When I was in college I did a summer abroad in Paris. It was a magical season full of beauty, music, and of course endless delicious food. When most people think of French cuisine they think of a crisp croissant or a beautiful filet mignon. What I miss most though are the Jambon Beurre sandwiches.
A simple sandwich composed of a baguette sliced down the middle, smeared liberally with unsalted French butter, and piled high with the gem of all lunch meats, the Jambon de Paris.
The sandwich is as French as French can get, and makes me think of warm summers on the Seine. Jambon de Paris is almost impossible to find in the U.S. though, so I’ve been on a quest to recreate the Jambon Beurre in the U.S. using the best possible alternatives I could hunt down.
If you are looking for a true European ham experience, try a special order of Les Trois Petits Cochons, Dartagnan Smoked Ham, or Prosciutto Cotto. For a less expensive American substitute, low-sodium hams, spiral ham, honey ham, country ham, or even sliced turkey can do the trick. For those following a vegetarian or health-conscious diet, Tofurkey brand Holiday Ham or Lightlife Ham lunchmeat are great substitutes.
We’ll be going over these different substitutes and the best ways to use them, answering some questions you may have, and even providing an easy and simple recipe for your own Jambon Beurre!
Jambon de Paris Substitutes
1. Les Trois Petits Cochons – Best European Style Substitute
If you’re looking for something that will get you as close to the real deal as possible, look no further than this French style deli based out of NYC.
Founded by two French men in 1975, and has earned a reputation for being the best source for all things French meat since then. Their sliced packaged jambon de paris is as close to what you would get on the other side of the ocean, and makes the perfect addition for a delicious Jambon-Beurre.
At 7.99 for six ounces it costs a pretty penny, but it will be worth it in every bite.
A serving size of Les Trois Petits Cochons Jambon de Paris clocks in at 100 calories per two oz serving. A standard Jambon Beurre will have 3-4 oz of ham, putting you at about 150 calories of ham per serving. Since this is just an American made version of the French delicacy, you can replace it at a 1:1 ratio.
2. Dartagnan Smoked Ham
Dartagnan is another fantastic option for a beautiful Jambon Beurre sandwich. They are a new-york based deli specializing in European and French styles of meat preparation including fois gras, duck, cured meats, and many delicious iterations of ham. Their Berkshire pork boneless smoked ham has wonderful marbling and exquisite flavor, making it a great substitute for the jambon de paris.
Dartagnan practices ethical and sustainable farming, making it a more earth-conscious choice as well. You can’t buy Dartagnan ham in small quantities though, you can only buy the entire ham, so save this for a family reunion or your next big event when you want to knock it out of the park.
At 230 calories per 3 oz serving, this ham is a little more calorie dense than a typical Jambon de Paris, likely due to the added sugar in the recipe. However the flavor and quality of the meat is such that a 1:1 ratio replacement in your jambon beurre should work fine.
3. Prosciutto Cotto
Prosciutto is actually the most popular swap for jambon de paris in France. If a restaurant is out of Jambon de Paris, you will be sure to find prosciutto as an option. Prosciutto cotto is an Italian ham preparation very similar to the jambon de Paris.
It is not like the typical prosciutto we find in the U.S., which is cured prosciutto. Instead this prosciutto is salted and then cooked.
A 3.5 ounce serving of prosciutto cotto is about 213 calories, making it a comparable serving to jambon de paris. You can replace your jambon de paris at a 1:1 ratio with prosciutto cotto.
4. Low-Sodium Ham – Best American Style Substitute For Jambon De Paris
I know what you’re thinking -low sodium? I’m not eating French food to be health conscious! Classic Jambon de Paris is actually made with far less sodium than typical American hams. Finding a low-sodium deli ham in your area can make for a close alternative that will preserve the flavor ratios in your sandwich without making it overly salty.
Many deli brands like Boars head or even your local grocery store will carry low-sodium versions of their ham. Simply ask behind the deli and don’t forget to ask them to slice it razor thin for the ultimate luxurious mouthfeel and French experience.
Low sodium ham is very low calorie -only about 70 calories for a 3 ounce serving. It is an easy and healthy swap for jambon de paris at a 1:1 ratio.
5. Spiral Ham
Believe it or not, spiral ham actually makes for a pretty decent substitute for jambon de paris in terms of flavor and preparation. Spiral ham is brined and then cooked in water, making it delicate and tender. The spiral part is added at the end, when it is skewered and sliced in a cylindrical manner which makes for easy serving.
Spiral ham is a good deal saltier than a traditional French ham. Some workarounds you can do are to warm up the ham in boiling water, which will transfer some of the salt out of the ham through reverse osmosis. You can also just be cautious with how high you pile your sandwich to avoid getting a sodium overload.
If you don’t add the sugars and glazes to your spiral ham, it can be a surprisingly low calorie option at only 110 calories per 3 ounce serving. It can replace jambon de paris at a 1:1 ratio. Just know that spiral ham is cut much thicker than jambon de paris, which will create a denser and more rustic culinary experience.
6. Honey Ham
If you are in a pinch, American honey ham can work great for a jambon beurre sandwich. American style hams tend to be saltier and more watery than European hams, which make them not as ideal in a sandwich. However, honey ham is mild in flavor and doesn’t have as much of the intense smokiness that some other styles of ham have.
Sliced thinly and put in a beautiful fresh baguette, your sandwich will still be delicious and flavorful.
For the best experience, splurge a bit and buy a pound or so of the highest quality honey ham that your butcher offers, and ask him to slice it thinly for you before you take it home.
Knowing how to safely store ham can be tricky. For more information about storing your ham safely, check out the article How long ham can sit out at room temperature.
Honey ham is a great low calorie option at only about 105 calories per 3 oz serving. It can replace jambon de beurre at a 1:1 ratio. If you use thin sliced ham it will feel very similar to jambon de paris.
7. Country Ham
Country ham is a uniquely American experience. A cooking tradition hailing from the south, country ham is a completely different preparation of meat. Instead of cooking the meat in water, country ham heavily salts the meat, cures it for one to three months, then smokes it.
The result is a beautifully textured ham that falls apart when cooked and has many layers of complex flavor. Country ham tastes nothing like the delicate flavor of jambon de beurre. However, it is a unique culinary experience that is delicious in beans, with greens, and yes even sliced and thrown inside a French baguette.
Three ounces of country ham will set you back 183 calories and put you at 87% of your daily salt intake. We recommend using only half as much country ham as you would jambon de paris to avoid an overpowering salty meal.
8. Sliced Turkey
Turkey of course is going to give you a much different flavor than ham. Turkey is poultry, and is much leaner than pork as a meat. The benefit of turkey meat is that it is a bit less salty than some other varieties of lunch meat.
Turkey is a very flavorful lunch meat that is easy to find at any deli counter or grocery store. It is not as sweet as ham as well, which can alter the flavor a bit. However, turkey breast when cooked well is tender and flavorful.
Choose a non-smoked variety for a sandwich that is closer in flavor to a classic jambon beurre.
At only 127 calories for three ounce of sliced turkey, this is an easy swap that is healthy and delicious and low in sodium. Sliced turkey can replace jambon de paris at a 1:1 ratio, but be aware that the sandwich will be a little different in taste and flavor than if you had used ham.
9. Tofurkey Holiday Vegetarian Ham – Best Vegetarian Substitute For Jambon De Paris
Of course those with dietary restrictions may still want to enjoy the magic of a jambon beurre. The Tufurkey brand Holiday Ham is a great option. It mimics a spiral ham in flavor, making it a great substitute for jambon de paris.
The Tofurkey brand ham comes as a whole piece, just like a spiral ham from the grocery store, which allows you the control to slice it as thickly or as thinly as you like. Bear in mind that the tofurkey ham has a honey glaze and is smoked, so it is not exactly replicating a jambon de paris. Nevertheless, stuffed inside a delicious baguette with some plant-based butter, it will still be an enjoyable experience.
At 175 calories per 3.5 oz of tofurkey, this veggie alternative is a little calorie dense. The flavor is also going to be noticeably distinct and odd compared to traditional ham. We recommend using half as much veggie ham to start and adding more if you enjoy the flavor.
10. Lightlife Smart Deli Ham
For a quick and easy vegetarian option, try lightlife smart deli ham. This vegetarian “ham” is served lunch meat style, making it a super easy substitute that you can pick up at the grocery store and easily pop into your sandwich.
Vegetarian meat replacements will not taste very close to the original meat, but they can be a great low-calorie alternative that fits within a vegetarian lifestyle. Add a few slices to a beautifully baked baguette with a good smear of butter or plant-based spread and you will have a lovely vegetarian alternative to the classic French treat.
Three ounces of smart deli ham will only put you back about 130 calories, making it a light option. Smart deli ham has a reputation for having an “odd” taste though, so we recommend starting with only ½ the standard serving size for a jambon beurre and adding more if you like the flavor.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Difference Between Jambon De Paris And Regular Ham?
Jambon de Paris is a specially prepared French style of ham. American deli ham is typically cooked and smoked or has smoked seasoning added to it, which creates a distinctive flavor. They are also commonly glazed with mixtures like honey, mustard, or cajun seasonings.
Jambon de Paris is a very old preparation style that involves creating a light brine, wet curing the meat for 10 days, adding a mixture of herbs and spices, and cooking the meat in the water at a low temperature for several hours, resulting in a tender and flavorful cut of meat that is not too salty.
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How Can I Make Jambon Beurre At Home?
Jambon beurre is a very simple recipe with really only three ingredients and a couple of other optional ones. Because it is so simple, the quality of each ingredient is very important. The three main ingredients you need are:
One French Baguette
Jambon De Paris (Or a Similar Style)
That is it for the most basic jambon beurre. To make an out of this world sandwich, source each of your ingredients carefully. Find a bakery that makes fresh French style baguettes daily, pick your jambon substitute, and choose a high quality butter.
European style butters a good choice because they have a higher fat content than American butter.
To prepare, slice your bagette lengthwise, and liberally butter each side. Pile about a half pound of jambon on your sandwich. If desired, add a few sliced cornichons and a slice of high-quality swiss cheese. Slice in half and enjoy.
You don’t have to be sitting by the Seine to recreate a magical French culinary experience stateside. Some careful planning and research can have you creating beautiful French style sandwiches in your own kitchen.
Whether you are going very high brow and ordering your French-style jambon, or simply choosing a nice cut at your local deli, if you choose your ingredient carefully your sandwich will be sure to be a success.
My name is Keren Tayler. I am a stay-at-home mama to three lovely girls, Sarah + Rachel + Hannah. Prior to becoming a mom, I had a successful career in the accounting field, steps away from becoming a CPA. I decided to give up on my career in order to raise my own kids (as opposed to letting a nanny do it, no judgment here :)) I learned a lot and I love sharing it with other moms. Along the way, I also became a Certified Food Handler.