Homemade Turkey Lunch Meat is so easy! In just over 30 minutes, you'll have delicious, juicy low-sodium sandwich meat healthier than what's at the deli!
Can you believe Homemade Turkey Lunch Meat takes just a minute of prep and needs only 30 minutes in the oven?!!
It does when you turn roasted turkey breast tenderloins into turkey cold cuts! It's definitely less work than making Thanksgiving Turkey.
Some of you might be yawning, but making your own turkey sandwich meat is a gamechanger.
This method is so easy, I haven't been buying any more sodium-nitrate-filled, sugar-laden deli turkey for my guys' sandwiches. It's only nitrate-free turkey in this house! (Here's information from WebMD about the hazards of sodium nitrate.)
Why I started making lunch meat
With doctor's orders to watch sodium and processed foods, I had tried buying low-sodium deli meat, which still has lots of salt and costs as much as seafood. I even bought sodium-free turkey once...and might as well have made sandwiches with shoe leather, it was so dry.
And deli turkey, like other luncheon meats, is processed. One look at the label had me looking for a deli turkey recipe.
So, I decided to look up turkey lunch meat recipes. I found one that called for a cooking time of 30 minutes at 400 degrees F.
Bingo! (I wish I could find the source again so I could give credit, but I'm not seeing it. At any rate, I changed the ingredients and kept the method.)
I’d found the perfect starting point for Homemade Turkey Lunch Meat.
Buh-bye, store-bought deli meat! Hello, homemade sliced turkey sandwiches!
Turkey Breast Tenderloins – Look for plain-Jane, turkey breast tenderloins without added ingredients. (I usually buy Honeysuckle White).
You might be tempted to buy a turkey breast, but check the label first. Many turkey breasts are shockingly full of sodium and sugar.
Seasonello – Seasonello (affiliate link) is a combination of sea salt, rosemary, garlic, sage, and pepper. It’s a great way to enhance meats, veggies and fish without adding lots of sodium.
My recipe only calls for ½ teaspoon of Seasonello total, for almost two pounds of turkey breast tenderloins. This adds 270 mg of sodium to whatever is already in the turkey you buy.
When using Honeysuckle White turkey breast tenderloins, each serving of this low-sodium lunch meat clocks in at 124 mg of sodium. You can use even less Seasonello or skip the added salt and just use garlic powder, pepper, rosemary and sage.
But my recipe includes far less sodium than what's in the deli meat at the store.
How to make turkey lunch meat
See the recipe card at the bottom of the post for full instructions, but here's an overview.
- Rub olive oil on each tenderloin, then sprinkle seasoning on top.
- Bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees.
- Save yourself some cleanup time by lining the baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.
- If the turkey tenderloins are skinny, they will cook faster than thicker pieces. A few minutes before the tenderloins are done, check the smaller/thinner pieces so they don’t overcook. The turkey is done when the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.
- To keep your turkey moist and juicy, allow the roasted turkey breast tenderloins to sit loosely covered with foil for about 10 minutes before slicing.
How to slice turkey breast tenderloins
If you're planning to serve roasted turkey tenderloins for dinner, you can slice them half an inch thick. If you plan on using the tenderloins for homemade lunch meat, slice them thinly into medallions.
You can slice the turkey using:
- A chef's knife with a straight edge (affiliate link)
- An electric knife (affiliate link). Note, the serrated blades will create ridges on the meat.
- A deli slicer machine (affiliate link). This will produce the best results.
To achieve thin slices using a chef's knife, it helps to chill the roasted tenderloins in the refrigerator for at least an hour first.
How to serve it
This turkey also is delicious in a salad with strawberries and feta. Try it with our family's dressing from The Best Italian Green Salad.
Frequently asked questions
You can definitely freeze lunch meat. Portion out individual servings of sliced turkey breast in sandwich bags, then place those in a freezer bag. You can thaw just what you need!
Since there are no preservatives, homemade turkey lunch meat should be refrigerated and used within four days. You can freeze it as directed above for longer storage.
More poultry recipes to enjoy
- Easy One-Pan Roasted Chicken and Vegetables
- Italian Chicken Cutlets (The Best!)
- Terrific Turkey Chili with Black Beans
- Gluten-Free Meatballs with Turkey
- Italian Meatloaf with Chicken or Turkey
Be sure to leave a comment and a rating if you try this Homemade Turkey Lunch Meat!
Homemade Turkey Lunch Meat (Low Sodium)
- 1.75 pounds turkey breast tenderloins (see notes)
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon Seasonello (or use a combo of sea salt, pepper, garlic powder; see notes)
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
- Place the turkey on the foil and top each tenderloin with a teaspoon of oil. Rub the oil all over the turkey, on both sides. Wash your hands well.
- Sprinkle Seasonello or your own seasonings on the turkey. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the turkey is no longer pink inside. (If your tenderloins are thin, they'll cook faster, so start checking after 20 minutes.)
- Loosely cover the turkey with foil and let the turkey rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Slice thinly for luncheon meat, or make thicker slices for dinner.
- Store leftovers in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or freeze the sliced turkey. (When I freeze the leftovers, I portion mine in sandwich bags, then place those in a freezer bag.)
(Recipe Source: Adapted from a recipe I saw once. I used the method but changed the ingredients. Originally published on August 15, 2016 and updated now with additional photos and information.) )