What Is Pork Roll?

Buying, Cooking, and Recipes

Taylor ham, egg, and cheese sandwich on brown paper bag

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Pork roll is a processed meat product made from pork, salt, sugar, and spices. The meat is formed into a cylindrical log shape before being smoked. It’s strongly associated with the state of New Jersey, where it’s produced and often served as breakfast meat. Depending on where you are, pork roll may be referred to by its other name, Taylor ham.

Fast Facts

Also known as: Taylor ham, Trenton pork roll

Origin: New Jersey

Used for: Breakfast sandwiches

What Is Pork Roll?

If you haven’t spent time in the Mid-Atlantic region, you may not have heard of pork roll. It’s a distinctly New Jersey food that’s often served at diners (another New Jersey staple) and other casual eateries.

Pork roll gets its other name, Taylor ham, after Taylor Provisions, Inc. in Trenton, New Jersey, which was the first company to produce it back in 1856. The product was originally marketed as “prepared ham,” but changes from the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 meant that the product no longer met the federal requirements for products labeled as ham. The company called their product “pork roll” instead, and the term became a generic name for the product regardless of whether it was produced by Taylor Provisions.

Pork Roll vs. Taylor Ham

While many companies produce pork roll, the original company that produced the product is responsible for its other name. Taylor ham is technically named John Taylor’s Original Pork Roll. The product is the same, but the name “Taylor ham” specifies the manufacturer. Another variation, Trenton pork roll, is also produced by Taylor Provisions, but it has a milder flavor.

What you call this ham-like product will depend on where you are in the Mid-Atlantic. The name “pork roll” is typically used to refer to the product in the Philadelphia area and in South Jersey. In the northern part of New Jersey, it’s more commonly called Taylor ham.

How to Cook With Pork Roll

While pork roll is fully cooked in the production process, it isn’t served cold on sandwiches the way other deli meats typically are. Instead, it’s griddled on both sides and served hot, similar to Canadian bacon.

Pork roll must be sliced into thin rounds before it’s fried, grilled, or seared. It’s either sold in cylinders to be sliced at home or may be sold in pre-sliced packages. 

To cook pork roll, make several shallow cuts half an inch to one inch deep around the edges of each slice before cooking to keep the meat from curling while it cooks, allowing it to maintain contact with the cooking surface.

Heat butter in a skillet or frying pan over medium-high heat, then add the slices in a single layer. Cook for a few minutes on each side until browned. Serve the hot pork roll on a bagel, roll, or English muffin with scrambled or fried eggs and cheese, or serve it as part of a breakfast platter with eggs, toast, and home fries.

Pork Roll Recipes

Where to Buy Pork Roll

Pork roll can be found in the breakfast meat section of supermarkets, grocery stores, butcher shops, delis, and corner stores throughout New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania, and parts of Maryland and Delaware. It’s typically served on breakfast sandwiches at diners, brunch restaurants, gas stations, and food carts around the Mid-Atlantic.

Storage

Store pork roll in its original packaging in your refrigerator. Refrigerate any remaining pork roll in airtight packaging, such as a plastic zip-top bag or layers of plastic wrap. Unopened pork roll’s shelf life should last through the use-by date on the package. After opening, pork roll can be used for up to five days.

Pork roll can be frozen in its original packaging or in an airtight plastic bag or container for up to two months for best quality. Thaw frozen pork roll overnight in the refrigerator.

Nutrition and Benefits

Pork roll is high in protein, with nine grams in a two-ounce serving of Taylor brand, and contains Vitamins A and C as well as iron. It’s also high in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol and moderately high in sodium.

Article Sources
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  1. Taylor Pork Roll Nutritional Information. Jersey Pork Roll.