Impress your guests with an ingenious bologna cake! This intense appetizer will wow the crowd.
A bologna cake isn’t a traditional cake: it is a savory “cake” made from bologna slices! Crowned with many other processed foods, this appetizer is a fun way to play with childhood comfort foods.
Supposedly, this meaty, cheesy cake started out as a joke. But then people realized that while it sounds whimsical, it’s actually delicious.
Now, it’s a Southern classic.
And, luckily, it’s really easy to make! Whether you’re a beginner in the kitchen, or you’re just looking for something new to spice up your next party, this bologna cake fits the bill.
So, head to the deli and stock up on bologna slices. Then, build a masterpiece!
Picking the Best Bologna Cake Ingredients
We get the name “Bologna” from the city of Bologna in Italy. And the idea for these deli slices comes from an Italian product called mortadella.
Mortadella is a delicious smoked Italian sausage. It’s less processed than bologna; so comparing mortadella to bologna is like comparing a Thanksgiving turkey to packaged deli meat.
To make mortadella, cooks combine meat with extra fat, spices, and salt. Then, they stuff this filling into sausage casings and smoke them.
In general, cooks make mortadella from pork. However, you can also find it made from beef or a combination of both meats.
Some of the seasonings can include black pepper, allspice, nutmeg, coriander, celery seed, myrtle berries, or pistachios.
In each slice, you can see the peppercorns and other flavorings, as well as flecks of fat in the meat. Because of this, mortadella looks more like salami than bologna.
According to USDA standards, products like bologna and hot dogs are “comminuted.” In other words, all of the ingredients are ground so finely that they become minute bits.
Therefore, American bologna is completely uniform, unlike Italian mortadella.
Cream cheese is a type of spreadable fresh cheese made from culturing milk. Manufacturers add lactic acid bacteria to cream (or mixed cream and milk), and curds form.
Then, the producers drain off the whey, heat up the curds, and add other ingredients to stabilize the mixture.
In fact, the process is so basic you can actually make cream cheese at home! All you need to do is combine cream or milk with salt and acid:
- For the acid, you can use white vinegar or lemon juice. Once the curds form, strain them from the whey.
- Finally, put the curds in the blender or food processor until you get a smooth, spreadable paste. It’s delicious just as it is, and you don’t need to age it like other cheeses!
In this recipe, I use room-temperature cream cheese so that it’s easy to spread. However, if you forget to thaw yours out, you can beat it in a stand mixer or with hand beaters to soften it.
While most cheeses get refrigerated, aerosol cheese is shelf-stable in a can! Because of its packaging, people also call it “cheese in a can,” “cheese whiz,” or “spray cheese.”
Mondelez International produces one of the most popular aerosol cheeses, called Easy Cheese. However, Nabisco produced the first version from 1965 to 1984, named “Snack Mate.”
In 1966, Nabisco ran an advertisement calling Snack Mate “instant cheese for instant parties.” And it’s still a great way to snack on cheese!
Today’s Easy Cheese comes in a metal can that looks like a whipped cream can. When you press the nozzle, compressed air in the can extrudes a line of processed cheese.
As well, Easy Cheese comes in different flavors, including American, Cheddar, Sharp Cheddar, and Cheddar ‘n Bacon. So, you can experiment with lots of different toppings for your bologna cake!
Bologna Cake Recipe
- Prep Time15 min
- Cook Time0 min
- Total Time15 min
- Prepare Cream Cheese Mixture
First, add the cream cheese and ranch dressing mix to the bowl. Then, combine them completely with the spatula.
- Layer the Bologna Cake
Next, put one piece of bologna in the middle of your serving plate. Then, add 1 teaspoon of seasoned cream cheese on top and spread it with the spatula.
If you have trouble getting the salty cream cheese mix to stick, pat dry bologna slices with a paper towel before you spread more cream cheese mixture on them.
Continue alternating meat and cheese mix until you’ve used all the bologna slices. However, you should still have some cream cheese mixture remaining.
- Ice the Bologna Cake
Now, spread cheese mix around the sides and top of the bologna cake, as if you were frosting a sweet layer cake. If you have a cake-decorating turntable, you can use that to make your frosting easier.
- Decorate the Bologna Cake
Finally, decorate the bologna cake with cheese whiz and your favorite garnishes. You can “pipe” rosettes or even write messages with the aerosol cheese.
- Serve and Enjoy!
For serving, use a very sharp, thin knife to slice the bologna cake. I usually start with a thin wedge for each person because bologna cake is quite filling.
Then, dig in!
Bologna Cake Variations
- In this recipe, you don’t have to stick to bologna! In fact, you can use any cold cut deli meat you like! While salami or ham won’t give you the same bologna cake taste, your creation will still be delicious. However, use thick-sliced deli meats when you make bologna cake. If the slices are too thin, you may have trouble getting the right meat-to-cheese ratio.
- As well, you can swap in other seasonings for the ranch dressing mix. For instance, you can mix garlic and onion powder into the cream cheese instead.
- Or, try adding some Italian seasoning blend for another fun variation. As well, I like to mix 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce and some grated onion into the soft cream cheese to flavor it.
How to Serve Bologna Cake
- Usually, people serve bologna cake with crackers as an appetizer. That way, you can scoop up bits of the cake easily. For bologna cake, the classic cracker options are Townhouse or Ritz. But you can serve your favorites!
- Additionally, you could serve slices of bread with your bologna cake so that guests can make their own sandwiches.
- Then, pair this lunch with cold lemonade or iced tea. You could even play songs like “Sweet Home Alabama” for a fun Southern vibe.
Can You Freeze Bologna Cake?
I don’t like to freeze bologna cake because it can negatively affect the texture. And since it only takes 15 minutes to whip up this appetizer, it’s best to make it right before serving.
If you do have leftovers, they’ll stay good for about 2-3 days in the refrigerator. But a prepared bologna cake won’t taste as good if it’s been sitting there for a while.
Also, an opened package of bologna will stay good for about a week in the refrigerator. But it will last for 2 if you haven’t opened it.
And if you freeze a bologna package, it will stay good for about 2 months.
However, it’s not a good idea to freeze cream cheese. According to the USDA, you can ruin the taste, texture, and quality of cream cheese by freezing it.
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