does spam need to be cooked

Spam is one of the most popular canned meats you can buy, which might have you wondering, does Spam need to be cooked?

You can eat most canned foods directly out of the container, so it stands to reason Spam should be, too.

Spam is so popular partly because it doesn’t require any preparation and has so many uses.

You can put it in almost any recipe you want to add a nice, savory touch to with minimal effort.

Fortunately, Spam is easy to use because it doesn't need to be cooked. So, when you want to include it in a recipe, don't worry about factoring in cooking time because you won't need it.

Does Spam Need To be Cooked?

spam needs to be cooked

Spam is a precooked canned pork product that was invented in 1937 as a way to sell pork shoulder, which didn’t usually sell well.

Spam gained significant popularity because it didn’t need to be cooked.

The ability to eat it raw made it an excellent and inexpensive alternative to fresh meat in areas where delivering fresh meat was a problem.

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Is There Any Risk to Not Cooking Spam

One of Spam’s main benefits is that you don’t need to cook it to enjoy it. That’s because it contains a lot of sodium, fat, and nitrates to preserve it.

However, there’s always some risk to eating canned food without cooking it first.

risk of raw spam

The main concern you’ll run into with canned foods is the presence of bacteria or other microorganisms that can cause foodborne illnesses.

Botulism is the biggest culprit. This bacterium can lead to paralysis or even death.

Since Spam is cooked directly in the can, you don’t have to worry about the meat harming you.

However, if the can isn’t properly sealed or is damaged, it becomes the perfect environment for bacteria to grow.

So, if you want to eat Spam without heating it first, be sure to check the can for dents or dings. These can indicate a leak that could introduce bacteria.

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If you notice any damage, you should cook your Spam before eating it. However, the better option is to practice “when in doubt, throw it out,” and throw the can away.

Tip: To avoid frustration at home, always examine any canned foods at the store before you purchase them.

What’s the Best Way to Prepare Spam?

best way to prepare spam

If you’ve read this far, you’ve probably asked, can you eat Spam out of the can without cooking it?

The answer is, of course, yes. But is that the best way to eat it?

Although that’s a matter of opinion, there are many ways you can prepare Spam that make it taste delicious.


One of the best ways to enjoy Spam is sliced and fried. Spam’s high-fat content makes it the perfect meat for cooking up on a griddle.

If you want to fry up a few slices of Spam, simply do the following:

  1. Put a few pats of butter in a pan or on a griddle
  2. Once it starts sizzling, put your Spam on top
  3. Fry it for a few minutes per side, then set it on a paper towel to drain
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You can eat fried Spam on its own, but it also makes for a great breakfast sandwich. Add it to an English muffin with some egg and cheese for a filling morning meal.

Tip: If you want to avoid dairy products, you can skip the butter and use olive oil instead.


chilled spam

A great way to eat Spam without cooking it is diced up in a salad.

There are many salad recipes out there that use meat as a protein, and Spam is a great choice since you can eat it right out of the can.

One popular option is a Chef’s Salad with Spam instead of ham.

The protein is essentially the same, but Spam is a good alternative because it lasts longer on the shelf, is cheaper, and is more versatile than a simple ham steak.

Tip: If you’re not crazy about Spam’s texture when raw, dice it into tiny pieces.


Much like any other meat, Spam tastes great on a grill. You’ll get that mouth-watering char-broiled flavor that’s good on its own or on a roll with a slice of cheese.

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This is one of the best ways to heat Spam up if you’re iffy about the texture.

The key to cooking Spam on the grill is to make the slices the right thickness. Too thin, and you risk burning your meat.

grill spam

Too thick, and you might end up with Spam that’s charred on the outside and room temperature on the inside.

For best results, slice your Spam into ½-inch slices for the grill.

This will give you enough bulk with minimal risk of burning. Then, simply cook for 1-2 minutes per side.


One of the most significant downsides to eating Spam is its high salt and fat content.

Cooking your Spam will help reduce the fat and sodium present in the meat.

This is true of all cooking methods, but baking is one of the best ways to lower both levels.

If you want to give baking Spam a try, there are only a few things you need to do:

  1. First, you want to use slices about ½-inch thick, then cook at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-12 minutes.
  2. Then, once the edges are brown and crispy, you can take it out of the oven.
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simmer ham

When you think of a bowl of baked beans, the first meat that comes to mind is probably a hot dog.

A bowl of franks and beans is one of the simplest, tastiest meals you can throw together in just a few minutes.

Spam is an excellent substitute for hot dogs in this yummy dish.

You can dice it up into ½-inch cubes and let it simmer in a pot with your beans on the stove. Cook until everything’s heated through, then enjoy.

Are There Alternatives to Spam?

Spam is tasty meat you can use in a variety of recipes.

However, if Spam isn’t available or you simply don’t care for it, there are a few alternatives you can try.


Spam is, for all intents and purposes, a type of ham.

A ham steak will match Spam the best in terms of flavor, although the texture and appearance will differ from what you’re used to.

a ham

However, you don’t have to cook it before eating it, which is a big benefit.

Pork Roll

Another delicious pork product that makes an excellent Spam substitute is pork roll.

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It has a similar salty, smoky flavor that tastes deliciously fried or microwaved.

However, you shouldn’t eat pork rolls raw due to their packaging. It isn’t preserved the same way Spam is, so it has a much shorter shelf life.

Hot Dogs

Diced-up hot dogs will be the closest substitute for Spam in terms of appearance and texture.

They also have a similar saltiness that you’d expect from Spam.

a hotdogs

The main difference is that the texture of raw hot dogs can be a bit off-putting, so it’s best to cook them, first.

Tip: If you’re looking for a meatless option, tofu would also make a great alternative.

Final Thoughts

So, does Spam need to be cooked? Although you might think a meat product like Spam would need to be cooked, it actually doesn’t.

You can eat Spam directly out of the can without heating it first.

Or, if you’re not crazy about the texture of raw Spam, you can try cooking it in one of the many ways listed above.

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The bottom line is, Spam is versatile meat because you can eat it any way you’d like.

So whether you want it raw, fried, or baked, it’ll be a delicious protein to add to any number of dishes. You certainly won’t be disappointed in the result.