The Top 7 Capicola Substitutes: Delicious Alternatives for Your Recipes

The 7 best capicola substitutes

Capicola, also known as capocollo, coppa, or gabagool, is a popular Italian dry-cured meat made from pork shoulder or neck. It is characterized by its delicate flavor, mild heat, and pleasant fattiness. However, capicola is not always readily available or can be relatively expensive. In such cases, it helps to know the best substitutes for capicola. Here are seven excellent alternatives to consider:

1. Prosciutto

Prosciutto is a well-known substitute for capicola, often leading to comparisons between the two Italian meats. Made from pork legs, prosciutto differs from capicola in several ways. Unlike the complex blend of spices used in capicola, prosciutto is typically just salted and dry-cured. In addition, prosciutto has a higher fat content, resulting in a more buttery texture than capicola.

2. Lonza

Lonza, considered the sister of prosciutto, is another suitable substitute for capicola. It is made from pork loin that is cured and air-dried for approximately 3-4 months. The flavor profile of lonza is slightly different from capicola, often with black pepper and fennel seasoning. Its lean texture makes it ideal for charcuterie boards and pizza.

3. Pancetta

Pancetta is a widely available and less expensive substitute for capicola. It is a cured meat made from pork belly that has a flavor similar to bacon without the smokiness. Pancetta can be enjoyed both raw and cooked, adding a salty and fatty element to dishes.

4. Serrano

Serrano ham, a Spanish substitute for capicola, is similar to prosciutto. The key difference, however, is that Spanish Serrano ham is made from the hind legs of white pigs. With a rich, buttery flavor, serrano ham has a mild spiciness and a hint of sweetness. Thinly sliced, Serrano ham’s fat content enhances its overall flavor.

5. Mortadella

Although a less sophisticated alternative to capicola, mortadella can be used in many recipes that call for capicola. It is a large Italian sausage traditionally made from cured pork and pork fat, sometimes with other ingredients. When thinly sliced, mortadella has a mild flavor that makes it ideal for sandwiches and pasta dishes.

6. Salami

Salami, a cured sausage made from fermented and air-dried pork (or beef and veal), is another excellent alternative to capicola. It offers a range of flavors depending on the ingredients used, including garlic, herbs, spices, vinegar, and wine. Salami can provide spicy, sweet, smoky or savory notes, making it a versatile choice.

7. Turkey Ham

For those seeking a non-pork substitute, turkey ham is a viable option when capicola is unavailable. Turkey ham is widely available and more affordable than capicola. Despite its name, turkey ham does not contain pork. Instead, it is made from processed turkey meat that is formed into a ham-like shape. Turkey ham works well in sandwiches, providing a salty flavor similar to capicola.

Choosing the right capicola substitute

When choosing a capicola substitute, it is important to consider several factors to ensure an appropriate substitute:

  • Fat content: Capicola is prized for its delicate fattiness. Look for alternative cured meats made from fatty cuts to replicate this characteristic.
  • Spiciness: If you enjoy the spiciness of capicola, look for substitutes that offer a similar heat kick.
  • Uses: Consider how you want to use the substitute. While any deli meat will work for charcuterie boards, certain dishes such as pizza, pasta or sandwiches may require careful consideration of texture and flavor.
  • Meat type: If you prefer alternatives to pork, explore charcuterie options made from beef, turkey, or other meats.

Making Capicola at Home

When capicola is unavailable in local supermarkets, making it at home can be a rewarding option. Although the process is time-consuming, homemade capicola can serve as an excellent substitute for its store-bought counterpart. Here is a quick overview of the steps involved:

  1. Select the right cut of pork for capicola, ensuring accurate weighing to determine the proper amount of spices and salt based on your chosen recipe.
  2. Prepare a seasoning mix using hot or smoked paprika, cayenne and black peppers, red pepper flakes, or garlic powder. Mix the seasonings with salt and a small amount of water to create a paste-like consistency.
  3. Rub the spice mixture into the pork, making sure it is thoroughly coated. Place the seasoned meat in a plastic bag or wrap tightly in plastic wrap.
  4. Refrigerate the pork for several days to allow the flavors to penetrate the meat. During this time, the salt will draw out moisture and help preserve the capicola.
  5. At the end of the curing period, rinse off the excess spices and pat the meat dry with paper towels.
  6. If desired, coat the pork with additional spices, such as paprika or crushed red pepper flakes, for added flavor and visual appeal.
  7. Tie the pork with kitchen twine to form a compact shape to aid in the drying process.
  8. Hang the pork in a cool, dry, well-ventilated area, such as a basement or refrigerator, for several weeks to months. The capicola will gradually air dry and develop its distinctive flavors.
  9. Monitor temperature and humidity levels during the drying process to ensure optimal curing conditions.
  10. Once the capicola has reached the desired texture and flavor, it is ready to be thinly sliced and enjoyed in a variety of dishes.

In conclusion

If capicola is not readily available or relatively expensive, knowing the best substitutes can help you enjoy similar flavors and textures in your favorite recipes. Prosciutto, lonza, pancetta, serrano, mortadella, salami, and turkey ham are excellent alternatives that can be used in sandwiches, pizza, pasta, and more. Consider the fat content, spiciness, and use of the cured meat or sausage to choose the most appropriate substitute. In addition, if you are up for a culinary adventure, making capicola at home can be a rewarding and flavorful experience. Enjoy exploring the world of cured meats and discovering new flavors with these capicola substitutes.


What are the best substitutes for Capicola?

The best substitutes for capicola are prosciutto, lonza, pancetta, serrano, mortadella, salami and turkey ham.

How do these substitutes compare in flavor to capicola?

While each substitute has its own unique flavor profile, they offer similar characteristics such as saltiness, fattiness, and in some cases, spiciness. However, the specific flavor may vary depending on the substitute chosen.

Can these substitutes be used in the same dishes as capicola?

Yes, these substitutes can be used in a variety of dishes, including sandwiches, pizza, pasta, and charcuterie boards. Consider the specific flavor, texture, and fat content of the substitute when choosing the appropriate dish.

Are these substitutes readily available at most supermarkets?

Most of these substitutes, such as prosciutto, pancetta, and salami, are readily available in supermarkets and specialty food stores. However, availability may vary depending on your location.

Can I make capicola substitutes at home?

Yes, capicola can be made at home using the proper ingredients and curing techniques. However, the process can be time-consuming and requires careful temperature and humidity control. Homemade capicola can serve as an excellent substitute for the store-bought version.

Are there non-pork substitutes for capicola?

Yes, turkey ham is a non-pork substitute that can be used when capicola is unavailable or when you prefer a non-pork option. Turkey ham offers a similar salty flavor and can be used in sandwiches and other dishes that call for capicola.