Best Substitutes for Capicola

Say Goodbye to Capicola: Top 10 Alternatives to Spice Up Your Sandwich

Do you love capicola, a cured Italian meat from pork? If so, you might be looking for it across the stores. But often, it appears to be hard to get in some areas. Then, looking for the best substitutes for capicola can be very helpful. 

Do not worry – you can find multiple capicola alternatives. These foods may save you money and time more than buying comparatively expensive capicola. Hence, some of them are pancetta, Lonza, prosciutto, mortadella, serrano, salami, and others

Today’s discussion is about the 10 best alternatives to capicola, which I will explain gradually. As a bonus, you will also get tips for selecting them to fulfill your craving. I hope you will share some of your moments with us. 

Can I Alternate Capicola with Other Meats?

It’s evident that capicola is comparatively costlier than its counterparts. It is due to its delicious fattiness of it. Also, it is seasoned in such a delicate way that you will surely get the meaty flavor. 

Delis or snack bars use capicola primarily for its demand. As it is expensive, the availability is also tough in some areas, maybe in your areas too. That’s why people often look for substitutes for capicola. And when you look for replacements, you have various options. 

The 10 Best Substitutes for Capicola

Let’s move to the core topic of what you are here. If getting capicola becomes tough for you, try any of these items as substitutes for capicola meat. These substitutes may offer you almost similar taste and texture.

1. Pancetta


It is the most affordable alternative to capicola. You can eat pancetta both raw and cooked. 

Pancetta is quite like bacon, yet it is also Italian cured meat. It is derived from the belly of pork. Usually, this meat is used in pasta, pizza, salads, and charcuterie boards. 

It tastes dry-cured flavor, a bit spicey, and quite like bacon. Again, it has a vivid pink shade and a plain, velvety feel. 

It is prepared following the same process as making a capicola. This process includes salt-curing and air-drying for 3 weeks. Thus, it may taste a bit different than any traditional American bacon. 

2. Lonza 


Many people consider it as a sister to prosciutto. But you can also substitute it against capicola. It is also made from pork (lean or upper part of a pig’s back). Hence, this delicate Italian cured meat is widely used in versatile Mediterranean, Europe, and South American cuisines. 

It is salted or brined during its prep process. But its curing time is less than capicola, only 3-4 months of dry curing. As well it tastes slightly different from capicola. Seasoning with black pepper and fennel gives a unique flavor to this substitute.

You can use Lonza in toast, grilled cheese, charcuterie boards, and pizza. Also, it may taste great when you eat it after drizzling it with olive oil. Even many people eat it with cheese, veggies, and juicy fruits. 

3. Prosciutto


Another popular substitute for capicola is prosciutto. You may find the similarity among capicola and pancetta. Consequently, it offers a more robust flavor than pancetta. But you may get it sweeter than traditional American bacon. 

You may find it has a fantastic red-to-pink color with a glimpse of fats. It is made from the legs of pork after salting and dry-curing. Also, its texture appears as more-buttery compared to capicola. 

Many food lovers suggest seasoning the prosciutto with spices and herbs for a better taste. Additionally, you can pair this cured meat with different fruits, roasted vegetables, spaghetti, and grilled cheese. Many people love to use it as an ingredient for pasta sauces or pizza toppings. 

4. Mortadella 


It is a delicious Italian cold cut, a less refined substitute for capicola. But you can use it in various dishes, from sandwiches to salads. Still, you can use it as a snack on its own. 

Mortadella is a flavorful, finely ground pork sausage. It is usually made with ground pork, spices, and other ingredients like pistachios, olives, garlic, cinnamon, and lard cubes. But if you are not a pork lover, you can look for mortadella made of chicken or beef. 

The thinly sliced cured meat has a smooth texture. Also, it tastes sweet, smoky, and spicy, ideal for prepping sandwiches and dishes like pizza or pasta. Sometimes it is used in salads made of cheese, tomatoes, olives, and other seasonings.

5. Serrano 


It is a popular salt-cured and air-dried Spanish ham. Most people consider it a substitute for the Italian capicola. Also, it is a healthier alternative to capicola because of its naturally lower fat and sodium.

Serrano has similarity with prosciutto. But the central fact is it is made from the hind legs of white pigs. You can use many dishes to provide a similar flavor to capicola.

Usually, it is a slightly spicy and sweet taste. You can use it for making sandwiches, salads, pasta dishes, and more. Some people suggest it shred and placed on pizzas. 

6. Salami

Another best substitute for capicola is salami. It is a traditional Italian cured meat made from fermented and air-dried pork. Even beef or veal is also used to make salami. Likewise, it may contain garlic, vinegar, and wine. 

Salami has a more intense flavor than capicola, with a slightly spicier taste and buttery texture. But you may find sweet, smoky notes when you indulge it. For example, if you choose salami containing black pepper, you may find it fiery. If it has cinnamon, you will find it sweeter. 

It is an excellent source of protein. Also, the low fat of salami makes it a healthier option than capicola. It’s a perfect substitute for those who want to enjoy the same flavors without the higher fat content of capicola. Thus, you can enjoy salami with potatoes, carrots, onions, and other veggies. 

7. Bresaola


Bresaola is a lean, flavorful, and healthy option like capicola. It is an air-dried, salted beef, mostly made from top round or eye of round. But most of the fats are removed during its curing process. 

You can taste the rich, meaty flavor of bresaola. It has a firm texture that is like a cured ham. However, the meat is marinated in herbs and spices and left to dry for several weeks. This process gives it a smoky, slightly salty flavor. 

You can use this substitute in preparing sandwiches, salads, and antipasti platters. Also, bresaola’s low fat and calories are ideal for keeping it in the diet chart. You can add some mozzarella or provolone cheese to increase its taste. 

8. Turkey Ham

Have you checked your kitchen for a capicola? Don’t worry; you can use turkey ham instead of capicola. It costs less than a capicola and is available in most stores. 

Though it may sound like pork ham, it is actually made from lean ground turkey. It contains higher protein but low in fat. Also, you can enhance its mild flavor by adding herbs and spices.

Turkey Ham is usually cooked in the oven or stovetop, unlike capicola, which is cured and smoked. You can serve this ham as a main course. Also, pairing it with sandwiches, salads, and other recipes is good.

Indeed, it is a delicious and versatile alternative providing many of the same flavor and texture benefits as capicola.

9. Black Forest Ham

Black Forest Ham

You may also call it Black Forest smoked ham. It is often used in making sandwiches and other dishes containing cheeses, vegetables, and other deli meats. 

Unlike capicola, this smoked ham is much leaner, made using a wet-curing process. It has a sweeter flavor but less fat than serrano or pancetta. Also, it contains nitrates and nitrites. In most cases, it works as a preservative to other hams. 

However, Black Forest ham is a healthier option.  It has less fat and cholesterol than capicola. You can consider it as a great way to add a unique flavor to recipes while avoiding the high-fat content of capicola. 

10. Nduja 

It is a spicy Italian sausage that is becoming increasingly popular as a substitute for capicola. This spreadable sausage is made from pork, hot peppers, and spices. Hence, you may find it similar to Soppressata and capicola. 

You can think of keeping it in the making for sandwiches, pizzas, and other savory dishes. Its unique spicy flavor and texture add depth and complexity to dishes that capicola cannot replicate.

Mostly, it pairs incredibly well with cheeses. If you want something more flavorful than capicola, then Nduja is the right choice. 

How Can I Select the Best Substitutes for Capicola?

If you want to consider something as a substitute for capicola, you may feel some facts. These can be the fat content, type of meat, degree of spiciness, and the type of dish it will be used in.

  • You can choose pancetta if you want a fatty cut of meat like capicola. For spice lovers, you can think of salami. Any deli meat will work for a charcuterie board. 
  • If you are making pizza and don’t have a capicola near you, look for salami in the kitchen. It works great with pizza and pasta. 
  • For sandwiches, try turkey ham or mortadella.
  • The last thing would be the choice of meat. If you do not like pork, you can choose alternatives made of other cured meats like beef, turkey, or even chicken. 

Can I Prepare Capicola at Home?

Yes, you can make it at home. But it is a very time-consuming process though the result deserves this labor. However, I suggest you follow these steps to prepare the capicola yourself:

  • Start by selecting the right pork cut for capicola.
  • Prepare a seasoning blend with spices like hot or smoked paprika, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, or cayenne and black peppers.
  • Then, rub the seasoning blend on the meat.
  • Next, refrigerate it in a vacuum-sealed bag for 1-3 weeks.
  • After curing, dry it with paper towels, sprinkle with white or red wine, wrap in dry-aging sheets, and weigh it again.
  • Refrigerate the meat, slice it, and enjoy when it loses 1/3 of its weight.

Now, you have the desired capicola prepared at home following these simple steps. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Some notable yet relevant queries about substitutes for capicola are:

How firm should the capicola be?

Capicola should be firm but not too hard. It should have a slightly springy texture when pressed.

What to Eat Capicola With?

Capicola pairs well with many different foods. Some classic pairings include:

  • Breads: Ciabatta, focaccia, baguettes
  • Cheese: Mozzarella, Provolone, Gouda, Pecorino Romano
  • Fruits: Apples, oranges, pears, grapes
  • Pasta: Penne, rigatoni, spaghetti
  • Salads: Arugula, baby spinach, kale, Greek salad 
  • Sauces: Marinara, pesto, olive oil, balsamic vinegar
  • Vegetables: Roasted peppers, artichokes, tomatoes, spinach 

What are the benefits of eating capicola?

It is comparatively high in protein but low in fat. Thus, some notable nutrients are essential vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, iron, zinc, selenium, and niacin. 

Eating capicola can boost the immune system, improve heart health, and get a healthy energy source. Also, it can help to lower cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of specific cancers, and provide essential nutrients for healthy skin and hair.

Is there a difference between regular and flavored capicola?

Both are cured Italian cold cuts made from pork shoulder. 

Regular capicola is typically seasoned with salt, black pepper, and other spices. 

But the flavored one is seasoned with additional herbs and spices. It is sometimes infused with various flavors such as garlic, chili, or smoke.

Final Words

You can get many alternatives to capicola. But you may get confused about choosing among those varieties. Consequently, I have made the selection task more accessible by providing info about the 10 best substitutes for capicola in this blog. 

All these substitutes may not be exact replicas of capicola. But they provide a delicious and flavorful experience like capicola. 

So, the next time you are looking for a substitute for capicola, consider one of these ten options to enhance your meal.

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