Gabriel Woods
Published by Gabriel Woods
Last Updated On: March 24, 2023

As an adherent carnivore, I get many questions about everything having to do with meat. And some of those questions are about food that most people have never heard of or used. Potted meat is one of those meats.

Having done extensive research into potted meat and talking with my dietician, I’ve gathered everything you need to know about this dish, including its nutritional value and whether you should include it in your diet.

Quick Summary

  • Potted meat originally referred to a preserving process whereby meat was packed into a pot or jar and then covered with fat.
  • Today, potted meat is typically made of chopped or finely ground beef cooked down into a thick paste and then sold as canned food.
  • Potted meat can be eaten straight from the can or jar but is often used as a spread or ingredient in other dishes.

History of Potted Meat

An image of potted meat on a wooden board

Potting is a method of traditional meat preservation in which cooked meat or chicken is covered with butter or lard, placed in a pot, and tightly packed to keep the air out.

Then, hot fat is poured over the meat. The heat kills pathogenic bacteria and molds that could spoil the meat.

The covered pot or jars are placed in a cool location to allow the fat to solidify and form a seal over the top of the meat or chicken, preventing some spoilage by airborne bacteria.

Potted meat was present in England during the 16th century [1]. A similar process, called confit, was used in France to preserve ducks and geese.

This sort of preservation allowed animal meat or game to be kept for weeks or months in a cool place. The people ate it later in the year, when meat was scarce and a treat.

"Potted Meat is a generic term used to mean meat that is canned, or meat or pieces of meat preserved in a savoury jelly."
- CooksInfo Food Encyclopedia

However, today, the term generally refers to a potted meat food product that is heat-processed and sold in a can.

This potted meat has a much longer shelf life than traditional preservation methods and does not require refrigeration before opening.

Unopened potted meat may last 3-15 years, making it good for your emergency kit and crackers. Nowadays, you can buy potted meat spread from different brands at any convenience grocery store.

The Ingredients in Potted Meat

Potted meat is typically made from a finely ground combination of beef tripe, mechanically separated chicken, beef hearts, and pork.

These animal parts are heated until they are very tender and then shredded or finely ground.

The shredded meat is mixed with fat, salt, and spices and then canned. The spices vary depending on the manufacturer but generally include mustard, garlic powder, vinegar, onion powder, and sugar.

Some brands of potted meat may also contain MSG, although this is not always the case.

The canning process heats the mixture to a high temperature, which kills any bacteria that may be present.

Potted Meat Nutrition

A top view image of potted meat in a jar and bread

Potted meat usually comes in a small can that contains a single serving.

An Armour brand single serving contains approximately:

  • 180 Calories
  • 140 Calories from Fat
  • 15 g Total Fat
  • 4.5 g Saturated
  • 0 g Trans
  • 80 mg Cholesterol
  • 950 mg Sodium
  • 0 g Total Carbohydrate
  • 12 g Protein

As you can see, potted meat is high in sodium, fat, and cholesterol [2]. This makes it a less-than-ideal food for those trying to eat a healthy diet.

However, potted meat can be a delicious option in moderation if you are craving something salty and meaty.

Potted meat also has a substantial amount of protein, which makes it a good choice for those who need to add more protein to their diet.

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The Best Way to Eat It

An image of a potted meat on top of a toasted bread

Potted meat is usually puréed to the consistency of a smooth paste. This can make it unappealing to eat on its own, but there are plenty of ways to incorporate it into other recipes.

Here are some ideas for ways to consume potted meat:

  • Adding it as a spread to make potted meat sandwiches on white bread. You can also serve it on toast.
  • Mixing it with cream cheese and spread it on crackers with pickles.
  • Using it as a dip for chips or vegetables.
  • Putting a bit into a bowl of chili or soup.
  • Cooking it in a casserole or other hot dinner instead of ground beef.

Potted meat can be eaten cold or heated up.

If you choose to heat it, simply open the can and scoop the desired amount into a microwave-safe dish. Heat for 30-60 seconds or until warmed through.


What is the Difference Between Potted Meat and Spam?

The difference between potted meat and spam is that spam is made from ham and pork shoulder meat, whereas potted meat is typically a combination of beef, pork, and chicken. Spam also has a firmer texture than potted meat, which is more of a smooth paste.

Can You Freeze Potted Meat?

Yes, you can freeze potted meat, though the consistency may change after being thawed. To freeze, place the unopened can in the freezer. When you're ready to eat it, put the can in the refrigerator overnight so it becomes soft, and then heat it as before.

Does Potted Meat Taste Good?

Yes, potted meat can taste good, but it’s entirely subjective. The salty, savory flavor can appeal to a meat craving without having to cook anything.

Should You Try This Meat?

Potted meat is a high-fat, high-sodium food that is canned and typically made from a combination of beef, pork, and chicken. It can be a good option in moderation for those who want something that tastes salty and meaty.

But, as a fan of the carnivore lifestyle, I prefer natural, unprocessed meat as the base of my diet. And I have found ButcherBox to be an excellent provider of high-quality, humanely raised meat. Click here to learn more about this meat delivery service.


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