Guanciale Substitute

The Top 7 Guanciale Substitutes

Guanciale is a cured Italian salty meat prepared from pork cheeks that’s rich and flavorful. It has a high-fat content, which melts into the other components when cooked, giving it an incredible depth of flavor.

The problem is that Guanciale is difficult to find in many parts of the United States. Back in the 1970s, the FDA banned it. Despite the lifting of the prohibition, Guanciale hasn’t regained its previous popularity and remains a rare import.

In this brief post, we shed light on our top Guanciale replacement so that your recipes don’t have to rely on guanciale. 

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Here are the top 7 Guanciale replacements for 2024

1. Bacon

Bacon is commonly used as a Guanciale substitution since it is made from pork and is cured, just like Guanciale. However, the fact that bacon is smoked distinguishes it from Guanciale.

The best meats to use when trying to mimic Guanciale are the ones that haven’t been smoked. If you choose unsmoked bacon, you’ll have a good substitute, even if the cure is sweeter.

The good news is that bacon has a similar fatty, melting texture to Guanciale and is usually thinly cut. It’s also lower in sodium than normal Guanciale, which could be a plus if you’re monitoring your sodium intake. Besides, cooked bacon is crispier than Guanciale.

Alternatives For Guanciale
Alternatives For Guanciale

2. Pancetta

Pancetta is a cured Italian meat. It’s a type of salami prepared from pork belly.

Pancetta is a popular Guanciale substitution that’s widely available in the United States. It’s salted, seasoned, and cured in the same way Guanciale is, but the flavor and texture are slightly different.

It’s frequently used to flavor and thicken sauces and soups. It’s incredibly versatile, and it’s frequently used to spice up and improve the flavor of foods. 

Sadly, it doesn’t have the same intense pork flavor as Guanciale and has a less delicate texture.

3. Pork Jowl

Pork jowl comes from the same pork section as Guanciale and is frequently salt-cured, so the two have a lot in common.

It has a higher fat content than pancetta and is suitable for rendering fat for a sauce like all’amatriciana. 

Because this meat is heavy in sodium, cut back on the salt in the remainder of the recipe to avoid a salty, imbalanced meal.

Pork jowls can be found in the bacon department of the stores and are pretty cheap.

4. Speck

Speck is another Italian specialty meat that comes from an area in Italy where the meat is lightly smoked before being dry-cured.

In Germany, speck refers to pork fat that may not contain meat. However, Italian speck is thinner than Guanciale. It also has a soft, fatty texture and is quite salty, sometimes with a slightly smoky flavor.

Because it is created from the same cut, Italian speck is comparable to prosciutto. The thicker texture and somewhat smokey flavor are the most noticeable differences. 

When used in certain kinds of pasta, sauces, soups, and stews, speck adds an exciting twist to the flavor and is delicious.

Guanciale in Pasta Alternatives
Guanciale in Pasta Alternatives

5. Lardo

If you’re looking for an excellent Guanciale substitute, lardo is a good option. It has a buttery texture and a more subtle pork flavor, adding rich umami flavor to dishes like pizza, bread, potatoes, pastry, or steak.

It can also be eaten raw and thinly sliced—the pieces just melt in your tongue and have a faint herbal undertone.

6. Prosciutto

Prosciutto is produced from pork meat. However, unlike Guanciale, it comes from the pig’s hind leg. The fat composition of this cut differs from that of the jowl, which is commonly used for Guanciale.

Cured prosciutto is a better guanciale substitution than cooked prosciutto since it is a saltier and more similar texture. Prosciutto, like Guanciale, is highly salty and soft, melting in the mouth.

7. Salted Pork

Salt pork is a cheap fresh meat choice that isn’t as salty as its name implies. It’s often produced from the pork belly and mimics slab bacon. 

The primary difference is that salt pork is more fatty and salty than bacon. If you choose this option, thoroughly rinse it to reduce the saltiness.

How Is Guanciale Used in Cooking?

The top recipe that Guabciale is known for is carbonara. However, it can also be added to many other Italian recipes or dishes like

  • Pumpkin Pasta Dishes
  • Soups
  • Tagliatelle

Can I Use Salt Pork Instead of Guanciale

You can use salt pork as an alternative to guanciale

Is Guanciale Similar to Bacon 

Guanciale is quite similar to streaky bacon but it contains less meat than Canadian bacon. Streaky bacon is a good substitute for Guanciale because both contain a good amount of bacon fat.