Homemade Beef Bologna

I did it.  I made bologna. Mine didn’t turn out nearly as pretty as Tammy’s.  Maybe that’s because I adapted the recipe?  Or maybe it’s simply because Tammy has a magic touch I don’t seem to have.  (Tammy is super talented!)  Either way, we have a healthy, easy-to-make lunch meat that I will feel no guilt about feeding to my family.

A couple of notes about this recipe:

In order to avoid artificial flavorings, you’ll want to use a liquid smoke which does not have any additional ingredients beyond “liquid smoke”.  Some liquid smoke varieties have caramel coloring and I don’t know what else.  I have found that Lazy Kettle Brand contains only liquid smoke.  I’m sure there are other “all natural” brands of liquid smoke – this is the one I found first.

In addition, Tammy’s recipe includes Morton’s Tender Quick Salt, which is a great salt for preserving.  However, I hesitate to use this salt now that I’ve learned that it contains nitrates.  Therefore, I tried simply using my trusty Redmond’s Real Sea Salt.  I figure, I’m keeping the bologna in the fridge or freezer anyway so I don’t need to worry about “preserving” the meat, right?

Overall, I’m pleased with how the bologna turned out.  Well, aside from the fact that mine didn’t turn out pretty like Tammy’s.  Tammy, how do you do it? :)

Homemade Beef Bologna (adapted from Tammy’s Recipes)

3 pounds ground beef (I used grass-fed beef)
2 Tablespoons sea salt
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoons “all natural” liquid smoke

Mix all ingredients together, sticking your hands into the bowl to squish it all together in order to mix the ingredients well.  Mmmhmm, that’s the fun part.

Divide the mixture into two parts and shape two “logs” of meat.  I don’t like having plastic touch my raw meat if at all possible, so I placed parchment  paper on top of plastic wrap to help form the log and to wrap it for the fridge.  (Yes, this may seem obsessive, but I’m weird - what can I say?)

Wrap the bologna logs well and place them into the refrigerator for 24 hours.

Unwrap the meat and place both logs into a buttered baking dish.  I used a 9×13 inch Pyrex dish.  Bake in a 300° oven for 30 minutes, then in a 200° for another 2 1/2 hours.

Cool and store in the freezer or fridge.

Homemade Beef Bologna

A big thanks again for Tammy’s Recipes for inspiring this recipe!  Now, on to her Spicy Beef Pepperoni!

I’m super thrilled with this recipe because I totally love bologna.  I know that’s a silly thing to love, but love it I do.  Kinda like how I love beef hot dogs.

Do you like hot dogs and bologna, or do you think I’m a little bit nuts for thinking they taste good? Hey, at least now I can eat bologna again without feeling like my stomach is turning inside out!

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Comments

  1. says

    This looks really good! I noticed on Tammy’s recipe that she used 3 tablespoons of Morton’s salt, but your adaptation uses only 2 tablespoons of salt. Is that because you prefer it to be less salty or was it a typo? Just wondering. Thanks for posting this recipe. I really want to give it a try.

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I felt that the 3 Tablespoons was too salty, but that 2 Tablespoons of the sea salt was just right!
    This may be the difference between the two salts (since Morton’s tender quick had other ingredients, making the saltiness not so concentrated).

    [Reply]

  2. says

    My oldest begs for bologna all the time! I’m not sure how he would accept the homemade version, though. lol How did it turn out? I made the spicy pepperoni with venison last week and it had a very jerky-type flavor, and I was thinking that was because of the smoke?

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    We didn’t think this tasted entirely like bologna from the store, but we did like the flavor a lot!

    [Reply]

    Tiffany Reply:

    In our house we just rename things that taste similar to another food, but not exactly. Then no one is disappointed in the flavor…but rather just enjoy the flavor of the new recipe. For example, my sloppy joes we call sloppy sandwiches because my husband grew up on Manwich and although my sloppy joes are tasty, they don’t have the same flavor of manwich….which is okay with me!

    [Reply]

    Teva Reply:

    Yes. I renamed your popcorn chicken “chicken nuggets” and the salmon cakes “crabby patties” and they both went over fine. Kids loved them!

  3. says

    This looks like a really fun recipe to try, I also love bologna, but hardly ever buy it because I don’t like processed meats- this will be interesting to try. Thanks for sharing :)

    [Reply]

  4. Pamela says

    You mentioned grass-fed beef, which reminded me ….. We recently bought an 1/8 of a cow, grass-fed, and we’re having a difficult time liking it. My husband says it smells/tastes fishy. To me, it’s gamey (sp?) and greasy (couldn’t make hamburger patties stick together). Is this flavor/odor typical of grass-fed beef? We are trying to eat healthy, but honestly we’ve had a few foods that have been hard to adjust to because it doesn’t taste as good, even though it’s “clean” meat. Chicken is another one — bland, a bit rubbery and tough.

    If you (or any readers) can give advice on this I’d appreciate it! Thanks. We’re fairly new to the real food world.

    [Reply]

    Kimberley Blair Reply:

    Pamela, I am NOT an expert, but here’s what I’ve found out… last year we bought 1/2 a grass fed cow – it STUNK while cooking – it tasted YUCKY! ( I think the dogs got more of it than we did) this year we got 1/2 cow again, and I called the market lady to ask if she thought I would be crazy to have MOST of mine ground into hmbgr… she said – taste depends on the cows age- & his disposition when he was alive… WOW who knew – if it was a crazy cow – it probably wont taste good. So don’t give up yet- it may get better for ya. BTW this years beef was excellent – shouldn’t hav had it almost all ground. GOOD LUCK!!

    [Reply]

    Sarah Manlupig Reply:

    We had the exact same experience. My husband refuses to ever buy it again. :-(

    [Reply]

    Dara Purcell Reply:

    Pamela,

    My family raises cattle for sale and we always butcher one to
    split among ourselves. Kimberley was correct–the AGE of the cow
    matters A LOT in how the animal tastes. The meat from younger cows
    tastes fabulous (so much better than store bought) but if you end
    up with an older cow, the meat will taste stale or fishy. A very
    young cow or calf will have a taste that’s (to me, anyway) very
    similar to pork.

    Don’t give up on grass fed meat just yet–just be very particular
    when you are purchasing that you get a good grade animal!

    Dara

    [Reply]

    Miranda Reply:

    Hi Pamela,
    We raise our own beef and have raised cattle for years. Beef raised on different types of grass
    and the weather conditions will influence the taste of beef also. Kimberly is right about the age of the
    cow. Ours are never over 2 years. We get our best meat after the first frost in the fall.
    The cows go into an “eat like crazy” phase to prepare for winter. I wouldn’t buy meat from a cow butchered
    in the spring or early summer. Straight grass fed cows can have a little “gamey” taste and smell. They’ve
    essentially eaten just like deer or wild game. Don’t give up, like other “healthy” foods it might take a
    little while to adjust. Hope this helps a little!

    [Reply]

    Daphne Reply:

    I’m so glad I read these comments. We bought some grass-fed meat a few months ago and even though it was “lean” it seemed greasy and had an odd texture. Now I know!

    [Reply]

    Lisa M Reply:

    Grass fed beef is very lean. Sometimes when they are butchered they will add some fat back in
    This can be a reason for it being greasy.
    We tried several farms before we found one we really enjoyed/preferred.
    Always ask about the percentage of fat b/c it can be too lean and just crumbles – not god for burgers.
    We too ask that most of it be ground in to hamburger

    Pamela Reply:

    Wow — thank you all for your words of wisdom. I truly appreciate you taking the time to write! So many things to think about….!

    [Reply]

    Dione Reply:

    We have been filling our freezer on grass fed for over 10 years. Only once have we had what I would call bad meat. The lady gave us an old cow she butchered. We never bought from her again. I now have a wonderful man who raises and butchers it himself and we eat like kings. Don’t give up, just fine a GOOD source. You won’t regret it!

    [Reply]

    Lori Reply:

    I just wanted to chime in that we bought Black Angus grass fed beef and I felt like it wasn’t that great. I have since researched Angus isn’t best suited to my area and that highland beef from scotland/england (thats were the bread came from not the actual meat we are going to buy :) ) is must better for my WNY area because the terrain and grass types are more what that bread is supposed to eat. So we are hoping this time our beef will taste much better. Just to let you know my husband didn’t really notice that the beef tasted off only me. I guess I was expecting it to be amazng.

    [Reply]

  5. Hayley says

    Pamela, I’m not sure about the grassfed beef but it sounds like you need a better chicken source. Our local pastured chickens taste SO much better than what you get in the store and are anything but rubbery. Perhaps you’re cooking them too long? That said, I don’t notice as much of a difference in the white meat as I do in the dark meat, flavor-wise.

    Laura, is it coincidence that I heard Jim Gaffigan’s riff on the pronunciation of “bologna” just yesterday? I think not.
    (for those who don’t know what I’m talking about, or those who do and want to watch/hear it again: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZxTOq4x5xn0)

    [Reply]

  6. Laurie Plath says

    I can’t wait to try this. My husband loves bologna, hot dogs, pepperoni, bacon…..basically anything with nitrites in it!!!
    Although it doesn’t look like store-bought, that’s probably a good thing. Just something we have to get used to with REAL food, that it doesn’t look like the fake, icky stuff we’re used to!!!

    [Reply]

  7. Tricia says

    Reading through the comments on Tammy’s site I noticed that some were saying the flavor was more like salami than bologna. Would you agree Laura? We are big salami fans in our house but not so much fans of bologna. I’d love to try the recipe but don’t want to waste our grass-fed beef if no one is going to like it.

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Yes, this didn’t taste very much like bologna, probably more like salmami, but we did love the taste!

    [Reply]

    Tiffany Reply:

    That sounds more tempting to me…I am not big on bologna, but really like salami.

    [Reply]

  8. Rebekah says

    We really like this bologna! I really don’t think it tastes anything like bologna from the store though. I love that it thaws really quickly, as opposed to other freezer foods, because I usually forget to take mine out ahead of time.

    [Reply]

  9. says

    I grew up eating bologna and have to admit that I miss it. I buy a non-nitrate brand now and again when I can’t shake the craving for a sandwich, but it’s EXPENSIVE. Can’t wait to give this a try. I’m thankful for your legwork in finding a natural liquid smoke and nitrate free salt — I was curious how you would handle those ingredients when I checked out the recipe over at Tammy’s. I’ll be giving this a try and will let you know what we think. Blessings, ~Lisa

    [Reply]

  10. says

    Thanks for your kind words, Laura. :) I have to say though… the difference is really in the Tender Quick curing salt! :) That is what gives the lovely pink color and firm/uniform texture. I totally understand not wanting to use nitrates, though — and freezing for longer storage is a great solution! :)

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Yep, I bet that is the difference! Thanks for the great recipe idea – I LOVE being able to make thisfor my family!!!

    [Reply]

  11. Shannon says

    Hi Pamela! Lots of great comments already but I’ll just add we now only buy ground beef and stew meat grass fed because ours also tasted fishy and I tried it with 2 different farmers. I wonder if that’s because it is higher in Omega 3′s? Maybe that’s crazy though, I don’t know… If I want a steak, I at least try to find something that is hormone and antibiotic free as well as local. I hope that’s a good compromise…
    Shannon

    [Reply]

  12. Shannon says

    Laura, you are amazing and inspiring. Just as the fall weather is drawing me less from the kitchen and into the dungeon (oh wait, that’s just our basement that needs organised), you post a wonderful recipe like this. What in the world is “liquid smoke” though? I’ve seen it for sale but don’t know what it is.

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Yes, good question. What IS liquid smoke???? I had to look it up myself recently to figure it out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liquid_smoke

    [Reply]

  13. Tracy says

    You are so super awesome, but I have to say, that totally looks like undercooked meatloaf. I’m not sure I could sell that to my family as bologna. What did your kids think?

    [Reply]

    Dana Reply:

    You made me laugh, you’re totally right. It still sounds delicious and I can’t wait to try it!

    [Reply]

    fiona Reply:

    I have to agree with Tracy.The recipe (at least the ingredience anyway) looks like my meatloaf recipe.Does it really taste like bologna or more like cold meatloaf? I’d be willing to try this since my kids love bologna from the deli but it’s so full of nitrates/preservatives that I really don’t want them to have it. Thanks

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I didn’t think it tasted like cold meatloaf, but neither did it taste like bologna. We couldn’t place what it tasted like, but we did like the flavor!

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Yeah – ugly stuff, huh?! My kids were so excited to have bologna they didn’t care that it looked weird. They thought it smelled like bologna, but that it didn’t really taste like bologna. While they couldn’t really figure out what it DID taste like, they liked the taste. I sort of “fried” it in a skillet for them and they ate it plain or with crackers and loved it!

    [Reply]

    Dione Reply:

    My dear hubby grew up on fried spam of all things so frying this up would please him greatly as I refuse to buy spam or have it in my house. Thanks for the liquid smoke. I ordered some from amazon today. I have avoided it for years due to the carmal coloring. My boys do this Dr. Jeckle/Mr. Hide thing on food color…so not worth the chance. Will be nice to have an alternative. Smoked sesamy oil helps but isn’t the same.

    [Reply]

  14. Daphne says

    I’m going to try to make this and use for cheese and crackers (I’m thinking holiday finger foods). If I made it into smaller loafs/logs for little slices, should I adjust the cooking time/temperature? I don’t love bologna but we do like salami!

    [Reply]

  15. Tami says

    I’ve been making Tammy’s pepperoni (summer sausage, really) and spicy pepperoni. I wanted to take the nitrates out, but wasn’t sure what else might work. Thank you for your suggestions, and your success!

    [Reply]

  16. Melissa says

    If you have the time and patience, mixing the meat in the food processor (and adding a bit of water so that it emulsifies into a mousse) will make it look a little more like the bologna we are all accustomed to.

    My aunt used to make homemade bologna this way and it was delicious and beautiful. She would spend hours on the mix and then extra time shaping and wrapping it, sometimes chilling it several times during wrapping so that she could get it really tightly packed.

    It was fun to watch, but not sure I have the patience for all of that!!!

    BTW-The nitrates in the curing salt are what keep the meat pink and pretty. I know the worries, but I feel like if I just push the fruits and veggies while we’re eating bologna & hot dogs, we’ll be ok. Vitamin C prevents the nitrates from bonding to protein and causing that nasty reaction that could/might possibly lead to cancer.

    [Reply]

    Dione Reply:

    Some get horrible migraines and tummy trouble from nitrates. I have 2 who get very ill. We have a wonderful butcher who makes bacon and ham by soaking the meat in lime or lemon juice prior to smoking I am not sure how to incorporate that into this but it does wonders for the pork and my boys can have it. We eat more fruits and veggies than most and that doesn’t help the boys.

    [Reply]

  17. Lyndsay says

    I loved bologna when I was growing up, but as an adult, all the processing has grossed me out. I have actually added hamburger to my grocery list (we have a local store that sells grass fed beef, which works better for us than investing in half a cow)so that I can make the pepperoni. And now I guess bologna!

    [Reply]

  18. sam says

    When did you slice it – before or after baking? Would the log be dense enough to slice thinly with a a meat slicer ahead of time, or does it have to be thick sliced as its used? I am excited to try this.

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I sliced it after I baked it. I don’t think it would work very well to slice it ahead of time.

    [Reply]

    Tammy L Reply:

    Hi Sam! :)

    You can’t slice this meat before baking, but after baking ours could be sliced thinly if you wish (rather than thick). :)

    [Reply]

  19. judy says

    I just bought applewood smoked sea salt from our local Co-op. How do you think that would work in place of the liquid smoke? You could kill two birds with one stone so to speak. I also read that celery (specifically juice) does the same as the nitrites and nitrates, because it has natural nitrates. I have even bought some organic sausage with celery juice listed in the ingredients. Just some “food” for thought, pun intended.

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Hmm…that may work great – give it a try!

    [Reply]

  20. Tori L. says

    I just recently read this article on nitrates/nitrites. Makes me question whether or not avoiding them is such a big deal. I know some people seem to be able to tell a difference with meats that have them in it, but I wonder if they have the same reaction to these high nitrate/nitrite vegetables? Or maybe it is something else they are reacting to? I’ve never experienced it myself so I don’t know.

    Love to hear what you think.

    http://junkfoodscience.blogspot.com/2008/07/does-banning-hotdogs-and-bacon-make.html

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I’ll have to look into this further – very interesting!!

    [Reply]

  21. Crystal says

    We do not eat beef. Would ground turkey work the same way? We usually substitute it in all the beef recipes.

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I think so, but without having tried it myself, I can’t say for sure. I wonder if it might be too lean? It would probably work okay though!

    [Reply]

  22. Rebecca says

    If the texture is too coarse, you could try a second grind either with a manual grinder or put it in the food processor, that might make for a smoother texture.

    One thing with most beef purchased commercially is that the cows are feed a high corn diet which changes the taste and texture of the meat. Thats one reason why all grass fed beef is more gamey.

    But corn is NOT a natural food for cows, in fact it makes them really sick over time but since they are fattened and butchered fast, most steers in large feed lots are less than a year old.

    Some cattle farms that do grass fed will give you the option of “finishing” your cows on corn, that will give you a flavor closer to what you get in the store, but still much higher quality than the feedlot beef.

    [Reply]

  23. LisaB says

    I always think that bologna and hot dogs taste about the same in flavor. If this bologna actually tasted like balogna, instead of slicing it you could cut it in the shape of hog dogs after cooking, heat (I’d broil or grill them) and serve it on buns. Since it doesn’t taste quite like bologna, I guess that wouldn’t fly.

    [Reply]

  24. says

    I really don’t want to use liquid smoke…too close to being a carcinagen for my comfort. Is there another alternative, or could I leave it out?

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I don’t think the flavor would be the same at all without it, but I’m also not sure what to suggest you substitute. Hmmm, maybe someone else will have an idea.

    [Reply]

  25. April says

    So do you just cool the oven down to 200 degrees from it being at 300 and then put it right in? Also, do the slices have to be as thick as shown in the picture or can they be thinner? Thanks for this-I am going to try it soon!!!

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    The slices can be thinner, mine was just falling apart and I was unable to cut them thinner. :) I just leave the bologna in the oven while it cools down to 200.

    [Reply]

  26. Brandi says

    Wow this tastes delicious, my husband is in love! My only problem is that it doesn’t seem like it cooked all they way through and we even left it in a few hours longer? Does it just look a bit pinkish raw?

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Mine seemed a little pink too – I sliced it and heated each slice a little bit before serving. It probably would have been okay without me doing that though. :)

    [Reply]

  27. Dana says

    I made this yesterday and practically had to beat my 3yo off with a stick. She actually wrestled the log off the counter and took a bite, which is very unlike her!

    I thought it tasted a little “beefy” for my preferences. My husband thinks maybe it needs some fillers, ha! Has anyone tried using a combination of beef and pork?

    I used ground round and mixed mine up in my Kitchenaid mixer, and ended up with a finer texture which we appreciated, no visible fat chunks. It was a fun culinary adventure that I’m sure my family would appreciate seeing more often!

    [Reply]

  28. Lindsay says

    Okay… I made this and honestly, I know how to cook, but this turned out horribly… the texture was so disgusting and it completely fell aprt… what in the world did I do wrong? The only thing that I varied from the recipe on was the type of of meat tenderizer (unseasoned mccormick’s) would that have done this? It smelled so awesome cooking and on top it looked like summer sausage but it was complete mush underneath. I was so disapointed because I ruined 3 lbs of beef… I would really like for this recipe to work so I would appreciate any tips

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Aw, bummer. :( Any chance it still tasted good? Mine really did turn out ugly and some of it got pretty crumbly too, but it did taste good. Yes, the type of salt does make a difference. You wouldn’t think it would, but I have learned the hard way that this is true.

    [Reply]

    Allison Bognar Reply:

    Lindsay, I was just reading your comment. Morton’s tender quick is NOT a meat tenderizer. It is a curing salt. The meat tenderizer is probably the reason that yours turned out too soft and mushy.

    [Reply]

  29. Sandra says

    I haven’t tried the recipe yet, but from the picture, it looks like the meat should just be run through the food processor a little bit. I watched a show on the Food Network about a Bologna company. The meat went through the grinder multiple times until it was like baby food. Maybe that would help the consistency. I think I am going to try this in my spare time.

    [Reply]

  30. Jo says

    1. Curing salts cause the meat to be a pinker color when cooked, therefore not using them means your meat will not retain the pink color. That’s why corned beef has that trademark reddish color.
    2. True bologna is a type of force meat, similar to a hot dog. If you want the texture to be more similar to store bought bologna, you should actually send the recipe through a food processor. It will be looser to work, just wrap the log very tightly before refrigerating it.
    3. Thank you for suggesting a natural liquid smoke brand! That ingredient flat out scares me so I’ve always avoided it. I looked up how they make it and was surprised at the simplicity of the process. I will actually try it now!

    [Reply]

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