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12 Best Packaged Deli Meat Brands, Ranked

Tasting Table 10/3/2022 Samantha Maxwell
Assorted packaged deli meats © Samantha Maxwell/Tasting Table Assorted packaged deli meats

It's tempting to go out and buy a sandwich every other day for lunch when you've forgotten to make something at home. But, after a while, the cost of those lunches can add up fast. Making your sandwiches at home is the best way to cut costs. Although you don't have to put meat on every sandwich you eat, there are plenty of brands selling deli meats that will make the sandwich-making process a lot easier. However, not all of these brands offer the same quality, number of options, or value.

That's why we decided to do the hard work of ranking some of the best packaged deli meat brands, starting with our least favorites and working our way up to the ones we love the best. Take a look at some of the most popular options on the market, and you may just discover a brand you've never encountered before. Get ready to take your lunch to a whole new level thanks to our deli meat round-up. Who knew building your own subs and sandwiches at home could be this delicious?

Land O' Frost

Land O' Frost deli meat © Samantha Maxwell/Tasting Table Land O' Frost deli meat

We love a good deal, and it's even better when you can find a super high-quality product for less. Unfortunately, that's not really what you're getting when you go with Land 'O Frost. Although you are going to get plenty of meat for your money, you might ultimately be disappointed with the taste. While it's definitely not terrible, the meat is a bit watery and lacking in flavor. If you're eating your sub or sandwich with a range of other ingredients apart from the meat, then you may be able to get by with using this stuff without noticing the lack of flavor — at least, too much. However, if you want deli meat that's going to be the star of the show, there are brands out there that will offer a better sandwich experience.

Land O' Frost certainly doesn't have a huge selection of deli meats to choose from, but they have many of the classics like oven-roasted turkey and Black Forest ham. The brand's peppercorn beef is one of the best of the bunch, as it has some added flavor from the peppercorn. If you're looking for a budget bag of deli meats, then Land O' Frost may just be the way to go. Otherwise, you might want to explore the other brands on this list first.

North Country Smokehouse

North Country Smokehouse organic ham slices © Samantha Maxwell/Tasting Table North Country Smokehouse organic ham slices

If you've seen North Country Smokehouse products on store shelves, it may have been in the general meat section, not with the other deli meats. That's because North County Smokehouse sells all kinds of meat products, from chicken to hot dogs. That being said, the brand doesn't necessarily specialize in deli meat because it only offers three kinds: oven roasted turkey, uncured ham, and Black Forest ham.

While we don't think that these deli meats are the worst we've ever had, they're not the best either. They're all kind of bland, without much in terms of seasoning or spices to make them more interesting. We imagine these deli meats are fine for picky kids who prefer foods that are on the more neutral side, but they're not ideal if you're trying to make a flavorful sandwich that'll keep you going back for more. That, combined with the fact that there just aren't many options to choose from, earns North Country Smokehouse this lower position in our ranking.

365 Everyday Value By Whole Foods

365 Whole Foods turkey deli meat © Samantha Maxwell/Tasting Table 365 Whole Foods turkey deli meat

Sometimes, you just need the basics, and that's where store brands come into the picture. Instead of paying more for a brand name, it oftentimes makes sense to choose a store brand and save a few dollars in the process. That's why we love so many of 365 by Whole Foods' products. However, when it comes to the 365 Everyday Value deli meats, we're not the biggest fans. Granted, you are going to get more flavor from this Whole Foods generic brand than you would from Land O' Frost or North Country Smokehouse. As the 365 meats still seem to go pretty light on the seasoning, you're not going to find anything too interesting from this brand. It's a good option when you want a basic, inoffensive sandwich, but it's nothing we would go out of our way for.

Whole Foods can be expensive, so we appreciate that the grocery store sometimes offer products that are more affordable than the name brand stuff it has on store shelves. However, for a store brand, 365 is still relatively expensive compared to other brands. Unless you shop at Whole Foods on the regular, it's probably not worth making a special trip.

Hormel Natural Choice

Hormel Natural Choice deli meat © Samantha Maxwell/Tasting Table Hormel Natural Choice deli meat

Does Hormel Natural Choice serve the freshest, most delicious deli meat you can find in any grocery store? Not exactly. But, if you don't have many other options, it may be one of your best bets. First of all, we love that this brand has so many different deli meat products available. Basically, no matter what kind of deli meat you're looking for, Hormel Natural Choice is likely to sell it due to its 12 types of deli meat. Go for the sandwich pepperoni if you want something that's more heavily flavored, or opt for the oven roasted turkey if you're on the hunt for something that's on the milder side. 

This brand is also great at keeping meat tasting fresh. We found that every slice of meat we pulled out of its package was still nice and moist, so you have to worry less about slices tasting dry and unappealing. Are there more delicious deli meats out there? Yes. But, for those who are on a budget and may not have a ton of different options, Hormel Natural Choice will be sure to get the job done — no matter which unique sandwiches you're experimenting with.

Applegate Naturals

Applegate Naturals roasted turkey slices © Samantha Maxwell/Tasting Table Applegate Naturals roasted turkey slices

We found it difficult to figure out where exactly Applegate Naturals should fall on this ranking because the brand offers so, so many different options. At the time of writing, the company sells 16 different deli meat options. Naturally, some of these products are better than others. But, whether you choose the herb turkey breast or smoked chicken breast, you know you're going to be getting pretty decent quality. Are you going to find anything super interesting or groundbreaking from this brand? Not especially. However, you are guaranteed consistency across the options, which definitely counts for something.

One thing we especially like about this brand is the packaging. First of all, there's not much of it, so you won't feel like you're throwing a bunch of extra plastic away. But, the meat is still exceptionally fresh. Therefore, you don't have to worry about using all of your deli meat in a day or two before it starts to lose its flavor in the fridge. Plus, because the package sizes aren't too big, Applegate Naturals is perfect for smaller households that may not want to buy meat in bulk.

Hillshire Farm

Hillshire Farm deli meat © Provided by Tasting Table Hillshire Farm deli meat

Hillshire Farm is perhaps one of the most recognized deli meat brands on store shelves. We've all seen the red-topped plastic packages before (and might even have some that we've kept to use to for storing leftovers). As it turns out, Hillshire Farm sells some seriously good deli meat, even though some of it misses the mark. The brand's standard line is known for making deli meat that's cut super thin, which is ideal if you're the kind of person who loves a layered sandwich. However, the company also has a brand of carved deli meats that are thicker and a bit more rustic. We love that you get to choose from both options, so you can decide what kind of sandwich you want.

This deli meat brand is affordable and at nearly all grocery stores, but how does it stack up when it comes to flavor? You're not going to be disappointed with a sandwich that features slices of Hillshire Farm, but we found other deli meat brands that offer a higher level of quality. However, when you consider the fact that Hillshire Farm usually gets you more bang for your buck (and the fact that you'll get to keep the leftover container when you finish the meat), it's a great brand to buy.

Oscar Mayer

Oscar Mayer Bologna pacakge © Provided by Tasting Table Oscar Mayer Bologna pacakge

Another brand that you probably see all over store shelves is Oscar Mayer. You might even be able to sing the brand's jingle from heart. But, Oscar Mayer didn't get that popular for nothing — its pre-packaged deli meat is actually pretty good (even though it may never live up to the fame of Oscar Mayer hot dogs). The Deli Fresh line is where you'll get the same classic deli meats offered by a wide variety of brands. The thinly sliced turkey and chicken are good but nothing too special. 

In contrast, Oscar Mayer's bologna is legendary. Maybe your mom made you sandwiches with it at school, or you ran into this odd, smooth lunch meat later in life. And while, sure, not everyone loves bologna, if you're a fan of it, you're not going to find widely available brands that offer a better bologna than Oscar Mayer. But, don't stop there. It's oven-roasted turkey shaped into the same circular format as the bologna is also delicious, as is the cotto salami. Admittedly, these products may not be for everyone. But, if you are an alternative deli meat consumer, then you're probably as big a fan of Oscar Mayer as we are.

Naturalissima

Naturalissima prosciutto deli meat © Provided by Tasting Table Naturalissima prosciutto deli meat

When you're looking for more of a charcuterie experience and less of a purely sandwich experience, you may want to check out Naturalissima at Whole Foods. This brand offers a wide array of cured meats for those of us who like a little extra flavor in their deli meats. If you don't know what to try first, the Naturalissima prosciutto is a good place to start. It's perfectly thinly sliced and so soft that it feels like the fat is melting in your mouth. The pepperoni and salami are also good choices, especially if you want to make a layered sub. Plus, we love that this brand offers snack packs that come with cheese. They're easy to keep in the fridge to take with you whenever you need a substantial snack.

However, that's not to say that Naturalissima is our favorite cured meat line of all time. While the meat from this brand is generally good quality, we found it's not as moist as some of the other deli meat we've tried on this list. Plus, the packages are quite small, so you're not getting much bang for your buck. Naturalissima is one of the better deli meat brands out there, but it doesn't come close to the top of our list.

Primo Taglio

Primo Taglio capocolla deli meat © Provided by Tasting Table Primo Taglio capocolla deli meat

When it comes to grocery store deli meat, Primo Taglio is one of your best bets. This is a Safeway brand, so it tends to be less expensive than some other deli meat brands out there, which is great if you want to create a charcuterie board or a well-composed sub on a budget. We love that the brand has such a great selection. While many brands offer mostly cold-cut style deli meats and others stick to cured meat more, Primo Taglio does it all. You can find applewood ham and smoked turkey breast, but Primo Taglio also have you covered when it comes to the pepperoni and prosciutto. You can even find pastrami and roast beef, if you don't mind shaving it yourself.

We love an affordable store brand, but it's even better when it tastes as good as Primo Taglio does. The cold cuts are sliced to the perfect thinness, and the cured meats are just fatty enough to not leave that weird film in your mouth. And since it's so convenient to pick these up at a local grocery store without having to make a special trip, it's easy to make this brand a mainstay in your fridge.

Gusto

Gusto sopressata slices package © Provided by Tasting Table Gusto sopressata slices package

If you're searching for some of the best salami we've ever tried, you can't go wrong with Gusto. This brand is known for its high-quality salamis that offer strikingly different flavor profiles. Try the sopressata if you want an extra kick from the black peppercorns and garlic, or keep things simple with the Genoa. We love the Italian dry salami, as well. And although this brand is known for salami specifically, Gusto also makes two types of pepperoni, allowing you to switch things up. Both the salami and pepperoni are rich, indulgent, and intensely flavorful. They have that fattiness we're looking for in a good cured meat, but they're not so fatty that they feel slimy to the touch.

This stuff is such good quality that it might have come in first place had there been more options to choose from. If you love salami, we definitely recommend checking out what Gusto has to offer. On the other hand, if you're not much of a salami person, then you might not get what the hype's all about.

Creminelli

Creminelli proscuitto deli meat © Provided by Tasting Table Creminelli proscuitto deli meat

If you visit Creminelli's website, you'll see that most of the deli meats are sold in one whole piece. That might not be ideal for convenience (as you'll have to cut large pieces into slices to make them easier to eat), but it does bode well for quality. Creminelli's huge chunks of meat really hold onto moisture well, and the flavor stays intact for a long time, making them ideal for when you know you're going to eat a lot of deli meat over a period of days. However, Creminelli also sells pre-sliced deli meat, including prosciutto and pepperoni. We were surprised to discover that the pre-sliced stuff is just as good as the whole stick of meat.

The prosciutto from this brand has the perfect amount of fat and a silky texture with just enough chew to keep things interesting. The pepperoni is cut thicker than the prosciutto and has a distinct spice that will make you want to finish the whole bag in a single sitting (we don't judge). Plus, since Creminelli is available at Whole Foods, it's easy to snag when you're in need of deli meat to stock your fridge.

Boar's Head

Boar's Head packaged pepperoni © Provided by Tasting Table Boar's Head packaged pepperoni

Finally, we come to one of our favorite deli meat brands: Boar's Head. If there's one fast food, cold cut sandwich that's gained widespread fame, it has to be the Publix sub. Regardless of what you decide to put on a Publix Italian sub, it somehow always comes out perfect. Well, it's no secret that the grocery store chain uses Boar's Head products, and it's no wonder why. 

First of all, Boar's Head has an incredible selection. Whether you're looking for sliced ham, pastrami rounds, or maple honey ham, this brand has you covered. Boar's Head even has mortadella, which isn't always a common find in grocery stores. We love so many different options.

But, it's not just the wealth of choices that attracts us to Boar's Head. It's also the fact that, pretty much across the board, all of its products are delicious. We get that nice, thin slice that we love without having to deal with paper-thin deli meats, and we never have to worry about the meat drying up before getting the chance to use it. If you haven't already tried out Boar's Head products, you need to make your way to your local grocery store's deli section ASAP.

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