How can you not love pancetta? This Italian meat is just so perfect with pasta, pizzas, sandwiches, and even by itself. It’s flavor takes you straight to Italy without 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 an excellent meal at home.
The best substitutes for Pancetta are prosciutto, salami, bacon, smoked ham, smoked turkey, smoked sausage, salted pork, and vegan salami.
These substitutes are readily available in most grocery stores.
Let’s get to know these 8 pancetta substitutes and learn what each of them can bring to your cooking.
Prosciutto is another Italian favorite, due to its taste and convenience. This dry-cured meat that comes from pork/ham is 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. It’s excellent for adding flavor 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 in Europe that traditionally helped them survive the harsh winter season. Although salami is mostly pork, you can find it with other meat fillings like beef and veal, depending on the location.
Salami is preserved by air-drying it to ferment the pork and lengthen its shelf life. It’s very easy to store, and in fact you can leave it at room temperature for up to 40 days.
Enjoy your favorite Italian dishes with salami, including pizzas, pasta, sandwiches and so much more. Pair it up with a good selection of cheese and biscuits and wash it down with a fancy glass of wine.
But if the previous two types of Italian cured meat are not available in your area, don’t fret because bacon can save the day. Bacon is equally flavorful, aromatic, and provides a savory taste to any dish.
Although in America it’s a favorite breakfast staple, you can do so many things with bacon in other dishes. Perfect for soup, sandwiches, pasta (especially for carbonara), and as a topping for salad.
On top of that, it’s one of the cheapest alternatives you can get. It’s also very common and 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, you can cut it just like pancetta. There are a lot of variants 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 uncooked and have a longer shelf life. You can actually make your own homemade ham, which gives you the freedom to season it according to your own preference.
5. Smoked Turkey
If you’re not a fan of pork or just can’t have it for religious reasons, smoked turkey is just about your perfect choice. Smoked turkey is like the bird equivalent of ham. It’s savory, tender, and has that excellent smoky flavor and aroma that you expect in your favorite Italian dishes.
However, smoked turkey can be hard to find in some locations. If there’s no smoked turkey, you can opt for other bird alternatives such as chicken, duck, and goose. You can ask the butcher to cut it for you, or cut it yourself at home instead.
6. Smoked Sausage
Another meat alternative for pancetta is the smoked sausage. Salami falls into this category and is considered a smoked sausage. By picking this route, you will have lots of options to choose from.
There’s beef sausage, veal, sheep, goat, chicken, pork and more. They all go through the same marination, curing, and fermentation processes 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: salted pork. It’s pretty much like bacon but it’s saltier because of how it’s been preserved. Before using this in your favorite dishes, be sure to soak or boil it with water first to eliminate the excess salt.
Sauté this slab of pork to get its flavorful fat for your pasta sauces. It makes a crispy addition to your dish and 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 a meaty taste.
8. Vegan Salami
Are you a vegan or vegetarian? Thanks to our hardworking and innovative food manufacturers, we’ve got something for you too. You can now find vegan salamis or vegan cured products to use as a substitute for pancetta.
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 vegan or vegetarian.
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 which 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 crisp 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 will still be soft to the bite.
What does pancetta taste like?
It resembles the taste of bacon but without the smokiness. It’s not too powerful and you can enjoy it on its own.
How long can you store pancetta in the fridge?
Keep your pancetta in the fridge for no more than 3 weeks. Store it in an airtight container and consume it before the expiry date.
Whether you’re a pancetta lover or not, we are sure you will enjoy trying all 8 of the substitutes that we have listed above. Leave us a comment down below and let us know which substitute works best for you!
I had never even heard of pancetta, but had carbonara several times after seeing the ladies on the TV show Better Things, drooling over an impromptu dinner of carbonara, prepared by the middle daughter. We used bacon instead, per my roommates direction, and I too was drooling over the carbonara. Such a great comfort food…!!! And like a lot of comfort foods, it is as good or better the next day…!!! Sure is good, tasting something this good…!!!