Here’s a review of all the flavors of Spam currently available. I’ve consumed over 1,205 pounds of Spam over the last 40 years. Since the start, I’m glad Hormel started making different flavors. I remember having to make my own flavors from scratch. I hope that one day Hormel adopts one of my favorite creations: Spam Sweet & Sour. Today there are many versions of this but my original version, dated back to 1983, was seared Spam mixed with some Sweet and Sour Sauce from McDonald’s. Back to the review.
This might be the route you want to take if this is the first time you are having Spam. You can use Spam in any meal where it normally calls for meat. There are many recipes out there where you can use Spam. I’ve seen salads, soups, and mains. If there are any desserts, I have not tried them. In terms of flavor, while I don’t want to say is the plain version, is the original and tastes a little like smoked ham but more tender. I’ve seared, deep fried, bbq, microwaved, baked, smoked, braised, and boiled this version and it never gets old.
SPAM 25% Less Sodium
This version is great for those worried about high blood. If you’re one of those, then definitely go with this one or the Lite version. I’ll go more into the Lite version but for this one, I like how everything tastes the same. In fact, I think this is the right amount of sodium and now think the Classic has too much salt. If you were to do a blind taste testing, there might be more people picking this variation as their #1.
SPAM Black Pepper
I was not too impressed the first time I had this one. I think I expected a spicy Spam but this was more like someone added black pepper to normal Spam. I think I tried this as a kid and now as an adult, I don’t think there’s much to this one. I appreciate the deep peppery flavor. Note that you cannot achieve this taste by sprinkling pepper on top. If you want something spicy but not too spicy, go with this one.
This stuff is yummy in the tummy. I grab one of these even when I’m not in the mood to buy one of these. The best part of this Spam variety is that: it smells like bacon, tastes like bacon. And it does not have the shelf life of bacon. I used to fry bacon and then fry classic Spam just to get my Spam tasting like bacon. Do not overcook this variety. You want to keep some of the bacon fat chunks.
For this one, I pretty much copied the picture on the can and used this variation in fried rice. The Spam had a deep flavor of garlic which I appreciated. Back in the day I tried to marinade Classic spam in a lot of garlic but never got the flavor to penetrated like it does in this version. This one is great when you don’t have any garlic to cook with. However, it might be on the very garlic side of things.
SPAM Hot & Spicy
I first tried this when it was label the Guam Spam. Or maybe it was released at the time but I was in Guam at the time. This is very spicy and I could not do much with it other than pan sear it or add it to fried rice. I tried to use this in musubi but the flavor was too strong for the rice and could not find the right sauce to match. Overall, this is one of my favorite variations. The heat is just right for those who like Tobasco. Wait, wasn’t there a Tobasco Spam?
SPAM Hickory Smoke
I love this flavor. I have smoked my spam to recreate this flavor but I mostly have mesquite in stock. Overall, the Hickory add a deeper smoke flavor to the already smoky Spam. This one is great for breakfast sandwiches…I guess sandwiches in general. After a few bites, I cannot really taste the difference between this and the Classic.
This was the first time I tried to use Spam in a salad. I thought great, green can, must be good with salad. I was wrong. This level of heat in this one was a little too much. I tried it again in a burrito and it worked out well. I did not have to add hot sauce and it was a perfect balance with the other ingredients…in burrito form.
My family is split on this variation. The ones that like it love how it works well in musubi. Fair warning, you might not need to add sauce since the Spam has a strong teriyaki flavor. The other half of us does not like this version because it’s a little more on the tender side and feels like mush. It is a little more sweet than other teriyaki sauces out there. I think we’re also used to our teriyaki flavor with more taste of ginger.
I think the first time I ate this I thought I was eating cardboard. It wasn’t the best but at the same time going for Classic to this version is a big change. If you are on the more healthy side of things, you might want this one because it contains half the fat and 25% less sodium. In general, I think most of the good flavor comes from the fat. I try to avoid this one in the grocery.
I think we’re in a big Filipino community since this is always available in the grocery. In fact, I do not see this version outside California, Washington, Hawaii, and Guam. However, in Guam, this is a hard one to come across since everyone buys it. In terms of flavor, the level of sweetness, to me, is better than the teriyaki flavor. With this one, I enjoy it with fried rice and eggs. Definitely on my list for Top 5.
I thought of Spam Lite when I first had this. At first, I feel like I was eating cardboard but the flavor picked up and all of a sudden I was thinking of eating Thanksgiving dinner with family.This is the version that is great when you’re travelling during Thanksgiving and have limited options. For this one, I’d bake it whole. Wrap it. And then serve it with mashed potatoes, gravy, and sweet potato pie. Do not try to be fancy and slice this one thin. It doesn’t work.
SPAM with Cheese
I had this once and will never get it again. That’s it. I think the main thing is that the cheese melted away or the cheese burned faster than searing the meat.
SPAM with Chorizo
Don’t tell my abuelita that I used this instead of real chorizo when making beans. It worked but the Spam seemed to disintegrate over time. So not good with stews. I think in general, do not over cooked Spam or else it will fade away into your dish. Could I really taste chorizo? The flavors were there but I have access to really good chorizo and do not heed this to hold me over.
SPAM with Portuguese Sausage
This was more blah than the chorizo version. As much as I wanted to taste something different I felt like it was close to normal. I mean, there was a meatier flavor to it but other than that, it had no wow factor. I tired it in a sandwich, stew, and other ways of eating regular portuguese sausage and it was not a good replacement.
Thanks for reading. I know there are other variations out there that I tried but I’m going with what is currently on their website. When I experiment, I have infused Classic spam with random herbs like rosemary, thyme, Italian seasoning, buffalo sauce, other hot sauces, and lemon. If you want to experiment, I recommend taking the sous vide route. This makes sure you have an air tight seal to help spread the flavor.