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The 11 Best Substitutes For Pancetta

If you’re looking for a delicious and flavorful way to add an extra something special to your dishes, look no further than pancetta.

This Italian cured meat is made from pork belly or other fatty cuts of pork, and it has a salty-sweet flavor that adds depth and complexity to all kinds of dishes.

But what if you don’t have any pancetta on hand?

Or perhaps you’re trying to find healthier alternatives?

Fortunately, there are plenty of substitutes for pancetta that can provide the same flavor without as much fat or calories.

From bacon to prosciutto, here are 11 of the best substitutes for pancetta.

What is Pancetta?

Pancetta Pork Belly

Pancetta is an Italian cured meat made from pork belly.

It is seasoned with salt, pepper, and other spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon, garlic, or fennel pollen before being rolled into a cylinder shape and left to cure for several weeks.

The curing process gives pancetta its signature flavor—salty and slightly sweet with a hint of smokiness.

Pancetta can be eaten raw or cooked in dishes like pasta carbonara or risotto alla milanese.

Unlike bacon which is smoked after it’s cured, pancetta is not smoked at all during the curing process.

This means that it has a much milder flavor than bacon but still packs plenty of umami punch thanks to the combination of salt and fat in the pork belly.

Pancetta also has a firmer texture than bacon due to its longer curing time; when cooked it will remain more intact rather than becoming crispy like bacon does when fried up in a pan.

The 11 Best Substitutes For Pancetta

Pancetta is a delicious Italian cured pork product that can be difficult to find in some areas.

Fortunately, there are several substitutes you can use if you’re in need of a pancetta alternative.

Here we look at eleven of the best:

1 – Canadian Bacon

Canadian bacon

Canadian bacon, also known as back bacon, is a type of prepared meat product that originated in Canada.

It is made from lean pork loin and is cured with salt and sugar before being smoked over hardwood chips.

Canadian bacon has a milder flavor than traditional American-style bacon and can be used in many dishes such as omelets, sandwiches, salads, or pizza toppings.

Canadian Bacon is lower in fat than regular bacon because it comes from the leaner part of the pig’s body.

It has a smoky flavor but not as strong as regular bacon.

The texture of Canadian Bacon is firmer than regular bacon but still tender enough to cut easily with a knife or fork.

Pro Tip: To get the most out of your Canadian Bacon try cooking it slowly on low heat until it’s crispy! This will give you maximum flavor without burning the edges!

2 – Salt Pork

Salt Pork
The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

Salt pork is a type of cured pork that is heavily salted and often smoked.

It is used as a flavoring or seasoning ingredient in many dishes, particularly those from the United States, Canada, and parts of Europe.

Salt pork has a strong flavor that can be overpowering if not used correctly.

To reduce its saltiness, it should be soaked in cold water for several hours before use.

This will help to draw out some of the excess salt and make it more palatable.

When cooked properly, salt pork can add an intense smoky flavor to dishes like beans or stews.

It also works well as a substitute for bacon in recipes such as carbonara or frittatas.

3 – Prosciutto

Prosciutto Ham

Prosciutto is an Italian dry-cured ham that is usually thinly sliced and served uncooked.

It is made from the hind leg of a pig or wild boar, and has been cured for several months in salt and spices.

The flavor of prosciutto can range from sweet to salty, depending on the curing process used.

Prosciutto can be used as a topping for pizza, added to salads or sandwiches, wrapped around vegetables or fruit, or simply enjoyed on its own with some crusty bread.

It’s also great when cooked – try wrapping it around chicken breasts before baking!

Pro Tip: Prosciutto pairs well with melon – try pairing it with cantaloupe slices for a delicious appetizer!

4 – Smoked Ham

Smoked Ham

Smoked ham is a type of cured pork that has been smoked over wood chips or sawdust.

It is usually sold in thin slices and can be used as an ingredient in sandwiches, salads, soups, and other dishes.

The flavor of smoked ham is slightly sweet with a smoky aroma and taste.

Smoked ham can be used as a substitute for pancetta in many recipes.

It adds a unique flavor to dishes like pasta carbonara or risotto alla milanese.

The smokiness of the ham pairs well with the salty flavors of cheese and eggs, making it an ideal replacement for pancetta.

Smoked ham also works well when added to omelets or frittatas for extra depth of flavor.

5 – Smoked Sausage

Smoked Sausage

Smoked sausage is a type of processed meat made from pork, beef, chicken, turkey or other meats.

It is usually smoked over wood chips and has a smoky flavor.

Smoked sausage can be eaten as-is or used in recipes such as stews, soups and casseroles.

Smoked sausage is an excellent alternative to pancetta because it adds a similar smoky flavor without the need for curing.

The texture of smoked sausage also makes it ideal for slicing and adding to dishes like pasta sauces or pizza toppings.

Plus, it’s much easier to find than pancetta!

Pro Tip: To get the most out of your smoked sausage, try grilling it before adding it to your dish – this will give you that extra smoky flavor!

6 – Salami


Salami is a type of cured sausage made from fermented and air-dried meat, usually pork.

It is typically seasoned with salt, garlic, herbs and spices such as black pepper, fennel seed or coriander.

Salami has been around for centuries and is popular in many countries around the world.

Salami can be used in a variety of dishes including pizzas, pastas, sandwiches and salads.

It adds a salty flavor to any dish it’s added to and its texture makes it great for slicing thin or thick depending on your preference.

Pro Tip: To get the most out of salami’s flavor try adding some freshly ground black pepper when cooking with it! This will give your dish an extra kick that will really bring out the flavors of the salami.

7 – Bacon

Crispy Bacon

Bacon is a type of cured pork made from the belly or back cuts of a pig.

It is usually smoked and can be eaten raw, fried, baked, or grilled.

Bacon has been around for centuries and is one of the most popular breakfast meats in the world.

Bacon has a salty flavor with hints of sweetness that comes from its curing process.

The fat content gives it an intense richness that makes it perfect for adding depth to dishes like omelets, quiches, pastas, salads and more.

Pro Tip: To get the most out of your bacon experience, try cooking it slowly over low heat until it’s crispy but not burnt! This will help bring out all those delicious flavors without making your bacon too greasy or tough.

8 – Smoked Turkey

Smoked Turkey
Serious Eats / J. Kenji López-Alt

Smoked turkey is a type of poultry that has been smoked over wood chips or sawdust.

The smoking process gives the meat a unique flavor and texture, as well as preserving it for longer periods of time.

Smoked turkey can be used in many dishes, from sandwiches to salads to soups.

Smoked turkey has a milder flavor than pancetta, but still packs plenty of savory goodness.

It’s also lower in fat and calories than traditional pork-based bacon products like pancetta, making it an ideal choice for those looking to cut back on their fat intake without sacrificing flavor.

Plus, smoked turkey is much easier to find in stores than pancetta!

9 – Porcini Mushrooms

Porcini Mushrooms
The Spruce / Stephanie Goldfinger

Porcini mushrooms, also known as cepes or boletes, are a type of wild mushroom found in many parts of the world.

They have a robust and earthy flavor that is often described as nutty or meaty.

Porcini mushrooms can be used to add depth and complexity to dishes such as risotto, pasta sauces, soups, and stews.

The best way to enjoy porcini mushrooms is by sautéing them with butter or olive oil until they are golden brown and fragrant.

This will bring out their full flavor potential! If you want an even richer taste, try adding some garlic or shallots for extra depth of flavor.

Porcini mushrooms can also be dried and rehydrated for use in recipes like stuffing or gravy.

10 – Tofu


Tofu, also known as bean curd, is a food made from soybeans.

It is a popular meat substitute and can be used in many dishes such as stir-fries, soups, salads, sandwiches and more.

Tofu has a mild flavor that takes on the flavors of whatever it’s cooked with.

Tofu is an excellent source of protein and contains all nine essential amino acids.

It is also low in calories and fat while being high in iron and calcium.

Additionally, tofu contains no cholesterol or saturated fat making it a healthy alternative to pancetta for those looking to reduce their intake of animal products or unhealthy fats.

Pro Tip: To give your tofu extra flavor try marinating it before cooking! Marinating tofu helps to infuse the block with delicious spices and herbs which will make any dish you prepare with it even tastier!

11 – Full-Flavored Olives

Full-Flavored Olives

Full-flavored olives are a great substitute for pancetta in many dishes.

Olives are a type of fruit that is cured and preserved in brine or oil.

They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and flavors, ranging from mild to intense.

Full-flavored olives have an intense flavor that can be used to add depth and complexity to dishes like pasta sauces, salads, pizzas, and more.

The salty taste of the olives will provide the same umami flavor as pancetta without having to use any animal products.

Pro Tip: To get the most out of your full-flavored olives, try marinating them overnight with herbs like rosemary or thyme before adding them to your dish! This will help bring out their flavor even more.


What do Italians use instead of pancetta?

While pancetta is a popular ingredient in Italian cuisine, there are other substitutes that can be used instead.

These include Canadian bacon, salt pork, prosciutto, smoked ham, and smoked sausages.

All of these substitutes bring a similar flavor to a dish, but with a slightly different texture.

Additionally, Italian cooks often use guanciale, which is made from pork jowl or cheeks, as a substitute for pancetta.

This cut of meat is said to bring a richer flavor and juicier texture to a dish.

Can I use bacon instead of pancetta?

Yes, you can use bacon instead of pancetta. Bacon and pancetta are both made from pork belly and have similar textures and flavors, although bacon is usually smokier in taste.

If you can’t find pancetta for a recipe, you can use bacon as a substitute, or substitute pancetta for bacon lardons. Keep in mind that the smokier flavor of bacon may affect the overall taste of the dish.

Are prosciutto and pancetta the same thing?

No, prosciutto and pancetta are not the same thing. Prosciutto is a cured ham made from pork belly and has a firm texture with a vibrant flavor.

Pancetta, on the other hand, is a cured pork product made from the pig’s hind legs that has a much smoother texture and a more delicate flavor.

Pancetta is usually saltier than prosciutto and is usually cubed or rolled into a cylinder shape.

Prosciutto is usually served in thin slices. Both are popular Italian cured meats, but each has its own unique flavor and texture.

Can I replace pancetta with salami?

Yes, you can use salami as an alternative to pancetta. Salami can be sliced and used in uncooked recipes such as salads, or you can cube it and fry it until it’s crisp for dishes such as pizza.

Salami has a strong flavor and a chewy texture that can easily replace the flavor and texture of pancetta. If you’re looking for a more health-conscious option, you can use turkey salami instead of regular salami.


In conclusion, pancetta is an Italian cured meat that is often used to add flavor and texture to dishes.

While it can be difficult to find, there are several substitutes that can be used to give your dish the same amazing flavor.

The best substitutes for pancetta are Canadian bacon, salt pork, prosciutto, smoked ham, smoked sausage, salami, bacon, smoked turkey, porcini mushrooms, tofu, and full-flavored olives. Each of these ingredients brings a unique flavor profile to the dish and can be used to create delicious meals.

So, the next time you’re in a pinch and need a substitute for pancetta, reach for one of these ingredients and get creative with your cooking.

Pancetta Pork Belly

The 11 Best Substitutes For Pancetta

When I'm cooking, I love to make use of pancetta for its salty and savory flavor. But sometimes, I'm not able to find it at the store. That's why I'm sharing these 11 alternatives to pancetta that you can use to get a similar flavor in any dish. From vegan-friendly options to other cured meats, I'll provide tips for how to use each one in your recipes. With these substitutes, you can make delicious dishes without having to worry about where to find pancetta!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Substitutes
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4 people
Calories 356 kcal


  • Canadian Bacon
  • Salt Pork
  • Prosciutto
  • Smoked Ham
  • Smoked Sausage
  • Salami
  • Bacon
  • Smoked Turkey
  • Porcini Mushrooms
  • Tofu
  • Full-Flavored Olives


  • Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  • Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
CEO at Happy Muncher | | Website | + posts

Hi, I'm Benjamin. I love cooking, long walks, and my girlfriend! Here you’ll find simple and delicious recipes that you can make in 30 minutes or less.