Prosciutto is a delicate, dry-cured ham that originated in Italy. The word prosciutto means ham in its home country, and the delicacy is also known as prosciutto crudo. It is served in thin slices and raw. The famous Italian delicacy is made of high-quality pork, salted, air-dried, and aged for several weeks.
The salty and sweet prosciutto is salmon to red in color with visible fat streaks. It is often served as an appetizer, in salads, as well as in pasta, or as a garnish for other main dishes.
But what if you are planning on preparing a mouthwatering dish that calls for prosciutto and you have run out? Or if you are staying away from animal-based products?
The good news is that there are some excellent alternatives you can use, including other meat products. There are also plant-based replacements for all you vegetarians and vegans too.
Read through our list of suitable prosciutto replacements to find the best substitute for prosciutto for your taste and your needs.
Best Prosciutto Substitutes
Here are our top suggestions for products that you can use to replace the taste, texture, and flavor of prosciutto for different recipes.
As we mentioned above, prosciutto means ham in Italian. So, ham is probably the first alternative for it that pops in your mind. And you are right – the two are very similar in texture and taste.
There are different types of ham which are offered in stores and at your butcher’s. The main difference between prosciutto and regular ham is in the saltiness. The former is much saltier than the latter.
Ham is a good substitute for prosciutto if you are making pasta or using it for salads or veggie wraps.
Since the two products have a similar texture, you can slice the ham in thin slices and use the same amount as you would prosciutto when preparing the dish of your choice.
Some of the best types of ham to use as a prosciutto replacement are Serrano ham, smoked ham, black forest ham, or sandwich ham.
Pancetta is another pork-based Italian delicacy. It is a form of Italian bacon and can be used as a replacement for prosciutto for making different dishes or when used as a garnish.
The one thing to keep in mind is that pancetta is raw, so you will need to cook it before using it.
When using pancetta as a prosciutto replacement for making a salad or other cold dish, make sure to let the cooked Italian bacon cool down first.
Add the same amount of pancetta to your meal as you would prosciutto, and taste it to adjust the quantities to your liking.
Bacon is readily available in any store, which makes it an easily accessible substitute for prosciutto. The bacon is sold thinly sliced in most cases, so it is ready to add to the food instead of the prosciutto.
Plus, you can eat bacon raw, which makes it very suitable as a prosciutto alternative for most cold recipes.
Since bacon and prosciutto are similar in taste and texture, you can easily use bacon at a 1:1 ratio when replacing prosciutto with it.
Capicola is yet another dry-cured pork delicacy from Italy. Unlike the prosciutto, though, it is made from the pork shoulder and neck. When sliced in thin slices, the capicola will taste and feel very much like prosciutto.
The only thing to consider when using it instead of prosciutto is that there are several varieties of capicola, some of which are sweet-cured. If you are looking for the salty flavor of prosciutto, you should opt for capicola, which too has been cured in salt.
When using it as an alternative to prosciutto, make sure to slice the capicola in thin slices, and then use equal amounts to garnish your dish.
You can adapt the quantities of capicola by tasting the meal and adding more or less during the food prep.
Salami may not look like prosciutto, but if the taste of the prosciutto is what you are going for, it can be a perfect substitute for it.
Salami is made of cured Italian sausages, which are made of air-dried and fermented meat.
The taste of the salami will vary according to the type you choose.
When you are using it to replace prosciutto, choose salami which is as close to it in taste, or simply choose the one you prefer. You can use the same amounts of salami or adapt the quantities depending on your personal preferences.
Guanciale is another dry-cured pork product originating in Italy. It is made from the meat from the pork’s cheek and has a very similar taste and texture to prosciutto.
But make sure that you are careful with the amount of guanciale you use instead of prosciutto, as it is much fattier than prosciutto.
It is one of the best prosciutto substitutes for preparing pasta carbonara but can also be served raw in salads and as part of another cold dish.
Culatello is dry-cured pork meat from the fillet or loin of the animal’s leg.
Since it is made in a similar fashion as prosciutto, culatello can easily be used as a replacement for it when it comes to preparing cooked or cold dishes.
It is as salty as prosciutto, so be careful when adding culatello to your meal, to prevent over-salting it.
Vegetarian Substitutes for Prosciutto
If you prefer to avoid eating meat but still want to prepare delicious pasta or other recipes which call for prosciutto, we have selected some non-meat alternatives for you. Some are vegan, and others can be suitable for most vegetarians.
Chickpeas and nuts
Different nuts, such as drained chickpeas, almonds, or walnuts, can be excellent alternatives for prosciutto for a vegetarian or vegan dish.
You can drain the chickpeas in some salt and cook them for about 10 minutes seasoned with some paprika for achieving a texture and taste similar to that of prosciutto.
Using chickpeas and other nuts as a prosciutto substitute is especially suitable when making pizza, pasta, or other dishes that call for cooked prosciutto.
If you don’t want to eat meat but don’t mind consuming cheese, then you can use Parmesan, Asiago, Romano, Swiss or similar cheese as a prosciutto alternative.
They are aged, smoky, and salty cheeses which will mimic the taste of the dry-cured meat. Plus, you can easily adapt their texture to fit well in just about any dish which calls for prosciutto.
Mushrooms are another vegan and vegetarian-friendly substitute for prosciutto. To use them instead of the cured ham, make sure that you cook them until they are brown and caramelized.
The most suitable mushrooms to use for this purpose are shiitake, Portobello, or other similar sorts.
They will bring a savory taste and a nice texture to your food and are especially suitable for replacing prosciutto when preparing pasta or other cooked dishes.
You might ask
Is there a non-pork substitute for prosciutto?
If you don’t want to use a pork-based substitute for the prosciutto in your recipe, you can opt for other alternative meat-based products.
You can use turkey or chicken bacon instead. To get a similar salty taste, you can season the bacon with salt and other seasonings of your choice.
What meat is closest to prosciutto?
Naturally, the pork-based dry-cured meats are the ones that are closest in texture and flavor to that of prosciutto.
Italian delicacies such as pancetta, capicola, guanciale, culatello, mortadella, or salami are all made in a similar manner and can be used instead of prosciutto in many cases.
Just make sure to follow our tips for preparing the food and making adjustments so that you get the best results when using another meat instead of prosciutto for cooking.