What are pancetta substitutes and where to find them if your dish needs pancetta but you don’t have it on hand? Don’t go any further, because the answer is right here in this post! Scroll down to get it now!
It’s a piece of cake to substitute some spices and herbs in your dish because each one of them usually has a signature taste to tell and replace. But how about a specific type of meat? Is it also easy to find its alternatives or it can’t be replaced by any other type?
Your problems will be solved in the following sections! Stay tuned for more!
Table of Contents
Pancetta – A Mouth-watering Type Of Pork Meat
You can come across pancetta in soups, salads or even in raw form for direct consumption. But what is it? And what does it taste like? Come through this section to find out!
What Exactly Is Pancetta?
Pancetta is the salted-cured pork belly part, seasoned with herbs and spices. It originates from Italy and can be used for many purposes in cooking. It usually helps boost the taste of some dishes and increase depth for soups and stews. It can be served both raw or cooked.
Pancetta used in cooking appears in two different forms or types. The rolled pancetta, also called arrotolata, is often sliced into thin pieces and served raw or as a main ingredient of a sandwich. The flat type, so-called stesa, is usually grilled or chopped in many dishes. (1)
Most pancetta types have a pinkish shade. This beautiful color goes with the smooth, soft texture and savory but light flavor. In the making process, pancetta is cured with salt for around three to four weeks. It is seasoned with lots of spices like black pepper or rosemary.
How Does Pancetta Taste?
You may probably have tasted pancetta before. They are usually included in soups, pasta, sandwiches, etc. It tastes just like bacon without the smoky flavor because it is unsmoked. If you don’t like bacon because of its smokiness, maybe you’ll be more into pancetta.
Want to know more on how pancetta is made? This video is for you!
10+ Most Suitable Pancetta Substitutes
Having a headache for choosing a replacement for pancetta? Here comes the list of the best substitutes of pancetta that you can find in any store or supermarket!
Prosciutto is one of the best substitutes of pancetta. It also comes from Italy and is served with thin slices just like pancetta. It’s best when you replace pancetta in sandwiches since people normally chop both of them to serve in sandwiches.
The light-pink appearance, the sausage-like taste as well as the unsmoked salting process of prosciutto are basically the same as those of pancetta. The two of them can be used interchangeably in most recipes calling for one out of two. They are nearly twins!
So, if you don’t have any pancetta in your kitchen for the risotto, just use prosciutto as a replacement! I’m sure that you’ll be totally surprised by what it can do!
Bacon is such a popular type of meat that I think I don’t need to describe it to you anymore! Everyone in the U.S. may taste bacon at least once in their life. It can enhance the savory and rich flavor of many recipes, especially in breakfasts.
Some people may not really be into the smokiness of bacon. It’s one of the biggest reasons that people find bacon hard to eat. Bacon is similar to pancetta, except for the smoky flavor since most bacon is smoked, while most pancettas are unsmoked.
Bacon consists of a lot of fat but the normal serving size is moderate, so don’t worry about its high-fat content. Bacon is also packed with nutrients like protein, selenium, phosphorus, zinc, and vitamins B1, B6, B12, etc. (2)
If you want to use bacon to replace the pancetta in a recipe, remember to rinse it under the water or blanch it with boiling water before adding it to cook for your meal. Thanks to these ways, the smokiness will be eliminated significantly and taste more like pancetta.
The name “salami” comes from the Italian word “salume.” It is a famous traditional pork sausage that is considered cured. Nowadays, besides pork, salami can be made of beef, duck, lamb, veal, etc. based on consumers’ likings.
The curing process helps salami maintain its color and texture. Salami is just like pancetta in this process. They are both salt-cured and can be served when they’re done curing. Therefore, salami can be a great backup for pancetta in most recipes.
In particular, salami and pancetta are both from Italy so they can replace each other well in Italian dishes such as spaghetti, pizza, or Italian-style sandwiches. If you can not find any pancetta, consider salami to get the same flavor as pancetta!
4. Smoked Ham
Smoked ham is basically the smoked pig leg. It is a popular traditional dish to appear on the dinner table at holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter. It is usually served as a whole leg.
Like pancetta, smoked ham can be prepared in various ways. The process of making them is also quite alike, it’s just that they come from different parts of the pig, so their flavors may be different a little bit.
Smoked ham is truly a qualified equivalent for pancetta. Their taste and smell are very similar. Try to opt for pancetta with smoked ham, and I’m sure you’ll be surprised!
5. Smoked Sausage
This sausage has a very distinct flavor that can differentiate from other smoked products. With dextrose, smoke, and black pepper, smoked sausage tastes intense and spicy with a heavy smoky flavor.
Therefore, if you’re about to use smoked sausage as an equivalent for pancetta, you should prepare it like the bacon – washing or blanching it first – to reduce the smokiness before using. Then, it will work well as an alternative for pancetta.
Smoked sausage can best replace pancetta in dishes without liquid, such as stir-fries, fries, baked dishes, etc. If you want to add it in soups and stews, you should chop it as small as you can, so that it’ll easily enhance the dish’s taste as a pancetta substitute.
See how they smoke the sausages with a professional utensil!
6. Smoked Turkey
Like smoked ham, smoked turkey is also cooked and served at important holidays of the year. It consists of beautiful golden skin and a tender texture with a smoky aroma, which can enhance the dish’s taste a lot if it is used as an ingredient.
You can use different methods to cook turkey in order to boost its original taste. For instance, you can add some seasonings like salt, pepper, or even vinegar to the dish so that it tastes more intense and savory.
Smoked turkey is a nice choice to make when your recipe is calling for pancetta but you don’t have it on hand. But sometimes it may be hard to find smoked turkey, so smoked chicken or duck can also work well as pancetta equivalents!
7. Salted Ventrèche
I think you may know where salted ventrèche comes from by looking at the name. Yes, it originates from France. It is also made of another part of the pig, which is the breast. It is a famous pork in France and is usually served with pan-searing mushrooms as a whole dish.
Although salted ventrèche is from the different parts of the pig from the pancetta, it can also play a supportive role in replacing pancetta in the recipe. It also comes from another country so the process of making it may be a little bit different.
However, both salted ventrèche and pancetta add depth and savory flavors to the meal. So the ventrèche can also suit well with the recipes that need pancetta. Why don’t you try and see it for yourself?
8. Salted Pork
Salted pork may sound like what is made of bacon. In fact, it also tastes exactly like bacon; however, it is saltier because of its special preservation. It adds a crispy texture to your dish while also providing a salty and meaty flavor.
Salt pork is usually used in casseroles, soups, stews, etc. It is known to play a role in seafood chowder, clam chowder, and baked beans. You may happen to see salted pork in many other dishes without realizing.
If you intend to use salted pork to replace pancetta in a specific recipe, keep it in mind that it might be more salty than pancetta, even a bit overwhelming. Therefore, you should also rinse it carefully under water before using.
9. Pork Tocino
Pork tocino originates from the Philippines in Spanish colonialism, so it’s an interesting combination of the two cuisines. The Spanish salted pork strips or cubes are cooked in a Filipino way, which are added anise, annatto and wine also.
Although the “tocino” comes from “bacon” in Spanish, this pork tocino doesn’t taste like bacon at all. Tocino can be made of both the belly and shoulder of the pork. It has a beautiful brown red color and is very sweet, rich with special spices. It is often served with rice.
If you happen to have pork tocino in the kitchen, it can be a great alternative for you to use in the recipes calling for pancetta! It may be a little sweet compared to pancetta, so you should also wash or blanch it to get rid of some seasonings from tocino.
This pork tocino recipe may brighten up your meal!
10. Vegan Salami
Surprisingly, vegan salamis, as well as some vegan cured products can be used as a replacement for pancetta in most recipes. They are savory enough to maintain the depth and enhance the taste for your meal.
The vegan salami has a signature red orange color, which looks pretty like pancetta. It is also tender and firm like sausage that can provide the dish with a chewy texture, just like pancetta! So don’t worry when it’s a vegan-friendly ingredient!
Vegetarians can now taste the pizza, pasta and many recipes that require the pancetta. The flavor can’t be exactly like original meat, but it can somehow describe it. If you can’t find vegan salami, veggies such as tomatoes can be suitable to replace the pancetta.
11. Porcini Mushrooms
Porcini mushrooms have a brown cap and a broad white stem that are both edible. Much to my surprise, porcini mushrooms can well-replace any recipes that call for pork. Its earthy and meaty taste is famous in Italian and French cuisines.
Porcini mushrooms are a healthy alternative option for pancetta and also safe for vegetarians. They are packed with nutrients and minerals, such as fiber, vitamins. It can be used in place of pancetta in soups, stews, risotto, pasta or salads.
Just use porcini mushrooms if you can’t see any pancetta, and you can get a beautiful vegan-friendly dish!
Tofu is definitely not the first one when it comes to vegan-friendly substitutes for pancetta, maybe because of its fragile texture.
Tofu is super healthy with tons of health benefits and nutrients. This soy fermentation product may help consumers ease liver damage and brain aging illnesses. It consists of low-calorie content, protein, calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, phosphorus, etc. (3)
Before using it as the substitute for pancetta, you should gently press the tofu to drain away the liquid, then season it with some herbs, oil and spices to add savory flavors. After that, fry the tofu so it can get a firmer texture. Add a little cornstarch coating to make it fry better.
You can make tofu at home with soy beans and lemon juice! Watch this video:
13. Full-flavored Olives
Flavored olives can be another choice in the list of pancetta non-animal equivalents. There are many types of full-flavored olives. Some may taste intense and spicy, while others are sweet. Most of them will taste salty because they are usually cured in brine for a long time.
They are also salty like pancetta, but they cannot add the meaty taste to the dish. However, they can add some crunchy texture to the dish for the missing pancetta. It can work well in most Italian recipes that call for pancetta.
Why don’t you try these pancetta alternative suggestions from nature for a healthy and vegan-friendly result? I’m sure your family member won’t realize the missing pancetta in the dish!
You have gone through the list of pancetta substitutes that are common and easy to apply to whatever recipe calls for pancetta! But you may still be a bit curious about all of these pancetta back-ups. So here is the Q&A section to solve some of your problems!
Perfect Pancetta Substitute Based Mostly On Your Recipe
In fact, the best alternative for your pancetta depends a lot on which recipe it is used. Notice and consider carefully the flavor of the whole dish so that you can choose the most suitable pancetta replacement for the recipe.
If you feel this post is helpful, share it with your friends! Also comment below if you want to ask me anything or share something from your own experience with pancetta alternatives so that everyone can learn from you! Looking forward to hearing from you, pal!
- En.wikipedia.org. 2021. Pancetta – Wikipedia.
- Healthline. 2021. Is Bacon Bad for You, or Good? The Salty, Crunchy Truth.
- Medicalnewstoday.com. 2021. Tofu: Health benefits, uses, and possible risks.