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Prosciutto vs Pancetta: The ultimate comparison guide

Prosciutto vs Pancetta: The ultimate comparison guide

When it comes to cured meats, you can easily find multiple options. While there are multiple benefits of that, on the downside, you may get confused about which one to get and how to use the type of meat you have.

One of the most confusing types of cured meats includes prosciutto and pancetta. With many similarities, there are some key differences because both come from different parts of the pig. So, this comparison will help you out in knowing everything about them.

Prosciutto vs Pancetta

Both of these are pig meats, and they originated in Italy. The difference in these is that Prosciutto comes from the hind leg while Pancetta comes from the belly. Due to this, the percentage of fats in these two is different, with one being a leaner cut and having different cooking requirements.

What is Prosciutto?

Prosciutto is the leg meat that comes as a leaner cut, so it is thinly sliced and makes a good addition to common kinds of pasta, salads, and, most importantly, flatbread pizzas. With a lesser fat percentage, it pairs well with different cheese types. Its taste and texture closely resemble salami, so we may also replace salami with prosciutto in some recipes for a unique taste combination.

What is Pancetta?

It is the belly meat of a pig, and it is salt-cured. So, it does not necessarily need to be cooked. It is a type of salami that we usually use in pasta dishes and soups as it has higher fat percentages. As it is salt-cured, it adds depth and a richer flavor to the dishes.

The best part is that it closely resembles bacon and can be substituted in multiple recipes. It is usually found at Italian specialty stores. It is also known as the Italian version of classic American bacon.

The difference in their origination

Both these meat types come of Italian origin; the major difference after the body parts big is their curing. Prosciutto is salt-cured. Afterward, it is air-dried for months before it is ready for eating. Due to being air-dried, it is safe to eat without needing to cook. On the other hand, Pancetta is only cured and ready to be sold.

As it is not air-dried, it is not safe to eat without cooking. Additionally, these originate in different cut forms. Prosciutto is usually found in paper-thin slices and used as it is. On the other hand, Pancetta is sold in bigger cuts, including cubed cuts. So, it is often sautéed with vegetables like onion or garlic to make a flavorful base for whatever recipe you use.

The higher fat percentage plays a major role in sautéing since its internal fats help fuse the flavors of vegetables, further enhancing the taste of soups and pasta.

How to use both of these in different recipes?

You don't need to be very careful about Prosciutto when using these in your recipes. It already comes in thin, smooth, and delicate slices that can be added to your recipe, but you must be careful about pairing it with non-salty ingredients like salads and fruits.

Pairing it up with cheese types helps reduce saltiness. Prosciutto is best when paired with dates, asparagus, or melon. Paired with these, it can be enjoyed as a salad or pizza topping off its crunchiness and satisfying salty touch.

On the other hand, Pancetta is solid, so you can cut it in whatever form you like. In most cases, chopped form is preferable for most recipes. However, it is important to maintain the amount of salt you add to the dish as it is already very salty, and even normal amounts of salt can turn the dish salty. So, pancetta makes a good addition to recipes like spaghetti and pasta, brussels sprouts, and even goat cheese stuffed figs.

How to cook and eat Prosciutto vs. Pancetta?

Here are the most common ways to cook, prepare, and eat prosciutto and Pancetta.


One of the best things about it is that you can eat it without cooking. So, some of the best ways to enjoy its taste are by:

  • Eating it by itself. You may add a slice of cheese to change the taste a bit.
  • To create a Prosciutto sandwich, you may also pair it with some cheese, veggies, sauces, toppings, and olive oil.
  • Wrap cantaloupe in Prosciutto and top with basil and honey for additional flavor.
  • Add Prosciutto to the charcuterie board with all other ingredients but keep its portion small.


You can begin cooking it after preparing it first. So, place it on the pan on the stove and slowly heat it to render out the richness of its fat. Using a room-temperature pan instead of a hot one is important so the meat does not start cooking immediately.

Once the fat starts coming out, you can turn the burner to medium-low heat and gradually turn it to medium-high to crisp the meat. Do this until the pancetta browns. Now you need to take the pancetta out of its fats and place it on a paper towel to drain excessive fats so that it stays crispy. After a few minutes, it will be ready for adding to any dish.

Note: The fat of the Pancetta can make it soggy.

Different recipes where you may add these.

Both these meats perfectly fit the requirements of cured meats. With a smooth texture with a punchy taste, both can be a part of charcuterie boards since these are light, but prosciutto is a better option for most people. Additionally, it is a great choice for quick go-to sandwich recipes.

Pancetta, on the other hand, is usually better for full-fledged recipes that need cooking. So it is great for salads, soups, stews, and pasta. A major benefit of using Pancetta over Prosciutto is that it is highly versatile and can be used with more things.


Whether you want to create a quick snack, a soup, or a stew, you will find both these pork products in many recipes. These add a lot of texture to your recipes and can bring a punch of meaty flavor. However, with the differences clear now, you can choose the one that fits your recipe the best. Thus, this Prosciutto vs. pancetta comparison will help you use these in their best forms.


Image by Morana T from Pixabay