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

Writer / Enthusiast / Meat Curer / Forager / Harvester | About Tom

For decades, immersed in studying, working, learning, and teaching in the craft of meat curing, now sharing his passion with you through eat cured meat online resource.

(Last Updated On: November 13, 2023)

Cured meat has many forms, and keto is a diet that has some cross-over, it needs some explaining, however.

I’ve been involved in keto as a lifestyle and personally tried many of the other diets and lifestyle programs.

Since I have a deeper understanding of cured meats than most folks, here is, hopefully, some helpful information that elaborates since cured meats can come in many different forms.

Is Cured Meat Keto

A ketogenic diet is defined as a low-carbohydrate diet.

All whole-muscle cured meat does not have carbohydrates (it’s solid meat, salt & spices). However, some types of deli processed meats may contain fillers which are carbohydrates.

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

Don’t worry about this article getting too technical, I want to answer whether cured meat is keto or not.

salumi plate large
Salumi Plate of Braesola & Coppa

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.

How to make keto-friendly biltong – here is an article

How to make keto-friendly whole muscle cured meats at home – here is another article

Quality Process Meats & Inferior “Processed” Meats

When you look at specific 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 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, boloney)
  • 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 ‘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 their respect for the animal.

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

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.

So, it is 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.

From www.healthline.com

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.

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/ketogenic-diet-101#what-it-is

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 nitrites (they turn to nitrates when ingested or are in the cured meat and break down over time), what they are, and how they work.

95% of the nitrates you consume (science link to evidence) 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.

Different Types of Cured Meat

The most accessible type of cured meats you can make if you’re on the keto diet would probably be jerky or biltong (Western countries).

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

Although many types/species of meat are used, including ostrich in South Africa.

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.

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

It’s incredible 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.

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 made of salt, quality pork, a minimum of 12 months, and Italian passion.

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

There are some really interesting details about the health benefits of Parma ham specifically. Based on research at Italian Universities, Amino acids (protein) is easier to digest.

Processed Meat

I consider processed meat like spam, hot dogs, or other meat processing purely focused 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.

Hot Smoked Salmon on Charcoal Smoker large 2
My Apple & Oak Hot Smoked Salmon
Writer / Enthusiast / Meat Curer / Forager / Harvester | About Tom

For decades, immersed in studying, working, learning, and teaching in the craft of meat curing, now sharing his passion with you through eat cured meat online resource.

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