Substitute For Prosciutto: 13 Best Alternatives

Making a classic prosciutto pasta, only to find out you’re missing the main ingredient? 

Luckily, you might have some kind of substitute for prosciutto in your home. 

In this article, I’ll show you what are some of the best alternatives for every type of diet. 

Let’s jump straight in!

Top 13 Substitutes For Prosciutto

Bacon

sliced bacon

The first on our list is an all-time favorite alternative – bacon. It’s kind of a staple in American households, so there’s a pretty good chance you have it in your fridge.

They’re both salt-cured pork meat and they’re very similar in taste. What’s different is the part of the meat used. While prosciutto is made exclusively from the hind leg or thigh, bacon can be made from various cuts. Usually, that’s the pork belly or other fatty parts of the back

Dry and smoked bacon is the closest you can get to real prosciutto. To achieve a similar texture, blanch it for a few minutes until it’s soft and not as opaque. The flavor will be just like prosciutto, and you can use it in a 1:1 ratio.

Ham

sliced ham

In Italian, prosciutto actually means ham. But when we say prosciutto, we mean uncooked, dry-cured pork hind leg. Ham, on the other hand, is usually cooked and can be either smoked or unsmoked. In other words, it’s the same thing prepared differently.

For that reason, it’s no wonder ham is a great alternative to prosciutto. There are different types of ham, all with a distinctive taste that can enhance your dish. 

In most cases, ham is less salty than prosciutto, so you can add a bit more of it to your recipe. Alternatively, use additional ingredients to make the dish saltier.  

Pancetta

pancetta

Otherwise known as Italian bacon, pancetta is also a great substitute for prosciutto. Pancetta is also a salt-cured piece of pork meat, so they’re pretty similar in flavor. In fact, they’re practically the same, except without that smoky flavor bacon has.

You can use it in the same amounts in your salad or sandwich, and it will add a slightly bold, tangy note to your dish. But unlike prosciutto, pancetta isn’t air-dried and must be cooked before eating. That’s something to in mind before using it in no-cook meals.

Salami

salami

Salami might not be the obvious prosciutto alternative, given the fact that the two look nothing alike. Salami is also an air-dried cured pork meat, but it’s made of fermented sausages. Plus, it usually contains all kinds of herbs and seasoning that further enhance its flavor.

Salami comes in different varieties, from sweet to spicy. So when you’re using it as a substitute, make sure to go with a variety that best suits the flavor profile of your dish. 

And because it’s so well seasoned, you might want to use it in lower quantities than you’d use prosciutto. The exact ratio really depends on the recipe and your personal preference. 

Cheese

cheese board

It might sound weird at first, but cheese is an excellent prosciutto substitute. But of course, not just any kind. Hard, aged cheeses have that sharp, intense flavor that’s similar to prosciutto. These include Asiago, Romano, Gruyère and Comté.

More often than not, you’ll use cheese as a substitute when making appetizer platters. But you can also use it for making bruschetta or pizza bites. It can be sliced or grated – whichever you prefer. 

Depending on the type of cheese you’re using, you might need to use a different amount to achieve the desired flavor.

Jamón Serrano

jamon serrano

This is basically a Spanish version of prosciutto that’s cured for a longer time. However, these two types of ham have a slightly different taste. Italian prosciutto is sweeter and not as dry, so it’s much more intense in flavor and deeper in color. 

But while they’re slightly different in texture and taste, Jamón Serrano and prosciutto can be used interchangeably in most dishes. Generally, you can switch them up in the same ratio, or adjust the amount depending on your personal preference.

Culatello

culatello

Unlike prosciutto, culatello is made with no fat or rind, just thigh muscles. And while prosciutto is cured with just salt, culatello is cured with a mixture of salt, pepper, garlic, and dry white wine. Because of that, it’s tender and rich in flavor, with prominent winey notes. 

Since it has such a strong flavor profile, you should go easy when adding culatello to your meals. If you put too much of it, it might overwhelm the taste of other ingredients. Add about half as much as you would add prosciutto.  

Capicola

capicola

This is Italian dry-cured meat made from pork shoulder muscles. Capicolla is dried for a short amount of time, so it’s more tender than prosciutto. It also has a lower fat content and is coated in a mixture of seasoning. 

You could say that capicola is a slightly healthier option. What’s more, it’s also more affordable than prosciutto. 

Unlike prosciutto, capicola is cured in spices and flavors, such as wine and red pepper. Still, they both add a similar flavor profile to any dish. For that reason, you can easily swap prosciutto for capicola in the same amount, and you will barely notice the difference in taste. 

Guanciale

guanciale

Guanciale is made of pork cheek, so it’s no wonder it has a much higher fat content than prosciutto. That also makes it more smooth and creamy of the two. It’s commonly cured with salt, pepper, sage, rosemary, and garlic, so it brings that deep, earthy flavor to your meal.

Because it’s so high in fat, guanciale is ideal for baked and any pasta dish you might think of. Generally, you can use it in a 1:1 ratio. But if your recipe asks for any of these spices, you can easily omit them, as guanciale already brings them to the table. 

Mushrooms

mushrooms

Did you know that you can use vegetables as a substitute for prosciutto? Mushrooms have that strong umami flavor that can easily replace meat in your meal. 

Whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, or simply want to eat more healthily, this is definitely an alternative worth trying. They’re low in fat and salt but very high in protein. What’s more, they easily absorb flavors.

There are tons of edible mushroom varieties out there, but the best ones for this purpose are shiitake and portobello. They have that mild but savory taste that goes well in most dishes. As for the ratio, it really comes down to the recipe, so add as much as you feel it’s right. 

Beef Bresaola

beef bresaola

If you don’t like the taste of pork, or you simply don’t eat it for any other reason, then beef bresaola is a great alternative. It’s a beautiful, lean cut of meat that’s not as strong in flavor as prosciutto. And because it’s dried for only a few months, beef bresaola is also much more tender. 

When using beef bresaola as a substitute, you can add more of it to your dish without worrying it will be overwhelming. Because of its light flavor and slightly nutty notes, beef bresaola is best used for appetizers and pizza toppings. 

Toasted Nuts

toasted nuts

What do prosciutto and toasted nuts have in common? They both add that salty nutty hint to any dish. And while their texture is nowhere similar, you won’t notice anything missing in your meal. 

This is a great alternative for any vegetable-based diet. Nuts are rich in protein, fiber, and nutrients, so they’re also a much healthier option.

As a substitute, toasted nuts are best used in pasta and salads. They’re also a great addition to any appetizer platter.

Duck Prosciutto

Interestingly enough, duck prosciutto also originates in Italy. As you probably know, Jewish tradition forbids eating pork, so they’ve cleverly replaced it with duck meat. 

Even though it’s made with 0% pig meat, you could say that it tastes “porky.” That’s probably because it’s seasoned and cured in practically the same way. It’s slightly less salty but a bit fattier than regular prosciutto.

Because of that, you can easily use it as a substitute in a 1:1 ratio. Duch prosciutto is best for no-cook meals, such as sandwiches and salads. You can also cut it into tiny pieces and use it as a topping for the casserole and other baked dishes.

FAQ

Still not on board with these prosciutto substitutes? Here are a few answers that might help you decide.

What Are The Best Vegetarian Substitutes For Prosciutto?

Cheese is one of the best vegetarian prosciutto alternatives. With so many types of cheese available, you can easily pick the one that suits your recipe the best. Ideally, you want to go with a hard ages cheese, like Romano or Asiago. They’re naturally salty and quite similar in flavor.

The best thing about using cheese as a substitute is that you can play around with texture. You can slice or grate it, depending on the recipe.

What Is A Good Non-Pork Substitute For Prosciutto?

If you don’t eat pork, no worries. There are some really good meat alternatives you can get instead. In this article, we already mentioned beef bresaola and duck prosciutto. They’re probably the closest option when it comes to flavor and texture. 

Alternatively, you can also use chicken or turkey bacon. But these are rather bland and you’ll need to use more spices to achieve a more prominent flavor.

What Is The Best Vegan Substitute For Prosciutto?

Even if you’re vegan, there are plenty of substitute options available. One of the best vegan prosciutto alternatives is toasted nuts – especially almonds and walnuts. Prepared in such a way, they get that strong savory flavor that resembles the one of prosciutto. 

More great substitutes include mushrooms, shiitake, and portobello in particular. They have a meaty texture, and with the right seasoning, they really emphasize the flavor of your dish. 

Conclusion

Whether you’re not eating pork or you simply miss that one ingredient for your favorite dish, there’s no need to worry. There are tons of prosciutto alternatives out there that will give your meal practically the same flavor. 

Did you pick your favorite alternative already? From other types of ham to nuts and veggies, there’s something for everyone’s diet. 

If you like this article, share it with your friends and family. They might be looking for prosciutto substitutes as well. 

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Author

I’m not a pro chef by any means, but years of tinkering inside the kitchen have taught me a thing or two about preparing delicious, healthy food. So whether you’re interested in how to properly store food, figuring out side dishes for your main course, or even learning how to use a knife properly – I've got you covered.