6 Meats You Should And Shouldn't Buy From Walmart

We're not entirely sure what to make of Walmart in 2022. Named the best-selling retail company in the U.S. in 2021, according to the National Retail Federation, the international conglomerate absolutely dominates its competition, more than doubling the total sales of the next highest-selling company. Frankly, it's a challenge remembering a time before the utter ubiquity of the Sam Walton-founded chain, which has had stores open and operating in all 50 states since 1995.

Of course, while Walmart's weathered an understandable (and somewhat well-deserved) reputation for poor customer service in recent years, the appeal of its dirt cheap prices still holds an allure like little else. Many of us are willing to overlook any number of potentially disqualifying factors to save a buck or two in this bargain-obsessed culture, like the fact that an almost inconceivably low price is often indicative of incredibly low quality.

What this means is that, for every category of food at Walmart, including meat, there are certain foods you can be more comfortable purchasing — and others you absolutely should not. So if you're on the lookout for potential protein purchases from the country's top big box grocery, peruse our guide beforehand and discover which meats you should buy from Walmart, and which you shouldn't.

Buy: thick sliced bacon

Is there such a thing as bad bacon? Of course there is — although that's usually just the result of it spoiling, or being cooked incorrectly, rather than an indication of quality. There are undoubtedly exceptions to the rule that everything in life is better with bacon, but we're not here to discuss any potentially poor versions of the salted pork product. Rather, we're here to inform you that you should feel absolutely comfortable buying Great Value Naturally Hickory Smoked Thick Sliced Bacon from Walmart.

Obviously, we wouldn't declare this Great Value product is universally beloved, because, well, nothing is enjoyed by everyone. So while it's impossible to avoid a handful of negative comments, the average rating for the thick sliced bacon on Walmart's website still comes in just under 4 stars as of November 2022. With hundreds of customers giving it a full 5 stars, this seems like a strong indicator of the bacon's legitimately solid quality.

A number of Great Value thick sliced bacon fans have noted on Reddit that the product tastes the best when it's made in the oven. Since it's hard to top bacon cooked in the oven anyhow, we'd urge you to take that advice after buying this meat from Walmart.

Buy: beef jerky

To be perfectly honest, we're not sure whether the potentially detrimental impact of beef jerky on one's long-term health means you should avoid the food entirely. Like most things, we suppose it's an individual decision based on your personal tolerance to the risk, since there's risk to virtually everything you do in life. If you're someone who's unencumbered by the potential pitfalls to consuming beef jerky, though, you can rest assured Walmart has you covered. Because if you love the high-protein, long-lasting snack, Great Value beef jerky is definitely worth considering.

For one thing, this meat from Walmart has a legitimately great value (pun intended), costing $3.00 less than Jack Link's similarly sized 10-ounce package as of November 2022. Considering the immense toll inflation has taken on the average price of groceries in 2022, any savings to be found are a welcome bonus to consumers (via USDA). Beyond the dollars and cents, though, is the fact that customers seem to truly enjoy Great Value beef jerky. Reviews at Walmart overwhelmingly compliment the prodigiously processed meat, meaning if you're searching for an affordable and delectable beef jerky product, you won't go wrong purchasing it from Walmart. 

Buy: frozen sausage patties

This revelation may not cause your jaw to drop to the floor, but we're big fast food fans around here. Of course, we're also quick to try and save a buck whenever possible, so it's nice to know at least one Great Value product — the frozen Fully Cooked Pork Sausage Patties – is akin to a fast food item. Given that fans of this product describe it as comparable to McDonald's sausage patties, we're keen to recommend it to you (via Reddit). Because if a store-bought item can help reduce the number of morning trips to Mickey D's, that's probably not a bad thing.

It's not simply that the Great Value pork sausage patties are similarly sized to the ones used by the fast food chain on its Sausage McMuffin. In fact, according to one customer review on the Walmart website, they are downright "bombdiggity ... [and] taste better than McDonald's." Additionally, some claim the sausages are actually larger than other sausage patties for sale, with one comment from Reddit noting they are "literally twice the size of the name brand."

If you're ever feeling inclined to make your own homemade breakfast sandwiches, the availability of quality and affordable ingredients makes the whole endeavor worthwhile. In other words, the next time you're looking for the perfect breakfast meat to combine with a fried egg and cheese, we encourage you to grab a bag of pork sausage patties from Walmart.

Buy: ham and turkey cold cuts

Have you noticed a bit of a pattern when it comes to meats you should buy from Walmart? If not, allow us to spell it out for you — the most enticing Great Value brand meats tend to be of the heavily-processed, pre-packaged variety. That doesn't necessarily mean you should avoid all fresh meats sold at the store, of course. But it does help explain why you should consider buying Walmart's turkey and ham cold cut varieties.

Perhaps the greatest aspect of Great Value turkey and ham cold cuts, such as the Thin Sliced Honey Ham or the Fat-Free Turkey Breast, is the lack of artificial preservatives and added nitrates and nitrites. Since the presence of nitrates and nitrites in foods is known to potentially cause certain types of cancer (via BBC), it's always preferable to prioritize products devoid of any additional manmade ingredients. Most of the turkey and ham cold cuts sold by Walmart seem to contain pretty low fat content per serving, as well, making them meats you won't find yourself let down by after buying.

Buy: canned tuna

Of all the canned meat products we've consumed, we'd be hard pressed to name one more universally versatile and tasty than canned tuna. Frankly, we've yet to encounter a canned brand that didn't produce a tasty final tuna product once it was drained and mixed with mayo, herbs, and whatever else your heart (or stomach) desires. With this in mind, we weren't shocked to discover one of the best meats to purchase from Walmart is its canned tuna.

In particular, the Great Value Chunk Light Tuna in Water variety appears to be a solid crowd pleaser. Not only does it have an average customer rating of 4.5 stars as of November 2022 — it also has more than 1,400 full 5-star reviews. Even a number of negative reviews seemed less directed at the food item itself, and more about it not being in stock when desired, or problems with the shipping and delivery.

One commenter on Reddit even went as far as to declare Great Value tuna to be superior to Starkist, which certainly speaks to the Walmart brand's canned tuna quality — and why we recommend it as a meat you should buy from the store.

Buy: canned pork

When it comes to the best meat options from Walmart, it's clear that fully prepared and packaged items stand above the rest. In keeping with that logic, the next meat you should consider adding to your Walmart grocery cart is Great Value canned Luncheon Meat. It is essentially just a fully-cooked pork product in a can, making it a generic version of Spam. There's always a risk that generic products won't stand up to their name brand counterparts, but according to one customer review, the Great Value canned pork "is an exact clone to the big name luncheon meat." Plus, it has an average rating of more than 4 stars as of November 2022, with other reviews raving about the quality, richness, and fat content of the product. Not to mention the fact that it browns up nicely in a hot skillet. 

Beyond the comparable taste and flavor of Great Value canned pork luncheon meat to more well-known brands, the immense affordability makes it worth considering. In fact, according to Walmart's website, the Great Value brand costs $1.98 as of November 2022, while the same size can of Spam costs $3.58.

Don't buy: imported farmed shrimp

When a product is much cheaper than you'd expect, it isn't always a simple case of low-quality ingredients. In fact, a common reason behind a product's shockingly cheap cost is often its less-than-humane origin. While some may presume this solely concerns an animal's welfare, there's also the human aspect to consider. And it's those types of ethical concerns that lead us to decidedly say that you should not buy imported farmed shrimp from Walmart, as this product has reportedly been linked to slave labor in Thailand (via Natural News).

Human rights abuses in the Thai seafood industry are nothing new. After all, as director of Human Rights Watch in Asia, Brad Adams, told The Guardian in 2018, "forced labor is routine," with many workers reporting "being trafficked on to ships, trapped in jobs they couldn't leave, physical abuse, lack of food, long hours and awful working conditions." 

Of course, if you're the type of person who only cares about an affordable meat without compunction regarding its origin, feel free to buy Walmart's imported farmed shrimp. Otherwise, we suggest you avoid this product and buy your frozen shrimp from more ethical sources. 

Don't buy: ground beef

We can't imagine that most people reading this article in 2022 would be surprised to see ground beef as a meat you shouldn't buy from Walmart. Concerns surrounding the quality and processing of Walmart's beef products have existed for some time, with issues tracing back to at least 2003 (via The New York Times). While there's no reason to assume the same exact problems have lingered two decades later, it's not as though it's been smooth sailing for Walmart's ground beef items since then. In 2016, in fact, Walmart was forced to recall 90,000 pounds of its Sam's Choice angus beef patties due to potential contamination with wood materials (via Time).

Additionally, Walmart's Great Value ground beef isn't even the cheapest available brand on the market. According to Cheapism, Aldi's ground beef prices are actually lower on average. Since the quality and price of Walmart's ground beef struggles to match its competitors, we suggest you just avoid this meat from the store entirely.

Don't buy: raw pork

Given the dominance of processed and pre-cooked meats we recommend from Walmart, you may have inferred that the majority of meat you shouldn't buy from the store consists of uncooked items. While part of the problem with Walmart's raw meat products is the lack of on-site butchers, when it comes to pork specifically, there are other issues at play. Mainly, that at least one farm that previously supplied pork to Walmart has been accused of animal cruelty in the past (via HuffPost).

To be fair, when video of the pigs' mistreatment went public in 2013, Tyson Foods, the meat supplier for Walmart at the time, ended business with the farm in question. Yet that isn't the only questionable situation we uncovered when it comes to Walmart's relationship with pork producers. There's also the fact that, according to Grist, Walmart's profit share from pork sales increased 16 cents between 1990 and 2009, while the corresponding share for pig farmers dropped 20 cents over the same period.

Frankly, since Walmart's bottom line appears to trump any other considerations for pork sales — even the well-being of its pork suppliers — we can't in good conscience suggest buying raw pork from the store.

Don't buy: rotisserie chicken

Rotisserie chickens are a staple in modern culinary culture for a reason. Despite the sky-high sodium content present in precooked rotisserie chickens sold at various grocery stores (via Consumer Reports), the appeal of a whole, ready-to-eat poultry product is easy to grasp. However, if you like to enjoy a rotisserie chicken from time to time, you should steer clear of Walmart's version of this pre-cooked bird.

Mashed ranked Walmart's offering dead last among 13 popular rotisserie chicken options. And there are many who take issue with Walmart's rotisserie chicken, or have tried to deter consumers from a disappointing purchase. A MyRecipes.com review of six different brand name products in 2018 ranked Walmart's chicken near the bottom, describing the meat as dry and unpleasant. Additionally, Eat This, Not That also named Walmart's rotisserie chicken as one of the worst you can buy, based on a survey of Yelp reviews, suggesting consumers are just as aware of the store's lackluster product. Since Walmart's rotisserie chicken is neither the cheapest nor largest item on the market, according to The Tennessean, it's easy to see why this meat is one you should skip during your next shopping trip. 

Don't buy: frozen salmon

Some of the meats we advise you against buying from Walmart are a result of the less-than-stellar circumstances in which the animals are raised, caught, or slaughtered. Other times, though, we're simply following the lead of customers who've found themselves displeased with their own past purchases. Case in point: Walmart's wild-caught salmon.

Perhaps the biggest issue with Walmart's Great Value Wild-Caught Pink Salmon is that it's not just salmon. According to the product's ingredient list, it also contains the moisture-retention chemical sodium tripolyphosphate. This, quite frankly, could explain the number of negative reviews for the Great Value frozen pink salmon, not to mention its mere 2.3-star rating as of November 2022. One shopper claimed they "used to love the Great Value salmon" but too much water turned the product into a soggy mess; another said the Great Value salmon "meat is soft" and bemoaned its off-putting smell. Other customers on Reddit have echoed the widespread displeasure with Walmart's frozen salmon.

Considering the number of issues surrounding some of Walmart's shrimp products as well (via Natural News), there seems to be a solid case you should never buy any fish from Walmart that isn't canned. So when it comes to the Great Value Wild-Caught Pink Salmon, it's best to swim upstream away from this products.

Don't buy: boneless skinless chicken breast

One of the driving forces behind which meats we suggest you should or shouldn't buy from Walmart is customer feedback. Sure, it may be difficult to entirely trust online reviews given the near-constant presence of trolls and spam comments, but we can only make do with what we have. And those reviews still provide illuminating context to help explain why you should think twice about buying fresh boneless, skinless chicken breast from Walmart.

For one thing, an average customer rating of 2.1 stars as of November 2022 suggests Walmart's store brand Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts with Rib Meat are a substandard product. But it's not just consumers willing to comment on Walmart's website that disapprove of the store's chicken, as a Consumer Reports survey in 2017 found that many took specific issue with the quality of the retailer's poultry overall, among other complaints.

Another factor that should deter you from buying fresh chicken breast  from Walmart is the fact it may not always be, well, boneless. At least one Twitter user reported finding bones in their package of chicken from Walmart in 2020. So if you're looking for a delicious (and truly boneless) chicken product, you're unlikely to be satisfied with what Walmart has to offer.