Spam Vs. Corned Beef | Are They The Same?

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Buying fresh meat, cleaning, and cooking it sounds like too much of a job. However, try a processed meat product if you want to quickly add some meat flavor. Spam and corned beef are two of the most popular options available to us. But are they just the same?

Corned Beef

Spam and corned beef aren’t the same things. Even though both are processed meat, they are different from each other. They are very different in their appearance, taste, nutrients, and culinary usage.

Spam and corned meat are a type of processed meat with high sodium content. Spam is made from pork, whereas corned beef is made from the brisket part of the cow. Corned beef is nothing but pickled beef, but Spam contains much more ingredients than just pork meat and salt. 

This is just a glimpse of the difference between the two. Even though both meat dishes are treated equally, there is a considerable difference between the two. If you are intrigued to know more about these, keep reading the article. 

Spam Vs. Corned Beef | Difference Table

Basis Of Difference SpamCorned Beef
Place Of OriginAmericaEurope
Main Ingredient PorkBeef
Added Preservative Sodium NitratePink Salt 
TasteSalty ham Salty and spicy with a hint of meaty flavor.
Appearance Pinkish in color and have a flat meat appearance Pinkish hue with textured meat.
SubstitutesSome suitable substitutes are Spam, pork rolls, potted meat, scrapple, jambon, and tofu.Pastrami, roast beef, ham, beef brisket, and pork shoulder are some of the best-corned beef substitutes.

What Is Spam?


Spam has been here for a long time and has almost become synonymous with canned meat. If you are someone who never had Spam before, here is a little introduction to America’s one of the oldest and favorite meats.

Spam is a popular canned meat and was first manufactured in 1937. In a nutshell, it’s processed pork meat. It was first created in Austin, Minnesota. It was inexpensive and rose to popularity during the second world war time. 

The word “Spam” is supposed to be derived from pork and ham and are essentially its primary components. Other than this, it also contains salt, water, modified potato starch, sugar, and sodium nitrate.

While potato starch acts as a binding age, sodium nitrate works as a preservative. This mixture is prepared and then pressed into the can once it reaches a specific temperature. This means Spam is good to eat right from the pan. However, most people prefer to cook it again before eating it.

Spam tastes much like ham and has a spicy flavor to it. It is soft and has a good mouth texture to it. However, almost 15 varieties of Spam are now available and have even chicken and turkey flavors.

Spam can be used either baked or grilled. It also works great as an ingredient for burgers and sandwiches. If you love to have some meat for your breakfast, then some grilled spam along with some egg and bread could be your daily meal. 

What Is Corned Beef? 

Corned Beef

Many people often think about corn when they first hear corned beef. But does the actual corn have anything to do with corned beef? No! Then, what exactly is corned beef? If you are not familiar with this dish, read on!

Corned beef, also known as salt beef, is a type that has been cured in salt for a long time. Corned beef is mostly made from beef brisket. Since beef brisket is kosher meat, it’s common in Jewish delicacies. 

Besides the brisket part, corned beef is also made from the round primal cut. Both round primal cut and brisket parts are tough meat. The curing of beef takes almost 5 to 8 days. Besides beef and salt, it also includes ingredients like garlic and spices. 

While preparing cured beef, pink curing salt is often added to the mixture as a preservative. This is a common preservative in most processed meats like ham, bacon, salami, and hotdogs. 

Corned beef, just like Spam, is a fully cooked ingredient. Thus if you wish to taste some of it straight out of the can, you can do that! It works great as an ingredient in burgers and sandwiches. 

However, don’t rush to taste it. Corned beef is available in both cooked and raw form. If you have a raw one with you, make sure to cook the meat slowly before having it. Corned beef is salty and has a pickle-like taste to it. 

Spam Vs. Corned Beef | Similarities Between The Two


Now that we have talked so much about both types of meat, you must be intrigued too much about them. As you know, this article is all about the differences. However, before talking about the differences, let’s see their similarities.

Both Are Pre-Cooked Food 

When talking about Spam and corned beef, the biggest similarity between them is that both of them are pre-cooked meat. They are good to have on their own. However, most people prefer to have them lightly cooked rather than raw.

Both Of Them Use Salt As Their Main Ingredients 

Most of us are worried about the added preservatives when talking about canned food. However, when it comes to Spam and corned beef, both use salt as one of their main ingredients and preservatives.

Spam Vs. Corned Beef | Differences Between The Two

Corned Beef

Although many people mistook Spam for corned beef and vice versa, now we know that both of these are two different ingredients. Hence in this section, let’s look at some of the vivid similarities between the two.

1. Origin 

Both Spam and corned beef are two different dishes that have different origins to them. Tracing corned beef’s origin can be a little tricky as people have been using it for a very long time. However, the first one to commercialize corned beef was the Britishers.

Spam, on the other hand, has a very clear history. It was introduced by Hormel Food Corporation in 1937. However, Spam rose in popularity during the second world war time. 

2. Taste 

Even though both Spam and corned beef use salt as their main ingredients, they don’t have a common taste. Both the meat dishes have a unique taste of their own. Since it contains ham, Spam tastes a lot like salted ham. 

Whereas corned beef has a very balanced taste to it. We can taste the flavor of beef, spices, a little sourness, and a little saltiness while having the meat.

3. Appearance 

If you think appearance matters, then you might not like Spam! Spam has a distasteful look, and people call it “flat meat .”However, that’s not entirely true. Spam comes in pink color and contains a lot of flavors to it. 

Corned beef also has a pinkish color to them. They are softer and keep the texture of beef. Thus, they look appetizing and almost resemble the original meat flavor and texture. 

4. Culinary Usage

Even though both types of meat are canned and ready to eat, both are often cooked in a specific way before eating them. People often prefer to have it directly out of the can when it comes to Spam.

Other than that, it works great for grilling, baking, and frying. They just get along with most recipes. Spam just works well, whether you want to use it along with a regular sandwich or place them in sushi. 

However, that’s not the case with corned beef. Corned beef, even though it can be eaten on its own, most people prefer to have it after proper cooking. To get the best taste out of corned beef, it is better to slow-cook them.

5. Nutritional Profile 

Both Spam and corned beef have comprehensive nutritional profiles to them. So in this section, let us overview their nutritional profile. 

Compared to the two, corned beef has more nutrients than that Spam. It contains much more fat, protein, and iron content. Corned beef doesn’t contain any carbs, and Spam has a higher amount of carbs in it.

Also, when compared between the two, Spam has a higher calorie value than Spam. Spam, on the other hand, is a great source of many nutrients like zinc, potassium, iron, and copper. Both of them are great sources of sodium. 

6. Substitutes

Both Spam and corned beef are very convenient foods. If you are in a rush or want to cook something easily, these two processed pieces of meat can greatly help. They are not just easy-to-cook dishes but are also very tasty. 

But if you don’t have any of these at home and still want to enjoy a similar taste, here are some substitute recommendations for both of them. Regarding Spam, pork rolls, potted meat, scrapple, jambon, and tofu are suitable substitutes.

On the other hand, pastrami, roast beef, ham, beef brisket, and pork shoulder are some of the best-corned beef substitutes you can try. 

7. Expiry Date 

As we know, both Spam and corned beef are processed food and have a longer expiry period than regular meat. Thus Spam usually has the best date and is good almost up to three years after the manufacturing date.

On the other hand, an unopened can of corned beef has an expiry of up to 5 years. However, once opened, both of these should be kept in the fridge or freezer to have the best use of it.

8. Price 

Even though both are canned meat, there is a price difference between the two. Spam is much cheaper and pocket friendly than corned beef. Corned beef is a little expensive and is a little harder to come by than Spam. 

The affordability and taste of Spam made it quite popular among the masses. 

Top Dishes To Make With Spam 

Now that we have a fair idea about Spam let’s look at some of the dishes we can cook using Spam. 

1. Spam Musubi 

spam musubi

If you are someone who has never tried soam before, then you should start having it as spam musubi. It is one of the tastiest and most popular dishes we can make with Spam. This Hawain recipe is here to steal the mind.

If you are in Hawaii, spam musubi is something you can see people carrying around. It uses seaweed and rice as its main ingredient. For making this recipe, start by marinating Spam in oyster sauce, soy sauce, sugar, and salt. After marinating, cook them for some time until the sides are brown in color.

Place nori, rice block, and Spam together and put them into a mold. The spam musubi is ready to be served. Serve them with some ketchup or soy sauce. 

2. Spam Tacos 

spam tacos

If you are looking for a recipe to try this holiday, then these spam tacos are the ideal one. It doesn’t require so much preparation time and is an ideal meal to calm all your quick mid-deal cravings. 

It is extremely easy to prepare. Just cook some spam. Place a tortilla on a pan, and heat it for some time. Add some cilantro, cherry tomatoes, and olives to it. Add the cooked meat to it as per your requirement. Top it off with some shredded cheese and wrap it. Cook both sides for a minute and serve it along with some sauces.

3. Crispy Spam Steak 

crispy spam steak

We all love to munch on something while watching a show or while chatting with our friends. Give this crispy spam steak a try if you are up for a new taste other than the regular French fries! It is crunchy and flavorful, and easy to make.

For making this recipe, start by preparing the coat. For this, mix some all-purpose flour with some beaten eggs and salt. Into a pan, add some oil for deep frying. Cover the meat in the coat and then on the bread crumbs before putting it in the oil.

Cook until they are brown and crispy. Serve them with your favorite sauces or as a filling for the regular tortillas.

4. Spam Fried Rice 

Spam fried rice

Rice is something we all enjoy. Not just it fills our tummy but also our hearts. If you are a fan of regular fried rice, give this Spam fried rice a try. It tastes similar to regular fried rice, only with the twist of Spam’s taste. 

5. Budae Jjigae 

budae jjigae

There is nothing to beat a bowl of soup. There is nothing like a bowl of soup, whether it’s a good day or a bad one. If you are a fan of Korean cooking, then this budae jjigae, also known as army soup, could be your favorite soup dish. 

This dish is a fusion of Korean and American ingredients and brings a fusion of tastes to your table. It uses hams, Spam, bacon, and beans are high-calorie food. However, it is so tasty that it is hard to resist! So next time you have your cheat day, try this super delicious dish!

Top Dishes To Make With Corned Beef

Corned beef has been a regular in many people’s diets. Its taste and convenience of use is the primary reason for this. Here are some of our recommendations if you are looking for some recipes to try with corned beef. 

1. Reuben Bowl 

Reuben bowl

If you are too concerned about carbs, here is an easy recipe to try! This Reuben bowl tastes exactly like a Reuben sandwich; it’s just that we don’t use any bread. It is quick to make dish. 

For making the recipe, start by making the dressing. For this, mix mayonnaise, pickle, horseradish, lemon juice, and Worcestershire sauce, along with some salt and lemon juice. In another pan, toast some caraway seeds.

Remove the seeds and use the same skillet for cooking onions, carrots, and cabbage. Cook until they are brown and soft. Add corned beef and sauerkraut to the pan and cook for some time. Add some cheese and serve it hot.

2. Corned Beef And Cabbage 

corned beef and cabbage

This corned beef and cabbage is the most-made recipe from corned beef. The saltiness of corned beef and the slight sweetness of cabbage is a perfect blend and is a treat of its own! Start with this recipe if you are unsure what to cook from corned beef. 

To make the recipe, start by boiling the beef in a pan. Add spice packet, bay leaves, and thyme into the boiling water. Cook until the beef is soft. Into the same pan, add potatoes and carrots and let them cook.

Last, add some cabbage and bring it to a boil. Remove the meat and vegetables from the broth and slice and serve them. 

3. Corned Beef Pickled Bites

corned beef pickled

If you love to enjoy pickles, these corned beef pickled bits could be your favorite side dish. It is extremely easy to make and creates a flavor burst in our mouth. 

Start by preparing a salad dressing. Mix mayonnaise, pickle, horseradish, lemon juice, and Worcestershire sauce, along with some salt and lemon juice. Place a corned beef slice between the pickle chips, dip them in the sauce, and enjoy the bite.

4. Easy Corned Beef Egg Roll

corned beef egg roll recipe

Try this corned beef egg roll recipe if you are wondering what to cook this holiday season. The crispness of egg rolls and corned beef’s saltiness is too delicious to be missed out. 

5. Corned Beef And Cabbage Slider 

corned beef and cabbage slider recipe

Sliders are the best dishes to carry if you are travelling. They are delicious and are no mess food. If you are too busy to prepare an extensive meal, try this corned beef and cabbage slider recipe

Spam Vs. Corned Beef | Which Is Healthier?

Corned Beef

Compared to the two, corned beef has high nutrient content and lower caloric value than Spam. Corned beef doesn’t also contain carbs in it. Thus when compared between the two, corned beef is healthier than Spam.

As we have said, both corned beef and Spam are canned food with a lot of salt content. Even though they might be easy to use, the regular use of both these dishes isn’t advisable. 

Spam Vs. Corned Beef | Which Is Tastier?

Corned Beef

Both Spam and corned beef are extremely delicious and are hard to choose. However, if you have to choose between the two, go for corned beef. Corned beef is extremely flavorful, with a burst of spicy flavor and saltiness.

That being said, Spam is also extremely delicious. It brings in the flavor of both pork and ham and is a delicious filling to your sandwiches and burgers.

Spam Vs. Corned Beef | Which Is More Versatile?

Corned Beef

Spam has a lot of varieties to it. Spam has over 15 varieties and comes in different flavors. Also, there are so many dishes that we can cook using Spam as its main ingredient. Therefore Spam is more versatile than corned beef.

Spam Vs. Corned Beef | Which Is Better?

Corned Beef

Undoubtedly, we can say that corned beef is better than Spam. It has a rich flavor profile and is healthier when compared to that Spam. However, if you are someone who loves the taste of pork, then Spam could be your thing. 


Spam and corned beef are processed meat that uses salt as their main ingredients. While Spam is used from pork, corned beef, as its name suggests, uses beef as its meat. Both of the dishes are extremely delicious and are quite popular.

Compared to Spam and corned beef, corned beef is much better than Spam as it is much more flavorful and healthier than Spam. However, if you are someone who loves to explore different varieties, then Spam is something you should give a try!

So if you are yet to try these dishes, try them very soon and let us know which one you would prefer! Until then, see you with another article. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is corned beef better than Spam?

Corned beef is much better than Spam as it is much more flavorful and healthier than Spam.

Is corned beef in a can healthy?

Yes. When compared to Spam, canned beef is healthy.

Is Spam a healthy meat?

No. Even though spam is a convenient food it is not a healthy food. It contains so much preservative to prolong its shelf life.

What animal is corned beef?

Corned beef as its name suggest is made from beef brisket.

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