Also known as Coppa, Capocollo, and Gabagool, Capicola is a traditional Italian cold cut made from the neck or shoulder of the pig. It is typically seasoned, cured, and then thinly sliced to serve. As a much-loved ingredient in many Italian recipes, it can be challenging when it’s unavailable, due to regional limitations or dietary preferences such as reduced sodium or fat intake. Fortunately, there are many alternatives, such as Prosciutto and Pancetta, that can stand in for capicola, offering similar characteristics while adding their own unique flavor nuances.

👅 Flavor Profile

Capicola is renowned for its delicate balance of flavors. The meat is succulent and tender, with a distinctively sweet and mildly spicy flavor that sets it apart from other cured meats. The rich, full-bodied taste can be attributed to the fat marbling throughout the cut, which melts during the curing process, infusing the meat with flavor. Its texture is firm yet delicate, and when sliced thinly, it melts in your mouth.

🔄 The Closest Replacements/Substitutes


Prosciutto, another Italian classic, is a popular substitute for capicola. Made from the hind leg of the pig, it has a slightly sweeter flavor and a softer texture.

  • Taste and Texture: Prosciutto is known for its buttery texture and a taste that is sweet, salty, and umami.
  • Nutritional: It’s slightly leaner than capicola, but still provides a good amount of protein and fat.
  • Price and Availability: Prosciutto is widely available and, while premium versions can be pricey, more affordable options are available.
  • Where to use: Prosciutto can be used in most dishes that call for capicola, from sandwiches to pizza toppings, and even as a wrap for grilled asparagus or melon.


Pancetta is Italian cured pork belly, similar to bacon. It’s often used in recipes that require a robust flavor.

  • Taste and Texture: Pancetta has a strong, salty, and slightly sweet flavor with a fatty, rich texture.
  • Nutritional: It’s higher in fat compared to capicola, and adds richness to any dish.
  • Price and Availability: Pancetta is readily available in most grocery stores and is moderately priced.
  • Where to use: Pancetta is perfect in pasta dishes, soups, and stews, and can even be used in a carbonara sauce.

Serrano Ham

Serrano ham, a Spanish dry-cured ham, serves as a good capicola substitute. It brings a rich, nuanced flavor and a firm texture.

  • Taste and Texture: It has a complex flavor, slightly sweeter than capicola, and a texture that’s chewier.
  • Nutritional: Like capicola, serrano ham is a good source of protein but also high in sodium.
  • Price and Availability: This Spanish delicacy can be a bit pricey, but it’s readily available in most upscale grocery stores.
  • Where to Use: Ideal for tapas, on pizza, or in sandwiches.


Pastrami, although not Italian, can stand in for capicola. It’s a smoked and spiced beef product known for its rich flavor and soft texture.

  • Taste and Texture: Pastrami has a distinctive spicy and smoky flavor, with a soft, melt-in-the-mouth texture.
  • Nutritional: It’s a leaner choice compared to capicola but offers a similar protein content.
  • Price and Availability: It’s relatively affordable and widely available in deli counters.
  • Where to Use: Great in sandwiches, wraps, or as a pizza topping.


Salami, a cured sausage, is another worthy contender. There are many types of salami, but Italian varieties work best as a capicola substitute.

  • Taste and Texture: Salami is spicy and tangy, with a firm texture.
  • Nutritional: It’s high in protein and fat, but also has high sodium content.
  • Price and Availability: It’s quite affordable and widely available.
  • Where to Use: Perfect for sandwiches, charcuterie boards, and pasta dishes.


Mortadella, another Italian meat product, can be used as a substitute for capicola.

  • Taste and Texture: It has a rich, slightly sweet flavor and a smooth, finely ground texture that contrasts with the coarse texture of capicola.
  • Nutritional: Mortadella is high in protein and fat, similar to capicola, but also contains pistachios, which add some additional nutritional benefits.
  • Price and Availability: Mortadella is widely available and is typically moderately priced.
  • Where to Use: Mortadella is versatile and can be used in sandwiches, salads, and even cooked dishes.


Coppa, also known as capocollo, is essentially the same product as capicola, but comes from a different region of Italy.

  • Taste and Texture: Coppa has a rich, full flavor and a tender, fatty texture that’s almost identical to capicola.
  • Nutritional: It has a similar nutritional profile to capicola, being high in protein and fat.
  • Price and Availability: Coppa can be more difficult to find than capicola, and it’s often slightly more expensive.
  • Where to Use: Coppa can be used anywhere you’d use capicola – in sandwiches, pasta dishes, or on a charcuterie board.

🔪 How to Use Capicola Substitutes in Recipes

🍕Pizza Topping

Swap out capicola for any of the aforementioned alternatives, whether it’s salami, prosciutto, or mortadella, on your favorite pizza recipe. The saltiness of these cured meats pairs well with the tang of tomato sauce and the richness of the cheese.


Italian sandwiches often feature capicola, but you can substitute it with any of the substitutes we’ve discussed. Try a sandwich with prosciutto, lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise for a flavorful lunch.

🍝Pasta Dishes

Capicola adds depth and flavor to pasta dishes, but don’t fret if you don’t have it. Substitute it with salami or mortadella in pasta carbonara or a hearty pasta bake.

🍲Soups and Stews

Adding a cured meat like capicola can give soups and stews an extra layer of flavor. Substitute capicola with pancetta or speck to get a similar effect.

🍛Charcuterie Board

Charcuterie boards are all about variety, and substituting capicola with different cured meats like coppa or prosciutto can add a new dimension to your board.

💡 Tips and Guidance

  1. Balancing Flavors: When using a substitute for capicola, consider the flavor balance of your dish. If you’re using a meat that’s saltier or sweeter, adjust the other ingredients accordingly to maintain balance.
  2. Watch the Salt: Many of these substitutes, like capicola, are high in sodium. If you’re watching your salt intake, be mindful of how much you use and what other ingredients you pair with them.
  3. Cooking or Not: Some of these substitutes, like prosciutto, are often enjoyed uncooked, while others, like salami, are often cooked. Consider this when deciding how to incorporate your substitute into your dish.
  4. Texture Matters: Capicola has a specific texture that can vary between substitutes. Consider how texture plays into your dish and select a substitute that complements the overall feel of your meal.
  5. Experiment: One of the joys of cooking is the ability to experiment and try new things. Don’t be afraid to mix and match different substitutes to find your perfect combination. After all, every palate is different, and the best substitute for you is ultimately going to be the one you enjoy the most!
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About me:

Hi, I'm Alex. I love to cook and bake, and I'm always looking for new recipes to try. I started this blog — to collect and share most delicious and easy recipes in one place. I remember, how many questions recipes raised to me, when I started cooking. To make sure that doesn't happen to you, I take step-by-step photos of the cooking process for every recipe so you can see how all the steps are supposed to go together, even if you're not following my recipes exactly.

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