Homemade Spam

January 28, 2022
5 Ratings
Photo by Mark Weinberg. Prop Stylist: Alya Hameedi. Food Stylist: Lauren Lapenna.
  • Prep time 12 hours
  • Cook time 2 hours 30 minutes
  • makes 4 mini loaves
Author Notes

When I was a kid, before going to school in the morning, I went to my local bodega for a sandwich: cream cheese with jelly; bacon, egg, and cheese; or Spam, egg, and cheese. That's right. If you grab a few cans of Spam off the shelf, some bodegas will cook them up. If you don’t believe me, go and ask next time! I also ate this in the house a lot as a kid, sometimes cold (only God can judge me). So it’s only right to pay respect on my end to this delicious, salty meat treat.

Somewhat of a buzzword nowadays, Spam’s surge in popularity is a beautiful thing. Those who shamed us for loving it are now singing its praises. Created in 1937, Spam has an interesting history here in America. It fed overseas soldiers in World War II and, around the same time, was advertised in magazines for all sorts of recipes, from a hot Velveeta sandwich to tomato-sauced spaghetti. During the 2008 recession, Spam sales increased by 10 percent. From kimchi fried rice to katsu musubi to even charcuterie boards in restaurants, Spam goes to show the power of nostalgia is forever undefeated.

This homemade version is my love letter. The ingredients for Spam are really simple if you look at the can: "pork with ham, salt, water, modified potato starch, sugar, sodium nitrite." Here, Morton Tender Quick (not the same as meat tenderizer) achieves that signature pink color and gives that distinct cured flavor. If you don’t want to buy metal mini loaf pans, you can grab some disposable foil ones. And if you do not have a grinder at home, a blender works, too. —Romel Bruno

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Homemade Spam
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Morton Tender Quick
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1/2 cup ice-cold water
  • 1 1/2 pounds pork belly, very cold, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 pound deli-style ham (like honey or hickory), very cold, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground pork
  1. In a large bowl, mix the cornstarch, sugar, Tender Quick, salt, and garlic. Stir in the water until combined.
  2. Set up your meat grinder (or if you don’t have one, get out the blender). Using the large grinding plate, grind the pork belly (or coarsely blend); add to the bowl with the cornstarch slurry. Using the same grinding plate, grind the ham (or coarsely blend); add to the pork belly. Add the ground pork, then use your hands to mix everything together until combined.
  3. Heat the oven to 300°F.
  4. Divide the pork mixture between four 5x3-inch loaf pans (about 15 ounces/425 grams each), pressing down firmly to eliminate air pockets. Cover the top of each with foil. Place into a baking dish big enough to fit all the pans. Add water up to the lip of the loaf pan (or about an inch below the top of the baking dish). Cook for 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 40 minutes, until the center of each loaf reaches at least 155°F.
  5. Remove from the water bath and place on a sheet pan. Top with another sheet pan and weigh down with a few heavy objects, like cans of tomatoes or beans. Place some heavy objects on them to help press them down. Let cool at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour, then refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours before taking them out of the loaf pans.
  6. Tightly wrapped, homemade Spam will keep in the fridge for about 1 week or in the freezer for about 2 months. Just before using, slice it as thickly as you like (I like about ¼ inch).

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Romel Bruno
    Romel Bruno
  • Lisa
  • tyoung667

3 Reviews

Lisa March 17, 2023
I’m a believer!! This recipe will figure prominently as a Friday special at my MA hot dog stand!
tyoung667 February 22, 2022
This is amazing! All the memories, the salty porky-ness, the crust, without the dread of "what's this made of, exactly?" Thanks so much Romel! Oh, nice video, too.
Romel B. February 25, 2022
Thank you so much! I'm so glad you liked it!