Pancetta is Italian bacon that is salt-cured and spiced with black pepper, famous especially in breakfasts and brunches! Whenever you run out of pancetta at home, the first thought is to skip that dish altogether.
But what if we told you there are plenty of other ingredients that make great substitutes for pancetta in both flavor and texture? Most of these alternatives are also very easily available, so you won’t have to go that extra mile searching for a replacement- you might already have it at home. What’s better is that none of these substitutes will alter your dish completely!
13 Best Substitutes For Pancetta
1. Salted Pork
One of the most similar substitutes for pancetta is salted pork. Although it might be slightly saltier than pancetta, it is still a very delicious alternative that can be used in most recipes. In fact, many pancetta recipes use pork belly as their main ingredient!
Pork shoulder is best simmered, pork flank should be broiled, and pork ribs are ideal for marinated, barbecued, or smoked dishes. This meat has a lean and greasy side, so ensure you cut the pork into small pieces and cook them until they brown before adding them to your dish.
How to substitute: Add a piece of salted pork roast for each piece of fresh pancetta. Even after adding 2 or 3 pieces of salted pork roast or fresh salt pork, you may not get the same taste because they differ in flavor.
Known to be one of the oldest types of cured meats, salami is a great alternative to pancetta. It is a spicy dry-cured sausage made of pork (or beef), fat, salt, sugar, and various spices like garlic, black pepper, fennel seeds, aniseed, etc.
What’s great about salami is that it can be eaten as it is, or cooked into various dishes. It has a chewy texture and a strong flavor, so use it sparingly. It’s really simple to store, and leaving it at room temperature for up to 40 days does no harm.
How to substitute: Add an equal amount of fresh salami in place of fresh pancetta required by your recipe, but do so gradually. If you add your raw salami slowly and taste your dish as you go, you’ll be sure that the flavor of fresh salami doesn’t overtax it.
3. American Bacon
American bacon, also known as streaky bacon, is a type of cured and smoked pork. It is made from the belly and back cuts of the pig. It is fatty, salty, and has a smoky flavor. The main difference between American bacon and pancetta is that the former is dry-cured while the latter is wet-cured.
This means that American bacon needs to be cooked before eating, while pancetta is often eaten raw. So if you’re using this bacon, consider boiling it for 2-3 minutes, as it will reduce the smoky taste of bacon and will make it taste more like pancetta.
How to substitute: You can use an equal amount of American bacon in place of pancetta, but keep in mind that it will slightly alter your dish’s flavor and texture.
4. Smoked Ham
Why not buy your entire enormous slice of smoked ham if that is what makes pancetta? You may cut it very similarly to pancetta if you have a thin slicer that you can use at home. Because it isn’t sliced, ham is also a less costly alternative to pancetta and prosciutto.
Hams, like pancetta, can be eaten uncooked and have a longer shelf life than bacon. But that’s not the best thing about this substitute! What makes it even better is that you can make your own ham at home using some simple steps.
How to substitute: Use one slice of smoked ham for each slice of pancetta. If you want your dish to taste more like pancetta, cook the ham before adding it to your recipe.
5. Smoked Turkey
Smoked turkey is the best substitute for pancetta for those who aren’t fans of pork. It has a similar taste and texture like most other meat substitutes and can be used in many recipes that call for pancetta. The main difference between the two types of meat is that turkey is leaner than pork, so it might not be as flavorful.
However, this can be remedied by using other spices and herbs, which makes sure that your turkey can pack a punch. It’s savory, delicate, and has the same fantastic smoky flavor and fragrance as your favorite Italian dishes. If you don’t want a turkey, you can choose other poultry such as chicken, duck, or goose.
How to substitute: When replacing pancetta in a dish, use 1½ cups finely chopped smoked turkey for each pound of pancetta. If you’re cooking a big batch, taste it and make any necessary changes before adding more to it.
6. Vegan Salami
This vegan salami is for all the vegans out there who love the taste of pancetta but don’t want to eat meat. It’s made with seitan, a type of wheat gluten flavored with fennel seeds, paprika, oregano, and garlic. It has a chewy texture and a mild flavor that makes it the perfect replacement for pancetta in any dish.
It will have a less substantial flavor than other meat substitutes on this list, although it will provide similar umami and smoky taste. Thanks to this vegan salami, you no longer have to miss out on your favorite brunch meals with friends.
How to substitute: You can use an equal amount of vegan salami in place of pancetta, but keep in mind that it will slightly alter your dish’s flavor and texture.
7. Full-Flavored Olives
Who knew that olives could make such a great pancetta substitute? We sure didn’t, but these little guys are packed with flavor and can easily be transformed into a delicious topping for your favorite dishes.
One thing that sets full-flavored olives apart from other types of olives is that they are collected before they ripe completely and then absorbed with lye before finally being tenderized in oil. The best part is that they’re healthy and low in calories, so you can enjoy them without guilt.
How to substitute: When replacing pancetta in a dish, use 1 cup of full-flavored olives for each pound of pancetta. If you’re cooking a big batch, taste it and make any necessary changes before adding more to it.
As unique as the name sounds, this meat is actually quite similar to pancetta and one of the top choices when considering a substitute for the same. It’s a dry-cured ham that is usually thinly sliced and served as an appetizer or added to main dishes.
Prosciutto has a salty and slightly sweet flavor with a hint of spice, making it the perfect ingredient for people who like their meals with a little bit of bite. Use it as a substitute for pancetta while gently cooking and then tossing it with pasta right after. You may also add uncooked prosciutto to the sauce for extra pork flavor. While it can be a little bit pricey, it’s definitely worth the splurge.
How to substitute: A single gram of pancetta is the same as half a gram of fresh prosciutto, a small slice of bacon, and a half-gram of smoked ham. To utilize the tasty prosciutto, remove any dirt and undesirable pieces beforehand.
9. Smoked Sausage
If you are a picky eater like us and cannot imagine how you’ll be able to replace pancetta without having options, then consider using some smoked sausage. There are numerous types of sausages, including beef sausage, veal sausage, sheep sausage, goat sausage, chicken sausage, and pork sausage, so you’ll definitely find one that you like.
Just be sure to get the smoked kind because it will provide the same flavor as pancetta. You can either cook it with your dish or chop it up and use it as a topping. It goes great with pasta, rice, vegetables, and even potatoes.
How to substitute: When substituting pancetta with smoked sausage, a 1:1 ratio works the best.
10. Turkey Bacon
We know we gave you the option of American bacon already, but this one is for those of you who are looking for a healthier alternative. Turkey bacon is leaner and has less fat than regular pork bacon, making it a great substitute for pancetta if you’re watching your calorie intake.
It is, however, quite high in sodium, so be mindful of that. While it doesn’t have the same flavor as pancetta, it does have a similar texture and can be used in the same way. You can alter the flavor to your liking by adding some spices and herbs to the dish.
How to substitute: Turkey bacon can substitute any dish for pancetta, with the same proportion as they’re quite similar in texture.
Step away from all the meat for a second and consider using tofu as your pancetta substitute, especially if you’re vegetarian or vegan. Tofu is made from soybean curds and has a variety of health benefits, such as being low in calories and fat while being high in protein.
It’s also a good source of iron, calcium, and magnesium, making it a top choice for nutritionists and health enthusiasts. On the flavor end, tofu can be quite bland, but that just means you can add any spices and herbs to it to give it more flavor. You can either fry it, bake it, or even grill it.
How to substitute: One piece of tofu is a great alternative for a small piece of pancetta. Just cook it thoroughly while making the dish.
12. Porcini Mushrooms
Famous in Italian cuisine, porcini mushrooms are a type of fungi that have a strong and earthy flavor. They are often used as a flavoring in soups, sauces, and even risottos. While they may not be the first choice to substitute pancetta, they can definitely add a depth of flavor to your dish, making it more enjoyable.
You can use them whole, sliced, or even chopped. Just be sure to soak them in water for about 30 minutes beforehand to rehydrate them. They’re best used in sauces, thanks to their nutty flavor.
How to substitute: Half a cup of porcini mushrooms can replace one slice of pancetta. Don’t forget to eliminate the stems and tubes before adding them to the dish.
Originating from Indonesia, tempeh is a type of fermented soybean cake that is high in protein and fiber. It has a nutty flavor and a chewy texture, making it a good alternative for just about any meat. Just like tofu, tempeh is quite bland on its own, so you’ll need to add some spices and herbs to give it more flavor.
One of the best things about tempeh is that it absorbs flavors well so that you can experiment with different seasonings and spices. It is the ideal alternative for people who don’t like the taste of tofu but want a non-meat alternative.
How to substitute: Combine four parts tempeh with one part fresh pancetta to create a fast replacement when you’re in a hurry.
If you’re looking for feasible replacements, these 13 substitutes for pancetta will come in handy. Just be sure to follow the how-to details given in the list for the best results!