Prosciutto vs. Capicola – Differences and Similarities

Prosciutto and capicola are two Italian classics that are often included in the cured meats selection on a standard charcuterie board.

Both Prosciutto and Capicola are cured pork products. However, they have different preparation and flavor profiles.

While Capicola is made from the belly or loin of the pig, Prosciutto is made from the leg of the pig.

The cut, curing method, texture, and so on are differences between the two types of meat.

Sometimes people are confused by their similar dried-pork appearance, and this can cause them to be mistaken for each other.

In this article, I will discuss the similarities and differences between prosciutto and capicola. Let’s check it out.

What is Prosciutto?

Prosciutto is the Italian word for cured ham. Its delicious taste comes from the curing process, where the ham is hung in salt, air, and smoke for 12 weeks.

The prosciutto is also smoked for 4 months in the oven, giving it a wonderful flavor and texture.

Because prosciutto is so hard to replicate, most of its production comes from a small group of producers, mostly in central Italy.

The result of the long curing and smoking process is prosciutto which is extremely salty and has a complex taste profile, making it a perfect food to share with friends.

How Is Prosciutto Made?

Prosciutto is the delicious, salted, dried meat of Parma, Italy.

Prosciutto di Parma is produced by curing the fresh pork leg, loin, and ham from one of three breeds of pig (Pietrain, Duroc, or Iberian).

The pork is aged for over 6 weeks and then rubbed with salt and spiced. The meat is then hung until dry and the excess salt is removed.

The final step of making prosciutto is to smoke the meat to give it a beautiful color and flavor.

The smoking process adds a unique flavor, known as umami, or the fifth taste, to the prosciutto.

How Does Prosciutto Taste?

The taste of prosciutto is unique. 

This cut has the perfect balance of salty and sweet, with a rich but refined porcine taste.

The light, butter-like texture of thinly sliced meat allows for a variety of sensational flavors to develop in your mouth.

How to Eat Prosciutto?

Prosciutto is a raw ham made from Parma-area pigs. The prosciutto is air-dried until it is hard and brittle and then cured for months or even years in salt.

One of the best ways to show off the flavor of prosciutto cotto is to slice it thinly and serve it with some kind of cheese or melon.

The best way to eat prosciutto crudo is to be accompanied by a snack. A delicious way is pressed between a panini.

What Is Capicola?

Dry-cured whole-muscle meat of Italian origin is called capicola. Some regions of Corsica and Italy have a type of salume known as capicola.

Capo, meaning head, and Collo, meaning neck, were used to specify the part of meat used to make them.

Capicola is made with the muscle that runs from the neck to the fourth or fifth rib, which is considered to be a pig’s shoulder.

The cut weighs 2.5 pounds and has the perfect balance of meat and fat. It has a tender texture and is renowned for that.

How Is Capicola Made?

The meat is covered with a mixture of nitrates and salts. It is left to rest for a week or two to allow the mixture to penetrate the pork completely.

After the meat is cured, the mixture is washed off and seasoned with garlic, red or white wine, and various herbs and spices.

It was hung to cure for up to six months under a controlled temperature and humidity. Dehydration causes the meat to lose a large amount of its weight.

See also: How to Make Capicola at Home?

How Does Capicola Taste?

Capicola has a salty taste and has a sprinkle of heat. The peppers and seasoning used in the curing stage determine how spicy it gets.

The general heat level is low because the spices are on the rim of the meat.

A creamy and unique “melt and chew” feel is offered by Capicola, which has a delightful balance of meat and fat.

How to Eat Capicola?

It won’t be easy to chew if it’s sliced thinly, so it should be. Capicola has the same texture as prosciutto di Parma when it is cut right.

It can be wrapped around roasted peppers, like asiago stravecchio, or cheese.

Also, It is usually a part of a platter with hard cheeses, sliced apples, and roasted or pickled apples.

It is wonderful when crisped up and sprinkled over a salad or omelet.

Similarities Between Prosciutto and Capicola

capicola vs prosciutto

A classic antipasto platter is just not the same without a few slices of capicola and prosciutto. Even though they have few similarities, they are easy to substitute for each other.

They are both dried, cured pork types, one of their prominent resemblances. Both cuts go through a dry-curing process lasting several weeks to months to create their results.

The methods that are used to dehydrate meat prevent harmful bacteria from growing. The high salt concentration kills off most of the microorganisms that cause food poisoning.

Both types of meat are perfectly safe to eat raw because of this.

Both Prosciutto and capicola should be served as thin slices. They have a rich taste with a buttery texture.

Differences Between Prosciutto and Capicola

There are so many differences between prosciutto and capicola. Let’s check it out.

Preparation of prosciutto

The prosciutto is made from the hind leg of the pig or boar.

While the pig is the most common ingredient in making prosciutto, other animals like lamb, goat, or beef are used as well.

The process used to make it involves salting and drying the animal’s leg for up to 36 months and is similar to this:

  • After several weeks in a dry and cool place, the pig’s leg is salted.
  • After the salt is washed off, it is hung in a cool and humid place for at least 60 to 90 days.
  • In a space that allows the most air circulation, the meat is left for a period of up to 36 months.
  • The longer it is left, the stronger it gets.

Preparation of capicola

Capicola is made from the muscle that runs from the animal’s rib to the upper section of its neck and is always made with pork.

Depending on personal and regional preferences, the details for how it is aged are different.

The curing process consists of seasoning the meat and leaving it to cure for no more than six months.

  1. The pork neck and shoulder have been seasoned with herbs, garlic, spices, and wine.
  2. The meat is refrigerated for several weeks after a salt rub is applied to it.
  3. After the salt is washed off, it is seasoned again with a mixture of black pepper, red pepper, fennel, paprika, and aniseed.
  4. Now the meat is stuffed into the natural casings made from diaphragm or collagen sheets.
  5. Now the meat is hung in a temperature-controlled room for up to six months.

Taste and Texture Differences

Both of them have a rich and smokey taste with a creamy texture.

The fat content they have in common and the seasonings used to give them a distinct taste are what make this happen.

Sea salt is the sole seasoning used to define the salty tone. It has a mildly sweet and delicate flavor thanks to the combination of salt, air, time, and fat skin.

Prosciutto can be hard to chew because it has a high-fat concentration around its edges. If you want to eat the meat without the fat, you have to strip the fat.

It can be eaten raw or cooked as a dessert.

On the other hand, capicola is not as tender. As a result of its preparation and seasoning, it has a lightly smoked and spicy taste.

The taste of capicola is enhanced by being encased in the intestine.

Though capicola has a consistent distribution of fat across the surface of the meat, it has a lower fat content which makes it tender.

The balanced amount of meat and fat can be enjoyed in every slice, even though its fat is woven throughout the surface.

Appearance and Packaging

When you compare them in appearance, you will notice that the color of ham is noticeably lighter than that of prosciutto.

Prosciutto can be sold in a variety of ways, including a whole leg or slices of ham.

Capicola is much smaller, has a vivid red color, and is also sold like a roll of salami.


Prosciutto is more expensive than capicola as it has a lengthy preparation process. It costs twice as much as a capicola.

Prosciutto vs. Capicola

Made from thigh and hind leg of pigs.Made from the meat present arounf the muscles and shoulders.
Curing process takes 18 to 24 months.Cured for up to six months.
Encased in the fat and skin of the animal’s thigh.Natural casing like the animal’s intestine.
High concentration of fat around its edges.The fat is evenly distributed.
Can be made from domestic animals as well.Always made from pig meat.
Salty and sweet taste.Spiced and smoky-tasting.


A traditional antipasto platter includes Prosciutto and capicola, two of the most popular dried, cured meats.

They don’t have the same features, but they do have several differences.

The part of the animal used to make them, the duration of the curing process, and their unique flavors are some of the most prominent differences.

Prosciutto is surrounded by fat and capicola’s fat is evenly distributed throughout, so you can use this to differentiate the two before you eat.

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