and looks delicious!

  16. Oh, I'm so, so, so glad you shared this with Roses of Inspiration! This is such a wonderful idea. Blessings to you, friend!

  17. This is a great idea, healthier and cheaper. Followed you from The HomeAcre party.

  18. This looks great and I am itching to give it a go, just have to dig the meat out of the freezer now and get the other ingredients. Thanks for sharing this at Good Morning Mondays. Blessings

  19. What a great tutorial you have put together on making lunch looks amazing and no extra additives. I bet it tastes delicious. Thank you for sharing with the Clever Chicks Blog Hop! I hope you’ll join us again next week!

    Kathy Shea Mormino
    The Chicken Chick

  20. It looks really good, but I'm wondering if there's a way to process it in something other than aluminum foil. We try to avoid using a lot of that for health reasons.

    1. Yes, we do too! :) I wrote that above but will recopy here ~ "You can also insert a piece of parchment paper between the foil and the meat if you would like (this is healthier to avoid the aluminum but I didn't have any on hand at the time)."

  21. What is the internal temperature of cooked roll and do you press the meat to get rid of any excess fat?

    1. I don't know the internal temperature. The recipe works with those exact amounts of ingredients for that exact time... the fat drains out through the holes in the foil during baking. It will end up in bottom of cookie sheet. Hope this helps!