In this article, we will be covering pancetta substitute and alternatives you can use to replace pancetta.

Did you know that Pancetta and bacon have the most in common.

Both are made usually with pork belly and they are both cured for a certain length of time.  Both are also considered “raw” and need to be cooked before eating.

There are, however, slight differences in the process for making the two.

Pancetta is basically cured, and the focus is really on the technique. This is done with salt, but spices and other flavoring agents are often added to infuse particular flavorings.

Pancetta can be sliced paper thin or cubed. The thin slices can be wrapped around vegetables or meat before cooking.

Pancetta cubes are often used like bacon, sautéed with onions or garlic to add flavor to a soup, pasta, or risotto.

But the main reason you are here is for the different substitutes you could use to replace pancetta.

Substitutes For Pancetta

Substitutes For Pancetta

Bacon is a close relative of pancetta, so it would be the first and obvious substitute. However, there are other options you could use to substitute pancetta.

As well as vegan options. So here are the list of substitutes for pancetta.

Prosciutto

Prosciutto literally translates to “ham” in Italian.

Yes, Prosciutto crudo, a raw, cured ham, and prosciutto cotto or cooked ham are great subs for pancetta.

Prosciutto crudo’s origins date back to the pre-Roman period. In Italy, during the long winters, villagers originally started to dry-age pork legs to increase their meat supply.

The tradition of making prosciutto has been mastered over the centuries. Art is celebrated today in Italy and the world.

Ventreche

Ventreche tastes more like fresh pork and less like cured meat, and is generally kept fairly simple: pork belly, salt, smoke, and black pepper. 

For almost everything a cook in the Gascon countryside might make, Ventreche becomes a foundation. It’s great in veggie dishes such as succotash, chopped into batons, I bet it’d be great in a Cajun maque choux, or with short pasta, eggs of any sort, green salads, or tossed into stews such as cassoulet. Or you might as well just crisp it up and enjoy it as a snack.

Salt Pork

Salt pork is pork that is salt-cured. It is generally cooked from the belly of pork, or fatback, more rarely.

Usually, salt pork resembles uncut slab bacon, but it is fattier, made from the lowest part of the belly, saltier, as the cure is better and longer carried out and never smoked. 

In the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, salt pork, along with hardtack, was a regular ration for many military and naval powers, seeing use in, among others, the American Civil War, the War of 1812, and the Napoleonic Wars.

In traditional American cuisine, particularly Boston baked beans, pork and beans, salt pork now finds use and adds its flavor to vegetables cooked in water, as with greens in soul food.

It is also central to clam chowder flavoring. Prior to use, it is normally cut and cooked (blanched or rendered).

Bacon

Bacon is another kind of cured meat which can be added in place of pancetta. In the meat seasoning and curing processes, Pancetta varies from American bacon.

Bacon is made by smoking salted pork belly, as we all know. On the other side, pancetta is an unsmoked but dried belly of pork treated with salt, pepper, nutmeg and other spices.

You should think of boiling meat for 2-3 minutes while using bacon as a pancetta substitute. This reduces the bacon’s smoky flavor and makes it taste more like pancetta.

Tofurky

If it’s a vegan substitute you’re after to replace pancetta then tofurky is your best bet.

Tofurky is an old-school vegan brand that has practically followed vegans for decades during their transition. 

So, predictably, the marinated tempeh bacon from Tofurky is completely delicious and packed with a smoky, syrupy flavor of maple that can complement both sandwiches and breakfast spreads without any extra seasoning needed. 

The explanation why it’s pretty low on our list is that its taste is certainly not the most bacon-like out there, albeit tasty, with the tempeh notes overriding most of the smokiness and making for a product that won’t trick any meat eater into believing they’re taking a bite of the real thing. 

On the other side, almost anywhere in the world (yes, even online too you can get Tofurky’s tempeh bacon, making it one of the plant-based bacon alternatives most readily available on the market.

Shiitake Mushrooms

This is another alternative to pancetta for vegans. Unlike other mushrooms, the shiitake mushroom has a rich, buttery flavor. Dried shiitake has a meaty texture and smoky flavor that is a versatile and nutritious alternative to bacon, not unlike how you would imagine your bacon to taste.

Capicola

Capicola is a wonderful cured meat that crisps up beautifully, and like prosciutto, can take the place of pancetta almost anywhere, whether you pronounce it Capicola, Coppa or “gabagool” like Tony Soprano. What makes it a healthier alternative is that it contains about a fifth of the fat and about the same amount of protein. However, bear in mind that it does have slightly higher levels of sodium.

Salmon Bacon

Fish-made bacon? Oh, and they taste like fish. Smokey fish, salty.

It’s not crisp like bacon, and on a BLT, I wouldn’t try it. I’d put it though, into an omelet or a fritata, maybe even a quiche. And in a cheesy, salmon-bacon soufflé, I could certainly imagine it. 

Trader Joe used to sell salmon bacon, but I haven’t seen it in a while and haven’t been able to check if it’s still available. Other brands are out there, though but I can’t vouch for them.

What Does Pancetta Taste Like

how does pancetta taste

Pancetta tastes similar to bacon, but doesn’t have the smoky taste that most bacon does.

It’s not overpowering as it lacks the smokey taste, so it mixes well with other foods.

The thin slices of pancetta are often served like bacon, and wrapped around vegetables or meat to cook. While the cubes are mainly used like bacon, sautéed with onions or garlic to form the base of soup, pasta, or risotto.

Nutritional Info: What goes into a serving of Pancetta

Pancetta

  • Serving Size: 1 oz (28 grams)
  • Amount Per Serving
  • Calories from Fat 135
  • Calories 147
  • Total Fat 15 g
  • Saturated Fat 5.5 g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat 1.6 g
  • Monounsaturated Fat 7 g
  • Cholesterol 20mg 
  • Sodium 9.1mg
  • Potassium 52mg
  • Total Carbohydrates 0 g
  • Dietary Fiber 0 g
  • Sugars 0 g
  • Protein 2.6 g
  •  
  • 0.1% Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C 0.1%
  • 0.1% Calcium
  • 0.8% Iron
pancetta servings

Calories and Carbohydrates

There are about 212 calories in one serving of pancetta. This is about 10.5 percent of your daily total, based on a 2,000-calorie-per-day diet. No carbohydrates or sugars and no dietary fiber per serving are also contained in one serving of pancetta. Pancetta can be considered an indulgence from time to time if you are living on a limited-calorie diet or are attempting to lose weight, but it would be advised to substitute it with a healthier meat option, such as chicken or fish.

Protein and Fat

Pancetta contains 1.5g protein and 10.5g fat, including 8g saturated fat, 2.5g monounsaturated fat and 1.5g polyunsaturated fat per serving.

One serving of pancetta comprises more than 50% of your daily recommended intake of fat. In turn, the average adult should aim for a daily protein intake of 50 grams, making pancetta a poor source of protein.

When choosing to use or eat pancetta, try using it sparingly as a flavor enhancer or additive and only in small doses.

Interesting facts about Pancetta

pancetta facts

Pancetta is Italian pork-belly bacon that is cured, but not smoked, with salt and spices. Accessible in a cylinder and used for flavoring pasta, sauce, meat and vegetable dishes.

Health Benefits of Pancetta

is pancetta healthy

Although there are no health benefits for Pancetta, it is a healthier alternative to bacon.

Pancetta is the belly of pork which is preserved with sodium. It is not smoked like some other meats that are processed.

Smoking meat increases the risk of cancer.

Pancetta is high in calories and fat.

The majority of varieties contain some preservatives, spices and are air-dried.

It is best to enjoy pancetta rarely, regardless of the additives.

If pancetta is one of the ways you increase flavor in soups, sauces, or stews, try including less pancetta and adding extra caramelized onions, garlic, or herbs and spices.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about pancetta

Can I eat pancetta raw?

Thinly sliced and raw, similar to prosciutto, Pancetta can be consumed raw, but more frequently it is fried, which gives it an extremely savory taste. Think of it as bacon maxed-out. For authentic carbonara, pancetta is a must-have.

How long will pancetta last in the refrigerator?

Tightly wrapped in greaseproof paper, loose pancetta rashers should be stored in the refrigerator; they can last up to three weeks. It is necessary to keep loose diced pancetta in a sealed jar.

How do you know when pancetta is cooked?

To know when it’s done just right for your liking, use your eyes and nose. Thick slices (0.25 in (0.64 cm)) need to be cooked on each side for around 5 minutes. If a package of very thin (often paper-thin) slices is cooked, aim for 2-3 minutes on each side.

Bottom Line

That was 8 Pancetta Substitute and alternatives.

Pancetta and bacon are the most common. Usually, both are made of pork belly and both are cured for a certain period of time. In the method for creating the two, there are minor variations. 

Pancetta is a pork belly that is unsmoked but dried and is handled with salt, pepper, nutmeg and other spices.

One of the plant-based bacon alternatives most readily available on the market is Tofurky’s tempeh bacon.

Another alternative to pancetta for vegans is Shiitake Mushrooms. Capicola is a wonderfully cured meat that crisps beautifully, and can take the place of pancetta almost like a prosciutto. The shiitake mushroom has a rich, buttery taste, much like other mushrooms.

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