How can you not love pancetta? This Italian meat is just so perfect with pasta, pizzas, sandwiches, and even by itself. It’s the flavor that just takes you to Italy without even going through the hassle of flying there. If you’re lucky enough to find this in your nearby grocery store, you’re sure to have a fire dish at home.
Still, pancetta is hard to find especially outside Italy. But worry no more because you can easily substitute pancetta with the following: prosciutto, salami, bacon, smoked ham, smoked turkey, smoked sausage, salted pork, and vegan salami.
These substitutes are readily available in most grocery stores so no more worrying if they might not be available in your area.
Let’s get to know these 8 pancetta substitutes and how it can bring wonders in our dishes.
Prosciutto is another Italian favorite of so many because of its taste and convenience. This dry-cured meat comes from the pork ham, sliced very thinly and can be served uncooked. You can enjoy it on its own with your favorite charcuterie spread and a glass of red or white wine.
Other than that, it’s excellent for sandwiches if you’re always on the go as it doesn’t need longer prep time. Also, it’s best for adding flavors to pasta, pizzas, risottos, and even to other dishes. Make sure to find your nearest specialty shop and give prosciutto a try when you don’t have pancetta.
Salami is a popular pork sausage around Europe that helped them survive the harsh winter season. Although salami is mostly pork, you can already find other meat fillings like beef and veal, depending on the location.
Salami is preserved by air-drying it to ferment the pork and make its shelf life last for a long time. It’s very easy to store, in fact, you can leave it at room temperature for no more than 40 days.
Enjoy your favorite Italian dishes with salami like pizzas, pasta, sandwiches and so much more. Pair it up with a good selection of cheese, biscuits and wash it down with a fancy glass of wine.
But if the last two Italian cured types of meat are not available in your area. Don’t fret because bacon can actually save the day. Bacon is equally flavorful, aromatic, and just provides that savory taste to any dish.
Although in America, it’s a favorite breakfast staple, you can do so many things with bacon with other dishes. Perfect for soup flavor, sandwiches, pasta especially for carbonara, and a topping for salad.
On top of that, it’s one of the cheapest alternatives you can get in the market. It’s also very common that it’s readily available whatever the season. You can choose from different brands and it even comes with different flavor variants.
4. Smoked Ham
Since pancetta is basically smoked ham, why not get your own big slab of smoked ham? If you have a thin slicer that you can use at home, it can already be cut as how you like it just like pancetta. There are a lot of variants in the market that sell smoked ham and it’s pretty common especially during the holiday season.
It’s also a cheaper alternative since it’s not being cut, unlike pancetta and prosciutto. The same as pancetta, hams can also be eaten even uncooked and have a longer shelf life. If you want to be a little extra, you can actually make your own homemade ham. That gives you freedom on how you want to season it according to your preference.
5. Smoked Turkey
If you’re not a fan of pork or just can’t have it due to religious reasons, smoked turkey is just about your perfect choice. Smoked turkey is like the ham equivalent in the bird category. It’s savory, tender, and has that excellent smoky flavor and aroma that you would like to have in your favorite Italian dishes.
However, smoked turkey can be rare in some locations. If there’s no smoked turkey, you can opt for other bird alternatives like chicken, duck, and goose. You can ask the butcher to cut it for you ahead or DIY it at home instead.
6. Smoked Sausage
Another meat alternative for pancetta is the smoked sausage. Salami falls in this category and is considered a smoked sausage. By picking this route, you have more choices to choose from depending on what you prefer.
There’s a beef sausage, veal, sheep, goat, chicken, pork and so much more. They all went through the same marination, curing process, and fermentation to achieve that smoky flavor that we all love. Also, you don’t need to ask the butcher to slice it for you since you can do it easily at home. Use this in all your favorite recipes that call for pancetta.
7. Salted Pork
On to our last meat alternative is salted pork. It’s pretty much like bacon but it’s saltier because of how it’s being preserved. Before using this on your favorite dishes, be sure to soak or boil it with water first to eliminate the excess salt.
Saute this fat slab of pork to get its flavorful fat for your pasta sauces. It makes a crispy addition to your dish that also offers that cured and meaty taste. On top of that, salted pork is also a favorite addition to soups such as chowder and bean soup. It adds aroma, flavor, and meaty taste to it, stepping up the regular soup dish.
8. Vegan Salami
Are you a vegan or vegetarian? We got something for you instead. You can now find vegan salamis or vegan cured products to substitute with pancetta. Thanks to our ever hardworking and innovative food manufacturers.
You can now enjoy signature pasta and pizzas without skipping that cured, savory goodness. If you can’t find a vegan salami or sausage, smoked vegetables like chili and tomato will do just fine.
It will offer that umami and smoky taste but expect that it’ll be less meaty compared to other meat substitutes. Still, this is a perfect choice when you are trying to make your dish happen without adding any animal product to it.
What is the difference between pancetta and bacon?
The difference is how they are processed. Pancetta is salt-cured then dried while bacon is smoked. Also, bacon can’t be eaten raw, unlike pancetta where it can be consumed uncooked.
Can you fry pancetta like bacon?
Yes of course. If you like it crispier as a topping for salads or soups, you can put it in a frying pan and let it crispy to perfection.
Can you put raw pancetta on pizza?
Yes, you can. Some foodies prefer their pancetta uncooked when served. So after cooking your pizza in the oven, take it out then add thin slices of pancetta on top. This way, it won’t be overcooked and still soft to the bite.
What does pancetta taste like?
It resembles the taste of bacon but without the smokiness in it. It’s not too powerful that you can enjoy it on its own.
How long can you store pancetta in the fridge?
Make sure to keep your pancetta in the fridge for only 3 weeks. Store it in an airtight container and consume it before the expiry date.
Whether you’re a pancetta lover or not, you will surely enjoy all the 8 substitutes that we listed above. Leave us a comment down below and let us know which substitute works best for you!