You may have heard about some delicious substitutes for pancetta if you ever tried to create an Italian dish.

Pancetta is Italian salted meat that lends a unique taste to sauce, soups, and stuffed dishes. Cut from the pork belly, it is flavored with pepper and other culinary seasonings and then dried by curing.

You can find pancetta as cubes or as paper-thin slices in the grocery stores. Once cured, you can use them in your recipes as a cold cut. It’s a popular addition to pasta dishes because of its bacon-like saltiness.

However, if your local grocery shops don’t have this popular ingredient, you may have to go for other options as pancetta substitutes.

This article looks into some veg and non-veg substitutes for pancetta that you can try in your next dishes.

5 Best Alternatives to Pancetta

1. BaconBacon

Bacon is the closest substitute for pancetta as they both come from pork belly. Unlike pancetta, bacon is salted and smoked, which brings a smoking flavor to every dish.

Due to the similar fat content, pancetta can be replaced with bacon in recipes like pasta. [1]

You can blanch bacon to take out some of the extra salt and smokiness. But, it might make your dish a bit dry as some of the bacon fat will be skimmed off.

2. ProsciuttoProsciutto

Prosciutto is another brined and air-dried meat that comes from the jowl of the salted ham. 

Its flavor and texture are quite similar to that of pancetta, making it one of the best alternatives. Like pancetta, you can also eat prosciutto raw. [2]

However, it may not be a good option if your dishes call for cubed pancetta.

3. Salted PorkSalted Pork

Salted pork is a good option for flavoring dishes as it contains quite a good amount of fat. 

The salted pork is finely chopped and rendered crisp. Most of the pork fat is melted to flavor the stew, soup, or casserole. [3]

This option can only be used in hot, savory dishes. Salted pork doesn’t go well in cold-cut preparation.

4. Canadian BaconCanadian Bacon

Another great alternative comes from the loin of the pig, instead of the belly. It’s more like ham and much leaner than the pancetta.

Canadian bacon is made either by bringing or smoking. When replacing the pancetta with Canadian bacon, try to get the brined version as the smoked version may change the flavor of your recipe.

5. OlivesOlives

If you’re a vegetarian or do not eat pork, you can still enjoy the similar pancetta flavor in your dishes. 

Full-flavored olives can be a great vegetarian alternative to pancetta that can bring the same saltiness and meatiness to a recipe.

While it won’t give you the taste of pork, adding flavored olive to your Italian dishes can bring amazing flavors.


Finding a good substitute for pancetta is not that difficult, but you need to know the exact amount and how to use them.

Some of the alternatives have smoke flavors, while some of them don’t go well with cold-cut recipes.

Whether you’re a pork lover or vegetarian, you can still enjoy almost the similar pancetta flavor in your dish with the correct uses of these substitutes.

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