Making Your Own Deli Meat At Home Is Easier Than You'd Think

Sandwich with deli meat and cheese
Sandwich with deli meat and cheese - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

If you want the tastiest, healthiest deli meat for your next sandwich, try making it yourself. Sure, it's easy to pick up a package of processed meat at the grocery store, but once you've made and tasted homemade sandwich meat, you'll find it super hard to go back to store-bought. It might sound daunting, but making deli meat at home is probably easier than you think. It typically involves seasoning and/or marinating a large cut of meat, then roasting or air frying it and cutting it as thin as possible.

There are multiple benefits to eating homemade cold cuts vs. purchased processed meat.  The World Health Organization has labeled processed meat -- any meat that has been salted, cured (adding nitrates), fermented, or smoked to increase preservation -- as carcinogenic to humans. One of the biggest advantages to eating deli meat you've made yourself is that it is significantly healthier since it contains no preservatives or other chemicals like nitrates. Also, it can have less sodium since you can control the amount of salt you use.

In addition to being healthier, homemade deli meat tastes fresher, doesn't get that slimy texture that processed deli meat does, and is significantly more affordable. Keeping in mind that prices vary per location, you can buy a 48-ounce Butterball boneless turkey breast to roast and slice up for approximately $15 (31 cents per ounce) while an 8-ounce package of Boar's Head oven-roasted turkey breast sandwich meat runs about $9.70 ($1.21 per ounce).

Read more: What These Imitation Foods Are Actually Made Of

Choosing And Preparing The Meat

Roast chicken breast sandwich
Roast chicken breast sandwich - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

Chicken, turkey, and roast beef are great choices for making deli meat since they are relatively easy to slice to achieve that perfect paper-thin floppiness classic deli meat is known for. Chicken is one of the easiest meats to turn into sandwich meat since you can use individual boneless breasts that are smaller and easier to wield than a large chunk of meat.

One method to make chicken sandwich meat is similar to how torihamu or Japanese "chicken ham" is made. Mix up a marinade of onion powder, garlic powder, honey, and salt, slather it on a couple of boneless chicken breasts, and allow the meat to sit in a storage bag in the refrigerator for a couple of days. Then, remove it from the fridge and soak it in a bowl of water for a few minutes to remove some of the extra salt. Leave plain or add seasonings like pepper, rosemary, and thyme before cooking.

Alternatively, you can skip the marinade and simply season your chicken before cooking it. For a larger batch, consider roasting a boneless turkey breast or a beef roast. It's recommended to roast a boneless breast instead of a whole turkey because the meat will be easier to slice and won't leave any tendons in your slices. Prepare these large cuts of meat with some olive oil and a dry rub of spices like salt, black pepper, thyme, rosemary, onion powder, and paprika.

Cooking And Slicing Methods

Thinly sliced turkey breast
Thinly sliced turkey breast - Enez Selvi/Shutterstock

When roasting your chicken, turkey, or roast beef it's best to cook it slowly at a low temperature to avoid drying out the meat. Roast beef deli meat is known for having a heavily seasoned, crusty outside that adds flavor to your sandwich. To achieve this crust, after oiling and seasoning the meat, roast the beef at a high temperature for several minutes before lowering the oven temp and roasting longer.

Using an air fryer with a rotisserie is another super easy way to roast your deli meat. You can place a small 3 to 4-pound whole chicken, turkey breast, or roast beef on the rotisserie spit and use the rotisserie setting so that it rotates the meat and ensures even cooking. If it's not already, wrap the meat in butcher's twine so that it stays intact while rotating.

In addition to making sure the meat doesn't dry out, slicing the meat the correct way is crucial when making deli meat. Instead of cutting the meat while it's warm, place it in a sealed container or wrap it in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge to cool completely before slicing. Using a meat slicer is ideal but many people don't have these large devices at home. Cutting it while it's cold and using a super sharp knife (like a sushi knife) will give you the thin slices you're striving for instead of thick chunks of meat more suited for Thanksgiving dinner.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.