We’ve tested 10 popular supermarket sliced hams. They ranged from cheaper varieties costing just £1.33 per 100g to pricier alternatives costing as much as £3.18 per 100g.
Our tests uncovered two brilliant Best Buy hams you’ll love for your lunchbox or picnic. And the good news is that we’ve found tasty ham for every budget. So, whether you’re feeling frugal or lavish, we’ve got a recommendation for you.
The best ham scored an impressive 82% and was an excellent all-rounder. It looks appetisingly ‘rustic’ and has a good, authentically ‘meaty’ aroma.
But some supermarket hams disappointed in our tests, looking pasty and pale, or tasting artificial. The worst ham we tried scored just 46%.
Best supermarket ham taste test line-up
Below is the full list of all the hams we tasted, in alphabetical order.
- Aldi Specially Selected Wiltshire Cured Ham, plain cooked (£1.59/120g)
- Asda Extra Special Slow Cured Wiltshire Ham Slices (£2/130g)
- Co-op Irresistible Wiltshire Cured Ham (£3.15/120g)
- Iceland Luxury Slices Breaded Wiltshire Ham (£1.79/100g)
- Lidl Deluxe Wiltshire Cured Ham (£1.59/120g)
- M&S British Wiltshire Roast Ham (£3.50/110g)
- Morrisons The Best Cooked Wiltshire Ham (£2.35/100g)
- Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Wiltshire Cured Ham Slices (£2.50/120g)
- Tesco Finest Wiltshire Finely Sliced Ham (£3/125g)
- Waitrose British Wiltshire Cured Ham (£3.49/130g)
You can read our experts’ full tasting notes, and find out how they compared, in our guide to the best supermarket ham.
Prices correct as of August 2018. All were Wiltshire hams, from the supermarket’s premium range. All were unbreaded, with the exception of the Iceland ham, as Iceland only offered a breaded variety. And all were tasted blind, so the experts didn’t know what they were testing.
Cheap ham: what’s the difference?
Our taste test found delicious ham for all budgets. But it’s worth knowing that cheaper hams often contain more water, and more chemicals for retaining water.
This isn’t automatically a bad thing, as you might prefer a ham that’s more moist.
If you like your ham with a dryer texture on your tongue, check the quantity of pork per 100g of ham on the packet, and opt for one with a higher quantity of pork. If water adds up to more than 5% of the product, then the product needs to be labelled as ham with added water.
Find the best cheddar cheese to partner with your ham for a satisfying sandwich.
How nitrate-free ham compared
We also asked our experts to compare the standard hams on test to Finnebrogue’s Naked Outdoor Bred Ham (£2.50/120g), which uses a blend of natural fruit and spice extracts in place of nitrates and nitrites.
Nitrates or nitrites are usually added when processed meats such as ham and bacon are cured. They stop harmful bacteria growing, increase shelf-life and add flavour and colour.
But nitrates and nitrites are converted to nitrosamines – some of which are proven carcinogens – when we eat them.
According to the World Health Organisation and the World Cancer Research Fund, we should restrict our intake of nitrates and nitrites.
Find out how nitrate-free ham compares with standard ham for taste.
Our ham experts
Five renowned pork experts tasted and assessed each premium supermarket sliced ham for us. Our panel members were:
- Sean Cannon Founder and MD of Cannon & Cannon, suppliers of British cured meat.
- Anthony Kitching Co-founder of charcuterie and bar Friends of Ham.
- Hugo Jeffreys Founder of charcuterie producers Blackhand Foods.
- Steve Pearce Co-founder and MD of cooked-meat company Southover Food Company.
- Jamie Prudom Head of business development at The Ginger Pig.