Capicola is a type of Italian salami with strong notes of garlic and salt. It’s one of the most popular salamis in Italy, and its fame has expanded to other countries too – especially Europe.
Suppose you love capicola but don’t want to eat it raw. In that case, you can replace it with another type of salami or substitute it with another ingredient instead of using it in recipes that require other types of salami.
Here are some substitutes you can use: prosciutto, pancetta, salami, and mortadella.
What is Capicola?
This incredibly unique meat has a salty and spicy flavor that really doesn’t compare to anything else.
It’s meat that actually has some heat to it, which is why many people want to find alternatives in their recipes. This is thanks to the added red pepper or capsaicin and hot paprika.
Made from pork, this Italian meat is unique enough to have notable names for its different parts, i.e. the bottom is called coppa. You may have also heard of gabagool and capocollo. Yes, they’re all the same meat.
The intense flavor comes from the curing process, one that’s used in Italy, but also in Argentina, Colombia, and Mexico. After being rubbed with spices and put in casings, the capicola is hung to dry for around 6 months!
The long curing process gives this red meat its intense flavor, while the use of spices like garlic and pepper adds even more depth of flavor.
Capicola that’s made in America is cured even more and has more of a smoky flavor.
What Do You Eat Capicola With?
Capicola is used to make sandwiches, mixed with other sausages, appetizers, and pasta dishes.
It’s a very versatile meat. Eat it with or in something or on its own.
It pairs wonderfully with cheeses like burrata and mustard like any ham product. You might also try it with cornichon, all different breads, and crackers.
What’s the Difference Between Prosciutto and Capicola?
Capicola and prosciutto are both cured meats. But that’s about where the similarities end.
Different Body Part
Capicola is made with pork muscle from the neck and shoulder while prosciutto is made from the hind quarters.
Capicola is pork. Period. However, prosciutto, while usually made from pork, can also be made from cows, goats, lamb, and other domestic animals.
Taste, Texture, and Process
Prosciutto is a type of ham, while capicola refers to the cut of pork and is classified as a salami.
In the end, the differences are subtle enough that their names are interchangeable and you’ll often find one labeled as the other at the store.
Despite this labeling faux pas, they are different cuts of meat that do have slightly different flavors and textures. Capicola’s fat content is more evenly distributed whereas prosciutto’s is contained at the edges.
That doesn’t mean that prosciutto won’t make an excellent substitute though.
What Can I Use Instead of Capicola?
When it boils down to it, prosciutto is simply raw Italian ham and is considered the best capicola substitute available.
With its 30% fat content, it’s both tender and dry.
Sides of pork are rubbed with salt and spices like garlic and pepper that give prosciutto a sweeter scent.
These sides are cured slowly over 6 months (three months on each side). This makes for a very tender and low-fat cut of meat.
If you don’t mind missing the ham flavor, then prosciutto is a pretty close capicola substitute. Try it as part of your hors d-oeuvres or in a sandwich.
Very similar to bacon, pancetta is cured pork belly and has an intense flavor.
Unlike American bacon, pancetta is not smoked during the curing process hence the different flavor profile.
Pancetta is a great capicola substitute in pasta dishes or on pizza due to its similar dry-cured flavor and texture.
Making antipasto? Why not add pancetta instead?
The biggest benefit of pancetta is it’s the most widely available replacement for capicola.
It would be remiss to exclude salami from a list of capicola substitutes.
This cured sausage has so many varieties that it would be difficult to not find one that works for you.
Originally made from beef, pork, or mutton, today’s market now has varieties made from chicken and turkey too.
The characteristic flavors of salami come from a combination of spices like fennel, peppercorns, and garlic, and the long fermentation process.
This dry seasoned Italian salami still has those peppery and garlic flavors.
The low-fat content of this beef or pork allows the flavors to shine. The lean meat’s nutty yet slightly sweet flavor is much milder on the tongue than capicola.
As a capicola substitute, all you have to do is decide how much to add.
If you aren’t depending on a particular color profile in what you’re cooking, then mortadella is an easy capicola substitute. Mortadella will change color slightly when it’s cooked.
This Italian sausage is smooth and creamy thanks to its cubes of fat.
The strong flavor works best alongside pasta, eggs, or rice. Very few people actually eat mortadella on its own due to its overwhelming nature.
Mortadella can even be found in a smoked variety depending on what part of Italy it’s sourced from.
Even better? If you’re looking to replace capicola because of the pork, mortadella can be found made from chicken and beef too.
Made of pork tenderloin instead of shoulder, Lonza is a similar capicola replacement.
Keeping with cured meats, Lonza is found in recipes from the Mediterranean to South America.
Lonza is cured using a salt brine and then dry-cured and/or smoked.
Lonza is best thinly sliced like prosciutto. The slightly different flavors thanks to fennel and black pepper don’t prevent it from becoming a hit on charcuterie boards.
The Spanish Serrano is by far the most popular ham in the world.
Its sweet, salty, and buttery flavors make it an ideal meat for almost any recipe. These unique flavors come from using the hind legs of the equally unique white pig.
Its lower sodium content makes for a great capicola substitute for those trying to lead a low-salt lifestyle.
Try serrano in a sandwich, salad, antipasto, on a pizza, or in your favorite dish.
8. Turkey Ham
Combine high nutritional value and low-fat content and you have turkey ham.
Also a low-sodium alternative to capicola, turkey ham can replace capicola ham in recipes.
With these added benefits does come a difference in flavor. We can’t have it all!
If you want even more spice, then Nduja is the capicola replacement for you.
These spreadable pork sausages from southern Italy have a unique flavor of their own.
Add Nduja to your favorite lasagna recipe or dip and spice up your evening alone or with friends.
This sausage made in Tuscany makes an excellent capicola substitute in some recipes.
Made by mixing chopped pork with fennel seeds and red wine, the unique flavors will complement many dishes without overpowering the other flavors.
The fennel seeds not only add flavor but incredible aromas and then the meat is fermented before a minimum of 5 months of drying time.
Does Subway use real capicola?
Yes. Subway sources real capicola. As this is a more expensive meat, that’s why their subs that use capicola are on the pricier side.
What cheese goes best with capicola?
Everyone’s taste in cheese is different, but an aged cheddar complements the smoky side of capicola very well.
Want to make an excellent capicola grilled cheese? Try a slice of provolone.
Gorgonzola is also a good choice with its creamy texture and milder flavor; it won’t fight with the strong flavors of the capicola.
How healthy is Capicola?
Capicola is low in carbs and high in protein and also provides an enormous number of vitamins including thiamine, vitamins B2, 3, 6, and 12, niacin, iron, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, selenium, choline, and vitamin D.
However, as with all cured meats, capicola does contain large amounts of sodium and fat. As such it’s advised to moderate the amount of capicola in your diet.
High sodium and fat diets can increase your risks of high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.
While capicola is a unique and delicious product, it’s not the only type of salami available in Italy. If you’re not a fan of this specific type of salami, then you can always try another type of cured meat.
You’ll just need to experiment to find out which other types of salami are your favorite!
If you love prosciutto, you can also try replacing the capicola with some of the prosciutto.
While capicola is a unique and delicious product, it’s not the only type of salami available in Italy.
If you’re not a fan of this specific type of salami, then you can always try another type of cured meat. You’ll just need to experiment to find out which other types of salami are your favorite!