What Is Pancetta?

If you’re a fan of cured meat, you’re probably familiar with pancetta, but if you’re not you’re in the perfect place to learn about it.

Pancetta is a cured pork belly, which comes from a pig’s abdomen. It is seasoned and usually smoked or air-dried. 

Pancetta is frequently used in Italian cooking, though it is available throughout Europe, North America, and Australia.

Some people think of pancetta as bacon, but there is more to it than meets the eye.

What it tastes like, how to cook with it, and what to use as a substitute when you’re in a pancetta pinch are some of the things you’ll learn about.

What Is Pancetta?

A cut of pork belly meat that is salt-cured but not smoked is called Pancetta. pancetta can be eaten both raw and cooked and is available in both slices and cubes.

If you want to make a sandwich, sliced pancetta is the better choice, while cubed pancetta is better for cooking.

Difference Between Pancetta, Bacon, and Prosciutto

Pancetta, bacon, and prosciutto are all types of cured pork, so it’s easy to get the three mixed up. Here are the key differences between each cured meat:


The underside of a pig is where Pancetta is made. It is cured, but not smoked, and seasoned with salts, spices, and other ingredients.

Pancetta has a light pink color and can be eaten both cooked and uncooked. It takes about 3 weeks for Pancetta to cure.



Pork belly is used to make bacon, which is both cured and smoked, giving it a richer flavor. It cannot be eaten raw and is usually cut into strips.

It takes about 10 days for bacon to be cured.



Prosciutto can be made from the hind legs of a pig. It has a smooth and thick texture and is cut into very thin slices.

Prosciutto is typically served raw and is a component of antipasto boards. It can take about a year to cure prosciutto.

Why Is My Prosciutto Gritty

Where Can I Buy Pancetta?

It’s a good idea to look for pancetta in your supermarket’s deli section. Pancetta can be ordered from your local butcher or specialty grocery store.

How Can I Use Pancetta?

Pancetta has a high-fat content and is often utilized to bring punches of flavor into dishes such as portions of pasta, soups, or vegetables.

A little bit of pancetta goes a long way, so it’s a good idea to add some flavor to a carbonara or stewed beans and greens.

Pancetta can also be eaten without being cooked. It can be made into a lump of great sandwich meat and can be found on a snack or charcuterie board.

What are the Substitutes of Pancetta?

The prosciutto will match pancetta’s saltiness and unsmoked flavor and can also be eaten uncooked, so it’s your best option for a substitute.

If you cook bacon with your pancetta substitute, it will have the same consistency and fat content, but you may need to adjust your recipe to account for the smokiness.

You can use ham or mushrooms if you don’t have pork on hand, but you will need to add salt.

How Can I Cook Pancetta?

Pancetta can be thinly sliced and eaten raw if it is fully aged. If you want to eat eggs with toast, you can cook thin slices the same way you cook bacon.

It is a common method to start many recipes. If you put 1/2 cup of water in a saute pan before pancetta, it will help it render without being too crisp at the beginning.

The water will eventually boil. Remove the bacon bits before sauteing anything else, then add them back later.

In our Frisee Salad recipe, rendered fat is used to make the vinaigrette and the crisp pancetta is sprinkled on the salad at the end. There are more ideas on how to use pancetta in our list.

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