How to Cook Pancetta: Recipes and Substitutes

pancetta with asparagus on pastry

Italy has various artisanal dishes, exquisite wines, decadent and delicious cheeses, and bacon. An iconic salted pork belly delicacy, pancetta is a classic hardened meat that delivers an incredible rich flavour to your taste buds. When used correctly, it can provide an innovative dining experience.

But how do you cook it? The first step is to hone your knowledge of this Italian cured bacon.

What is Pancetta?

Pancetta is seasoned, hardened meat cut from pork belly. This Italian invention is a versatile ingredient – it can be used to add depth and flavor to soups and pasta, or sliced ​​in sandwiches. The type of Pancetta you’re probably familiar with is sliced ​​thinly and eaten raw, but it is also sold in cubes used for cooking.

How to Cook Pancetta?

Fry the diced pork for 5 minutes or, if using sliced pancetta, for 2-3 minutes on each side. Add to pasta sauces, stews, soups, filling and stuffing. Serve with bread and carefully selected cold cuts. You can also us it to decorate pizzas.

Eating Raw Pancetta 

The curing process of this meat suppresses the growth of bacteria and makes it safe to eat. The final product is a sausage that is as safe, tastier, and aesthetically pleasing as a cooked variety of the same cut.

Smoked Pancetta is a regional style. This method uses indirect heat to penetrate the meat with a voluminous taste when cooking over time. Try both styles and find out which one tickles your taste buds. 

The difference between Bacon and Pancetta

how to cook pancetta alternative: Bacon

There are fundamental differences in taste, texture and usage.

First and foremost, bacon is a smoked meat, whereas Pancetta is hardened rather than cooked on the fire. Pancetta is described by the spices used to flavor and harden meat, but many types of bacon come from various wood pellets used to give it a distinctive smoky flavor. Appletree or hickory-smoked bacon is one of the most popular varieties, characterized by a rustic, smoky yet sweet taste.

Pancetta, contrarily, derives its flavor from the mixing and aging process of the spices used. The cut receives a bold, plump taste accentuated by the absorbed spices.

Bacon has a range of textures that match the way it is prepared. Bacon is often found in a semi-hard to crispy state. The fat from the cut helps to cook the bacon even without oil. The longer the bacon is cooked, the more it begins to shrink and has a crunchy texture.

Pancetta is exceptionally versatile and can add a unique and deep flavor to many dishes. For a simple snack, grab a thin slice, place it on warm toast or give it a coarse chop to add to your favorite sofrito, pasta dish, omelet, or broth.

Pancetta Substitute

If you don’t have Pancetta try one of the following substitutes: 


When it comes to pancetta alternatives, prosciutto is the best solution. It comes from another part of the pork, but the soft feel and salty taste are perfect.


Keep in mind that the smoky flavors that come with bacon can spoil the recipe a bit, but that may not be bad. It’s best if you cook the bacon longer than you would Pancetta.


If you’re a vegetarian, try adding mushrooms to your gravy or soup to taste the meat’s umami flavor.


Sliced ​​ham can also be used. Pancetta is much saltier than most hams, so change your recipe accordingly.

Written by Anonymous Gooroo Blogger.

About the Author

Lydia B.

Lydia B.

Lydia B. is a Marketing Coordinator and Music Club Coach for Gooroo, a tutoring membership that matches students to tutors perfect for them based on their unique learning needs. Gooroo offers Math, English, SAT, Coding, Spanish tutoring, and more.