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Sugar Cured vs Country Ham: Which is a Better Option?

In the grand scheme of breakfast debates, sugar cured and country ham sit at the pinnacle. We all have opinions, and here’s ours laid bare.

Sugar cured ham brings sweetness to the table, while country ham packs a salty punch. Both are staples in homes where hearty breakfasts reign supreme.

I remember my first encounter with sugar cured ham. It was love at first bite. My friend, on the other hand, swears by the robust flavor of country ham.

Each has its place in our kitchen and our hearts.

We aim to settle this debate or at least bring you closer to picking a side.

What is Sugar Cured Ham?

Sugar-cured ham is a type of cured pork that has been preserved with sugar and salt.

The process of making this ham involves applying sugar, salt, and other seasonings to the raw meat, then allowing it to cure for several weeks or months.

Once cured, the ham can be smoked and cooked before consumption.

It is popular in Southern cuisine and often served during holidays.

In terms of taste, sugar-cured ham is sweet and savory with a distinct flavor.

It tends to be less salty than other types of cured ham like country ham due to the sugar in the curing process.

This makes it a preferred option for those who prefer a milder taste.

One thing to keep in mind when choosing sugar-cured ham is that it can contain high levels of sodium and added sugars.

Therefore, it should be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

Nonetheless, when compared to country ham which tends to be saltier with a more intense flavor profile, sugar-cured ham may be considered a better option for those looking for a more palatable taste experience.

What is Country Ham?

Country ham is a type of cured ham that has been dry-cured and aged for several months.

It is a traditional Southern U.

S food item that has been popularized in the past few years with its unique taste and flavor.

Country hams are saltier, denser, and drier compared to other types of ham due to the curing process.

These hams are usually hung up on hooks during the curing process, which allows them to absorb all the flavors and develop a distinct texture.

This delicious ham comes in various cuts such as whole, half, or sliced.

The aging process gives each cut its own unique characteristic flavor profile perfect for use in salads, sandwiches, cheese plates or even cooked dishes like jambalaya or macaroni and cheese.

Furthermore, country hams are perfect for breakfasts and brunches because they add great protein content to your meals.

When it comes to nutritional value, country hams are high in sodium but low in carbohydrates due to the curing process.

However, these hams also contain proteins which help build muscles while improving overall body health.

Differences Between Sugar Cured Ham and Country Ham

Sugar Cured Ham and Country Ham are two varied styles of ham that have unique differences in taste, texture and preparation.

Both the hams have different curing methods, with one using sugar as a primary ingredient and the other traditionally dry cured with salt and seasoning.

When it comes to flavor, Sugar Cured ham is sweeter while Country Ham has a more savory and salty taste.

The texture of Sugar Cured Ham is comparatively softer as it is cooked in oven or smoked over low heat while Country Ham has a harder texture caused due to its natural drying process.

Curing Process

The process of preserving meat using salt, nitrates and other ingredients to extend its shelf life is known as the meat curing process.

This involves two different methods, salt-cured and sugar-cured ham.

Salt-cured ham is processed by rubbing the entire surface of the meat with salt and allowing it to sit for several weeks before hanging it up to air dry.

Sugar-cured ham, on the other hand, is coated with a mixture of sugar, salt, and spices that forms a sweet crust around the ham.

Both hams are then smoked for additional flavor.

While salt-cured ham has a distinct salty taste with a dryer texture compared to sugar-cured ham, sugar-cured ham provides a sweeter flavor profile with a moister texture.

The curing method used depends on personal preference and intended use of the meat.

It’s essential to note that both cured hams should be consumed in moderation due to their high sodium content.

However, if you’re looking for a sweeter taste and prefer moistness, then sugar-curing might be an excellent option for your taste buds while also keeping in mind your dietary needs.

Flavor and Taste

The palatability of meat products is largely determined by their nuances in flavor and taste.

When comparing Sugar Cured vs Country Ham, their differences are prominent in terms of both sweetness and saltiness.

Country Ham offers a robust and savory taste with a saltier profile, whereas Sugar Cured ham has a sweeter, caramelized flavor.

While Sugar Cured ham may be preferred for its unique sweetness, Country Ham has been celebrated for decades for its bold flavor profile that marries perfectly with various cuisines.

Its strong taste also allows it to be used as ingredients in dishes like pasta carbonara, soups or even on pizzas.

Moreover, the way they are cured also impacts their flavor and taste.

The curing duration could impact the intensity of flavors within the ham, hence making them distinct from each other.

In addition to this, diets can be impacted by the amount of sodium consumed when consuming these ham types since Country Ham contains a higher amount of salt per serving compared to Sugar Cured ham.

Texture and Saltiness

The taste and texture of ham is a crucial factor in determining its overall appeal.

Along with that, the saltiness also plays a vital role in deciding the quality of ham.

When it comes to comparing sugar-cured ham and country ham, both differ slightly in texture and saltiness, making each a unique choice for consumers.

Sugar-cured ham is known for its sweeter taste than country ham, making it ideal for those who prefer milder flavors.

It has a softer texture compared to its counterpart, resulting from the extra moisture added during the curing process.

Sugar-cured hams are cured using a mixture of salt and sugar that act as preservatives while adding flavor.

Country ham, on the other hand, has more salt added during the initial curing process resulting in a stronger and saltier flavor profile.

Due to this high salt content, country hams have a firmer texture and tend to be slightly chewier than sugar-cured hams.

However, this type of ham is favored by many due to its unique taste profile.

It’s important to note that both types of hams are delicious but appeal to some individual’s tastes more than others.

The decision between sugar-cured and country ham ultimately comes down to personal preference based on flavor, texture and recipe requirements.

Cooking and Preparation Methods

The two types of ham, sugar-cured and country ham, differ in their cooking and preparation techniques.

Sugar-cured ham is typically brined with a mix of salt and sugar before being smoked, while country ham undergoes a dry curing process that involves rubbing it with a mixture of salt, seasonings, and sometimes sugar.

Both types of ham can be prepared by baking or frying them, but to ensure the best flavor, they should be soaked in water first to remove excess salt.

When cooking sugar-cured ham, it’s essential to keep its natural sweetness intact by not overcooking it.

This type of ham is often served cold or at room temperature.

On the other hand, country ham has a more robust flavor profile due to its longer curing process and can stand up to being cooked for an extended period.

It is typically cooked by baking or frying and is often served hot.

One thing to note when choosing between the two hams is the significant difference in sodium content.

Country hams are naturally high in sodium due to their dry curing process, so they may not be suitable for individuals on low-sodium diets.

However, if you’re looking for an option with a more complex flavor profile that can handle heavy seasoning or spices without overpowering them, then country ham might be the way to go.

Similarities Between Sugar Cured Ham and Country Ham

Sugar cured ham and country ham share a few similarities in their preparation process.

Both are made by salting and drying meat, with country ham being typically air-dried for several months longer than sugar-cured ham.

Another similarity between the two is that they both have bold flavors and can be used in various dishes as a protein source.

The curing process of both these hams involves the use of natural ingredients like salt, which acts as a preservative, giving them a longer shelf life.

However, there are subtle flavor differences between sugar-cured ham and country ham that set them apart.

Sugar-cured ham is sweeter due to the use of brown sugar or molasses in the curing process.

In contrast, country hams have a more intense, salty flavor because they are aged for an extended period to develop their distinct taste.

When choosing between sugar cured and country ham, ultimately it comes down to personal preference and what you plan to use it for.

Sugar-cured ham is perfect for dishes like glazed baked ham or in sandwiches where you want to balance the saltiness with sweetness.

On the other hand, country hams pair well with grits or biscuits because their robustness can stand up to those strong flavors.

Where to Buy Sugar Cured Ham and Country Ham?

Looking for the best places to purchase Sugar Cured and Country Ham? Let’s explore some options.

  • Grocery Stores: Most grocery stores sell Sugar Cured and Country Ham year-round. Check local supermarkets or place an order online with national chains like Walmart or Kroger.
  • Specialty Meat Shops: If you want a more authentic Southern experience, visit a specialty meat shop. These shops are known for selling premium quality hams, either Sugar Cured or Country Ham.
  • Online Retailers: Lastly, several online retailers specialize in curing and selling hams directly to consumers. While this may be more expensive than purchasing from a grocery store, the convenience of home delivery may make it worth the investment.

It’s essential to research options carefully before buying your ham and ensure that the manufacturers have reliable food safety policies in place.

The best way to find high-quality products is to read reviews from other customers and look for brands with established reputations in the industry.

So let us take into consideration our budget while selecting the perfect ham.


Comparing Sugar Cured and Country Ham has revealed that both have their own unique characteristics.

While Sugar Cured is sweeter, Country Ham has a more savory taste.

Depending on individual preferences and dietary requirements, either option can be an excellent choice for a variety of dishes.

It ultimately comes down to personal taste and how one intends to use the ham in various recipes.

Sugar Cured vs Country Ham: Which is a Better Option?

Andrew Gray
Looking for the perfect cured meat for your next meal? We'll compare Sugar Cured and Country Ham to help you decide which is the better option for your palate.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course This vs That
Servings 1 Serving


  • Sugar Cured Ham
  • Country Ham


  • Choose between two items based on your preference and availability.
  • Follow the cooking directions for your chosen option, using the appropriate ratio of ingredients.
  • Prepare it according to your desired recipes.
  • Incorporate them into your dish, adjusting the amount to suit your taste.
  • Enjoy the unique taste experience and experiment with different dishes to explore their versatility.
Keyword Sugar Cured vs Country Ham
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