What Makes a Great Sliced Bologna Lunchmeat?

Whether the menu calls for a simple sandwich or a big-time hoagie, you can’t go wrong with bologna. Delivering just the right amount of seasoning, bologna blends well with any kind of bread, topping or condiment. It’s also great served with spicier meats, balancing out their intensity with its moderate flavor and chewy texture. Though it’s mostly used as a lunch meat, you can also get creative: Sliced, rolled up or served with pickles, bologna makes a great appetizer or football snack. Our chefs define high-quality refrigerated, sliced regular and beef bologna lunch meat as having moderate aroma with notes of meat, light smoke and seasoning. Bologna’s coloring and slice thickness can vary depending on the choice of the manufacturer, but bologna should not have a gray or neon color. There should be no aroma off notes, including packaging or metallic notes. Sliced bologna is in taste balance when bold saltiness is the leading basic taste. Sweetness should follow at low levels. Sourness and bitterness should not be detected. In the flavor profile for bologna, meat flavor should lead at moderate levels. Seasoning flavors will follow, but they should not overwhelm the meat flavor. The bologna’s flavor character should be moderately complex, including a nice a blend of meat and seasoning that delivers just enough flavor without becoming too complex or intense. Sliced bologna lunchmeat should be delectably chewy—the perfect lunch meat to eat right out of the package. It should not feel mushy or soft. Bologna will have a tender texture that isn’t rubbery, bouncy or spongy. It should have a quick dissolve without any particulates slowing it down. Because of bologna’s fat content, the mouthfeel is not expected to be completely clean, but it should not feel greasy on the palate. When eaten in a sandwich with mayonnaise, bologna’s flavor intensity and character should come through at moderate levels.

Tasting terms

  • texture

    A dimension used to organize attributes like mouthfeel, graininess and initial bite, it is one of the five dimensions used by ChefsBest Master Tasters to evaluate food. Example: Glazed popcorn will have a crunch texture. The texture of milk chocolate should be creamy and smooth.

  • flavor

    A combination of a food's basic taste and its accompanying aroma, flavor is the distinctive taste of a food or ingredient while it is in the mouth. Along with aroma, appearance, texture and taste, flavor is one of the five dimensions considered by ChefsBest Master Tasters. Example: Chocolate chip cookies should have a moderate chocolate flavor accompanied by a slightly lower level of complex dough flavor that includes egg, flour, vanilla and brown sugar notes.

  • aroma

    The smell that emanates from food. Along with appearance, texture, flavor and taste, aroma is one of the five dimensions used to evaluate a product. Example: Brownies should have an aroma that includes chocolate as well as egg, toasty and sweet notes.

  • off notes

    Inappropriate flavors, such as rancid or oxidized oils, freezer burn, plastic, metallic or other flavors acquired from a food’s packaging and storage. Example: Canned pineapple that picks up a metallic flavor from its can or stale flavors from freezer burn in a frozen entrée are types of off notes.

  • metallic

    Having the flavor of a can or foil; typically an off note acquired from a product’s packaging. Example: Some canned foods, like ham, can acquire metallic flavors from their metal containers.

  • character

    The combined aromas and flavors of a particular food or ingredient. The character of a food is considered simple when it is one-dimensional, but it is complex when it has many discernible ingredients. Example: Mole sauce has several ingredients that blend to give the sauce a complex character. Granulated sugar has a very simple character.

  • mouthfeel

    The texture experienced while food is being eaten. Examples include smooth, chalky, grainy or greasy. Example: Super premium ice cream is often described as having a rich and smooth mouthfeel.

  • flavor intensity

    A measurement of the strength of a flavor in a particular food. Example: High-quality chocolate will have high cocoa flavor intensity.