Pancetta vs Prosciutto – What’s the Difference?

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Pancetta vs Prosciutto just how different are these two kinds of meats? Both have a long history in Italian cooking and are now household names across the world.

Pancetta vs Prosciutto

Using cured meats other than just bacon is a great way to increase your cooking repertoire and ensure that you have perfectly balanced flavors in your dish. If you are new to using pancetta and prosciutto, then you may not know how to use these meats and how they can help with the flavor and aroma of your meals.


Pancetta is very similar to traditional bacon and actually comes from the same part of the pork belly. While bacon is smoked to give it its flavor, pancetta is cured using a mixture of spices and salt, which lend it a very subtle and enjoyable flavor.

Pancetta generally cures for only about two weeks. There are two main types of pancetta – flat and rolled.

Rolled pancetta is generally eaten raw on sandwiches or as part of antipasti while flat pancetta has different uses. It is very often chopped and used as an ingredient in a dish. It can be grilled or cut into thick strips, depending on what kind of meal you are making and what you need the pancetta to accomplish.

Cubes of pancetta work great in a soup, risotto, or pasta when they have first been sautéed to bring out some of the flavor.

Pancetta generally has a very pure and rich flavor due to how it is created but can be a little more difficult to find. If you do manage to get pancetta, make sure that you wrap it tightly to store it in the refrigerator for up to three weeks or in the freezer for six.

It’s preferable to use pancetta when you are going to be cooking as it will release a lot of flavor into the final dish.


Prosciutto is a ham that has been cured with salt and then air-dried. You can buy prosciutto that is either raw or already cured but it is much easier to buy cured prosciutto. This meat is ready to eat and can be used in a number of ways and adds a very light flavor to meals.

It is sliced incredibly thinly, making it ideal to top a pizza, wrap around pieces of fruit, or used on antipasti platter. Once sliced, prosciutto will begin to dry out quickly, so it’s important to buy it right before you need it and to eat it right away.

Most of the time, prosciutto is eaten at room temperature although there are some popular dishes where it is wrapped around meat before being fried.

It goes great with sage and other earthy herbs and tastes just as great in raw plates as it does when cooked in a meal. The long curing time of prosciutto – months to years – ensures that it can be eaten without being cooked and won’t pose any dangers.

While many people think that pancetta and prosciutto can be used interchangeably, they each have dishes and applications where they will shine. Knowing the right time to use each of these meats ensures that you are using them appropriately and will result in an amazing final meal.