Pancetta Substitute – Great Alternatives for Pancetta

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Pancetta is a delicious cut of pork often served alone and on salads, soups, and sandwiches. But what about a pancetta substitute? Is there a such thing? Thankfully, there is! Join us as we explore the many options you have for substituting pancetta when pancetta isn’t readily available. 

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What Meat Can You Substitute For Pancetta?

There are many meats you can substitute for pancetta. Because pancetta is simply a thin cut of pork belly that is unsmoked and seasoned, it can be easily substituted with other similar meats. 

Check out these options for pancetta substitutes: 

  • Bacon – One of the simplest ways to substitute pancetta is to simply use bacon. The main difference between bacon and pancetta is that bacon is smoked while pancetta is not, but both come from the underside of the pork belly. Because of this, it is easy to substitute pancetta with bacon when you’re in a pinch.
  • Ham – Because both pancetta and ham are pork and are both cured, you can easily swap pancetta for ham. If you’re able to get your ham cut super thin you may find the substitute to be exactly what you need to mimic the delicious flavor and texture of pancetta. 
  • Prosciutto – Many people confuse prosciutto and pancetta. However, the two are different. The main difference is that prosciutto comes from the hind leg whereas pancetta comes from pork belly. Still, you can easily substitute prosciutto for nearly any recipe calling for pancetta at a 1:1 ratio and we doubt many people will really notice. 
  • Salami – Salami is an easy and affordable way to swap out pancetta in a recipe, and because it is air-dried, it can even be left at room temperature for many days if left uncut. Use salami to substitute pancetta in just about anything, but as you probably already know, salami can be downright delicious as a substitution for pancetta on sandwiches. Yum! 
  • Smoked Turkey – Smoked turkey can be very similar to smoked ham in taste and texture, and since ham is a substitute for pancetta already, it only makes sense that smoked turkey makes the list, too. The nice thing is that smoked turkey will be significantly lower in fat than pancetta might be making it a diet-friendly option when you don’t want to skimp on flavor. 
  • Turkey Bacon – Surprisingly, turkey bacon can be used as a substitute for pancetta. However, it may not be quite as flavorful. Doctor it up with seasonings to mimic the flavor of pancetta while cutting out the fat that pancetta often adds. Note: Turkey bacon, though lower in fat, will be quite high in sodium. Those who wish to use turkey bacon should do so in moderation. 
smoked cut bacon

Pancetta Substitute Vegan

Looking for something that isn’t meat to substitute pancetta with? Try these vegetarian substitutes for pancetta the next time you have hankering for pancetta without the guilt:

  • Mushrooms – That’s right! Mushrooms yield a texture similar to meat making it an ideal substitute for dishes that are lacking meat. Of course, the flavor won’t be quite the same, but in some dishes, you might actually like the vegan version even better! 
  • Diced Tomatoes – We get it, diced tomatoes won’t taste anything like pancetta. But honestly, there isn’t much you will be able to use that will taste exactly like pancetta that isn’t meat. Like mushrooms, however, the firmness of tomatoes will yield a similar texture to that of meat, and thus, can add a fresh spin on dishes that are missing salty and savory pancetta. 
  • Olives – Another firm and yummy veggie, olives yield a naturally salty flavor that can be a wonderful replacement for meats, like pancetta, that are typically cured. 
  • Ham or Bacon Alternatives – This is likely the closest you’ll get to that real pancetta flavor. By using a vegan ham, bacon, or vegan bacon bits, you can effortlessly recreate a meal that contains pancetta and make it vegan using these quick and easily accessible vegan substitutes. 
mushrooms fresh

Pancetta Substitute Kosher

Since a pancetta substitute for a kosher dish means that no pork substitute should be used, you’ll be left with very few replacements. Nevertheless, you may be able to try substituting duck or goose, or you may be better off checking out some of our aforementioned vegan options for substituting for pancetta. Though it may yield a different flavor than you’re used to, some of the textures may work well without adding pork to the dish. 

Pancetta Substitute Halal

Similar to kosher options, you may be better off sticking with duck, goose, or the vegan options that we mentioned earlier than trying anything else when preparing a dish with halal meat. Similar to kosher guidelines, those consuming halaal meats typically don’t eat pork either. Therefore, be sure to double-check that any meat that you do select actually is halal meat by looking over the package label, as most halal meats will indicate that this is what they are.

Salt Pork vs Pancetta 

Salted pork and pancetta are very similar. Pancetta, however, typically has more meat, and it also has different spices that make it taste a bit different. Salt pork cannot be eaten raw and must be cooked, but many times, pancetta can be eaten without being cooked. Either way, salt pork is also a great substitute for pancetta. However, it will need to be cooked before adding it to any substituted dishes.

Is Pancetta Like Ham?

Pancetta is very similar to ham but it isn’t the same thing. Ham is taken from the hind legs, but pancetta is taken from the pork belly. In this way, pancetta is more similar to bacon than ham. However, ham is a perfectly good substitute for pancetta when you need it. 

Can I Use Lardons Instead of Pancetta?

Because lardons are basically diced pieces of bacon, they can be easily substituted for pancetta. Both are cured and both have a similar flavor. Lardons come in both smoked and unsmoked varieties though. So if you want the most similar flavor to pancetta, you’ll want to opt for the unsmoked version. 

raw meat on white surface

Can You Substitute Pancetta with Prosciutto?

Absolutely! In fact, prosciutto is often one of the most popular substitutes for pancetta. Although these two come from different parts of the pig, they yield a similar taste and texture and are equally scrumptious in dishes. 

Is Pancetta Basically Bacon?

Pancetta is very similar to bacon. However, pancetta is typically unsmoked with added spices that may make the taste slightly different. Bacon, on the other hand, is smoked meat. Still, both come from pork belly and both are cured. As such, both have a chewy and delicious flavor that is very similar to one another.

Can You Use Bacon Instead of Pancetta in Carbonara?

Yes, you can absolutely use bacon instead of pancetta in carbonara. Many people like this substitution even better; but we will let you be the judge in that regard.  

When substituting with bacon, the dish is sometimes referred to as “American” Carbonara. Still, it tastes pretty similar to the original!

Is Unsmoked Bacon the Same as Pancetta?

Unsmoked bacon will taste very similar if not identical to pancetta. It would certainly be an awesome substitute for pancetta in any dish! Just be sure to cook it before you do. 

Pancetta Substitute Bolognese

Thankfully, pancetta can be substituted for bacon, ham, or any of the above substitutes when making a bolognese. Changing pancetta out won’t be affecting the flavor of the dish too much. 

Pancetta Substitute: Many Options Are Available!

There are many pancetta substitutes available. Whether you can readily eat pork, are vegan, or otherwise, you can find other tasty substitutes for pancetta that are as good as they are affordable and easy to use. We hope this has inspired some creativity when it comes to finding substitutes for pancetta!

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By Anna

Hey, I’m Anna; writer, editor and amateur cook extraordinaire! Food has been my life and my passion for the most of my life – it’s crazy to think I didn’t pursue a career in cooking. I’m obsessed! However, keeping cooking as an obsessive hobby has worked for me – my passion grows as the years pass by – maybe I wouldn’t say the same if it was also my day job! I hope you find cooking inspiration, entertainment and “stop and think interesting tid-bits” throughout my writing – and I’d love to hear from you if you’ve got anything you want to share. Food feeds the soul – so get eating!

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