Unraveling the Distinctions: Spam vs Pork Roll

Spam vs. Pork Roll – What’s the difference?

When it comes to popular pork products, Spam and Pork Roll often find a place in many households. While they may seem similar, there are distinct differences between the two. Understanding these differences can help you make informed decisions about the products you use in your cooking and the flavors you want to experience. In this article, we’ll delve into the differences between Spam and pork buns, exploring their ingredients, appearance, and taste.

All About Pork Roll

The pork roll is a processed pork product that originated in the United States and is particularly popular in New Jersey and neighboring areas. It is made from coarsely ground pork shoulder, which is then salt-cured using sodium nitrate. This curing process gives pork roll its unique pink color and distinct flavor.
Flavor-wise, Pork Roll can be described as a combination of regular bacon and Canadian bacon, with a less smoky and hammy profile. It is commonly sliced and cooked on the stovetop, similar to frying bacon, but can also be enjoyed cold, either in sandwiches or as part of a platter. Notably, in New Jersey, bacon is sometimes referred to as Taylor ham, named after a famous brand of bacon.

All About Spam

Spam is another popular processed pork product, known not only in the United States, but also in the United Kingdom and South Korea. Unlike pork buns, Spam is made from a mixture of ground pork and processed ham. It is combined with selected spices, sugar, salt, sodium nitrate, potato starch, and preservatives.
Once the ingredients are mixed, the mixture is cooked and then canned and vacuum-sealed for long-lasting freshness. Spam can be stored in the pantry and only requires refrigeration after opening. Spam tastes similar to regular ham, but tends to be slightly spicier and saltier due to the canning and cooking process. It can be fried, cooked in various dishes, or served cold.

The difference between Spam and pork roulade

While Spam and Pork Roll may look similar when cooked and sliced, there are notable differences between the two:


Bologna consists primarily of coarsely ground pork shoulder, sugar, salt, and other preservatives. Spam, on the other hand, consists of processed ham, ground pork, salt, sugar, sodium nitrate, potato starch, and preservatives.


Bologna is rolled into a sausage-like shape that can be sliced and fried or used in sandwiches. Spam typically comes in a rectangular shape, as most Spam cans are rectangular, although alternative shapes may exist.


Spam has a taste similar to ham, but with potentially saltier and spicier notes. There are also variations of Spam available, such as those that are infused with peppers. Pork bacon, on the other hand, tastes like a cross between Canadian bacon and regular bacon, but with a milder ham flavor and less smokiness.

Similarities between Pork Bacon and Spam

While there are differences, it’s also important to note the similarities between bacon and Spam:

  • Both products are made from pork and ham and have a similar texture to pork sausage.
  • Both go through a curing process before being packaged so they can be eaten cold or cooked.
  • When stored properly, both pork rolls and Spam have a longer shelf life than fresh meat, making them convenient options for households.

Related Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about the differences between Spam and Pork Roll:

Is Taylor Ham just Spam?

No, Taylor Ham is not Spam. Taylor Ham is more like a pork roll than Spam in terms of ingredients and flavor.

Does bacon taste like ham?

Pork Roll tastes more like a combination of bacon and Canadian bacon than traditional ham. It has a milder smoky flavor compared to bacon.
Understanding the differences between Spam and bacon can broaden your culinary knowledge and help you decide which product is right for you. Whether you’re looking for a distinct flavor profile or a versatile ingredient for a variety of recipes, knowing the differences between these two pork products can enhance your cooking experience.


No, Pork Roll and Taylor Ham are not the same. Taylor ham is a popular brand of pork roll, named after its founder. While pork roll is the more generic term used to describe this type of processed pork product, Taylor ham refers specifically to the product of that particular brand.

Can I substitute Spam for Pork Roll in recipes?

Although Spam and Pork Roll are both processed pork products, they have different flavours and textures. Substituting one for the other may change the taste and result of a recipe. It is best to use the recommended ingredient to achieve the desired flavour and result.

Are Spam and bacon healthier than fresh pork?

Spam and bacon are processed meats and may contain added preservatives and sodium. As with any processed food, it is important to eat them in moderation. Fresh, unprocessed pork is generally a leaner and more natural option.

Can I freeze Spam and pork rolls?

Both Spam and Pork Rolls can be frozen for longer storage. It is recommended that they are wrapped tightly in freezer safe packaging to maintain their quality. When ready to use, defrost in the fridge before cooking or eating.

Are there vegetarian or vegan alternatives to Spam and pork rolls?

For those following a vegetarian or vegan diet, there are plant-based alternatives that mimic the taste and texture of Spam and pork rolls. These alternatives are usually made from ingredients such as tofu, tempeh or seitan and can be found in speciality shops or made at home using various recipes.