12 Hillshire Farm Deli Meats, Ranked Worst To Best

Sometimes all you want is a sandwich, particularly the kind featuring two slices of squishy white or toothsome whole wheat bread, a layer of something like mustard or mayo, maybe a few vegetables, and a slice of cheese (or two if we're feeling extra hungry). Wait, are we forgetting something? The lunch seems lacking, doesn't it? Oh, right, we're forgetting the most important part: The deli meat, thinly sliced, slightly juicy, and nostalgic as anything. There's just nothing like chomping down on a handheld meal and getting a big bite of our favorite meat. It's so convenient, too! That means you'll want a convenient brand like Hillshire Farm, which you can find just about anywhere, to stuff your sandwich with. 

One of the best things about the Hillshire Farms brand is its diversity of meats, as well as the number of options it has for each type. In our particular store alone, for example, we were able to find four different kinds of ham: Smoked, Black Forest, Honey, and Brown Sugar, each with its own distinct tone. But maybe you generally prefer turkey to ham. Which kind of turkey is best? And is the lower-ranking turkey as good as the higher-ranking ham? Let's get right down to it and start ranking Hillshire Farm deli meat from worst to best, because these are some of life's hardest-hitting questions. At least if you take lunch as seriously as we do.

12. Ultra Thin Sliced Roast Beef

Of all the options on this list, even including hearty ham or peppery pastrami, we place before you the meatiest one: roast beef, in this case, Ultra Thin Sliced Roast Beef. In glorious full-fledged form, a massive roast beef is a common centerpiece at the holiday table. This is the polar opposite treatment, however, and one that's much more accessible. When was the last time you cooked a roast beef over your lunch hour at the office? It's been a while for us, at least. 

It's hard to get that level and depth of roasted, beefy flavor in a slice of deli meat, particularly when it's sliced thinly Though there's a surprising amount of flavor in each slice, we found that we still needed a large percentage of the entire pack in order to have a true roast beef sandwich. Maybe the Ultra Thin size was a bit extreme because the more carnivorous members of our tasting team prefer to lay it on thick. Still, we enjoyed the general taste and texture of the meat and would get it again, though we might pivot to a different brand next time to see how the quality compares.

11. Ultra Thin Sliced Smoked Ham

While turkey may have a mild flavor that plays nice with just about any companion, ham still boasts a million and one potential uses. Ham and cheese sandwiches are probably only second to classic peanut butter and jelly in lunchbox popularity. Sandwiches aside, we vote for this one if you want some ham on hand for rolling up with cheese in protein-rich, snacky sleeping bags. The smokey flavor notes make it extra suitable for a charcuterie board, too, if you want to shape it into ribbons and serve it alongside some upscale smoked cheddar. 

The Ultra Thin Sliced Smoked Ham is just a bit gamier than the others we tasted during this ranking. Where does the Hillshire Farm brand rank overall when compared to the vast array of deli meats on grocery store shelves? Check out this exhaustive list for all the details. We won't spoil the whole thing, but know this brand always earns points for its affordability and accessibility. Anyway, we didn't get a huge amount of smokiness over here and preferred the upcoming Black Forest Ham in the battle of the savorier ham options. It just had a deeper, fresher flavor than this one. 

10. Ultra Thin Sliced Oven Roasted Turkey Breast

This Hillshire Farm product is the basic, run-of-the-mill sliced deli meat turkey. It doesn't have any extra flavoring, no fancy bells and whistles. It is simply turkey. Oh, and it's Ultra Thin, because the brand seems to definitely have a thing for that kind of slicing. As with many of the plainest versions of a product, our taste test team did not have strong opinions one way or the other. Working against a high ranking, though, is that turkey itself is one of the more muted meats in terms of inherent flavor. 

Altogether, it means that this Oven Roasted Turkey Breast doubled down on its simplicity, which is great for picky eaters or those who confidently proclaim they prefer food the old-fashioned way (before mashups like everything bagel potato chips or cookies and cream yogurt hit the market). For the rest of us, it makes a regular old sandwich that doesn't brighten or dull our day. There are much tastier deli meats out there — just keep reading. Know thyself, and know that if you like things in their purest form, this might be your jam, and there's nothing wrong with that. 

9. Ultra Thin Sliced Pastrami Lunch Meat

Everyone has heard of the quintessential pastrami on rye sandwich, and if you haven't tried it out for yourself, now is the time. Go out and grab some Ultra Thin Sliced Pastrami, heat it up gently, and don't forget the bread. Better yet, bake it up yourself for the freshest, fiercest, fanciest sandwich of your life. Pastrami has a brashly peppery, zesty border that can be off-putting to some and a real selling point for others. That verve should infiltrate the rest of the slice and not just the edge, but unfortunately, this Hillshire Farm pastrami didn't quite go the extra mile. 

Also, pastrami is especially salty when tasted back-to-back with other mild meats like turkey breast or rotisserie chicken. Personally, we love the salt-and-pepper profile. It's what makes the meat, and we think it's slightly lacking here. There's also just less of a deep, rich, fatty flavor than the competition. But pastrami is pastrami, and when you want it, nothing else will do.

8. Ultra Thin Sliced Brown Sugar Ham

We will readily admit when we are humbled, so here's our honest opinion on the Ultra Thin Brown Sugar Ham: It surprised us in a good way! Yes, we came into these first bites with some trepidation. It's not hard to see why, because when the first two words before "ham" are "brown sugar," and comes with a slightly defensive-sounding disclaimer declaring that the product contains up to 28% of a seasoning solution, well, it seemed like we were in for some Frankenstein-like creation. But the actual deli meat did not taste overly sugary or distastefully artificial. 

We could definitely detect an added layer of flavor, and it was clearly emulating the glistening glaze on a sugar-slicked roast. We generally think the glaze should stay away from our lunch meat sandwiches, and that the brown sugar flavor is much better suited for a big family dinner tying together both meat and, say, baked apples. But it earns points for coziness.

7. Ultra Thin Sliced Honey Roasted Turkey Breast Lunch Meat

A lacy slice of this Ultra Thin Honey Roasted Turkey Breast feels like a delicacy. First of all, you have a nearly translucent cut of meat, slight enough for you to choose exactly how many layers you want on your dream sandwich. Second, that brush with honey doesn't make the turkey sweet, per se, but does round out the flavor nicely and makes room for the more subtle notes that you get in turkey as opposed to roast beef or ham. 

These don't have much heft to them, but if you're going less for quantity and more for purity of flavor, it's a great pick. If your local grocery store doesn't have Hillshire Farm deli meat stocked, or they happen to be out of your favorite (ours is still yet to come), you might be interested in reading about the best Boar's Head deli meat for a little competition. Just this once, of course. Don't worry, we won't tell anyone.

6. Ultra Thin Sliced Honey Ham Lunch Meat

Would you believe it if we told you that the most popular purchase at a deli counter isn't even on this list? In fact, it isn't even meat! But coming in hot on its heels in second place is good old ham. Whenever we taste a classic ham sandwich fully stacked with meat like this, we definitely get it. Flavor-wise, the Ultra Thin Sliced Honey Ham Lunch Meat sits in between the more pronounced sweetness of the Brown Sugar Ham and the more savory Black Forest Ham. 

We can't be the only ones who aren't exactly looking for extra sweetness in our deli meat, though, right? If so, keep going, because the best is yet to come. Here's a hint: They are all more on the savory side from here on out. But if you decide to partake in this honey-baked ham-style deli meat, there are a lot of creative ways you can make the most of that hint of syrupy goodness. Try spreading some raspberry jam and cream cheese on a slice of toast, adding a few slices of Honey Ham, and heating it up. It's chic as heck. 

5. Premium Carved Oven Roasted Turkey Breast

Oh guys, here we go. Let's get into the Premium Carved Oven Roasted Turkey Breast. Now, meat this good can be used in a rainbow of ways with an equally colorful rainbow of toppings, sides, and sauces to boot. The team agreed that we liked this one quite a lot, but it's unlikely to prove cost-efficient for most consumers. Just think about it: We could make a run to the nearest grocery store and pick up a fresh, hot rotisserie chicken for much less. It makes this pricey lunch meat much harder to justify. 

But one way in which we can absolutely, 100% feel good about ourselves for buying this? It's actually quite healthy. It's free of lots of the funky stuff we would rather not have in our lunches (added nitrates, artificial ingredients) but full of all that handy protein to keep us full until we can eat a real, hot, oven-roasted turkey at dinner time. The nutrition boxes are checked, which gives the product a few extra points.

4. Premium Carved Slow Roasted Seasoned Ham

On the flip side of the Premium Carved Turkey argument, there's no rotisserie ham on the market as of the publishing of this article. That means that if you want some ham, you can't exactly go get one that's hot and ready to eat. Therefore, purchasing this high-quality Premium Carved Slow Roasted Seasoned Ham is definitely justifiable. It's a cut above the other four ham offerings from Hillshire Farm. We could tell just by looking at it, even when removed from its more elegant packaging, that this is good stuff. Both visually and taste-wise, it falls less in the realm of deli meat and more in the realm of, as advertised, freshly carved home-roasted ham. 

The slices are thicker and juicier, preserving more of the natural fats and juices. We loved the genuine family dinner flavor and thought it would be great heated up and served alongside some baked beans and cornbread as a near-dupe of the real thing. It's a little extra for a ham-and-cheese sandwich, but sometimes we all need a little more luxury in our lives. It's too pricey to buy every single time you want ham, but once in a while, we'll gladly splurge.

3. Ultra Thin Sliced Black Forest Ham

The best Hillshire Farm ham we tried was the Ultra Thin Sliced Black Forest Ham. One of the things we most enjoy about some lunch meat is that it toes the fine line between hearty dinner fare and a light anytime snack. When the meat gets a leg up from the lunch table with deep, rich Black Forest Ham flavor, we're even more satisfied without feeling overly full. It's everything that a good, reliable ham should be. 

We found it to be ideal for a sandwich, easy for a snack, and even affable enough to go with breakfast if need be. It's partly due to that nice contrast we got between the center and edges. As you can see in the picture, this ham has that much-desired caramel-colored rim, which adds a fun flair. Literally, the slices just flair better when folded, creating ribbons of two-toned meat. You can't get a picture-perfect fat stack without those edges. There's a hint of sweetness, more than a hint of savoriness, plenty of salt, and lots of pork flavor. We have a standby ham here, folks. 

2. Ultra Thin Sliced Lower Sodium Oven Roasted Turkey Breast

We are fully aware of how strange it is to place not just a turkey deli meat in second place, and to add insult to injury, a lower sodium turkey. But hear us out: It tastes just as good, if not better, than the heavily salted meats. This Ultra Thin Sliced Lower Sodium Oven Roasted Turkey Breast is your entry to the world of lower-sodium alternatives to your favorite meat products if you don't already have a foot in the door. We also think it would be a great foundation for a club sandwich so you can cut at least some of the sodium out of at least one of the layers (the others being ham and roast beef).

We found that instead of dulling the flavor by reducing the salt content, it actually heightened the delicate rosy profile of turkey breast. We could better taste the other ingredients we paired with our lunch meat slices (cheese, bread, and mustard) but also somehow tasted more of the turkey itself. Maybe it's a one-time thing, but we're inclined to believe that we stumbled upon a healthier sandwich and sacrificed nothing along the way. 

1. Ultra Thin Rotisserie Seasoned Chicken Breast

You're probably laughing at us for our No. 1 pick right now, but oh man, do we love a good rotisserie chicken. Seriously, it's the height of convenience and an emblem of practicality. And everyone on our team agrees that one of the best, most elusive selling points is the seasoning blend that infuses the chicken with peppery, salty flavor. Maybe it's that celery that gives it warmth, almost like chicken noodle soup, that we can't seem to get enough of. It's what makes this particular lunch meat from Hillshire Farm so good, and, dare we say, ingenious. We are now tried and true fans of the Ultra Thin Rotisserie Seasoned Chicken Breast.

Rotisserie chickens are usually fresh and hot, and obviously this refrigerated lunch meat is not, but you can taste the same comfort-food flavor. Even though you can only safely store deli meat in the fridge for a few days, we think you'll have no trouble consuming every last slice of this chicken long before it has gone bad. And if for some reason you choose a different lunch, you can always freeze some for later. We didn't, though, because we just kept popping "one more slice" in our mouths as a "little snack." Yeah, you know the drill. A complete shock to all involved, chicken comes out on top.