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7 Capicola Substitute

Lisa Price
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by Lisa Price

Have you ever eaten capicola before? It’s a delicious cured meat made from pork neck.

This delicate, soft, and savory Italian delicacy is also known as coppa, capicollo, and gabagool. It has a vivid red color and excellent marbling, but despite its appealing look, capicola may not always be accessible at the supermarket.

In such a scenario, you’ll have to choose an alternative. If you enjoy cured meats, then you’ll dig the substitutes we recommend. So let’s get started, shall we?


What Is Capicola?

Capicola is an Italian type of cured meat prepared from pork neck and shoulder, a cut that has a 30% fat and 70% lean ratio, making it juicy and delicate even after curing.

Although capicola has a smokey flavor, the final flavor depends on the spices used in its production. Very often, capicola is either prepared with red pepper, which makes it fiery-spicy, or with black peppercorns, which gives it a sweeter, more aromatic heat.

Capicola is a surprisingly versatile, salty, and spicy delicacy. It’s finely sliced, so it’s ideal for creating simple yet tasty bites.

Some enjoy adding it to their mashed potatoes, omelet, or breakfast sandwich; others sprinkle it over their pizza or pasta. It’s also the perfect addition to any cheese board.

If you don’t have it on hand and you’re keen to try something rich yet similar to capicola, we have 7 capicola alternatives for you.

Capicola Substitutes

  1. Pancetta
  2. Prosciutto
  3. Lonzino
  4. Serrano
  5. Salami
  6. Mortadella
  7. Turkey ham



One of the most delectable alternatives to capicola is a crispy piece of pancetta. In essence, pancetta is salted, gently spiced, and cured pork belly.

The meat has a bright pink color and a smooth, velvety feel. Pancetta is cured for about three weeks and can be eaten cooked or uncooked.

The flavor of pancetta is best compared to that of bacon, minus the smokiness. Both are made from pig belly, but while pancetta is cured, bacon is smoked.

Pancetta is an excellent complement to pasta, charcuterie boards, or salads. If your breakfast, main course, or supper lacks a salty, meaty flavor, and capicola is unavailable, pancetta should be on your radar.



One of the most popular varieties of cured pork is prosciutto. It’s a wonderful, mildly sweet, and salty delicacy made from high-quality pig legs.

Each slice has a lovely red-to-pink tint with fat sprinkled all around. Apart from salt, it can be spiced and seasoned with different herbs and spices to give it a unique flavor.

Prosciutto is thinly sliced and usually paired with fruit, crackers, roasted veggies, grilled cheese, and wine. It’s a wonderful ingredient for pasta sauces and a popular pizza topping.

Younger prosciutto is typically used in meals such as spaghetti and pizza. Longer-aged prosciutto has a richer flavor and is usually served on its own.



Lonza, an Italian delicacy, is prepared from the lean and delicate upper part of a pig’s back.

It has a pink to dark red hue and a porky and peppery flavor akin to prosciutto. Its texture is crispy and tender, and it’s one of those meats that cures pretty quickly — up to three to four months.

It should be sliced super thin. A popular way to eat it is drizzled with olive oil and served with cheese, veggies, or juicy fruits. It works well on toast, in a grilled cheese, or as a pizza toping.



Spanish serrano ham is a Spanish alternative to the Italian capicola. It’s prepared from the rear legs of a particular breed of pig known as white pigs.

It tastes rich and buttery, and it’s mildly peppery, with a hint of sweetness. It’s very close to the flavor profile of capicola, the only difference being that it contains less salt.

You can use this Spanish substitute for capicola in practically any dish. It’s most frequently used in sandwiches and salads, but serving it on an antipasto board next to some cream cheese, pickles, roasted tomatoes, honey, and fruits is also an excellent idea.



If you like cured meats and pizza, you’ve definitely heard of salami, which is a dry-cured pig sausage.

Salami is a cured sausage created from fermented and air-dried pig meat, although it can also be prepared from beef or veal. Other components in salami include garlic, vinegar, herbs and spices, and wine.

Salami has a salty, porky flavor and a buttery texture. However, its taste will depend on the exact recipe. For example, salami containing black pepper or chili will have a fiery bite. If it contains cinnamon, then the taste will be much sweeter.

Salami, like any other cured meat, is an excellent complement to meat boards. However, it may also be combined with eggs, toast, sandwiches, and pasta salads.



Mortadella has its roots in Bologna and contains diced white pieces of hog fat, which gives it its unique polka dot appearance.

All in all, mortadella has a 15% fat content and is commonly seasoned with salt, pistachio, black pepper, myrtle berries, garlic, and cinnamon. Apart from being fatty, the spices and pistachios provide bonus crunch and flavor to this cured meat.

Mortadella has a delicious and somewhat smokey pork taste. However, its flavor also depends on the seasoning blend used.

Mortadella can be eaten by itself or sliced and combined into pasta salads with cheese, tomatoes, olives, and seasonings. Mortadella is also a popular choice for sandwiches and toast.

Turkey Ham

Turkey Ham
Turkey Ham

Despite its name, this last substitute doesn’t contain any pork. It’s actually made from processed turkey that’s fashioned into a ham.

Turkey ham is often made from the leaner portions of the bird, such as the thigh or breast.

Compared to cured pork meats, this option contains less fat. It also has less salt, which is great for meat lovers on a low-salt diet.

Turkey ham is more commonly accessible and less expensive than capicola, making it an excellent alternative, particularly for individuals who want to avoid pork.

The low fat and salt level doesn’t mean it’s less tasty; on the contrary, it’s a really rich slice of cured beef. It will definitely provide enough flavor and texture to a sandwich, pasta salad, or pizza.

Tips & Tricks for Choosing the Best Capicola Substitute

Feeling perplexed by all the cured meat options? Don’t be, since they’re all excellent substitutes for capicola. However, there are several factors that may help you decide what’s the best option for you.

To begin, consider the fat content of your options. Capicola is a very fatty pork cut. If you enjoy capicola for its fat content, then consider swapping it with another sort of cured meat with a good amount of fat — for instance, pancetta.

The next thing to consider is what kind of meat you generally consume. If you’re not a big fan of pork, try cured meat from another variety, such as the delectable turkey ham.

When selecting an option, consider the amount of spiciness as well. Capicola may be rather hot, so if you’re only eating it for the heat, go for salami. If you want a sweeter flavor, mortadella and prosciutto are excellent options.

Last but not least, what type of dish do you want the cured meat for? Pancetta, prosciutto, lonzino, and serrano make great additions to antipasto and charcuterie boards. Salami is the go-to cured meat for pizza, while turkey ham and mortadella are ideal for sandwiches and toast.


All in all, people adore capicola because of its delicious fattiness and subtle spicy kick. It’s fantastic deli meat, but it can often be too pricey or unavailable in your local grocery store.

If that’s the case, now you know that you can substitute the Italian cured meat with not one — but multiple options.

From pancetta, prosciutto, and lonzino to serrano, salami, mortadella, and turkey ham, the choice is yours to make!

About Lisa Price
Lisa Price
Lisa is Food Champ's resident fitness enthusiast and nutrition expert. She holds a nutrition degree in her home state of Florida and works for a large health system to ensure sound nutrition and dietetics information is passed on to all members.
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