Make Your Own Lunch Meat: Paper-Thin Slices, No Nitrates!

After learning about nitrates, I stopped eating lunch meat, but after discovering how to cook paper-thin slices of turkey at home, I decided to start eating homemade lunch meat again! It’s also more cost-effective! Serve with the best homemade white sandwich bread and a side salad for a delicious dinner!

Turkey on whole wheat. No cheese, a little bit of lettuce, lots of pickles, lots of olives, just a few jalapenos. Mayonnaise and mustard.

I used to get that turkey sandwich from Subway whenever I went there during my college years, and I loved every bite of it.

Until I learned about nitrates. I immediately broke up with all lunch meats and never looked back. That is until my kids started going to a peanut-free school.

My inability to prepare a simple peanut butter and jelly sandwich made me feel as though I could never make lunches at all. Like someone was holding my hands behind my back and telling me to make lunch with my feet.

OF COURSE, there are other things kids can take to school besides a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

They don’t eat sandwiches four out of the five days of the week, so I can attest to this firsthand. They love homemade Lunchables, Italian meatballs, or chocolate chip hummus in their lunches.

But it was a mental block. Making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich the other four days seemed nearly impossible due to my incapacity to do so.

With PBJ out of the question, I went back to my favorite lunchmeat again – turkey. I’m still not okay with buying processed meats.

I knew there had to be a better way because, like you, my budget just cannot support $12 per pound for ultra thin slice turkey every week!

My first attempt was to buy a whole turkey. I paid slightly more than $1 per pound for the smallest one I could find, roasted it in the oven in the same manner as I roast chickens, removed the wings and legs, and put the breasts aside to thinly slice for meat sandwiches.

Say goodbye to store-bought lunch meat with its questionable ingredients and hello to homemade lunch meat, made with just a whole turkey breast and seasoning! This recipe is affordable easy, and yields thin, deli-style slices that will have your kids begging for more.

Why This Recipe Works:

  • Budget-Friendly: A whole turkey breast costs significantly less than pre-sliced deli meat, making this a cost-effective option.
  • Healthy Choice: You control the ingredients, avoiding nitrates and preservatives found in processed meats.
  • Easy to Make: The recipe requires minimal prep and cooking, making it perfect for busy weeknights.
  • Deli-Style Slices: Chilling the cooked turkey and using a sharp knife allows you to achieve thin, even slices.

Ingredients You’ll Need:

  • 1 whole turkey breast (approx. 48 oz): Look for one with no added ingredients or preservatives.
  • 2 tsp homemade seasoned salt (or sea salt and black pepper): Adjust seasonings to your taste.
  • 2 tsp olive oil: For added flavor and to prevent sticking.

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Season the turkey breast: Rub the seasoned salt or your preferred seasonings all over the turkey.
  2. Roast the turkey: Place the seasoned turkey in an 8×8 glass pan, drizzle with olive oil, and roast at 350°F for 90 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165-170°F.
  3. Chill and slice: Let the turkey cool to room temperature, then refrigerate overnight. Use a sharp serrated knife to slice the chilled turkey breast as thin as possible, aiming for deli-style slices.

Tips and Variations:

  • Slice in advance: Slice the entire turkey breast at once for convenient meal prep.
  • Portion and freeze: Divide the sliced turkey into 8-ounce portions and freeze for later use.
  • Experiment with seasonings: Try different herbs and spices like rosemary, thyme, or garlic powder.
  • Use chicken breast: While smaller, chicken breast can also be used for this recipe.

Storage Instructions:

  • Refrigerate: Store sliced turkey in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-5 days.
  • Freeze: Frozen turkey slices can be kept for up to 1-2 months.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Is homemade lunch meat healthier? Yes, it avoids nitrates and preservatives found in processed meats.
  • Is it cheaper to make your own lunch meat? Absolutely! You can save up to 78% compared to store-bought deli meat.
  • Can I make lunch meat with seasoned chicken breast? Yes, although the smaller size might make slicing more challenging.

Make the switch to homemade lunch meat and enjoy delicious, healthy, and budget-friendly sandwiches!

Don’t forget to check out Don’t Waste the Crumbs for more money-saving recipes and meal planning tips!

How to Make Homemade Deli Meat

Next, I tried a whole boneless turkey breast. They come in a single package, ready to roast all by themselves. There are no bones to deal with and thanks to the salt, the slices won’t fall apart when you cut them.

Here are the instructions:

Step 1. Season the outside of the turkey breast with homemade seasoned salt.

Step 2. Roast it in the oven for 90 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165-170F.

how do you cut a turkey breast for sandwiches

I knew the kids would adore the oven-roasted turkey breast that resulted because it was so flavorful and moist!

Except that the slices were too thick!

Making my own lunch meat allowed me to replicate the deli counter’s floppy, thinly sliced lunch meat. Fresh out of the oven, the turkey slices weren’t thin at all. They were more akin to the slices you get from carving the Thanksgiving bird, and both of us are aware that the kids wouldn’t accept this as “lunch meat.”

So I gave it a Hail Mary pass, put the breast in the refrigerator, and once it was nice and cold, tried slicing it thin once more.

With a completely chilled turkey breast and a very sharp serrated knife, I was able to cut thin sliced oven roasted turkey as thin as you’d expect to find in any deli meat package. They folded, flopped, and made delicious turkey sandwiches and wraps – without nitrates or preservatives!

How long is lunch meat good for?

Lunch meat can be refrigerated for up to three to five days in an airtight container.

Deli-Style Roast Turkey for Sandwiches – Food Wishes

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