Prosciutto has a unique sweet yet salty flavor. It can be served or paired with fruit, vegetables, bread, cheese, and wine. It is also popular in Italian dishes like pasta and pizza.
However, if you happen to run out of it in the kitchen, here’s a list of the best prosciutto substitutes:
- Lean Bacon
- Jamon Serrano
We’ll cover how these substitutes are best used and the benefits you get when you add them to your dishes.
19 Best Substitute For Prosciutto
Prosciutto is a slice of popular cold cut meat from Italy and is made from pork hind leg. Its name literally means ham, but it’s dry and more undercooked compared to most hams.
There are different types of prosciutto, including prosciutto crudo and prosciutto cotto. Prosciutto crudo is the more common variant, which is what you usually see in many dishes.
Some of the best prosciutto substitutes for taste is Jamon serrano. If you are looking for smokier taste, choose ham or lean bacon. You can also experiment with the list of other alternatives below.
Ham takes on a similar taste and flavor as prosciutto, making it an excellent substitute. It’s a great addition to pasta, salads, and veggie wrap recipes.
The only downside is ham isn’t as salty but you can always add a bit of salt any time. You can also spritz the ham with apple cider vinegar or apple juice for added sweetness and moisture. [Source]
Use different types of ham like Serrano, sandwich, and smoked hams to enhance the flavor.
Pancetta is the kind of bacon you’d use for soups and pasta to add an elegant nutty flavor. It’s cured with the same spices as prosciutto, which makes it the perfect substitute.
Pancetta needs to be precooked before you can use it as a prosciutto substitute. For instance, you need to sauté it first and you can add the rest of the ingredients of your dish.
Use it to boost the flavors of pizzas and salads but make sure to make thin slices. It’s also a great option for many types of sandwiches.
Capicola is a flavorful cured meat presenting a tender texture, made from pork shoulder or neck. Both prosciutto and capicola have the same origins, which is why substituting one for the other works well.
Use capicola with crackers and cheese, and slice it into thin pieces to go with salads and pasta. Since there are different types of capicola, it’s not recommended that you use the sweet cured variant. It has a different flavor profile.
Capicola is a great source of protein, phosphorus, iron, zinc, selenium, and niacin. It’s low in carbs and a good source of vitamins.
Cheese works great as a prosciutto substitute adding creaminess and rich flavors to any dish. The best type of cheese to use as substitutes are Asiago and Romano, due to their saltier flavors.
If you’d like to use a more meatless substitute, then try using Swiss cheese. Wrap it with bread and add some fresh fruits to add color to your dishes.
Cheese is a good source of protein and calcium and it should be enjoyed in modest amounts. Different types of cheeses may also contain probiotics, which is great for gut health. [Source]
Lean bacon is derived from pork with less fat, mostly from the loin portion. Due to the usually smoky flavor, it goes great with eggs with some garnishing veggies.
Bacon also has the same flavor and salty taste as prosciutto and is best served in thin slices. You can have it raw as part of salads or cooked to get most of its savory flavors.
Culatello is dried Italian ham often sourced from the hind leg or pork loin. This cut of meat is just as flavorful as prosciutto, but is more perishable, having been cured for only a year.
Even though culatello has the same roots as prosciutto, its flavor profile is saltier in comparison. You also need to store it in a cool dry place covered with damp cloth.
Use culatello in recipes that call for salty meats. However, don’t use too much or else, the dish becomes too salty. It also adds a silky texture to any recipe.
Jamon serrano is similar to ham but is made from a particular kind of pork called Landrace white pig. It’s actually a type of dry cured meat that hails from Spain, not Italy.
Its meat is darkly cured and provides a rich nutty flavor. Some have observed that it can sometimes taste like toasted almonds.
Making jamon serrano doesn’t require as much salt as prosciutto. Use it as a substitute in case you don’t want to use salty meats in your dishes.
Salami is usually made from pork, but you can also find beef and chicken variants. If you want to use a prosciutto substitute containing no pork, then this is a good option.
It’s a great complement to many dishes because of its robust savory flavor. The fermentation process, along with the seasonings added to the meat, provides its unique flavor.
There are different types of salami, which come in a variety of tastes and flavors. Choose from savory, spicy, and sweet variants, depending on the flavor profile you’re looking for.
Guanciale is a popular substitute for prosciutto in many Italian homes. It’s made from pork cheeks and has a very similar salty flavor profile as prosciutto.
Guanciale can be served raw or added to vegetables and salad recipes. It’s also a great option if you’re preparing cold dishes.
The only downside is that the meat used in its preparation is high in fat. If you want to avoid getting too much cholesterol in your dish, don’t overuse guanciale, and add cheese and other savory ingredients instead.
Duck prosciutto is a variant of the original prosciutto made from pork. If you want to avoid using pork in your dishes, then this one is an interesting option.
It’s full of flavor and is best served in thin slices as toppings for bread and crackers. You can also use it as part of a sandwich filling recipe complete with cherries, fig chutney, and pickled raisins.
Note that it’s rather salty and it may have a strong flavor. Because of this, it’s recommended that you use small amounts of duck prosciutto in most dishes.
Beef bresaola is prepared by aging beef for two months and then air dried. If you’re looking for a flavorful substitute, then this is a good option.
Beef bresaola has a sweet, musty, and earthy flavor profile, which adds an interesting twist to any dish. It’s a more delicate cut, and has a milder flavor than prosciutto.
Add it as garnish to any type of pizza or marinara. It can also be used as a topping along with arugula, cheese, and crackers.
Can vegans enjoy the rich flavors of prosciutto? They can by using toasted nuts as substitutes in their dishes.
Toasted nuts are great additions to salad recipes and risotto especially when they’re proportionately salted. Their distinct flavor and extra richness go well as pizza toppings since they blend well with cheese.
Mushrooms add a characteristic umami flavor to any dish, which is why they’re a great substitute for prosciutto. They’re another option for vegans who want to enjoy its nutty flavor.
To get the best out of mushrooms, you should sauté them before using them in any recipe. Pre-cooking them brings out their rich unique taste.
Which type of mushrooms work best as prosciutto substitutes? Look for ones with more meaty textures like shiitake and portobello mushrooms.
This is another type of Spanish cured meat just like jamon serrano, and is made from pork legs. It’s actually a kind of ham and it’s sourced from a specific type of pork called Iberian pigs.
It’s a special type of ham and is considered the most expensive ham in the world. This explains why it is quite expensive and is served only during special occasions. [Source]
Jamon iberico adds a rather unique taste to any dish. It’s a mouthwatering substitute for prosciutto with a smooth texture and intense savory flavors.
Mortadella is actually a type of Italian sausage and not ham but it makes a great substitute nevertheless. It’s made from cured pork and is seasoned with myrtle berries, black pepper, and pistachio nuts.
This polka dotted sausage offers a rather mild flavor. However, it adds a thicker, velvety, and soft texture to your dish.
Mortadella contains a lot of nutrients that help the body heal from injuries. It’s rich in protein, iron and B vitamins.
Chickpeas are also known as garbanzo beans, which pack a lot of nutrients. Most of the chickpeas you’ll find in stores have a beige color, but you’ll find red, green, black variants.
They have a nutty and earthy flavor when they’re cooked. If you want a softer texture to them, you need to soak them in water first.
Soppressata has a dark reddish color containing big white spots. It has a similar flavor to salami, which makes it a good substitute for prosciutto.
It has a slightly different flavor if you’re looking to add some extra spice and fat to your dish. As a caveat, it’s a bit tough to cook and is a bit chewy compared to other substitutes mentioned here.
This is one of the simplest and easiest substitutes that you can find. The deli ham you can find in groceries and meat shops make a great option and alternative.
It may not exactly be dried meat but it adds a simple uncomplicated flavor to your dish. It’s also less chewy, which is something you might want to get for quick recipes.
It’s a reliable stand in if you’re only looking to add some porky flavor to your dish. Use it in sandwiches or as toppings to pastas.
Here’s another great prosciutto substitute for vegans. It may not be as impressive when raw, but its true flavors come out when cooked.
Big tip: use a variety of marinades and sauces to produce the flavors you’re looking for in your dish.