You may not miss the sliced deli meat that your parents used to put in your lunches, but it has its advantages: it lasts awhile, is easy to grab as you’re rushing out the door, and is much better on a sandwich than plain old grilled chicken. Too bad all the preservatives are so not worth it.

So I did my research and found a Japanese style of preparing chicken that essentially replicates lunch meat. The recipe offers a lot of variations in terms of length of marinating, cooking style, and spices.

I choose to marinate it for 24 hours, bake it based off of the recipes recommendation, and use thyme and rosemary. While it involves a lot of waiting, hands-on prep is minimal, and you can prepare enough over the weekend for a week’s worth of grab-and-go lunches.

Transportable, moist, and long-lasting like the store-bought stuff, homemade deli meat has the added benefit of being more cost-effective, customizable, and preservative-free.

Torihamu (Chicken "Ham")

  • Prep Time:7-74 hours
  • Cook Time:1 hour
  • Total Time:8-75 hours
  • Servings:2
  • Advanced


  • 8 oz chicken breast
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon spice (optional)
Photo by Lexi Nickens
  • Step 1

    Place all ingredients in large re-sealable storage bag and massage chicken until well coated.

    #SpoonTip: Because you’re letting it marinate in the fridge, it’s totally okay to start with frozen chicken breasts.

    Photo by Lexi Nickens
  • Step 2

    Press out all air and tightly seal bag.

    Photo by Lexi Nickens
  • Step 3

    Marinate in the fridge for five to 72 hours.

    #SpoonTip: The longer you marinate, the more pronounced the flavor of the spices will be.

    Photo by Lexi Nickens
  • Step 4

    Rinse the chicken in cold water.

  • Step 5

    Soak chicken in bowl of cold water for 30 minutes

    #SpoonTip: For every 24 hours you marinate it, soak the chicken for 30 minutes.

    Photo by Lexi Nickens
  • Step 6

    Dry the chicken and place it on baking sheet lined with parchment.

    #SpoonTip: To get a more prominent flavor, sprinkle additional spices onto the chicken.

    Photo by Lexi Nickens
  • Step 7

    Bake at 250°F for 35 to 40 minutes, until the outside is light brown.

    Photo by Lexi Nickens
  • Step 8

    Slice as thinly as you would like and store in fridge for up to one week.

    Photo by Lexi Nickens