Prosciutto is a cured Italian ham famous for its salty flavor and delicate texture. It is a great addition to a charcuterie board and features in many traditional Italian dishes such as pasta sauces, risotto, and any other meal that needs a hint of rich, meaty flavor.
In Italy, there are two kinds of prosciutto. Prosciutto Cotto is just like American cooked ham. It is milder and softer. Prosciutto Crudo is cured ham and what is most commonly known as prosciutto in stores outside of Italy.
However, prosciutto can be hard to find in your local grocery store. It is often more expensive than other deli meats, thanks to import fees and the particular method of production. Luckily, there are a few alternatives that can replace prosciutto in your next dish.
Prosciutto is just cured Italian ham, so it makes sense that regular ham would make a good substitute. You can get a wide variety of hams at your local grocery store. Most deli hams are precooked, so all you have to do is take a slice, chop it into smaller pieces if you want, and then eat it.
However, regular ham varies widely in quality, so some may not be appropriate for a charcuterie platter. Try to go for a fancier ham such as Black Forest or smoked ham when using it as a prosciutto substitute. Ham also lacks the saltiness and smokiness of prosciutto, so some of the complex flavors will be lost.
Bacon is another common deli pork product that you can use in place of prosciutto. It is salty and fatty, just like prosciutto, so you can use it in pasta sauces, risottos, and even in saltimbocca, a traditional prosciutto-wrapped meat dish.
If you are serving food to people who cannot eat pork, turkey bacon functions as a good replacement for prosciutto.
However, bacon is much fattier than prosciutto. Although it is just as salty, it lacks some of prosciutto’s refined flavors. If you are looking for a replacement for your charcuterie platter or antipasto, bacon is not the best choice.
If you can’t locate prosciutto, it is lucky that Italians have plenty of cured pork products that hit the spot. Salami is a type of salty sausage made of minced meat. You can get sweet or spicy salami depending on your preferences. Salami is a bit more powerful in flavor than prosciutto, but it is still delicious.
Salami works best as a replacement for prosciutto in sandwiches and charcuterie platters. You can chop it up and add it to some cooked dishes. However, salami is sometimes sweeter than prosciutto so be careful when you make that substitution.
Pancetta is Italy’s answer to bacon. It is fattier and richer in flavor than American bacon. It is fattier than prosciutto but works well as a substitute because it has similar flavors, thanks to the curing process.
You can use pancetta as a substitute for prosciutto in cooked dishes but not in sandwiches or charcuterie platters because you cannot eat it raw.
5. Jamon Serrano
Jamon serrano is a Spanish cured ham that is very similar to prosciutto. Both are heavily salted and cured, although Jamon serrano has a slightly nuttier flavor. You can use Jamon serrano in cooked dishes, as a pizza topping, and in sandwiches.
However, Jamon serrano can be even more difficult to source (and more expensive) than prosciutto. If you are looking for a prosciutto replacement because you are having trouble locating the Italian cured ham, this may not be the most accessible alternative.