While there are subtle similarities in the debate of prosciutto vs. Jamon Serrano, like the fact that they both come from similar breeds of white pig, there are also stark differences. Among them is the fact that they come from different parts of the pig and that they have a different flavor and texture.

Prosciutto vs. Jamon Serrano: What is the Difference?

Though they are both delicious forms of ham, there is a mountain of differences between prosciutto vs. Jamon Serrano. First, let’s get the few similarities out of the way.

Among them is the fact that both types of meat look similar, especially when they are cut into paper-thin sliced pieces. There’s a similar color between both of them, and it’s that dark pink appearance with the fat marbled throughout. 

The other main similarity is that both hams come from the same breed: the white pig. However, beyond that, there are mostly glaring differences.

Where They Come From

First is the fact that prosciutto is cured ham from Italy while Jamon Serrano is cured ham from Spain. 

Then, while both come from the white pig, there are differences in how the pigs are raised, which can affect the flavor. In order to produce Jamon Serrano, the white pig is fed Oak acorns, while prosciutto comes from pigs that mostly eat fruit, corn, and whey. 

The Curing and Cooking Process Is Different

The way that both foods are prepared is also different. To create prosciutto, it’s put in storage areas where there’s a lot of humidity. When curing Jamon Serrano, the storage area is instead a dry environment. Because of the different processes, Jamon Serrano hams will come out tough and dry, while prosciutto will be more moist and soft when eaten. Also, the raw meat of Jamon Serrano is not treated, while prosciutto is often boiled before salting. 

The aging period is also different between the two meats. The Jamon Serrano aging period reaches 48 months. The prosciutto aging period is 10-14 months.

These differences also affect the price of both products. In the battle of prosciutto vs. Jamon Serrano, prosciutto is more affordable, and Jamon Serrano is typically more expensive.

Preparing Prosciutto vs. Jamon Serrano

Legs of traditional Spanish jamon ready for sale in grocery
Jamon Serrano presented and sold In a Market.


While we’ve discussed some of the differences in the cooking process of these two meats, if you want to prepare one or the other, you should follow these steps.

Steps to Prepare Jamon Serrano

  1. The meat is cut from the white pig’s shoulder. Then, it is rubbed with salt and then placed in a humid room for anywhere from 20 hours to two days. This process allows a generous amount of salt to absorb.
  1. Next, a layer of salt is rinsed in order to remove any possible bacteria and water that was absorbed.
  1. Then, the meat would be hung in a cellar where the conditions change from humid to dry to cold. This process is essential to preserve the ham, melt the fat, and provide the meat with its unique flavor.

Steps to Prepare Prosciutto

  1. Prosciutto ham is cut from the leg of the white pig. Then, it would be generously rubbed with salt.
  1. Next, the ham is left to rest for a period of one to three weeks. While this happens, the salt absorbs the excess water and any blood that remains. This is also when the bacteria is wiped clean.
  1. After that period, the ham is washed off to remove the first layer of salt, and then a new layer is applied. Depending on the chef, they may also apply garlic, thyme, and other herbs to add extra flavor.
  1. Finally, the ham is left to age in a cellar that is cool and dry for between 14-36 months. During this process, the meat matures and gets its unique flavor. 

What are Substitutes for Prosciutto?

Whether you plan to cut it into thin slices to eat raw or you want to incorporate it as an ingredient into a dish, there are many tasty uses for prosciutto. However, if you aren’t so keen on the taste, then there are many alternatives to consider.

Standard Ham

If you’re looking for a similar taste, then your standard ham will do the trick. The primary difference is that ham is much less salty than prosciutto.


Bacon is also thinly sliced, so it offers a similar texture to prosciutto. It can also be eaten raw or added as an ingredient in a dish. To get the closest taste, smoke the bacon first.


Often referred to as Italian bacon, pancetta offers a similar taste because it’s also cured with salt and spices. Keep in mind that pancetta must be cooked before it can be consumed. This ingredient is great on salads and cold dishes.


Although it doesn’t look like prosciutto, salami is another meat that comes from Italy and offers a similar taste. While it is similar, salmi shouldn’t just be thrown into any dish as a replacement for prosciutto, unless you’re not a stickler for the flavor.


Capicola is a tasty meat that is easy to find in supermarkets, and it has a similar taste to prosciutto. It can be cut into thin slices like prosciutto and it has a similar appearance.


This tasty meat comes from the cheek of pork, and it is similar in its preparation and taste. Be cautious, as it contains a lot of fat. It can be eaten raw for salads or cooked into a larger dish.


This pork meat comes from the filet or loin of the leg and it offers a similar taste and texture to prosciutto. This is a great option if you are looking for a slice of saltier meat. However, it can be overpowering, so add it to your meal in moderation.


No, it’s not meat, but if you’re a vegetarian, then many cheeses can take the place of prosciutto. Swiss, romano, asiago, and parmesan cheese are all smoked and aged cheeses that will provide a similar taste and texture.  

What are Substitutes for Jamon Serrano?

Delicious fresh pancetta with salt and spices cut into thin slices on a dark concrete background
Pancetta is a great alternative to Jamon Serrano.

©Tetiana Chernykova/Shutterstock.com

If you’re on the Serrano side of the prosciutto vs. Jamon Serrano debate, but you still aren’t too keen on the meat, then there are substitutes that could hit the spot, including:


This is a popular Italian meat that’s very similar to Serrano ham in flavor and texture. However, it’s less expensive, so it may be good if you’re on a budget. Speck is well-marbled and very flavorful, and it goes great with bread.


While we mentioned it as a substitute for prosciutto, pancetta is also a great alternative for Jamon Serrano because of the salt and seasoning. Pancetta is great when mixed with apples and onions on a salad. It’s also tasty when cooked into stews and pasta.

Bayonne Ham

Cut from pig thighs and the sides of the back, Bayonne ham is cured with salt, but it provides a milder taste that is also a bit sweet. It goes great when served with crackers and bread or with fruit at breakfast.

Prosciutto Recipes

While it tastes great on its own, prosciutto is truly an amazing ingredient in many savory dishes that your family is likely to enjoy. Some great recipes include:

  • Fettuccine – Mix prosciutto into your pasta for added taste.


While both are versions of ham taken from the white pig, there are plenty of differences between prosciutto vs. Jamon Serrano. However, each is delicious and brings its own charms, so try either one when you get the chance. You won’t regret it.

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