Deli Meat Buying Guide

Delicious and affordable, deli meats are great for sandwiches, subs, pizza toppings and more. This deli buying guide outlines the most popular types available and offers helpful buying tips.

Deli Meats 101

The deli counter can provide you and your family with many delicious meal options. One great thing about deli meats is they make meal preparation quick and easy. They’re ideal for sandwiches, but they can also add smoky, salty and spicy flavouring to many other meals, including stir-fries, homemade burgers and salads. Many deli meats are also very nutritious, with large quantities of protein, vitamins and minerals. There are three main types of deli meats. Whole cuts are derived from a complete section of the animal that has been removed and cured or cooked. Sectioned and formed deli meats consist of multiple meat parts bonded together. The final type is processed meat such as sausage or bologna in which the meat is chopped, seasoned and shaped. From a taste standpoint all are delicious. Cost-wise, whole cuts are a bit more expensive but they’re also generally of a higher quality. Processed meats are cheaper but tend to contain more preservatives. The deli counter can be a bit intimidating at first, but a little extra knowledge will make you a cold cut connoisseur in no time.  

Types of Deli Meats


Roast Beef

Deli roast beef is a whole cut of beef that's not only healthy but also delicious. Your family will enjoy it sliced thin and used in sandwiches, subs, wraps and salads. Typically, the beef used is the "silverside" cut from the top of the cow's upper hip. Most deli meat is cooked medium to well done. If desired, you can get a rarer cut by asking the butcher. Roast beef is rich in protein, zinc and B vitamins.


Pastrami is a whole cut of beef made by smoke-curing a brisket and adding spices. Pastrami is traditionally served thinly sliced on rye bread as a pastrami sandwich, but this delicious cold cut has also found its way onto pizzas and into salads and canapés. Fresh pastrami should have a salty, smoky scent and taste.


Deli ham is a whole cut of pork taken from the pig's leg. To add moistness, the cut is wet cured using a salt-and-sugar-based solution prior to cooking. Deli ham is delicious in sandwiches or used to fry up a hearty ham-and-eggs breakfast. Your family will love the taste of deli ham and you can be confident you're looking out for their health: ham is rich in vitamins and minerals such as B6, B12, copper, iron and niacin.

Smoked Turkey

Deli smoked turkey is a whole cut of turkey breast that's smoked and then roasted. Turkey is extremely lean which makes it a healthy food choice for your family. Smoked turkey is also a great source of vitamin C, B6 and zinc. Smoked turkey with tomato, lettuce, mayo and a sprinkle of pepper makes for a great sandwich or wrap. 


Chicken roll is a tasty deli meat that's also affordable, so you can please the kids' taste buds while also extending your food budget. Because it's made from both white and dark meat, chicken roll contains the same rich amounts of potassium, calcium and protein as regular chicken. The meat is seasoned and pressed into shape prior to baking. Look for chicken roll that is not too salty or over-seasoned.


Salami is a delicious deli meat that's great for sandwiches and pairs well with chewy breads and creamy cheeses. Your family will also enjoy it on homemade pizza and antipasto platters. Salami is made from pork, beef or veal and commonly flavoured with garlic, herbs and spices. Once the sausage is salted (sometimes smoked and fermented) and dried, it becomes hard. Salami is a great source of vitamins B6 and B12.


Pepperoni is best known as a pizza topping, but it's also a tasty addition to pastas, meat pies and frittatas. Pepperoni is cured sausage made from pork, beef or a combination of the two. Pepper and other spices added during processing contribute to the delicious flavour. Deli pepperoni is freshly cut, but you can also get packaged pepperoni that's precut. Pepperoni is also rich in vitamins B6 and B12.

Deli Meat Buying Tips:

• Read the label on deli meats to verify their nutritional value. Watch the sodium and fat amounts, and try to select meats that have a high protein value.
• Opt for nitrate and nitrite-free meats where possible. To help counter the effect of nitrates and nitrites, eat other foods at the same time that are rich in vitamin C, such as tomatoes. Soy-based meat substitutes do not have nitrates and nitrites, but you may find the taste too unlike meat.
• Sliced meats are typically used for antipasto or appetizer plates, whereas sliced or shaved meats are great in sandwiches.

Deli Meat Safety Tips:

• Most deli meats need to be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Make sure your meats smell fresh before eating them.
• Pepperoni covered in plastic wrap will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
• Make sure that deli bags are closed airtight: when air contacts the meat it will spoil more quickly.
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.



Store details