When it comes to deli slices composed of ground and reformed meat, bologna is about as legit as it gets. The best bologna isn’t the stuff of sad cafeteria lunches; it’s bold, meaty, and flavorful, whether it’s served cold from the fridge or hot from a skillet. I grew up on bologna sandwiches and they’re something I still enjoy when I visit my parents’ house, a magical place where the cold cut drawer always spilleth over. My go-to: Thinly sliced bologna, provolone, iceberg lettuce, and lots of Hellmann’s mayo on white bread. Only god can judge me and my lunchtime predilections, baby.
I went into this taste test with an affinity for a certain brand of bologna. Hear me out: I am always open to having my preconceptions upended—but it didn’t happen this time. Forgive me if I’m enthusiastic about some of the bologna on this list. It’s because I feel strongly that it really is the best bologna.
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- Oscar Mayer Original
If you like bologna you can address by a first and last name, or if you like bologna that’s cheap, reliable, and available at every grocery store, pharmacy, and gas station in America, Oscar Mayer is a good option. It doesn’t live up to the bologna you get at a deli counter in either taste or texture, but it’s a childhood favorite for a reason. It’s pleasantly spiced, salty, and satisfying—and it tastes great cooked in a skillet, kind of like a big ol’ hot dog. Oscar Mayer also makes a thick-cut bologna that seems tailor made for fried bologna sandwiches, but I gotta say…it’s just too thick. That much bologna per bite tends to amplify any textural unpleasantness you might encounter (graininess, gristle, etc.). I think if you insist on eating a really thick-cut bologna, you should spring for one of the top two bolognas on this list and just ask the deli dude to cut it thick.
Credit: Merc / Walmart
- Boar’s Head Beef Bologna
If encased meats are too mysterious for you, Boar’s Head’s all-beef bologna might be the best bologna for you. It has a much different, denser, drier texture than the multi-meat slurries you might be most familiar with. The slices aren’t riddled with gristle or little shards of bone. It’s meaty and substantial. It’s well spiced but not too salty. And it’s good sliced thin or thick, depending on your preference. I firmly believe Boar’s Head makes the best bologna, but if this particular version is too much of a departure from the slick, pink bologna you grew up with, check out our number one pick.
Credit: Merc / Ralphs
- Boar’s Head Original German Recipe Bologna
When I visit my parents in Florida, my dad always has a pound of this bologna—sliced very thin—in the fridge when I arrive. Presumably, he buys the bologna so I’ll eat the bologna, but he also tends to monitor how I’m eating it. There are right and wrong ways. Right way: make a sandwich. Wrong way: get up from the couch every half hour or so, stand in the kitchen with the fridge door wide open, and eat bologna directly out of the package, with or without torn-up slices of Land-O-Lakes American cheese. Even if my father and I can’t see eye to eye on the correct way to eat Boar’s Head original bologna, it’s the best bologna at the deli counter all the same. It’s not gamey like liverwurst, but it has that good German deli flavor. It’s slick and light like the bologna you ate growing up, but it’s just so much more flavorful. If your grocery store sells Boar’s Head, give this a shot.
Credit: Merc / Ralphs
Best for Frying
Best of the Best
Other products we tried: Boar’s Head Garlic Bologna, Bar S Bologna, Oscar Mayer Thick Cut Bologna, Dietz & Watson Beef Bologna, Lunch Mate Bologna, 365 Uncured Beef Bologna
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Thoughts? Questions? Complete disagreement? Leave a comment!
Best bologna in my opinion is Hebrew National. They also make a really good salami.
When I was a kid, back in the 1800s 😆, the butcher had to cut balogna because it wasn’t sold pre sliced yet. It tasted way better. Sometimes mom got half inch slices and we’d have it fried up in a sandwich. OMG, it was delicious. ❤️
Dang ottocarrot changing my words again. 😆