Italy is heaven for meat lovers since there are plenty of types of Italian cured meats, one being more delicious than the other! The quality of Italian cold cut meats is also high-standard therefore each of them is delicious. We are covering everything from Italian dry salami to different types of ham, including some information about each. With our best Italian cold cuts list, you’ll learn about all the famous cured meats and cold cuts in the country, which are the most popular, and the most adored!
15 Best Italian cold cuts list
As you may already know, Italians are not about super healthy, low-carb, low-fat, low-everything dishes, as well as they avoid as much as possible processed food, and they look for quality. This might be one of the reasons why the average lifespan in Italy is really high too! Italian cold cut meats and the different Italian salami types are a big part of the everyday life of Italians.
We enjoy different types of Italian ham, that’s usually made of pork – so those who don’t eat pork won’t really find anything on this list that they could actually eat! However, all these salami from Italy, and different cured meat products are closed in our hearts, and we love them so much! Beyond cold cuts, you can have a look at types of Italian bread, pasta dishes, Italian cheese, and many other food-related articles we cover!
We couldn’t initiate our best Italian cold cuts list if we wouldn’t start with our personal favorite, the Porchetta. When it comes to cured meats from Italy, just like with many other Italian food products, there are plenty of options, but everyone has one big favorite that can’t beat the others. Porchetta is a big favorite not only to us but to many many Italians in the country!
Porchetta is originating from Ariccia, and it’s the most popular in the Lazio region, more specifically in Rome. If you’re asking us, the Porchetta made in Tuscany for us is the real king! Now, this is a pork roast that is seasoned with garlic, herbs, and black pepper, then it’s rolled up and tied up so it sticks together as a cold cut. If you’re in Italy in September, specifically in Rome, you can visit the nearby Ariccia for the Porchetta Feast.
2. Prosciutto Crudo
One of the most famous types of Italian cured meats are the Italian hams. And beyond the types of Italian ham, the Prosciutto Crudo is definitely the most famous. It’s important to define if it’s Crudo or Cotto since Crudo means raw and Cotto means cooked. Prosciutto Crudo is probably the most famous Italian dry-cured meat in the world.
In Italy many times the word Prosciutto is not even mentioned, they just say/write it as “crudo”. This dry-cured pork leg is sliced into very thin slices and it’s usually served on pizza, in sandwiches, or as Aperitivo or Antipasto with other cold cuts, or Aperitivo bites. It can also be used in Torta Salata, though for cooked dishes, the cooked ham is more suitable. When it comes to crudo, of course, the Prosciutto di Parma is the most famous of all!
3. Prosciutto Cotto
And as you have already seen in the previous paragraphs, one of the most famous Italian cold cut meats is the cooked ham, so the Prosciutto Cotto. When it comes to different types of Italian ham, the “cotto” is the best for sandwiches with cheese, for cooked meals, stuffing, in bread, and many other different ways we use Italian hams.
Prosciutto Cotto is also from pork leg, and you could find plenty of brands that make this type of ham. To pick from brands, it’s usually good to look for the quality, and price, and possibly buy it fresh at the bench instead of the pre-cut ones in a plastic package. In each case, if you see on a cooked ham written “Prosciutto Cotto di alta qualità”, you know that’s a good quality to get!
Mortadella is one of our favorites on the best Italian cold cuts list! When it comes to the Italian cured meats list, we are taking back ourselves to Bologna again, since Mortadella is originating from Bologna, therefore you can find the best quality only in this city! In Rome, though you can get a snack, a kind of street food that’s called Pizza e Mortazza, which is a plain pizza slice which is filled with lots of Mortadella.
Now, Mortadella is a type of cold cut made with finely hashed pork meat and pieces of pork fat. Similar products are very popular in Germany, Hungary, Austria, and Romania too. Mortadella today can be found with different variations, such as with olives, pistachio, or black pepper grains too. We prefer serving mortadella on a charcuterie board or as a sandwich, but it’s great on pizza too!
When it comes to red types of Italian cured meats, Speck is among the most popular cured meats from Italy. It’s a dry, hard-to-bite, but delicious cold cut, very similar to Prosciutto Crudo. Speck is from the region of Trentino-Alto Adigo (Tyrol) in northern Italy. The dry taste and the difference between the Prosciutto Crudo and the Speck is that the second is smoked as well.
When you’re in Italy, wherever you are you will find Speck, or dishes made with speck, such as pizza as well. If you are in the Trentino- Alto Adige region then you simply must try it there since the best quality can be only found in this region. Speck is used usually for Aperitivo bites actually with other cold cuts and cheese board. It’s also a type of preferred meat for risotto too!
When it comes to Italian cold cut meats, salami is a top priority for all of us! In Italy, you will find so many variations by region and even by province, that it’s basically impossible to keep up with Italian salami types! Every area has its own Italian dry salami usually. In Italy due to the weather, most meat types are dry, opposite to what type of cold cuts you find in northern countries of Europe.
There are all types of large, cures sausage-like salami, which is made with mixed meat and fat usually, but on many occasions, the process is different, which makes the salami taste better and it’s also really difficult to swallow it. There are many types that are present in the whole country, which is actually not the local salami you must try. Like salame Milano, salame Ungherese (Hungarian-style), salame Felino, or Napoli.
But if you are looking for real delicacy, you want to go for the super dry, really thick local salami that has a white crust. Living in the Emilia Romagna region, and trying many types of salami all over the country, I must say, that the salame Piacentino, so the salami from Piacenza is the best of all. It is actually having the D.O.P label too! So if you’re passing by Piacenza, make sure to buy some local salami!
Since I already mentioned Piacenza, we must speak about the Coppa Piacentina. When it comes to the best Italian cold cuts list, the Coppa in usual is very popular all around the country but there are specific places where you can find the best. Piacenza is famous for three meat products. When we speak about cured meats from Italy, we speak about the Prosciutto di Parma first. Parma is right near Piacenza by the way!
The Coppa Piacentina is one of the best in the country! There are three types of cold cuts in Italy that are very similar. One is the coppa, the others are the Lonza and Capocollo. It’s very important which part of the pork is a cold cut made of because each has different notes and tastes. The coppa is made of the pig’s neck muscle and has a particular texture and taste.
The third on the Italian cured meats list which takes us again to Piacenza is the Pancetta. You can find pancetta all over Italy, but again, everywhere is made different, and the Piacentine one is once again the best! The name of this cold cut means belly, which also means that this product is made of pork belly. This is a salt-cured cold cut that you could find dry or smoked.
In Piacenza, there’s a third way you can find it in grocery stores, and that’s the cooked Pancetta, which is something literally like heaven. With a piece of Focaccia, the Pancetta is one of the greatest cured meats to try. And, since we mentioned the three best cold cuts in Piacenza, the salami, coppa, and pancetta, we will always vote the pancetta out of the three! You can also find pancetta cut into small cubes, which is great for Frittata and Torta Salata.
And here comes one of the types of Italian cured meats we already mentioned, the Capocollo. Now, Capocollo is very similar to the coppa since it’s the same part of the pork, but this one is made of the neck and head muscles. This explains its name since capo is head, and collo means neck. So the first difference is that the head muscle is used too.
And actually, it’s not the only difference between coppa and Capocollo! The preparation process is also different since when it comes to Capocollo, the meat gets cooked for a long time first. This is also a popular Aperitivo cold cut, and it’s perfect for charcuterie boards, as well as for sandwiches. Delicious, stronger taste, that should be explicitly tried in the Puglia region.
The next highlight on our best Italian cold cuts list is the Lonza, which we already mentioned. Lonza is really similar to Coppa and Capocollo. What makes Lonza different from these two is the meat they use to make it. Lonza is made of the muscle surrounding the spareribs after they remove the bones. This is a cold cut perfect for Aperitivo and pizza topping too.
While the Coppa is more popular in northern Italy, and the Capocollo in the south, Lonza is more popular in the central regions including Lazio, Abruzzo, Umbria, and Le Marche. When you look at these really similar cold cuts, you can notice the Coppa is more rounded, the Capocollo is more rectangular and they are both darker in color. Lonza however has lighter red color.
Bresaola is easy to recognize since it has a really dark red color, almost burgundy color with very low amount of fat. When it comes to Italian cold cut meats, Bresaola is really popular in many regions from Lazio to Umbria, and Tuscany too. Bresaola is actually originating from Valtellina in the region of Valle d’Aosta, in the Italian Alps.
You will find lots of Bresaola in the regions of Valle d’Aosta, Lombardy and Trentino – Alto Adige. Bresaola is a perfect pick for piadina, sandwiches, and pizza toppings. It’s also used in some northern pasta dishes too. You can also enjoy bresaola in salads, but if you’re asking us, we would vote for the Aperitivo plate, and to have Bresaola on it!
Another highlight on our Italian cured meats list is the Culatello di Zibello. This is a cured meat originating also from Parma, and it dates back to the 18th century. Culatello was rewarded with a protected designation of origin (PDO) or in Italian you’d see D.O.P. status, and this means it is produced in a specific area that includes only a few towns in the province of Parma.
Another interesting fact about Culatello is that it’s only made between October and February. The reason is the temperature that’s needed for the preparation of this product. Due to this low-production possibility, there are only 50.000 pieces of Culatello di Zibello made a year. This also makes Culatello one of the most expensive cold cuts in Italy. You can try them in the producer towns of Roccabianca, Busseto, Parmense, Sissa, and a few others.
Cotechino is one of those types of Italian cured meats that many of you will want to avoid. I know, it’s not looking the most attractive, but wait for it! Most Italians eat cotechino only once a year, specifically on New Year’s Eve. I myself did eat cotechino for the first time on my first New Year’s Eve after I moved to Italy too.
Traditionally, cotechino is cooked with lentils on New Year’s Eve, and this dish is consumed for the new year to bring financial prosperity. You’ll want to eat cotechino now, right? Actually, cotechino is a delicious product made of classic sausage casing, and it’s filled with pork rind, meat, and fat, and it usually has less refined cuts. It comes seasoned with salt and other spices. Cotechino is cooked for several hours, so this is one of the reasons why people prepare it occasionally. You can find cotechino though in different traditional restaurants and osteria.
It’s not about sandwiches this time, but one of the best Italian cold cuts list is definitely the Guanciale! Don’t confuse this with Bacon, since they are from two different parts of the pork. The bacon is actually the Pancetta. Guanciale, however, is made of the cheek of pork. This is one of the most popular types of cured meat in central and southern Italy mostly, however, due to a specific Italian dish, it’s really popular all around the country.
You must know, that Italian respect very much their traditional recipes. Hence, a real, traditional Italian Carbonara recipe is never made with other ingredients than what the original recipe includes. Guanciale is the meat that’s in the real Carbonara, and if you dare to use Pancetta, you will be committing a food sin in the eyes of Italians!
Soppressata is one of those Italian cold cut meats which really remind us of Hungarian sausage. If you’re looking for salami from Italy, this isn’t looking like one, but it is very similar to local Italian salami types around the country. It is indeed a particular type of cold cut, but it is really delicious!
Sopressata is a very popular type of cold cut in central and southern Italy. To specify, it’s the most popular in Calabria, Apulia, Abruzzo, Basilicata, Campania, and Molise. So basically some of the central and most of the southern regions. This product is made of ground pork meat, that’s usually leg or shoulder and it’s mixed with lardo or pancetta.
Wrapping up the best Italian cold cuts list
We hope you found what you were looking for on this types of Italian cured meats list! Wrapping up the salami from Italy, and other types of cold cuts, we’d like to point out a few more articles to check out! Look for the Italian food brands, so you might find some great ones that you can purchase in your country! We also suggest checking our Italian brands list, so you can not only find Italian salami types, but we cover 10 different categories, in different industries, and we will point you to even more amazing brands and products from Italy. As you know, the Made in Italy label is respected worldwide for a reason!