The Best Deli Meat Brands, According To Customers

We may receive a commission on purchases made from links.

Let's not beat around the bush, deli meat isn't the healthiest choice for a number of reasons. First and foremost, many deli meats are highly processed and filled with sodium and preservatives, such as nitrates and nitrites, which have been linked to cancer. The high levels of saturated fats in some cold cuts can also be concerning, as they are associated with an increased risk of heart problems. It's not all bad news, however. Aside from being ultra-convenient, deli meats are a great source of protein, as well as vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B12, iron, and zinc.

Another piece of good news is that the deli meat industry is gradually changing. With more consumers paying attention to not just taste but also the nutritional content of their food, many processed meat producers have started offering healthier product options. These include deli meats that are free from artificial preservatives, nitrates, and nitrites. Many manufacturers are also careful about where they source their meat to ensure that their products are hormone- and antibiotic-free.

With so many deli meat brands on the market, choosing one that satisfies your taste buds and dietary preferences can be a tall order. Not to worry, because we're here to get you up to speed. Ready to take the plunge? Check out our list of the best cold-cut brands, as recommended by customers!

Boar's Head

With the slogan "Higher standards for premium foods," Boar's Head combines top-notch ingredients and old-world craftsmanship. Founded in 1905 in the New York City area, the family-run enterprise uses whole-muscle beef, poultry, and pork, rather than meat byproducts and fillers. Following time-honored recipes passed down through generations, the company continues to hand-trim its meats, ensuring a commitment to quality. In addition, Boar's Head products are free from MSG, gluten, lactose, artificial colors, artificial flavors, and trans fats derived from hydrogenated oils. This commitment extends to the brand's All Natural Collection, made from meat with no added hormones, antibiotics, and nitrates.

Boar's Head's commitment to quality seems to be working — starting out with just one ham over a century ago, today the brand offers over 500 delicatessen products, including meats, cheeses, and condiments. In fact, according to a Mashed survey of 601 individuals, 45.26% said that Boar's Head is their go-to brand of deli meat. While Boar's Head products tend to be on the expensive side, customers like Freebie Mom are adamant that they are worth the extra few dollars.


Gusto is a small brand that offers a limited number of artisanal salami products, all made with 100% vegetarian-fed pork raised without antibiotics. All of the brand's products are also gluten- and milk-free. Some of Gusto's salami variants include the robust Sopressata with black peppercorns and garlic, the mild Napoli smoked with applewood, and the zesty Calabrese pepperoni with cayenne pepper and paprika.

All Gusto-branded salami is made by OLLI Salumeria for the Whole Foods Market. While OLLI is a relatively new company, it's built on four generations of expertise. Founded in 2010 by Oliviero Colmignoli, who was raised by salami-makers in Rome, OLLI Salumeria states that it produces "the first truly preservative-free salami," although we can neither confirm nor deny this claim. While it originally only produced chubs, the company also started manufacturing sliced salami after acquiring new facilities in Oceanside California in 2015.

OLLI Salumeria's products have been named one of Oprah's favorite things in 2013. OLLI's Gusto brand is also doing well with customers, with the brand's products receiving consistently positive reviews on Amazon. For instance, the Gusto Sliced Sopressata Salami and the Gusto Sliced Genoa Salami have both received an average of 4.6 out of 5 stars from more than 1,300 Amazon shoppers. For example, one reviewer who purchased the brand's soppressata salami as a carry-on snack on a flight, gives it the green light, commenting, "It kept me full all the way thru[.] I luv this, I'm addicted to it!"


The Italian founder of Battistoni (originally under the name Bison) made his way to America way back in 1931, bringing with him authentic Italian recipes for cured meats. Today, Battistoni offers deli meat enthusiasts quality cured meats from five regions of "Old World Italy." All are prepared in line with the stringent benchmarks that have been set generations ago.

One of Battistoni's specialties is the cup and char pepperoni, a salami type invented by Umberto some 50 years ago that's commonly used as a pizza topping. The pepperoni owes its name thanks to the fact that its edges curl up during the baking process, forming crispy cups. Additionally, the surface of the cups often develops a slight char, enhancing the pepperoni's flavor and texture. Battistoni also manufactures standard pepperoni, chorizo, and salami. While most of the brand's products are MSG, gluten, trans fat, artificial flavor, and artificial color-free, they do contain BHA, BHT, and citric acid, which are food preservatives.

Battistoni has been a hit with customers — after all, who doesn't love crispy pepperoni slices on their pizza? Battistoni's Cup & Char Spicy Pepperoni, for instance, has received 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon. One satisfied reviewer calls this product the "best pepperoni ever," adding, "If you like a little kick in your pepperoni while having a cupping pepperoni then you have found the right product. [...] This tastes perfect while cupping and burning just the right amount for our homemade pizzas."


Applegate is dedicated to transforming the landscape of meat consumption, as encapsulated in its slogan, "Changing The Meat We Eat." All of the brand's products are made from animals raised without any antibiotics, hormones, or animal byproducts as a part of their diet. Furthermore, Applegate guarantees the humane treatment of animals used in its products by ensuring that the farms it partners with strictly follow animal welfare standards supported by organizations such as Certified Humane and Global Animal Partnership.

Applegate's products include sliced deli meats, as well as breaded chicken, burgers, cheeses, frittata bites, and snacks. The bold cuts are classified into naturals and organics, with the difference being that the organic line is certified as such. In terms of deli meats, the company's repertoire includes different variants of turkey breast, pork loin, chicken breast, uncured ham, and roast beef. Applegate's products are free of artificial ingredients, preservatives, nitrates, nitrites, and phosphates.

Applegate products have done well with Amazon shoppers, with one reviewer praising the brand's Smoked Turkey Breast for its texture and flavor. "I was pleasantly surprised when I first tasted this turkey. It has a soft texture with just the right amount of saltiness," they add. Others have enjoyed the brand's Uncured Turkey Bacon, highlighting that it tastes very similar to ham. One customer goes as far as saying that it's the best turkey bacon they ever tasted, elaborating, "I had to recheck the package to make sure I was eating turkey and not pork. I'm hooked!"

Creminelli Fine Meats

Creminelli Fine Meats is a purveyor of artisanal salamis made from humanely raised, 100% U.S., antibiotic-free pork. The lunch meats also don't contain any nitrites, nitrates, and other artificial ingredients, and are gluten-free. Some of the brand's offerings include a range of artisanal salamis such as Barolo, uncured Italian salami enriched with red wine, Tartufo with black summer truffles, and Wild Boar made with wild Texan boar meat. Creminelli also produces salami minis in a variety of flavors, such as whiskey, chipotle, and black pepper, as well as other deli meats such as prosciutto cotto roasted ham and sliced pepperoni with white pepper, red pepper, and paprika.

Co-founded by Cristiano Creminelli, who comes from a four-century-strong salami-making lineage from Biella, Italy, Creminelli is rooted in family tradition. The company is committed to sourcing its meat from farms that let its animals roam and graze. In addition, each of the brand's offerings is infused with its own spice recipe, slow-fermented to optimize its flavor, and aged up to 20 weeks before being packaged and delivered to customers. Those customers are tasting the difference, as exemplified by one reviewer of Creminelli Sliced Varzi Italian Salami who says: "Great tasting salami [...] I liked it so much that I almost finished it right then and there. The flavor is light but not too light and robust. Try it, I would recommend it to Salami lovers."

Hillshire Farm

Founded by Fritz Bernegger, whose family ran a small farm in Wisconsin, in 1934, Hillshire Farm blends time-honored traditions with modern methods and approaches to deli meat production. Now owned by Tyson Foods, Hillshire Farm champions sustainable practices, including providing animals with care and respect, positive community impact, and minimizing greenhouse gas emissions. The approach seems to be working since the brand received the second-highest score in a survey of deli meat customers conducted by Mashed. More specifically, out of 601 individuals surveyed, 23.13% said that Hillshire Farm makes their favorite deli meat.

Hillshire Farm offers a wide range of products including deli lunch meats, smoked sausages, and snack kits. In the lunch meat department, the brand features both ultra thinly sliced and thickly carved, ham, turkey, and beef options. The ultra-thin slices provide a delicate texture and allow for a lighter, more nuanced taste experience. On the other hand, the thickly carved varieties offer a heartier bite, perfect for those who prefer a richer flavor profile. Most of the products are made without any artificial preservatives and flavors, nitrates, and nitrites. There are also lower sodium options for those concerned about their salt intake.

Dietz & Watson

Dietz & Watson was established in 1939 by a German immigrant Gottlieb Dietz after he purchased The Watson Meat Company in Philadelphia. Fast forward over 80 years and today Dietz & Watson is a family-owned and operated company run by the fourth generation of the Dietz line. The brand is dedicated to crafting premium deli meats and artisan cheeses using the time-tested Gottlieb family recipes. CEO Louis Eni explains the care taken by the company's team during the production process, saying, "We hand mix our own spices, deep marinate our meats, and cook in the delicious flavors."

With such a pedigree, it's little surprise that Dietz & Watson has become a well-known and loved name in the deli industry. Over the years, the company has expanded its product line to offer a diverse range of deli items, catering to various tastes and preferences. Today, Dietz & Watson offers not just deli meats, but also cheeses, snacks, and complements like pickles and mustard.

In the realm of meat, the company provides a variety of chicken, turkey, beef, and pork, as well as Italian specialty items. Some of Dietz & Watson's more unusual products include the spicy Hatch Green Chile Turkey Breast, the Virginia Brand Ham with Pineapple, and the Vino Rosso Salami Chub infused with burgundy wine. On a slightly negative note, not all Dietz & Watson products are nitrate- and antibiotic-free, so be sure to read the label before making your purchase.


Buddig, a family-owned deli meat company established by Carl Buddig in 1943, has evolved over the years to offer a diverse range of products to cater to various culinary preferences and budgets. The Chicago-based company's Budding Original products are prepared with its founder's signature thin slices. Meanwhile, Buddig Premium Deli caters to health-conscious consumers, offering high-quality lean meat with no more than 2.5 grams of fat and 60 calories per 50-gram serving.

Over the years, Buddig has introduced other products like Buddig Fix Quix, which presents pre-cut strips of grilled chicken, perfect for wraps, salads, and casseroles. For those seeking a quick and satisfying on-the-go snack, Buddig's Old Wisconsin brand also offers snack sticks featuring a variety of different meats, including beef, pork, and turkey.

Today, Buddig sources its meat from the Midwest and helps to support the communities within the Chicago region, including its 14,000 employees. While customers are generally satisfied with the Buddig products' taste and price, one reviewer points out that at least some of the brand's meats contain nitrates and nitrites as preservatives.

Oscar Mayer

One of the oldest and best-known deli meat brands in the U.S., the Oscar Mayer company dates back to 1883 when Oscar F. Mayer, an immigrant from Bavaria, Germany, started selling meat from a store at the Kolling Meat Market in Chicago. The shop was an immediate success, bringing in $59 (what today would be $1,600) on its first day of operations. Oscar started branding its meat in 1904 and acquired a meatpacking plant in Wisconsin in 1919. Over the years, Oscar Mayer underwent corporate transformations and today is a part of the Kraft Heinz Company. Despite these changes, the brand continues to dominate the processed meat market, securing the third position as the preferred deli meat in a Mashed survey of approximately 600 shoppers.

Oscar Mayer is famous for its promotional efforts, including the Wienermobile, a vehicle shaped like a hot dog, which debuted amid the economic hardships of the Great Depression in 1936. Today, the Wienermobile is still turning heads, although now under a slightly different name of Frankmobile.

Despite its promotional focus, Oscar Mayer is well-known for much more than just its sausages. The brand also specializes in cold cuts such as sliced Black Forest ham, honey-smoked turkey breast, and jalapeño bologna. There are also carved meats for those who prefer their protein on the chunkier side. Forever evolving with the times, Oscar Mayer also offers a range of natural deli meats without antibiotics, artificial preservatives, nitrates, and nitrites.


Smithfield is all about pork. The company, founded in 1936 in Smithfield, Virginia, has grown to become one of the largest pork processors globally. Standing testament to its popularity, today the company offers its products across the U.S., as well as 30 different countries. Committed to producing "Good food. Responsibly," Smithfield prioritizes animal care, environmental sustainability, and helping the communities within the areas of its operations. Additionally, each and every one of Smithfield's products complies with the meat industry's safety and quality standards.

From Hickory Smoked Spiral Sliced Ham to Maple Thick Cut Bacon, Smithfield's products have impressed shoppers with their flavor. And while they may not be the healthiest on the market, the brand's offerings have garnered overwhelmingly positive customer feedback. A great example is Smithfield's 97% fat-free Deli Meats Smoked Honey Cured Ham, which has received an impressive 4.7 out of 5 stars on Influenster. One happy reviewer praises the ham, saying, "Once you get this ham you won't want anything else for sandwiches. It's a little pricey but it's so worth it if you love good meat. Definitely all I will buy now." Another shopper agrees, saying, "I really enjoy it and my whole family does as well."

Hormel Natural Choice

Hormel's Natural Choice deli meats are minimally processed and free of artificial ingredients, preservatives, nitrates, and nitrites. Interestingly, Hormel doesn't claim that its Natural Choice line is antibiotic- and hormone-free, an issue that came up in a 2016 Animal Legal Defense Fund lawsuit against the company.

Some of the Natural Choice products on the market include Applewood Smoked Deli Turkey, Uncured Genoa Salami, Cherrywood Smoked Deli Ham, and Uncured Sandwich Pepperoni. And while Hormel may not be an industry leader when it comes to minimizing the health risks associated with deli meats, its products are doing exceptionally well with shoppers.

Hormel Natural Choice Oven Roasted Deli Turkey is one of the company's products that has received a thumbs up from consumers. With a rating of 4.5 out of 5 on Influenster, the lunch meat has been described by some reviewers as their go-to cold cut. Perhaps one shopper sums this up best, saying, "My favorite turkey to buy, wouldn't change it for anything. It tastes super fresh and roasty."