What Is a Good Substitute for Prosciutto? (5+ VEGETARIAN)

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You’ve probably had prosciutto at least once in your life. We describe this as fancy meat with a fancy name, but of course, it’s far more than that!

This Italian cured meat works amazingly in various dishes, such as pasta, vegetable dishes, and even on its own in a charcuterie board.

Understandably, such meats aren’t always readily available in local supermarkets, so what’s the next best thing? (*)

Find the best substitutes for prosciutto here!

The 7 Best Prosciutto Substitutes

Prosciutto is a type of dry-cured and thinly-sliced ham usually eaten raw.

Many people would apply rubbing salt and other spices outside the ham, which helps draw moisture while concentrating its flavor as it slowly air-dries. Then, it will be cut in thin slices, providing a savory flavor!

Depending on how much salt and the type of herbs are used throughout the curing process, it has a varying taste. Furthermore, the taste depends on how much time the prosciutto was cured, usually around a year or more.

Generally, this delicious ham would have a rich and slightly sweet flavor, though it’s also very salty with a strong taste, so you need to consider that when using it or find a substitute for it.

That said, it isn’t always easy finding prosciutto in markets.

You might be able to find it in specialty meat stores, though sometimes they aren’t available as well. Plus, not everyone can eat prosciutto, namely vegans or vegetarians!

Whatever the case may be, here are what you can use instead of prosciutto:

 1. Thinly Sliced Italian Bacon

Who can say no to Bacon? You can use this to replace prosciutto with no problem, as long as you select your preferred flavor.

Bacon can come in different flavors like apple and maple, you know!

Like prosciutto, thinly sliced Bacon is cured, smoked, and sold raw. However, it has a shorter curing process. 

You can also use Canadian Bacon since it’s usually pork-made and has similar flavors.

Note that Bacon has smoky flavors, and if you’re not a fan of that, you can reduce the flavor by cooking it over low heat for half an hour or so.

2. Smoked Ham or Black Forest Ham

In terms of taste, we believe that ham hits the spot. After all, prosciutto is basically dry-cured ham.

Since there are a lot of different kinds of ham available, some of which I mentioned above, which one is best? Here are the ones to try:

  • Sandwich ham is a type of accessible ham you’ll find in delis and supermarkets. This is wet-cured ham, meaning it’s injected with brine to quicken the curing process. It has a very similar taste to prosciutto but isn’t as salty.
  • Black Forest Ham, or Smoked Ham, is a type of dry-cured, round, and boneless ham soaked in caramel, hence the dark surface. It’s cooked using heavy smoke from fir or pine branches.
  • Serrano Ham is a kind of Spanish dry-cured ham, covered in sea salt. The only difference between prosciutto and Serrano ham is that the latter comes from the white pig.

3. Pancetta

Pancetta is Italian meat similar to Bacon, though it isn’t as smoked Bacon is. This has a very similar taste with a salty flavor, though you’ll find hints of pepper, along with other spices.

However, the only difference between prosciutto and pancetta is that the latter needs to be cooked, even when cured, before using it as a substitute. If you plan to use this as a prosciutto substitute for a cold dish, cool it after cooking to blend the flavors well with the other ingredients.

4. Turkey

If you want something healthier than pork, consider using turkey as a prosciutto substitute. Turkey only contains 20-25 calories per slice, with only about 1g of fat each.

It may not taste exactly the same, but it provides texture and meaty flavor to your dishes!

5. Capicola

Capicola is another type of Italian dry-cured meat coming from the pork’s neck or shoulder. You can easily find this in supermarkets and deli stores, so you can replace prosciutto with this for many recipes.

Capicola is quite similar to prosciutto, and you can choose to cut it similarly thin. Just don’t get sweet-cured capicola, as it doesn’t have the same flavors you’re going for.

6. Culatello

Culatello is a kind of prosciutto made from muscles running from a pig’s top rear leg. It’s seasoned and stuffed into a natural casing, then fried for around four months.

You can expect a similar texture as prosciutto, though there will be more fat marbling. We like using this as appetizers or stuffing in pasta.

7. Salami

Salami is another kind of cured meat like prosciutto. You definitely won’t mistake salami for prosciutto, but they have notable similarities, particularly in their flavors and curation processes. Also, just like other types of cured meat, salami is from Italy.

Don’t mistake salami for salumi, though, which is the act of preserving and salting cured meat. Salami is the cured sausage with air-dried and fermented meat!

Salami is a kind of meat that was ground out then spiced with various types of spiced, depending on the desired flavor. It’s made from multiple portions of the pig or other kinds of red meat.

Once the salami is made, it will be sealed in a link and twisted off its ends. There are different flavors to choose from, like sweet, mild, Picante, and more! Choose the right one you’ll want that suits your personal taste and dish.

You can also opt for Genoa salami, made from pork and beef cuts, then ground into a fine mince. The ground meat is then seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic, and wine, adding more flavor. You can use this to replace prosciutto in appetizers or sandwiches.

Vegetarian Substitutes for Prosciutto

8. Nuts and Chickpeas

Understandably, not everyone can eat meat. Chickpeas and nuts are excellent meatless options to consider, as it has savouriness and protein!

Get drained chickpeas in salt, then place it in the oven for about 10 minutes with paprika to emulate the flavors of prosciuttos. You can also use almonds or walnuts, which we recommend on pasta, pizza, or risotto instead of prosciutto!

9. Mushrooms

Mushroom is a common meat replacement for prosciutto if you’re vegan or vegetarian.

Mushrooms add savory traces, especially when cooked until caramelized.

We recommend using bold mushrooms like shiitake or portobello for recipes that call for prosciutto.

10. Cheese

Cheese won’t provide the meaty flavor you want from prosciutto, but it can still hi a similar taste. We recommend using aged smokey, aged cheeses like Asiago, Romano, Parmesan, or Swiss cheese.

Not only does it give a savory taste to your dish, but you can also imitate prosciutto’s texture with cheese, having it fit well with the rest of the ingredients.

11. Tofu

Tofu is another excellent non-pork substitute, thanks to its texture and saltiness. Tofu is also a healthier alternative, being low-calorie and packed with protein, though it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, so add some spices to enhance the flavor.

It’s such a versatile ingredient as well, so you can use it in any sandwich, salad, soup, casserole, or dressing that requires prosciutto! You can also use it in various cooking methods, such as baking, frying, or grilling.

12. Tempeh or Seitan

If you need a kosher substitute for prosciutto, then opt for tempeh or seitan.

Seitan is a high-protein food made of wheat gluten, having a similar look and feels as meat does. We like it for its meaty texture and flavor.

The same goes with tempeh, which has a similar look and feels to meat. This has no seasoning, unlike seitan, so do marinate your tempeh before using and cooking it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are a few more exciting things to learn about prosciutto, based on our readers’ questions: 

What are the different kinds of prosciutto?

There are two kinds of prosciutto:

  • Thinly sliced prosciutto is usually served as appetizers
  • Fat-cured prosciutto is usually for flavoring pasta dishes and vegetables
What’s the difference between Bacon, pancetta, and prosciutto?

Prosciutto is very different compared to Bacon and pancetta. Prosciutto comes from ham, or the pig’s hind leg. Furthermore, it goes through a curing process, which takes a year.

In perspective, Bacon takes only ten days to make, while pancetta takes three weeks!

How do you know if your prosciutto is spoiled? 

You’ll know if your prosciutto has gone bad when you see some green or gray taints on the meat. It would also have a weird odor or visible mold.

Usually, prosciutto lasts for up to two years in its original sealed package or a few weeks after opening it. Once you open the prosciutto’s packaging, please place it in the fridge for a longer lifespan.

Wrapping It Up

We hope you found the best prosciutto substitutes on our list! From parmesan cheese to toasted nuts, cooked ham to jamón serrano, you must try and taste many other alternatives out there.

Once you have found the perfect ingredient to substitute prosciutto with, get on with cooking or prepping your dishes now. Happy cooking!

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Up Next: The Best Substitutes For All Kinds of Meat

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