The Delicious World of Cured Meat, but is Cured Meat Keto?

Salumi Plate of Braesola & Coppa

Cured meat has many forms and some of my friends are ketoers and wanted to know whether cured meat is keto-friendly. So I thought I’d answer that question for anyone online because probably a lot of people would ask the same.

Is Cured Meat Keto?

A ketogenic diet is defined by a low carbohydrate diet. All whole muscle cured meat does not have carbohydrates (its solid meat, salt & spices).

Therefore, it is acceptable to consume (dry cured whole muscle) cured meat whilst on a ketogenic diet.

Don’t worry about this blog post getting too technical, just wanted to answer whether cured meat is keto or not.

Cured meats I make are dry-cured salumi, jerky/biltong (super healthy protein snack), hot smoked foods, low & slow BBQ Smoking, and cold-smoked foods.

What is a Ketogenic Diet

All the cured meats that I use and have learned about, seem to fit in as acceptable to the keto diet because they don’t have carbs added anywhere.

Some cured meats even have certain health properties that are beneficial, like Parma Ham, of course, moderation is key.

So probably better to use an official answer for this:

The keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet. It lowers blood sugar and insulin levels, and shifts the body’s metabolism away from carbs and towards fat and ketones.


One comment I read about ketogenic diets, is that it’s not about choosing certain proteins it’s about choosing certain fats.

Different Types of Ketogenic Diets, Does Cured Meat Fit In?

Standard ketogenic diet (SKD): This is a very low-carb, moderate-protein and high-fat diet. It typically contains 75% fat, 20% protein and only 5% carbs (1).

Cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD): This diet involves periods of higher-carb refeeds, such as 5 ketogenic days followed by 2 high-carb days.

Targeted ketogenic diet (TKD): This diet allows you to add carbs around workouts.

High-protein ketogenic diet: This is similar to a standard ketogenic diet, but includes more protein. The ratio is often 60% fat, 35% protein and 5% carbs.

All these types of keto diets seem to need a good level of protein and fats. Again, cured meat seems to tick those boxes.

Cured Meat & Nitrates/Nitrites

This seems to be a bit of misinformation when it comes to nitrates and what they are and how they work.

95% of the nitrates you consume come from things like spinach and other vegetables and your stomach is full of nitrates as well.

In the western world, there are tight regulations now on how much nitrite and nitrate can be added to commercial food, so there aren’t any issues in my opinion, but I will get into some detail to help hopefully.

Of course, this is my opinion so, please make up your own mind up and do the research.

Different Types of Cured Meat

The easiest type of cured meats you can make if you’re on the keto diet would probably be jerky or biltong.

The basic ingredients you need are quality fresh beef, topside or bottom round cheap cuts work well, but there are also some stellar brands if you want a nutritious keto snack ready to go as well.

homemade cured meat biltong
my homemade cured meat biltong

Salt, malt vinegar and (toasted) coriander seeds – the basic biltong recipe.

If you want to find out more about making some simple Jerky/biltong check it out here.

Big difference between biltong and jerky is biltong is lighter and avoids sugar (well the ones I like do).

It’s awesome to have sitting around at work, in the car or out and about in your bag. Since it is preserved, it doesn’t need to be kept in the fridge.

Ayoba-Yo Biltong – grass-fed beef, real classic biltong (keto & paleo certified) – you can order direct from Amazon here

And if you want the stuff everyone is raving about, this 8 pack of Kalahari Biltong is the business (classic) here is the Amazon link (grass-fed, grain-finished beef).

Quality Process Meats & Inferior “Processed” Meats

When you look at certain types of cured meat, especially the heavily processed ones like hot dogs or commercial jerky, these can have quite a high percentage of sugar aka carbohydrates.

Since I make a lot of cured meat at home of various kinds, be it dry-cured meat, cold smoked or hot smoked -I get to choose exactly what I put in my cured meats (pretty much all dry-cured meat you buy will be keto-friendly too).

  • Example of Dry Cured Meats:
  • Dry Cured Bacon
  • Dry Cured Prosciutto, Lonza, Braesola, Coppa
  • Cold Smoked Meats – chicken, fish etc..
  • Hot Smoked Meats – cooked and smoked at the same time basically

Examples of Cured Meats that Probably Have Carbs:

  • Cheap Deli Meat (including those luncheon ham type roles
  • Many supermarket sausages and butcher sausages use breadcrumbs or some other derivative as a filler or to bulk it up.

I find there is one type of cured meat that always seems to be a ‘healthy’ in moderation, and that is the cured meat that has passion in it, often homemade or Artisan. Most of the time, they care about all the ingredients and want to showcase the respect for the animal fully.

The food culture in Italy is a testament to passionate production, the healthy Mediterranean lifestyle is also very well known.

Different Fats and Cured Meat

Now I came across something that you’ll find quite fascinating which I mentioned earlier, Parma Ham (a type of prosciutto) which is basically made of salt, quality pork, a minimum of 12 months and Italian passion.

Check out this link, about the nutritional value of Parm Ham.

Some really interesting details about the health benefits of Parma ham specifically.

Processed Meat

I consider processed meat like spam, hot dogs or any other meat processing that is purely focussed on profit, not passion.

So any Artisan producer who makes salami I don’t consider processed meat.

With the industrialization of food and meat, many additives are used for shelf life, stability and artificial flavors – these are what I would consider processed meats.

Somehow cured meat gets categorized together with this, especially when people don’t know what there talking about.

My Apple & Oak Hot Smoked Salmon

Related Questions

What is the Easiest Meat to Smoke?

I wrote a post here, if you want more info

Can I cure meat at home?

For dry-cured meat, I did some tests in my regular kitchen fridge, please find the link here.

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