One of the most popular and well-known varieties of Cajun meat is tasso ham, a lean cut of pork that has been brined and smoked.
This delicious pork product can be found in nearly every grocery store or butcher shop in southern Louisiana—that’s how common it is.
But not everyone lives down South, so what do you do if you can’t find tasso ham where you are? Why, you go out and buy the next best thing, of course.
Now, not every pork product will be a perfect substitute for tasso ham.
Yes, this type of meat is leaner than most others—but it’s also incredibly flavorful thanks to its brining and smoking.
It has a flavor unlike any other—and that’s why it has been used as an ingredient in dishes as far away as New Orleans for hundreds of years.
That being said, there are other pork products out there that can be used as a substitute for tasso ham.
This article will explore some of the substitutes for tasso ham and discuss some of their pros and cons.
What is Tasso Ham?
First, what is Tasso Ham? Tasso ham is a style of cured pork that originated in the Cajun region of Louisiana.
It typically comes from the shoulder butt, but other cuts can be used.
The cut is heavily seasoned with salt and ground black pepper before being smoked over pecan wood or sugar cane for several hours at about 160 °F.
This dried, smoked meat is then used in traditional Louisiana dishes like jambalaya and gumbo, imparting its distinctive spicy flavor.
The meat is cut into cubes and added to casseroles or combined with vegetables, then cooked in liquid.
Tasso ham can substitute for other cured meats like bacon or pancetta when making soups, stews, and casseroles.
If you would like to try it for yourself, visit a meat shop or specialty store that carries a selection of cured meats.
You can certainly find tasso ham at your local grocery store, but it may be difficult to find.
Make sure to check the ingredients list on the packaging if the product contains unwelcome additives.
If you’re in a hurry, shop online for tasso ham and have it delivered to your home or office.
The 5 Best Substitutes for Tasso Ham
If you can’t find Tasso ham, here are our top five substitutes.
1 – Pancetta
Pancetta is an Italian cured meat often used in soups, stews, and pasta dishes.
It can be substituted one-to-one for tasso ham.
Pancetta is slightly saltier than tasso ham, but it has similar colors and textures.
Pancetta is typically made from pork belly instead of the shoulder butt used to make tasso ham.
It is important to note that pancetta is typically rolled into a cylindrical shape before it’s cured, whereas tasso ham is not.
Pancetta comes in its natural casing to be removed before cooking or serving it.
2 – Jamon Iberico de Bellota (cured Spanish ham)
Without question, this is an excellent substitute for tasso ham.
This is because it tastes almost identical to the original product and adds a lot of flavor to your dishes.
This type of cured meat comes from Iberian pigs raised with acorns in Spain.
These acorns add an unmistakable depth of flavor to the pork, which cures into a rich, juicy, and flavorful meat.
Importantly, Jamon Iberico de Bellota is considered a delicacy in Spain.
It is usually served as a starter, called a “Piece of Armor,” or added to pasta or stews.
This type of cured ham can be difficult to find if you don’t live in a country where it is served.
However, you can order it online.
3 – Prosciutto Cotto
If Jamon Iberico de Bellota is too difficult to find, there’s another great substitute that tastes almost the same as tasso ham.
This is prosciutto cotto. It has a similar color to tasso ham, but it’s slightly more tender.
This cured ham is made from pork leg or thigh that has been lightly smoked and aged for 8 to 12 months.
It may be sold in its original form, which is shelf-stable.
However, it can be difficult to find prosciutto cotto that isn’t refrigerated.
In addition, prosciutto cotto is typically sold in a rolled form with the fleshy side out and skin on.
This version may be difficult to find if you’re looking for a substitute for tasso ham.
Regardless, this type of cured meat is tasty and can be added to stews or pasta dishes like tasso ham.
4 – Spicy Chorizo
Spicy chorizo is another good substitute for tasso ham that adds a lot of flavor to your dishes.
This sausage gets its heat from spicy paprika, which gives it a distinctive reddish color.
It may contain smoked paprika for additional smokiness.
The overall result is a deliciously spicy sausage with the same color and flavor as tasso ham.
Spicy chorizo typically comes in links, but it can be bought loose if you want to cube it for use in stews or pasta dishes.
This type of meat is typically sold refrigerated or frozen, making it easy to buy online.
5 – Canadian Bacon
Last but not least is Canadian bacon.
This substitute has a similar texture to tasso ham but is slightly saltier.
This type of cured meat is made from lean pork loin brined and smoked.
It gets its name because it was originally imported from Canada in the early 20th century and first marketed as a substitute for ham.
When it comes to substitutes for tasso ham, Canadian bacon is a great option.
It can be eaten on its own or added to pasta and other dishes.
It’s also typically sold either refrigerated or frozen, so there’s no need to worry about it spoiling quickly after you buy it.
Remember to remove the fatty layer before cooking this type of bacon.
Tasso ham is an important ingredient in many dishes.
However, it can be difficult to find this type of cured meat outside of Louisiana and other areas that serve it regularly.
Luckily, there are plenty of substitutes for tasso ham that taste almost as good: Jamon Iberico de Bellota (Spanish ham), prosciutto cotto, spicy chorizo, and Canadian bacon are all great options.
Which substitute for tasso ham will you use next time?