Bologna is an ever-popular deli meat found in the United States. It is a staple in many children’s lunchboxes in the U.S. — typically served with a slice of American cheese on white bread.

Pronounced “baloney,” the name originates from the city of Bologna in Italy, where a similar sausage, called mortadella, is commonly made. More often than not, bologna is made from beef and/or pork; however, it can also be found made with chicken, and a variety of herbs and spices are included.


The most notable difference between beef bologna and meat bologna with the naked eye is in their color. The all-beef version is significantly more red in color, as beef is a red meat, whereas pork and chicken are lighter in color. Generally speaking, this is true of meats found at the deli counter.


Both types of bologna contain spices, smoke flavoring and various preservatives like sodium nitrate, but where they differ is in the main ingredient: the meat. Beef bologna solely contains beef products — be they mechanically separated from the bone by high-pressure force or not — whereas meat bologna can contain any of the following: beef, chicken, pork, turkey or even venison — deer meat. Meat bologna almost always contains pork, unless otherwise noted on the label.


A child may not notice the difference if you swapped an all-beef serving for meat bologna or vice versa, and you might not either. There are very slight nuances between the two. Since the spices included in meat bologna vary, you might sample a variety that is anywhere from bland to heavily tasting of pork, or even edging toward garlic flavored. Generally speaking, beef bologna has a definitive flavor that doesn’t change drastically, making it more consistent from brand to brand than meat bologna.

Texture and Thickness

Both lunch meats are available sliced thick or thin, though meat bologna is typically cut thick, having a slightly softer texture, due to being made up of multiple types of meat processed together, some of them softer. Beef bologna is somewhat more dense than its mixed-meat counterpart, due to the nature of beef.