12 Creative Ways To Use Canned Spam

spam musubi budae jjigae
spam musubi budae jjigae - Static Media / Shutterstock

Spam is one of the cornerstones of American canned food and has gone through multiple cultural shifts in history. It was created in 1937 by Hormel Foods, and its name was derived from "spiced ham". It gained popularity soon after as an affordable meat product that was easy to prepare and had a long shelf life. As it was released during the Great Depression, (albeit in the final years), Americans struggling to make ends meet relied on it, and it's remained a popular staple since. Spam is often demonized as it's a highly processed food, but many are surprised to find out that it's actually only made using six ingredients, namely pork, salt, potato starch, sugar, water, and sodium nitrite.

Spam may be polarizing, but it's one of the most convenient and versatile canned meats around. There are so many surprising ways you can use it, and gone are the days when boring or unappealing Spam meals were the only option. Thanks to different cultural influences, and people's creativity, there are so many ways to jazz it up and turn it into something delicious. Here are some creative ways to use Spam.

Read more: 8 Absolute Best Cuts Of Meat To Deep Fry

Air Fry Spam Slices To Make Meaty Fries

air fryer spam fries
air fryer spam fries - Static Media / Shutterstock

It's hard to find someone who doesn't love -- or at least like -- eating fries. Something about fried or baked food cut into thin strips makes it the perfect snack food. Fries used to be strictly for potatoes, but over the years, the word has expanded to include sweet potato fries, zucchini fries, cauliflower, avocado, polenta, yucca, plantain, and so much more. Thanks to this looser definition, people have become more open to preparing different kinds of foods in the shape of a fry.

This is where Spam comes in. They may not sound appetizing, but thinly sliced, crispy Spam fries are a revelation. The fat in the Spam crisps up perfectly, creating a delightful crispy outside and quite an interesting snack. As Spam is already high in salt, you don't need much else, but you can play around with spices like garlic powder or cayenne pepper. Plus, using the air fryer means you don't need to add any oil or go through the hassle of frying them. Within minutes, you have a satisfying and tasty hot nibble, ready to be dipped into some ketchup, or hot sauce.

Add Spam To Your Instant Ramen For A Heartier Meal

pot instant noodles chopsticks
pot instant noodles chopsticks - Nungning20/Shutterstock

There are only a few things more convenient than eating a packet of instant ramen when you're hungry but don't have the time or energy to cook up a meal. It's cheap, hot, tasty, and done in a cinch. it serves its purpose, but it's not always as filling as we hope it will be, and there are times when we're left wanting more. Nowadays, more and more people have been using instant ramen as a base for all sorts of fillings and toppings, from sliced cabbage and spinach to fried eggs, fried shallots, herbs, and more. The trick is to use foods that are just as easy to add as making instant noodles. When it comes to convenience, look no further than Spam. It's a meaty ingredient that will enhance your instant ramen. It's the perfect ingredient for ramen, giving it a salty pork flavor, and adding more body to it so it's a more substantial meal.

To make your Spam extra delicious, slice it up and give it a fry so it can get crispy. You can fry an egg in the same pan, or leave it out completely. Once the Spam has browned nicely, you can add it to your noodles, and enjoy. We recommend adding some green onions or scallions, and a spoon of chili crisp. You'll never look back.

Make A Spam Stuffing Will Surprise You

spam pineapple stuffing tablecloth
spam pineapple stuffing tablecloth - Kara Barrett/Tasting Table

Stuffing is often relegated to just Thanksgiving or the holidays, but, in reality, there aren't rules about eating it any other time. It's a great addition to your dinner table, especially if you have many mouths to feed and want to whip up a yummy side dish that will complement the rest of your meal. There are so many ways to make delicious stuffing, and if you have a can of Spam at the bottom of your pantry, you'll be surprised at how good it is in your stuffing recipe. It instantly adds an umami meatiness to your stuffing without having to prepare and cook sausage or a whole other meat component.

If you're looking for recipe inspiration, try this Hawaiian-inspired stuffing. Brown your Spam cubes before combining them with the rest of your stuffing ingredients in the oven. The sweetness of the pineapple balances out the saltiness of the Spam beautifully.

Try Spam Pigs In A Blanket

cocktail wieners puff pastry
cocktail wieners puff pastry - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

For many Americans, pigs in a blanket are a cherished childhood snack that remains a party food crowd-pleaser til today. The combination of bite-sized sausages wrapped up in a flaky pastry is hard not to love. There is a way to make them even tastier, and that has everything to do with what you're wrapping. Spam is known for its distinct taste, and it actually makes for an even more flavorful filling than hot dogs in your buttery blanket.

To make Spam pigs in a blanket, simply cut up thin strips of spam and roll them up in Pillsbury Crescent Roll dough as you usually would. The Spam will cook along with the dough as you bake them, getting nicely golden brown in the oven. If you're feeling especially daring, you can add more complexity to this simple snack by spreading some fiery horseradish or mustard to your Spam before you roll it.

Bake Spam Into Macaroni And Cheese

baked mac and cheese
baked mac and cheese - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

Macaroni and cheese is the go-to comfort food for many families, and for good reason. Pasta and creamy cheesy goodness are a match made in heaven. It's simple to make and comes together with just a few ingredients, and is a good dish to make a big batch to feed both kids and adults. The other benefit is that flavor-wise, it can be a blank slate to add all sorts of ingredients that can enhance the dish, and you can use Spam to do this very thing. It's another affordable ingredient many people have in their kitchen cupboards, and it works great in mac and cheese. The combination of creaminess with the salty ham flavor is a winner -- it's basically a cousin to carbonara, though you might not want to say that to an Italian.

When adding Spam to boxed mac and cheese, just cut it into cubes and spread it all over your pasta before you add it to the oven. If you're making one from scratch, you can do the same thing and mix it into your casserole before the final step of the baking process, or you can mix it in with your sauce. To take it to the next level, fry up some cubes to toss on top as a crispy topping.

Create Your Own Spam Musubi With Hawaiian Flair

spam musubi nori
spam musubi nori - Only 4K Ultra HD/Shutterstock

Spam musubi is one of the most popular Spam dishes in Hawai'i, where the processed meat product is a unique part of the heritage. On the Munchies YouTube channel, Hawaiian chef Sheldon Simeon spoke about how Spam is an integral part of his state's cuisine, talking through the different shifts in sentiment toward the food and how it caused a stigma against Hawaiian cuisine. He explained that Hawaiians have had to fight against the idea that Spam was all there was to Hawaiian food. Nowadays, there's a renewed acknowledgment of Spam's role in Hawaiian culture, and its ability to sustain so many.

Many people claim that Musubi evolved from Japanese onigiri, a dish that involves packing rice into a hand-held snack with various fillings, often wrapped in nori. When Spam became the meat that most people could access during and after World War II, Barbara Funamura, a Japanese-American living in Hawai'i, supposedly created Spam musubi. This dish became incredibly popular due to its taste and affordability, and because it was easy to carry to work or school. If you're wondering how to make Musubi at home, try this recipe.

Swap Pulled Pork With Spam For Easy Sliders

spam sliders tray
spam sliders tray - Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

Pulled pork sliders have become a popular dish to make for a potluck, family dinner, or an outdoor barbecue. The pork is salty, sweet, juicy, and tender, falling apart with ease. The problem is that to get the pork to be that way, it takes hours of preparation, and sometimes, that just isn't feasible. When you want a satisfying pork slider but without all the hassle of making pulled pork, Spam makes a great substitute. This is because it hits all the flavor notes you want, and makes a meaty umami slider in no time.

Grill a square of Spam until it gets a nice crisp exterior. You can also add a marinade or sauce to your pan like a honey glaze or even some maple-hoisin sauce to get that sweet-salty combination you want. Or you can grill the Spam as is, but pair it with sweet relish or caramelized onions in your bun. Add all the other toppings you prefer, like pickles, slaw, lettuce, or other greens. Your spam sliders will be everything you want a pork slider to be -- tangy, smoky, fatty, and delicious, and the best part is that they'll be ready within minutes.

Use Spam In Stew With A Taste Of Korean Cooking

Korean army stew budae jjigae
Korean army stew budae jjigae - Ezume Images/Shutterstock

If you've never heard of it, budae jjigae is the Korean army base stew that will have you loving Spam even more. It's a hot, savory, and spicy stew that combines a bunch of different ingredients into one harmonious yet complex dish. Everything from Spam, hot dogs, tofu, green onions, kimchi, gochujang, and instant noodles all come together to make a flavor-packed stew. The sourness of the kimchi and the spiciness of the gochujang help to cut through the richness of the Spam, creating the perfect balance.

Budae jjigae is a dish that was borne out of struggle during the Korean War, and using whatever food was accessible. South Korea is one of the areas where the U.S. Army was based during and after World War II when the country was struggling with food shortages. Many turned to canned food products like Spam or hot dogs that the U.S. military had brought over. Thus, budae jjigae was created (in Korea, budae means army base and jjigae means stew). Since then, the dish has spread all over Korea and through the Korean American community. Nowadays, you can find all sorts of variations of budae jigae, with ingredients including other cuts of pork, mushrooms, tuna, baked beans, rice cakes, and more. Take inspiration from this budae jjigae recipe and try it out at home -- it's easier to make than it sounds.

Enjoy It As An Easy And Delicious Pizza Topping

whole pizza mushrooms olives
whole pizza mushrooms olives - MD. HAKIM MIA/Shutterstock

It should come as no surprise that Spam makes an excellent pizza topping. Sure, it might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of pizza, but ham and pizza are an obvious combination and Spam hits the same flavor notes. You can use Spam to make a funkier Hawaiian pizza by pairing it with some chopped pineapple, or you can add some mushrooms and do a riff on a classic Regina pizza.

Spam has all the flavor and texture elements required to make a good pizza topping. It will crisp up as it bakes in the oven -- giving it a good bite without prior cooking needed -- and it will impart all its "spiced ham" into the more neutral-tasting mozzarella. All you need are some frozen pizza bases and a can of Spam, and you can let your creativity run wild, adding green peppers, hot sauce, or whatever toppings you love.

Chop Some Spam Into Your Fried Rice

spam fried rice
spam fried rice - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

It's hard not to love fried rice. This Chinese dish has morphed into all sorts of things, and become one of the most versatile meals you can make at home, using whatever you have on hand and making it your own. Adding in some Spam will take it to the next level, adding a hit of umami, meatiness, and a pleasant chewy bite. It's also a great way to use up any leftover Spam, and you don't need to fry it first or separately. Cut it into cubes, throw it into your pan along with your rice, and let everything fry together, allowing the flavors to infuse and the ingredients to get hot and toasty.

Anything from bits of cooked or raw food, meat, or vegetables can be tossed into fried rice, making it a good way to clear your fridge at the end of the week and avoid any food waste. It's especially useful if you're hungry and want to make something in a pinch. All you need is some rice and oil, and you can make a delicious lunch or dinner. You can add any or all of the following along with your Spam, like carrots, eggs, spinach, shallots, tomato, any greens, and a splash of soy sauce. Spam is a convenient addition because you can keep it in your pantry for ages and take it out when you want to "beef" up your fried rice.

Bulk Up An Egg Casserole

egg casserole spam
egg casserole spam - Static Media / Shutterstock

There are no rules for what goes in an egg casserole, and you can customize based on whatever you have or feel like eating. The only rule is that it has to go with eggs, which luckily, Spam completely does. Instead of using expensive pork or hams like pancetta, a can of Spam in your egg casserole can add the cured ham taste you're going for without breaking the bank. What's even better, you don't have to cook it ahead, unlike bacon or pancetta. All you have to do is cut it up, mix it into your egg casserole, and let your oven do the cooking for you.

The cubes of meat will add a pleasant texture to the otherwise soft eggs. Plus, you can choose a flavored Spam option like jalapeño or maple bacon. This is ideal if you want to play around with flavor in your egg casserole like making a huevos a la Mexicana-style casserole, or a Japanese-inspired one using teriyaki Spam and a sprinkle of furikake. There are also lower sodium options if you want to cut down on the salt.

Let Spam Be The Main Attraction Of A Restaurant-Quality Breakfast

Filipino breakfast eggs spam
Filipino breakfast eggs spam - junpinzon/Shutterstock

As Spam has grown in popularity around the world, it's become a favorite ingredient to include in breakfast dishes. Various restaurants around the country are adding Spam to their breakfast menus, may they be gourmet options or more humble. The intense pork taste lends itself to many egg dishes, as the salty-umami taste perfectly complements the more neutral taste of eggs. You can add it to your breakfast fry-up in all sorts of ways like frying some Spam cubes in a breakfast hash, with some green peppers and sweet potatoes.

You can also cut and fry thicker slices of Spam and lay them on top of English muffins to be used instead of bacon in an eggs benedict. You can also keep it simple and add to your English breakfast fry-up, along with fried eggs and mushrooms, with a side of baked beans, or go the Filipino breakfast route and eat fried eggs and Spam with rice. Or simply replace your bacon or ham in a tasty Spam and egg omelet or breakfast scramble -- the possibilities are truly endless.

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