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16 Best Substitute for Prosciutto: Meat and Vegetarian Alternatives

Can’t you find any prosciutto in your kitchen or local stores? Then, you’ll need a good substitute for prosciutto. Read here to learn more.

The Best Substitute For Prosciutto_ Meat And Vegetarian Alternatives

Prosciutto is an Italian ham that offers the right balance of sweetness and saltiness in many dishes, like salads, sandwiches, and antipasto. This type of ham is best served in paper-thin slices without further cooking, although you can crisp them into goodness. It’s not always available in the market, so you need to know a good substitute for prosciutto.

The closest substitutes are Jamon Serrano, Jamon Iberico, guanciale, capicola, ham, pancetta, mortadella, and culatello. If you like something more flavorful, consider adding bacon and salami or duck prosciutto and beef bresaola for non-pork alternatives. Some good vegetarian alternatives are toasted nuts, mushrooms, cheese, and chickpeas.

The Best Substitutes For Prosciutto

Without delay, let’s discover 12 of the best foodstuffs you can replace with prosciutto when unavailable.

Jamon Serrano

Jamon Serrano

Jamon Serrano makes the closest substitute for prosciutto ham. This Spanish dry-cured ham can replace prosciutto in almost every cold recipe, like salads and sandwiches. You can also use it as pizza toppings.

Both of these hams come from the same breeds of white pig and contain high protein. They look almost similar when added to recipes, but Serrano may show a darker red color than prosciutto. You can hardly tell the difference when you taste both of these hams.

However, the flavor and texture may vary slightly under a professional palate. Italian prosciutto may give a mild sweet flavor, while Jamon Serrano offers a more intense flavor due to its long curing time. The texture also tends to be drier in Jamon Serrano slices.

The price of Serrano costs the same as prosciutto. However, it’s more difficult to find this ham in areas outside of Europe and Spain.



If you want a hint of smokiness in your dishes, you can replace prosciutto with bacon. More specifically, use thinly sliced salt-cured bacon or smoked bacon because they can replicate the meatiness and flavor of prosciutto. Like prosciutto, bacon undergoes a curing process only for a shorter period.

Now, eating bacon raw like prosciutto may raise many health safety issues. If you want to take a risk, consume raw smoked bacon from a freshly opened pack. Also, get your bacon from your local butcher and other reliable sources where you can trace its origin.

Bacon tastes almost like prosciutto but has a hint of fattiness when served raw. When cooked, it gives that sweet and buttery taste after the fat breaks down. Besides prosciutto, bacon can also be a good pork belly substitute since it uses meat from pork belly.



Ham is another cured meat that uses salt as a preservative ingredient like prosciutto. Similar to prosciutto, ham also comes from the pork’s hind legs. However, many ham variants have used other pork cuts recently.

Parma ham is the closest type of ham that mimics the refined taste of prosciutto. When served in thin slices, this type of ham melts in the mouth and gives a light sweet flavor. It also works as an excellent substitute for stews that call for that fat and lean part of prosciutto.

Most chilled hams in the supermarket come cooked, so you can consume them right out of the package. Swap your prosciutto with ham in sandwiches, and anyone won’t notice a big difference.



Pancetta makes an excellent substitute for prosciutto with its similar salty flavor and hints of spices. It also has a large amount of flavor coming from its fatty portion. Rather than eating it raw, it’s best to toss it into a dish when prosciutto is unavailable.

Equal portions of pancetta can be substituted for prosciutto. Slice it thinly and add to salads or serve with toasted bread. You can also cut them into chunks and flavor stews.

Pancetta undergoes a similar curing process as prosciutto but differs in the origin of the cut. While prosciutto comes from the hind quarters, pancetta uses the meat from the belly. Technically, it’s a type of Italian bacon.

It’s available in your local Italian deli or at your supermarket in the gourmet food section. Often, you’ll find this cured meat cut into bacon-like strips or cubed.



If you like to experiment with bold flavors, you can replace prosciutto with the fermented taste of salami. The slightly tangy flavor gives a pleasing taste to various recipes, like salads, appetizers, and sandwiches. Because it’s fermented meat, salami is rich in nutrients and safe to eat raw like prosciutto.

The curation process is what makes salami a bit similar to prosciutto. Salami takes about 6-10 weeks to mature, which is relatively shorter than prosciutto. Traditionally, it uses pork, although today, it comes from beef and other types of meat.

Serving salami is quite convenient. This highly-seasoned meat is served in links and cut into slices, creating those small rounds that fit perfectly in sandwiches and pizzas. When purchasing, look for different flavor options and choose one that suits your palate.



Guanciale seems to be the best substitute for prosciutto in baked dishes as they crumble nicely. This Italian cured meat has a fatty, rich flavor with a mild balance of sweetness. Like prosciutto, guanciale can be served in thin slices and eaten raw on a platter of appetizers.

Both guanciale and prosciutto have the same preparation and curing processes. They only differ in fat content. While prosciutto consists only of thin, fat streaks, guanciale comes from one of the fattest pork portions. Consequently, the cured meat cooks down significantly and results in a slimmer portion.

The higher fat content makes guanciale tastes creamier and smoother than prosciutto. This Italian cured pork melts in the mouth when thinly sliced. When crisped in the pan, they’re perfect for adding a savory flavor to salads and stews.



Mortadella is more like salami, but you can swap it out with prosciutto. This luncheon meat consists of finely minced pork with fat cubes breaking up the meat in a casing. This huge Italian sausage is slightly more delicate and tender than prosciutto, making it perfect for cold sandwiches.

Like prosciutto, mortadella has a pinkish, rosy shade resulting from its curing process. It has a rich, fatty flavor with hints of pistachio and spices. The silky texture is a perfect substitute for prosciutto in dishes like snack-like appetizers and pizza toppings.

There’s only a tiny amount of cholesterol in mortadella, similar to white meat. The salt content is minimal, but the nutrients are high. This luncheon meat is rich in B vitamins, iron, and other minerals, making it perfect for active people.



Culatello is a ham made from pork loin and cured with a mix of salt, garlic, and pepper. This cured pork has a refined, winey taste, thanks to its dry white wine ingredient in the curing process. Like prosciutto, it offers a tender, rich flavor that’s best as a starter.

The taste of culatello is milder. Hence avoid using it in recipes with overpowering flavors. For example, culatello tastes better in white bread sandwiches than in more intense flavored rustic focaccia.

Culatello is more delicate than other ham, so you must store it carefully. It also contains high cholesterol and sodium, making it unsuitable for those with hypertension or who want to lose pounds. In moderation, this meat offers a good deal of potassium, thiamine, and other nutrients.



Also known as Coppa or Capocollo, this pork-based meat is spiced and cured for at least six months. This meaty ingredient comes from the pig’s neck or upper shoulder parts. Although it tends to be leaner than other cured meats, it’s still fattier than the conventional prosciutto.

It’s best to substitute prosciutto with capicola on a charcuterie board or a platter of appetizers. Slice it very thinly to appreciate the bright red color and cream-colored fat marbling. The tenderness of the capicola may mimic the buttery texture of the prosciutto.

The taste may give a little bit of heat because of the added spices.

This cured meat sells in the market according to its infused herbal flavor. The sweet varieties have cinnamon as an ingredient for their preparation process. Traditional capicola has no added sugar.

Duck Prosciutto

Duck Prosciutto

Duck prosciutto will be an excellent alternative to every recipe if you don’t eat pork. Duck prosciutto pertains to a salt-cured duck breast. It’s not technically prosciutto but consumed similarly.

You can serve duck prosciutto on super thin slices on a snack-like appetizer board with the same accompaniments as the original prosciutto. The taste is still delicious, with a bit of tenderness and a rich flavor of the fatty skin. The best part about this variety is that it’s not salty as its pork-based counterpart, making it a healthier option.

If the gaminess of the duck appalls you, try to balance it out with cheese or wrap it around the melon. You can reduce the gaminess of salads with a dash of strong vinegar.

Making your homemade duck prosciutto is easy. All it needs is some traditional duck breast and seasonings. The curing process usually takes around two weeks.

Beef Bresaola

Beef Bresaola

Beef bresaola is the leaner version of prosciutto. This Italian cured meat is made from salted beef, though occasionally it uses horse meat or venison. Before curing, remove any outer fat to create lean cured meat.

You can buy bresaola in Italian delis or butchers near you. If you can do a few months of air-drying, you can also make this cured beef recipe at home. Just make sure to use grass-fed beef without any fat.

Compared to prosciutto, bresaola is slightly firmer with a more delicate, aromatic flavor and less fat. It’s salty with hints of spice.

If you want a healthier antipasto, you can swap prosciutto with beef bresaola. Cut it into thin slices and serve with cheeses, anchovies, and olives. Serve it either lightly cold or at room temperature.

Jamon Iberico

Jamon Iberico

Jamon Iberico is made similarly to prosciutto, but they differ in the pig it uses. While prosciutto comes from Italian pigs, Iberico uses the meat of black Iberian pigs. Authentic Jamon Iberico sources pigs with a diet of acorns and aromatic herbs, making them more expensive.

Consequently, the flavor may vary depending on what the pigs eat off. Generally, the taste is more intense than prosciutto. The texture is tender and melts in the mouth when eaten raw.

Jamon Iberico is already exquisite for eating on its own. If you want it as a substitute for prosciutto, it goes perfect on toasts and breadsticks. You might mistake Iberico with prosciutto in stores because they come packed in very thin slices.

Vegetarian Substitutes For Prosciutto

In this day of health consciousness, it’s nice to stick to non-pork substitutes. You might be surprised that you can swap prosciutto with healthy vegetables and other non-meat products. Here are four options to substitute for prosciutto vegetarian.



Mushroom packs the same protein level as meat, making it a good non-pork substitute for prosciutto. More specifically, Shiitake mushrooms offer a pleasantly mild flavor and elastic bite to every short-cooked recipe. Cremini or Portobello mushrooms produce that rich, earthy flavor similar to meat.

The umami flavor of mushrooms makes them a suitable replacement for prosciutto in salads or sandwiches. The darker the mushroom, the more umami it consists. Besides the taste, mushrooms offer high levels of antioxidants and fiber to fight cardiovascular diseases.

Today, mycoprotein is becoming popular. This fermentation of mushrooms is better for the environment and more sustainable.

Toasted Nuts

Toasted Nuts

The crisp and lightly caramelized toasted nuts make a good substitute for vegetarian prosciutto recipes. They bring a unique flavor to any pasta, salads, and sandwiches. The slightly astringent taste of raw nuts is removed and replaced with a rich flavor when toasted.

Nuts are a good source of many nutrients, such as magnesium, selenium, and manganese, to reduce the risk of diabetes. Almonds are the healthiest among other nuts as it contains most fiber and Vitamin E. On the other hand, walnuts have the most antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids.



Instead of using prosciutto on salads and sandwiches, you can use cheese as another healthy source of protein and vitamin B12. According to research, cheese offers more protection against colon cancer and helps reduce weight. This could lead to other health benefits, such as a lower risk of diabetes.

More specifically, choose lighter versions of cheese like cottage cheese to enjoy the same benefits of lean meat. If you’re watching over calories, try part-skim mozzarella cheese with only 70 calories per ounce.



Chickpeas are versatile legumes that you can substitute in pasta, salads, and other standard dishes. This type of legume is filling and rich in fiber. They almost have that same creamy texture as prosciutto with a buttery flavor to improve the taste of many recipes.

Besides fiber, chickpeas are an excellent source of iron, phosphorus, and protein. They help prevent the development of many chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and colon inflammation.

To substitute, use the same amount of cooked chickpeas in the prosciutto-based recipe. Try adding some meat seasonings to bring out the savory flavor of the chickpeas.

>>> Discover other delicious recipe: Cherry Stuffed Chicken Breasts Wrapped In Prosciutto


Can bacon be used as a substitute for prosciutto?

Yes, you can swap prosciutto with bacon in many recipes. Bacon offers more flavor with its higher fat content. To be safe, cook the bacon before adding it to dishes.

Cook bacon thoroughly but not overcooked, or else you’ll increase the development of carcinogens. You can only consume bacon raw if you’re certain it comes from a safe origin. Hot smoked bacon is safely consumed raw because the belly meat cooks at a higher temperature, about 150 Fahrenheit.

Can ham be substituted for prosciutto?

Prosciutto is a type of ham, so technically, you can use any ham as a substitute in recipes. You can’t eat country ham raw like prosciutto, though. Cook it according to the label’s instructions before being added to sandwiches.

Can I substitute pancetta for prosciutto?

Yes, pancetta can substitute prosciutto in various dishes. Since pancetta is dry-cured, it can be eaten raw in thin slices or cooked the same way with bacon in a pan.

The taste of pancetta is similar to bacon minus the smokiness. While prosciutto offers a sweeter and milder flavor, pancetta gives that rich, nutty flavor that goes well with vegetables and soups.


Prosciutto can be pricey and difficult to find. Hence, knowing a good substitute for prosciutto is handy if you need this ham for your parties and family dinner. This type of ham makes your dish fancy with its delicately sweet and savory flavor.

Any cured meat can be an excellent replacement for prosciutto. Such alternatives include Jamon Serrano, pancetta, and Jamon Iberico. For healthier options, choose mushrooms, toasted nuts, or chickpeas. Regardless of your choice, make sure it fits your budget and dish.

Let us know your favorite alternative for prosciutto in the comment section below. If you like this article, please share it with your friends.


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Anya Kaats

Hi! I’m Anya, a San Diego-based Holistic Health Coach and Marketing Consultant on a mission to share good food, health & happiness with as many people as possible. I am a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) and have worked in the natural & organic products industry for my entire professional career with companies such as Suja Juice, Brad’s Raw Foods, and Mamma Chia. While my life may be totally consumed with healthy food now, nutrition wasn’t always a passion of mine.