Deli-Style Chicken Breast Lunchmeat

If you’re like us and on a real food diet, there are some things that you just miss. Like lunchmeat. Slightly sweet, salty, cold meat is quite satisfying on a hot day or when you’re out running errands. Sure, there are “natural” commercial brands available, but they still have a long list of ingredients and are often made from the meat of animals that are raised in confinement feeding operations eating corn, soy, and other cheap junk feedstuffs common to industry. Even “organic” operations can use certain chemicals and can employ feedlot-style practices to finish the livestock rearing process. I have yet to see a pasture-raised deli meat for sale at any store!

Here’s a really simple recipe for making your lunchmeat with no nitrates, preservatives, or other icky ingredients! The hardest step is remembering to thaw out the meat!

Deli-Style Chicken Breast Lunchmeat
  1. 1 lb boneless chicken breast (skin on or skinless is fine)
  2. 2 Tbs honey or sugar
  3. 3 tsp sea salt (coarse is fine)
  4. Coarsely ground black pepper
  1. Place the raw chicken (or turkey) breast, salt, sugar, and pepper into a glass dish or plastic ziplock bag. Squish well until meat is coated with seasonings. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap down against the surface to block out air, or if using bag, squeeze as much air out as you can.
  2. Marinate for 4-48 hours in the refrigerator. I've done a short version and the long version, and the shorter method works fine if you’re in a hurry.
  3. After marination, rinse the meat well. If you marinated the meat overnight, soak in a bowl of cold water for 1 hour to remove some of the salt.
  4. Place in a glass baking dish that fits the chicken breasts in snugly so they don’t dry out and bake uncovered at 350F for 20-45 minutes, depending on how thick the layer of meat is. It's better to use a smaller pan to keep moisture from evaporating so the meat doesn't dry out. If you army-cook like I do, your pan will be stuffed full of meat and will take a bit longer to cook. When it looks done (lightly browned) and the liquid is bubbling, it’s ready. For skin-on breast, cook them skin-side up and the baste the skin with lard once during the early part of baking so the skin will not be rubbery.
  5. Cool then chill and slice for sandwiches or cold cuts or cube for chicken salad. Freezes well.
Shady Grove Ranch

3 Responses to Deli-Style Chicken Breast Lunchmeat

  1. Mick says:

    Nice! This is exactly why I googled “how to cook chicken breast for sandwich meat”. I love deli meat but I can’t find sustainably/ethically raised deli meat anywhere. I thought it was funny that your recipe cited the reason I came here as well. Thanks a bunch!

  2. Mr. Freeman says:

    I only cooked 1.5 lbs of chicken which were 3 small breasts. It took about an hour and 20 minutes to cook all the way through but turned out moist and flavorful! I would suggest doing more than an hour of soak in cold water however as it is still very salty. All in all I’m very happy to finally have a lunch meat I can eat!

  3. Lou Ann says:

    I would use less salt next time you make it. I usually use about 1 tsp and it comes out really tasty.

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