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The 5 Best Substitutes for Serrano Ham

If you’re a fan of Spanish cuisine, you’ll no doubt have come across Serrano ham.

Serrano ham is a type of cured ham first made in Spain from the meat of white pigs.

The hams are seasoned, salted, and then dried for at least 12 months to achieve their distinct flavor.

Some brands make it more than a year.

This ham is very flavorful and is sometimes eaten on its own but is used in various Spanish dishes, including tapas, paella, omelets, and salads.

The flavor of Serrano ham varies depending on the region in which it was produced.

If you can’t find or afford Serrano ham, some substitutes may help replicate the flavor.

In this article, we will list the five best substitutes for Serrano ham.

What is Serrano Ham?

what is serrano ham

Serrano ham is a dry-cured ham that originated in the mountainous regions of Spain.

It gained popularity almost 200 years ago when Spanish soldiers carried it alongside other foods like chocolate, coffee, and bread during their campaigns throughout South America.

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Many people enjoy Serrano ham as an appetizer or part of traditional tapas dishes.

The ham is prepared by rubbing the meat with salt and sitting in a cool place for up to three months.

The ham is then hung to air-dry for another six months and covered in a hard outer crust that protects bacteria.

Serrano ham is known for its sweet flavor and tender meat, which easily pulls into thin slices.

Serrano ham is often served alongside other dishes like Macho Peas, a traditional dish consisting of peas, tomato sauce, and Serrano ham.

This combination makes the ham’s taste more intense, which many describe as delicious.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Serrano Ham

If you cannot find Serrano ham in the grocery store, there are many other substitute products that you can try instead.

Some of these products include:

1 – Prosciutto Ham

prosciutto ham

This Italian cured meat is similar to Serrano ham because it is made from pork leg and cured with salt.

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It has a similar taste to Serrano ham, though it is typically more expensive.

Prosciutto ham is very tender and does not have a lot of fat.

It is often served as an appetizer on its own or paired with cheese or bread during lunch or dinner.

When buying prosciutto ham, it’s important to look for “Prosciutto di Parma”.

This is an indication that you are purchasing the good stuff.

The ‘Parma’ part of the name stems from the city where this prosciutto originated.

2 – Speck


Speck is another popular Italian product that’s very similar to Prosciutto ham.

It is, however, typically less expensive and made from pork legs.

Speck is a common food in South Tyrol, a small autonomous region in northern Italy.

The pigs are raised on mountain pastures, where they eat grass and herbs.

This makes the meat flavorful and well-marbled.

Speck is often served in a bread roll with horseradish or mustard on top.

3 – Pancetta Pork Belly

pancetta pork belly

This Italian product is cured through seasoning and salt, though it is typically smoked afterward.

It has a very similar flavor to Serrano ham but is slightly less spicy.

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Pancetta’s most distinguishing feature is its rolled and flat appearance.

Pancetta may be served in a variety of ways, including:

  • Wrapped around veggies like zucchini or eggplant that are baked in the oven.
  • Mixed with apples and onions to create a tasty salad.
  • It can also be chopped up and cooked into pasta or stews.

In Italian cuisine, pancetta is typically referred to as ‘Italian bacon’.

4 – Prosciutto Cotto

prosciutto cotto

This type of cured ham is typically made with the same ingredients as prosciutto ham (pork leg meat), sold in a cooked form.

Prosciutto Cotto has a milder flavor than other cured meats like Serrano ham or Prosciutto ham.

It’s similar to Serrano in that it is very tender, and there is not a lot of fat on the meat.

Prosciutto Cotto is often served alongside bread at breakfast or lunch or paired with cheese during dinner.

5 – Bayonne Ham

bayonne ham

This product is made from pig thighs and sides of the back.

It is cured with salt, which gives it a similar flavor to Serrano ham.

Bayonne ham has a reputation for being less spicy than other types of cured hams.

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Bayonne ham has a slightly sweet taste, making it a popular choice among those with a sweet tooth.

It is often served alongside crackers or bread in the morning or at lunch or paired with fruit for breakfast.

If you can’t find Bayonne ham in your local grocery store, you can even pick some up on Amazon.


Serrano ham is a delicious product that is often served alongside other dishes.

It’s similar to many other types of ham but has a distinct flavor and appearance.

However, Serrano ham can be difficult to find in some grocery stores and may even be more expensive than other types.

Several substitute products may be used instead to make up for the lack of Serrano ham.

The 5 best substitutes for Serrano ham include Prosciutto ham, Speck, Pancetta, Prosciutto cotto, and Bayonne ham.

Yield: 4 Servings

The 5 Best Substitutes for Serrano Ham

The 5 Best Substitutes for Serrano Ham
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • Prosciutto Ham
  • Speck
  • Pancetta Pork Belly
  • Prosciutto Cotto
  • Bayonne Ham


  1. Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  2. Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
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