Homemade Spam Recipe – What, Why, and How | Cupcake Project

Homemade Spam Recipe – What, Why, and How

Homemade Spam

Spam.  Mystery meat. No thanks. Nasty.  Who eats that stuff?  I wanted nothing to do with Spam.  I didn’t even know what Spam was – only that it was something to be avoided at all costs.  I heard that it was popular in Hawaii and that there, people eat Spam on their sushi.  Really??  Then, Heidi Berger posted several times on my Facebook page about Spam cupcakes. “Trust me when I say Spam cupcakes are NOT gross ;-) ,” she insisted.

I didn’t trust Heidi. I *knew* that Spam cupcakes would be gross because Spam is disgusting  – meat in a can just isn’t right (I blindly thought, having never ingested it).  Would homemade Spam be better?  What gives Spam its flavor, and could I make a version myself that I would feel comfortable eating?  Would my homemade version of Spam then make for a tasty cupcake flavor?  I had to find out.


What Is Spam?

As many of you know, Spam stands for spiced ham.  It’s made with pork shoulder and ham.  The ingredient list is actually quite small and contains nothing too scary: Pork with Ham, Salt, Water, Modified Potato Starch, Sugar, Sodium Nitrite.  Before I made my homemade Spam, I had to buy a can to see what it tasted like.

I found that Spam tastes like salty ham – very, very salty ham.  It wasn’t nearly as bad as legend had it.  If I ever bought Spam again, I would definitely buy the low-sodium version.

How Did Homemade Spam Compare to the Can O’ Spam?

I made homemade Spam using pork shoulder,

ham,

a couple cloves of garlic, and Morton’s Tender Quick (salt used for curing meat that also gives the homemade Spam its pink color).

The end result tasted pretty close to Spam.  It was just about the right color, the texture was similar (not quite as slimy as the original), and the taste was the same, although significantly less salty.

Why Bother Making Homemade Spam?

The best reason for making homemade Spam or homemade anything is that when you make it yourself, you know exactly what is going into it.  Homemade Spam is decidedly not mystery meat.  It’s just plain old pork and ham.  Mix it with greens and black eyed peas for a rich and flavorful casserole (don’t add any extra salt to the mixture as there’s more than enough salt in the Spam), use it on Sushi (I’m still a little skeptical about that one, Hawaii), and save some for homemade Spam cupcakes (the surprisingly good recipe is coming soon).

Homemade Spam Recipe

It was really hard to find a recipe for homemade Spam.  The closest thing that I could find was a post on Morgans Menu which describes the general idea of how to make Spam, but is short on specifics.  I used that post as a guideline, however I strayed from her suggestion of using duck and chicken in addition to the pork and ham.  I wanted to stick with the classic mixture of pork shoulder and ham.  I also got some assistance from Chef Chuck Friedhoff of Persimmon Woods who pointed out that Spam is really just a pâté and encouraged me to look at pâté recipes.  I never thought of that before, and I now wonder if a gourmet restaurant could get away with serving Spam if they just called it pork pâté.

Yield: 1 loaf of Spam

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 pounds cubed pork shoulder, refrigerated or frozen (Choose a piece that’s pretty fatty – fat is a good thing in Spam making.)
  • 3 ounces ham
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon + 1/2 teaspoon Morton’s Tender Quick

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 F.
  2. Grind the pork shoulder in a meat grinder (I used a tabletop meat grinder, but the KitchenAid meat grinder attachment would probably have been easier).  Set aside.
  1. Finely mince the ham with the garlic in a food processor (I used my mini Cuisinart).
  1. Dump the pork shoulder, ham/garlic, and Tender Quick into a large bowl and mix by hand until fully combined.
  1. Pack the meat mixture into a bread pan and cover with foil.
  2. Place the bread pan into a large baking dish filled 3/4 full with water.
  1. Place the baking dish in the oven and bake for three hours (the internal temperature of the Spam should reach 155 F).
  2. Remove from the oven, uncover the bread pan and try not to be too grossed out by all of the fat that has emerged from the meat.  Nonchalantly dump all of the fat into a jar or can to dispose of later.  Note:  During my first attempt at making homemade Spam, I neglected that step.  When I later pulled the Spam out of the fridge, it had a layer of white creamy fat on top of it and a layer of natural Jello under that.  I could barely stomach it.
  1. Cover the bread pan loosely with foil and place a heavy weight on top of the foil.  I took bricks and put them in another bread pan and put that bread pan on the Spam.  You may need to get creative, but I’m sure you can find something in your house that will work.
  1. Place the weighed down Spam into the refrigerator and keep it there overnight.
  2. In the morning, your Spam will be ready to use however you choose to use it.  Note:  The homemade Spam is not canned, so it will not last forever.  Keep it as long as you would keep ham.
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53 Responses to Homemade Spam Recipe – What, Why, and How

  1. byron June 17, 2012 at 9:05 pm #

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anwy2MPT5RE

    • Lin October 10, 2013 at 6:14 pm #

      The very best use I found for Spam was about 30 years ago. Flake your can of Spam with a fork and stuff it into cleaned mushroom caps.
      Bake at 350 for 30–40 minutes, until done. Really a popular appetizer as long as you tell no one it is Spam!!

  2. DineIn June 18, 2012 at 4:23 am #

    I hope this is tasty but fear about the preserve any way nice recipes :)

    • Pam September 15, 2013 at 1:12 pm #

      I would agree. – The Morton’s QuickTender has Nitrite in it. – I’d follow the recipe in all other respects. – Looks like a neat Pork/Ham Loaf, Monty Python style. One wouldn’t really need the Nitrite, since “shelf-Life” isn’t an issue. – Only add as much salt as one would to taste.

  3. LaVenia June 18, 2012 at 5:38 am #

    With the homemade Spam recipe you might also want to try “Fried Spam” just slice it off and fry it until golden brown. Serve it like a BLT only SLT or with biscuits and gravy. WONDERFUL!!!

    • Sonya April 17, 2014 at 4:50 pm #

      SPAM is like potatoes….there are hundreds of ways to eat it. I am 78 and have eaten it all my life. I keep a can all the time for quick easy suppers. I live 9 miles from “the store” so I tend to stock things that keeps well. I make my own breads and a fresh loaf with “SPAM Salad” sandwiches are good.

      Fried is good. Cut into pieces and eaten as a finger food snack.

      Breaded with a buttermilk/egg/flour batter and fried is even better. It has a nice crispy crust that way.

      I still like the same menu my father liked with SPAM. Fried Spam, cottage fries, pickled beets and biscuits. And for dessert some molasses over our own butter, we had a cow so fresh butter, buttermilk and cream was a fact of life..then sopped it with a biscuit. Impossible to keep it off your chin.

      Off topic a little. Thinking of all this makes me remember so well how good my women ancestors biscuits were. I watched my Great Grandmother, Grandmother, and Mother making these. I could make good biscuits when I had a family to feed. But never up to theirs.

      The flour was in a big metal can. They just grabbed a handful of lard and dumped it into the hole scooped in the flour…mixed that up by pinching it through their fingers and then poured fresh buttermilk in..Just kneaded and rolled the dough ball around with one hand until it was “right”, then pinched pieces off, rolled between their hands and put in a bread pan that was black with age and use. Took about five minutes or so to make a pan of biscuits. It was like breathing. They were the best biscuits I have ever eaten. And the flour was always clean. I still wonder how they did that. Old southern country cooks really knew how to cook.

  4. Anne M. June 18, 2012 at 7:04 am #

    I think you may have me convinced that Spam is worth trying (and making!).

    One note: grease/oil/fat should NEVER be poured down the drain, even with hot water! It will eventually solidify in a sewer pipe and cause sewage to overflow (that’s the number one cause of sewer overflows nation-wide). Just pour your grease into a glass jar and throw it away when cooled :)

  5. Heather @girlichef.com June 18, 2012 at 9:54 am #

    This is so incredibly cool! I grew up with Spam, and still eat it from time to time. I definitely want to try making my own. My favorite way to eat is basically like mentioned above… slice it (~1/4″ thick) and fry until golden on both sides. Stick in between some good ol’ white bread and enjoy. Although I do like it other ways. And Bacon Spam is the favorite choice of my family, so I think I’ll have to try putting bacon in mine (even better)! Thanks for this =)

  6. Christy June 18, 2012 at 12:39 pm #

    I love that you made your own spam. I love it when anyone makes something processed from scratch! I don’t care for spam – we had it as kids when money was tight. My husband loves it though.

    • Cindy November 30, 2013 at 4:21 pm #

      Hey Christy! Have you checked out the price of Spam lately? not so cheap….. I like Spam and so does my husband. He makes a mean omelet, and adds it in, or serves it on the side mmmmm….. I will definitely be trying this recipe.

  7. Kitchen Riffs June 18, 2012 at 12:39 pm #

    You rock!

    I haven’t tasted Spam in probably 40 years or more. When I was a tad, it was on our weekly dinner rotation – one can served 6 of use (food portion used to be way smaller, which is why people were thinner). The brown sugar topping made it almost like real ham! Or that’s what my mother tried to make us believe. I have no idea what Spam costs these days, but I’ll bet on a $/weight basis it’s probably in the same ball park as ham (ham used to be tons more expensive than Spam, which is why thrifty people served it for dinner). I keep threatening to do something interesting with Spam and serve it to unsuspecting siblings (Spam croquettes, anyone?) but I doubt if I’ll ever get around to doing that. So I’ll enjoy your efforts!

    Really fun post – thanks.

  8. Anonymous June 18, 2012 at 1:53 pm #

    I grew up with spam but I don’t eat pork now. I think they make a chicken version of it (spicken?). If you would post a recipe for that, I would try it!

    • Anonymous February 1, 2013 at 12:14 am #

      You know, They do make Turkey Spam and its really good.

    • naomi July 30, 2013 at 5:53 pm #

      you could try the recipe as above but use 3 lbs of ground chicken or turkey to your liking .. I would also suggest that you could add about 1 tablespoon of onion powder if you like :) .. prepare it the same as the recipe above and enjoy :)

  9. Laurie June 18, 2012 at 2:55 pm #

    Oh my goodness, thank you sooo much for the guidance on homemade Spam. I’m one of those Hawaii people for whom Spam is much beloved, despite its mystery meat nature. I can’t wait to try this for Spam musubi.

  10. cupsbykim June 19, 2012 at 8:16 am #

    This is just flat out amazing! We have Spam in our house, but only for that emergency moment when we have eaten our way through our entire food pantry! I do have to say though, this I might try in a non-emergency situation! We have a friend who makes an amazing Spam Stir-Fry, I’m going to have to share this recipe with him!

  11. Vacation Homes June 20, 2012 at 3:25 am #

    Spam is one of my husband’s favorite meals. I am sure he’ll appreciate the surprice I am preparing him tonight, because there is nothing more delectable than homemade food.

  12. Anonymous June 21, 2012 at 10:22 am #

    Agreed! I was absolutely horrified when I read that step. I always keep an empty can from my food prep (tomato sauce for example) ready so I can pour meat fat into it. Isn’t this common knowledge??

  13. Stef June 21, 2012 at 10:56 am #

    In my husband’s family, they have always run the fat down the drain with really hot water and never had a problem. But, I looked into it after your comments and you’re right, it should be put into a jar or can. I updated the post. Thanks!

  14. Jordan June 21, 2012 at 10:59 am #

    Spam musubi is something that you simply must try when in Hawai’i. Effectively it’s a slice of spam between two layers of rice and wrapped around with seaweed. The other place to get it is LA, if you are ever there. It would be great to make it with the homemade version of spam so that it doesn’t have any kind of sliminess to it.

  15. Susanna June 21, 2012 at 7:09 pm #

    I love that this is homemade! Spam is much loved here in Hawaii, bit I buy the Lite version. The slime layer was gross, so I definitely want to make this. Living in Denver, my friends would tease my Spam musubi, but they LOVED it once they tried it and would ask me to bring some to work for them.

  16. Debra Kapellakis June 23, 2012 at 7:24 am #

    That is gross but cool! rotflol I would never have thought to make my own spam. It’s cool that you did it for me. thank you

  17. Jenniefahhh June 28, 2012 at 8:19 pm #

    I’m from Hawaii.. So naturally, I’m ALL for spam, we have a huge spam festival every year lol.

    The “spam sushi” is called a spam musubi, it’s SO good.

    Thanks so much for this! I get the weirdest looks when I tell people how much I love spam. Now I’m gunna try and make it at home, to make a bunch of delicious spam musubi! :)

  18. Rebecca Haughn August 2, 2012 at 7:13 am #

    thank you for sharing this, I have several cans put away and now know what to do with them. Now if only I could find a way to make chip chopped ham like you buy in the deli. Thanks again.

  19. Lori McDowell August 4, 2012 at 11:20 am #

    I love Spam and can’t wait to try your recipe! We eat it fried as a breakfast side, on sandwiches and I have a recipe from Betty Crocker recipe cards from the early 80s that I still remember and make.

  20. nancia13 August 9, 2012 at 6:16 pm #

    Your recipe says to cook for 3 hours with a internal temperture of 155 degrees. At what temperture do you have the oven set?

    • Stef September 26, 2012 at 11:21 am #

      300 F.

  21. Anonymous September 23, 2012 at 11:58 am #

    Can you freeze this spam when it is done??????

    • Stef September 26, 2012 at 11:20 am #

      Yes! I did. :)

  22. Anonymous November 20, 2012 at 9:54 am #

    When I was younger; and my family received commodities from the government; we had a mystery meat also. It was very much like spam.We used to dice that meat in small cubes; fry it then add to spanish rice. It was wonderful [bites of meat in every biteful].Another meal we included the mystery meat was —Pizza burgers. WE would grind up the meat, add hamburger, onions, green bell pepper, tomato soup, mushrooms [if we had them] spices; then open face the sandwich on hamburger buns. Top with cheese, bake until warm and cheese is melted. Delious!!!! I still make these two dishes 40 years later. Both are requested many times throughout a years time. Thanks so very much for the Spam recipe. Linda

  23. Anonymous March 3, 2013 at 1:48 pm #

    FRIED IT WILL BE VERY SALTY. WE LIKE IT WITH A FRIED EGG ON A TOASTED HAMBURGER BUN

  24. kadybug March 23, 2013 at 4:51 am #

    You have to try this recipe! We call them Spam burgers but we called them Pizza moons when we served them to a friend who said she would try Spam if she didn’t know it was in a recipe! lol
    1 can Spam, ground
    1 stick butter (I usually use less)
    1 can tomato paste
    1/4 lb. Velveeta
    garlic powder to taste

    Cook in saucepan until hot and Velveeta is melted. Spread on a hamburger bun half and broil a few minutes until bubbly. YUM!!

    • nancy October 11, 2013 at 7:01 pm #

      my mother-in-law called them pizza burgers. Her recipe includes finely diced green pepper. I never use Velveeta any more – it is too sweet for some reason. I pay the big bucks for the American processed that Kraft makes. I made these a while ago and was unable to find the recipe – I forgot it was supposed to have an entire stick of butter. I left out the butter and they were still gooey and tasty. I jut use a fork to mash the Spam into submission rather than have to find my grinder and then have to clean it after I use it.

  25. ruthie April 18, 2013 at 6:13 pm #

    Aces! I don’t eat SPAM often, but when you want it, you gotta have it. So, when I searched for a recipe, I found your blog. Thanks for posting this. I have ham. I have pork. And, now, I will have SPAM.

  26. ruthie April 18, 2013 at 7:38 pm #

    Um, now that I’m ready to make this, is there any reason not to weight the stuff as it’s cooking?

    • Stef April 18, 2013 at 11:14 pm #

      I’m not sure that I follow your question. Why not just weigh things before getting started?

  27. Tom Bridgeland April 23, 2013 at 4:30 pm #

    You. Threw. Away. The. Fat. And. Jelly?!
    That is just shocking. Try making gravy. Or using it for frying grease. Delicious.

    • nancy October 11, 2013 at 7:03 pm #

      I had the same response. I could understand draining the fat off, but throwing away perfectly good aspic?

  28. Sarah Smith May 29, 2013 at 11:38 pm #

    Having lived in Hawaii I have learned to love spam! Try it cubed and sauté it, then at the last minute add shoyu (Hawaiian soy sauce. less salty though, and Walmart carries it) and brown sugar to make a glaze and eat it over rice- Yum!

  29. Elaine July 30, 2013 at 12:58 pm #

    Thank you for sharing this recipe! I find Spam very salty as well, but, when making it yourself you have control over the amount of salt used.
    We always had several roomers and boarders growing up. They would all go home for the week ends as most were university students. SO, after five days of meal planning and cooking, Mom used to make this some Saturdays. She would coat it with brown sugar, add a bit of water so it wouldn’t stick to the pan and bake it in the oven until the sugar got sort of crusty. She would serve it with rice and a side of scalloped tomatoes and home made chocolate pudding for dessert! I loved Saturdays!! :~)

  30. naomi July 30, 2013 at 6:06 pm #

    Chicken / Turkey Spam

    you could try the recipe as above but use 3 lbs of ground chicken or turkey to your liking .. I would also suggest that for a little more flavor you might want to add add about 1 tablespoon of onion powder if you like .. prepare it the same as the recipe above and enjoy :)

  31. Jeanie September 5, 2013 at 2:35 am #

    This looks great! Thank you. Just to clarify, Hawaii’s Spam Musubi is not a type of sushi, but is actually a type of rice ball or onigiri (japanese).

  32. Peg October 11, 2013 at 10:23 am #

    I don’t have a meat grinder so can you get the same results using already ground pork?

    • Stef October 11, 2013 at 7:17 pm #

      I think it would work. But, you’d want it to be really fatty – ideally pork shoulder.

  33. Cajunchef April 17, 2014 at 7:16 am #

    How do you copycat and make “Spam with bacon.” I would assume this is a variant recipe, but I would really like to know. All my guests love that version of Spam and it would be much healthier for them to lower the salt and make it myself.

    Can the final product be vacuum sealed and frozen? If so, what is the “freezer life”?

    Thank you so much for this recipe and answering my questions.

  34. jim H May 5, 2014 at 10:15 pm #

    Why do they serve spam sandwiches on ground hog day?

    Because it is ground hog.

  35. IG June 19, 2014 at 5:37 pm #

    i am stunned. i am sooo going to make this! for over five years, i have hesitated buying most canned foods because of the bpa lining issue. i am over the moon happy now. i make most things from scratch and why i have not tried making homemade spam, i do not know. i am already seeing crisped little bits of your spam loaf being used in fried rice. i will definitely go for a manageable sized version so that i can skip out on that “tender quick” addition. i will definitely try the many things mentioned in the comments section, as well. mind bend happening here. i am very, very grateful for your creativity and share. cheers ~

  36. Bart July 9, 2014 at 2:31 am #

    Awesome blog! Do you have any hints for aspiring writers?
    I’m hoping too start myy ownn site soon but I’m a little lost on everything.
    Would you proose starting with a free platform like WordPress
    orr go for a paid option? There aare so many options out there that I’m completely
    confused ..Any recommendations? Thanks!

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