I didn’t discover the magic of prosciutto until I went to culinary school. I had my first bite of prosciutto in my Italian cuisine class and I was immediately hooked. Now, I can’t imagine living without this tender, salty cured meat!
While I wish I had a refrigerator full of prosciutto, I do not. I have often needed a good prosciutto substitute for recipes.
There have also been times when I am hosting some vegetarian friends and need to skip my favorite meats.
Whether you are simply out of prosciutto, looking for a vegetarian substitute for prosciutto or just trying to find a healthier, less salty alternative, I can help.
I do consider myself a prosciutto expert at this point so I know a good substitute when I find one!
My favorite prosciutto substitute is Jamon serrano which has a very similar taste and texture. Pancetta is a great prosciutto substitute for cooking as it has the same flavor but is even juicer with more rich fats. Duck prosciutto is a good pork free prosciutto substitute and is often kosher as well. Try using plant based prosciutto for a good vegetarian substitute for prosciutto.
1. Jamon Serrano (Serrano Ham)
Serrano ham is a type of cured Spanish ham. The ham is cured for over a year in the mountains of Spain.
It is seasoned with spices and herbs that give it a unique taste. It has a rich, nutty taste and is a great substitute for prosciutto on a charcuterie board or in a pasta recipe.
Thin slices of serrano ham can replace prosciutto in any recipe, using the same amount of serrano ham as prosciutto.
Serrano ham has less salt than prosciutto and more of a spicy flavor. Keep this in mind if you are adding ham to a recipe.
One 14-gram slice of Jamon serrano has about 30 calories which are the same as prosciutto.
It has 1.5 grams of fat and 4.4 grams of protein. It only has about 250 mg of sodium which is still pretty salty but less than prosciutto.
2. Black Forest Ham
A true black forest ham is produced in the Black Forest of Germany. It is a specialty ham that is brine-cured and smoked. The exterior of the ham is black and looks like dry, baked salt.
Black forest ham has a smokier taste when compared to prosciutto. It is also cut in thicker slices.
However, the ham can add a great, salty taste to any recipe! Replace prosciutto with about ¾ the amount of black forest ham in a recipe for pasta or soups.
A thin, 14-gram slice of black forest ham only has 14 calories and .5 grams of fat making it a leaner ham when compared to prosciutto. It only has 2.3 grams of protein and does contain .5 grams of carbohydrates.
Pancetta is often called Italian bacon. It is made from pork belly and is salt cured. It has a similar, sweet and savory taste just like prosciutto.
To replace prosciutto with pancetta, slice it very thin. Pancetta needs to be cooked and cannot be eaten raw. Use the same quantity of pancetta to replace prosciutto in any baked or cooked dish.
One fourteen-gram slice of pancetta has about 40 calories. It only has two grams of protein and almost 4 grams of fat. However, it contains only 116 mg of sodium which is a stark difference when compared to prosciutto.
Bacon is very often used to replace pancetta in cooked foods. Bacon is easy to find in stores and has a similar taste to cooked pancetta. Bacon is a cured meat that can be eaten raw but is best when cooked.
Bacon tastes like a fattier version of prosciutto. It has a similar texture to prosciutto and can be used in the same quantities in any recipe.
It is great for wrapping around asparagus, frying at the beginning of a recipe, or using in a beef wellington.
A 14-gram slice of bacon has about 65 calories with 5 grams of fat. That is much more fat than prosciutto!
Keep this in mind when you cook bacon in place of prosciutto. You will be adding a lot of fat to your recipe.
5. Iberico Ham
Iberico ham comes from Iberico pigs. This is a breed of black, wild pigs only found in Spain. The meat is cured and air dried just like prosciutto.
Use the same amount of thin sliced Iberico ham to replace prosciutto in any recipe.
The taste is very similar. It even has the exact same nutritional makeup as prosciutto. It is a perfect substitute for sautéing or for eating fresh on a sandwich.
Salami is traditionally made with pork meat which makes it a great, cured substitute for prosciutto. It is essentially pork in a new form!
Salami is actually considered to be a fermented sausage. It is an air dried meat made with lots of spices. Some salamis are sweet while others are spicy.
Look for the sweeter salami to replace prosciutto as it has a similar taste to our favorite Italian sliced meat. It is great on a cheese board or on a sandwich.
Salami is higher in calories than prosciutto with about 60 calories per 14 gram serving. That same serving of salami has 5 grams of fat and only three grams of protein.
Culatello is an Italian cured meat that is made using the exact same methods as prosciutto.
However, culatello is made from pork thigh muscle rather than the leg. This makes it leaner and less fatty than prosciutto.
Replace prosciutto in any recipe using the exact same quantity of culatello. Culatello is cured with salt, pepper, garlic and white wine.
You may want to scale back the seasonings in your recipe to adjust for these flavors. However, this makes it a very tasty meat to eat raw.
8. Duck Prosciutto
Duck prosciutto is the salt-cured duck meat. It has a full, robust flavor that is very similar to pork. However, there is no pork involved!
Duck prosciutto has a stronger flavor than regular prosciutto. Use about half of the quantity of duck prosciutto to replace pork prosciutto for halal.
Duck prosciutto has about the same calories as regular prosciutto but is lower in fat and sodium.
It is a strong-flavored, healthy substitute that is also a great kosher substitute for prosciutto.
9. Cured Turkey
Head to the deli section of your local grocery store and grab some cured turkey to replace prosciutto.
Most cured turkey is also smoked making it closer to prosciutto Cotto. It has a salty, sweet taste that is similar to prosciutto.
Ask for your turkey to be sliced as thin as possible. This will help the texture of the turkey be closer to prosciutto. Use the same quantity of turkey to replace prosciutto.
Turkey is lower in fat and calories than prosciutto. It does contain some carbs that come from the sugary brine. Cured turkey is a great substitute for prosciutto in sandwiches.
10. Deli Chicken
Deli-sliced chicken can be a perfect kosher substitute for prosciutto. Check the deli of your grocery store and be sure to ask for the Kosher chicken which is processed according to kosher rules.
Deli chicken has a nice, salty taste like prosciutto. It can be eaten raw or cooked into any dish.
It is lower in fat so you may need to increase the butter or oil in a recipe when using chicken. Choose an unseasoned chicken to get a mild, neutral flavored meat that is close to prosciutto.
11. Toasted Nuts
Nuts can add a lot of flavor to a meal making them a great substitute for prosciutto in recipes.
Use nuts to top a salad or add some crunch to a pasta dish. Nuts are completely vegetarian and vegan so you don’t have to worry about consuming meat!
With that being said, nuts do not have the same meaty taste as prosciutto (clearly!). You may want to increase the spices in your recipe to make up for the lost flavor of the prosciutto.
Replace 4 slices of prosciutto with ½ cup chopped, toasted nuts. Add a little paprika, salt and pepper to the dish to make it more flavorful.
Prosciutto is often served with cheese as part of a charcuterie board. Skip the prosciutto and just add more cheese!
Hard, aged cheese like asiago or romano will have enough flavor to replace prosciutto on a cheese board or in a recipe.
Cheese can be eaten raw just like prosciutto. It is great mixed into pastas or other cooked dishes. Add cheese at the end of your recipe to prevent it from scalding during cooking.
13. Mia Plant-Based Prosciutto
Plant-based prosciutto is a great vegetarian substitute for prosciutto. This new, exciting type of fake meat has the same flavor and texture as pork prosciutto. You can use it in any recipe with a 1:1 ratio to replace pork prosciutto.
We like the Mia brand plant-based prosciutto. Five slices have about 60 calories with 2 grams of fat and 8 grams of protein.
Mushrooms have a strong umami flavor that is similar to the taste of prosciutto. They will give your recipes a rich, deep taste.
Be sure to brown sliced mushrooms in a skillet to add a nice caramel flavor to the dish.
Mushrooms are a healthy substitute for prosciutto. They are rich in vitamin D, fat free and low in calories.
One whole cup of sliced white mushrooms only has 15 calories. Mushrooms even have protein so you won’t lose that important macronutrient when replacing prosciutto with mushrooms.
What Is Prosciutto?
Prosciutto is a type of Italian cured ham that comes from the hind legs of pigs. It is typically sliced very thin, into paper sized pieces.
Prosciutto is uncooked and dry-cured. Uncooked prosciutto is most common and also known as prosciutto crudo. However, there is a type of baked ham prosciutto called prosciutto cotto.
Prosciutto has a salmon-pink color with white fat marbled throughout the meat. It has a very sweet, salty, delicate taste. Most prosciutto is not seasoned but some varieties may have a black pepper crust or herbs coating the meat.
How To Use Prosciutto
There are so many incredible ways to use prosciutto. It would almost be impossible to name them all!
My favorite way to use prosciutto is to place the thin pieces on a charcuterie board. I also love to mix it into a creamy pasta dish. This prosciutto and peas recipe from Julia’s Album is one of my family’s favorites.
Take a look at just a few ways to use prosciutto. You will surely get some more ideas as well.
- Wrap prosciutto around roasted asparagus spears as a perfect appetizer.
- Lay thin slices of prosciutto on top of a pizza.
- Mix prosciutto into a watermelon and feta salad for a salty, sweet combination.
- Add it to pasta along with some Italian parmesan cheese.
- Fold prosciutto pieces to add to a beautiful cheese platter or charcuterie board
- Use it to make a perfect sandwich, adding other Italian toppings like roasted peppers and basil to the mix.
The salty, meaty taste of prosciutto works in so many recipes. It can fit seamlessly into almost any Italian meal!
Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus
This delicious appetizer is one of my favorite prosciutto recipes. Follow the recipe exactly or use one of my prosciutto substitutes to wrap the asparagus spears. Serrano ham, Mia plant based prosciutto or duck prosciutto will all work well in this recipe.
1 pound asparagus spears
1 Tbsp olive oil
½ pound prosciutto
½ cup shredded parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.
- Trim the tough ends of the asparagus then spread the asparagus on a rimmed baking sheet.
- Drizzle the asparagus with olive oil, parmesan, salt and pepper.
- Pick up one piece season piece of asparagus at a time and wrap each spear with a thin slice of prosciutto. Place the wrapped spear back on the sheet tray.
- Bake the prosciutto-wrapped asparagus for 10 minutes. The asparagus will be a little firm but still cooked and ready to eat!
Prosciutto Nutritional Facts
Prosciutto is not always considered to be one of the healthiest meats. It is high in sodium, containing about ⅓ of your daily recommended intake of sodium in just two slices of meat. Prosciutto also contains a decent amount of fats.
However, it does have a few benefits as well! Take a look at the nutritional content of prosciutto to get a good idea about the Italian meat. All of these numbers are based on a 14 gram, single slice of prosciutto.
Prosciutto is high in protein which is an essential part of any diet. It also has quite a few vitamins and minerals including several B vitamins and zinc.
Prosciutto should be considered a luxury food rather than part of an everyday diet. It May have some nutrients but it is still quite high in sodium and fats which should be consumed with care.
Can Prosciutto Be Eaten Raw?
Prosciutto can be eaten raw because it is aged and cured. The curing process discourages the growth of microbes making the meat safe to eat.
While eating cured meat is completely safe, you can also try prosciutto cotto which is made with smoked, cooked ham.
Prosciutto cotto doesn’t melt in your mouth as easily as prosciutto crudo but it is still delicious!
Frequently Asked Questions
Still have a few questions about prosciutto substitutes? Hopefully these frequently asked questions and answers will help!
Can You Use Bacon Instead Of Prosciutto In Beef Wellington?
Yes, you can use bacon in place of prosciutto to make beef wellington. Simply wrap the beef in thin slices of bacon rather than prosciutto. Your beef wellington will taste fantastic!
Is Ham Similar To Prosciutto?
Serrano ham is very similar to prosciutto. Iberico ham is another very closely related cured ham.
Deli style, Smithfield sliced ham is a little thicker and sweeter than prosciutto. Look for a dry cured ham to get the closest ham substitute.
Can Prosciutto Be Made From Beef?
To have the name “prosciutto” the cured meat technically has to come from pork. However, beef bresaola is very close to prosciutto.
Bresaola is a cured beef that is dry aged and thinly sliced. It can be a good substitute for prosciutto.
There are lots of great prosciutto substitutes out there. Give them all a try! Your recipes do not have to suffer just because you are out of prosciutto.
One of these replacements will give you the flavor and texture you are looking for. Enjoy!
My name is Keren Tayler. I am a stay-at-home mama to three lovely girls, Sarah + Rachel + Hannah. Prior to becoming a mom, I had a successful career in the accounting field, steps away from becoming a CPA. I decided to give up on my career in order to raise my own kids (as opposed to letting a nanny do it, no judgment here :)) I learned a lot and I love sharing it with other moms. Along the way, I also became a Certified Food Handler.