6 Best Ham substitutes

What can you substitute for Ham?

Best ham substitutes – what are they? There are actually several alternatives to ham that you can use as a substitute. Try using turkey, chicken, bacon, soy, prosciutto, or salami and serrano ham.

What is Ham?

Ham is a type of meat that is derived from the hind leg of a pig. It is typically cured or smoked to enhance its flavor and extend its shelf life. Ham is a popular ingredient in various cuisines around the world and is commonly enjoyed in sandwiches, salads, cooked dishes, and as a standalone centerpiece for meals.

There are several varieties of ham but in this article we will focus on the three most well-known ones – fresh ham, cured ham and smoked ham.

  1. Fresh ham: This refers to uncured or uncooked pork from the hind leg of a pig. It is typically roasted or cooked before consumption.
  2. Cured ham: Cured ham is prepared by treating the pork leg with salt or a mixture of salt and other seasonings. This process helps preserve the meat and adds flavor. Cured ham can be further categorized into different types, such as country ham, prosciutto, or serrano ham, each with its own curing methods and regional variations.
  3. Smoked ham: Some hams are also smoked, which imparts a distinct smoky flavor to the meat. Smoking is often done after the curing process.

Ham can have various textures and flavors depending on the specific type and preparation method. It can range from tender and juicy to firmer and more dense, with different levels of saltiness and smokiness. The taste and texture of ham make it a versatile ingredient in many dishes and a favorite choice for many meat lovers.

Fresh ham refers to ham that has not undergone any major processing. It is uncured, often sold as a whole leg, joint, or a roast. It has a mild flavor and requires cooking before you can eat it. Cured (processed) ham on the other-hand refers to ham that has undergone various methods of preservation such as curing in salt or brine. Finally smoked ham is a type of ham that has undergone the additional process of smoking. Smoking involves exposing the ham to smoke from burning wood or other smoking agents, which imparts a distinct smoky flavor to the meat.

Okay, before we look at the best substitute options, for ham let’s deal with that empty cupboard situation!

Where can I buy Ham?

If you want to be more prepared and ensure you don’t run out of ham again then you should stock up now.

Nowadays you can buy fresh, cured, and smoked ham in delicatessens, corner stores, and general supermarkets who will stock a wide variety.

Or if you prefer you can also purchase ham on-line. We have provided a link for some Spanish Serrano Ham for you.

So why not jump on and place your order today.


Serrano Ham by Jamonprive

Pack of 4 x 3 ounce natural Spanish Serrano Ham.

GMO free and gluten free.

Nice strong flavor – so a little goes a long way!

What can I substitute for Ham?

Here are some of the best ingredients to use if you need to substitute ham as the main ingredient in your recipe.

Use any of the following as a substitute:

  • Chicken or Turkey
  • Bacon
  • Roast Beef or Pork
  • Soy Ham
  • Prosciutto
  • Salami & Serrano Ham

Ham substitutes

Chicken or Turkey

Both chicken and turkey can serve as excellent country ham substitute. They provide a similar texture and can be prepared in various ways to mimic the flavors and appearance of ham.

Chicken breast or thigh meat can be used as a substitute for ham. It is leaner and milder in flavor compared to ham, but it can be seasoned or marinated to enhance its taste. Roasting, grilling, or smoking chicken can help achieve a more ham-like texture and flavor.

Turkey, particularly turkey breast, is another suitable alternative to ham. It has a slightly stronger flavor than chicken and can be seasoned with spices and herbs to imitate the taste of ham. Roasting or smoking turkey can produce a texture similar to ham and create a delicious substitute.

Remember that while chicken and turkey can provide a similar experience, they won’t have the exact taste and texture of ham. Experimenting with different seasonings and cooking methods can help you achieve the desired results.

Chicken or turkey as a substitute for ham.

Bacon as a substitute for ham

Bacon can be a flavorful substitute for ham due to its smoky and salty characteristics. It can add a similar savory and rich taste to dishes. However, it’s important to note that bacon has a different texture compared to ham. It is typically crispier and also has a higher fat content.

When using bacon as a substitute for ham, remember the following:

  1. Sliced bacon: Cook bacon until crispy and use it in sandwiches, salads, or as a topping for dishes where ham is traditionally used.
  2. Bacon bits: Crumble cooked bacon into small pieces and use them as a topping for salads, baked potatoes, or in casseroles.
  3. Bacon-wrapped alternatives: Wrap other meats, such as chicken or beef, with bacon to add smoky flavor and moisture, resembling the effect of ham.
  4. Bacon-infused dishes: Incorporate cooked bacon into recipes like soups, stews, or pasta dishes to impart a smoky and savory taste.

While bacon can provide a delicious alternative to ham, keep in mind that it is higher in fat and salt.

We just love bacon – walk into our kitchen any morning and you will find us munching on the crispy bits! Just remember to adjust your overall recipe to make sure you are eating a balanced and healthy meal.

Bacon as a substitute for ham.

Roast beef or pork

Pork and roast beef can both serve as tasty substitutes for ham, each offering their own unique flavors and textures.

Roast beef is a popular choice for sandwiches and can be thinly sliced to resemble the texture of deli ham. It has a savory and slightly gamey taste, making it a great option for those who prefer a meaty flavor. Roast beef can be seasoned with herbs and spices or marinated to enhance its taste. Consider cooking methods such as roasting or slow cooking to achieve a tender and juicy texture.

Pork, particularly pork loin or tenderloin, can be a delicious alternative to ham. It has a mild and slightly sweet flavor that can be seasoned and prepared in various ways. Roasting or slow cooking pork can result in a tender and succulent texture similar to ham. Consider adding a glaze or seasoning rub to enhance the flavor profile.

When substituting roast beef or pork for ham, keep in mind that the flavors and textures may differ slightly. However, they can still provide a satisfying alternative in a wide range of dishes, from sandwiches to main course meals.

Roast beef.

Soy Ham

Soy ham, can be known as soy-based ham or vegan ham. It is a plant-based alternative to traditional ham. It is made using soy protein or other plant-based proteins to mimic the texture and flavor of ham. Soy ham is a great choice for anyone following a vegan or vegetarian diet.

Soy ham is typically made by combining soy protein or soy-based ingredients with various seasonings and binders. The mixture is then shaped into a ham-like form and often coated with a glaze for added flavor.

When cooked, soy ham can have a texture similar to traditional ham, although it may not have the exact same mouthfeel or taste. The flavor is typically achieved through the use of spices, smoky flavorings, and other additives to replicate the savory and slightly salty taste of ham.

Soy ham can be used as a substitute in sandwiches, wraps, salads, or as an ingredient in various recipes that call for ham. It provides a plant-based alternative for those who prefer not to consume animal products or are looking for a lighter and healthier option.

Soy seeds and block


Prosciutto can be a delicious and flavorful substitute for ham in certain dishes. However, it does differ from ham in terms of taste, texture, and saltiness.

Prosciutto is a dry-cured Italian ham that is thinly sliced and known for its delicate, salty, and savory flavor. It has a tender texture and is often enjoyed uncooked or lightly cooked.

As a substitute for ham, prosciutto works particularly well in dishes where its unique taste and texture can shine.

Use thinly sliced prosciutto as a filling in wraps or sandwiches, adding a flavorful and salty element to your meal.

Crumble or tear prosciutto into small pieces and add it to salads to provide a savory and salty contrast to fresh greens and other ingredients.

Top pizzas or flatbreads with prosciutto slices for a burst of flavor. It pairs well with various ingredients such as cheese, arugula, and figs.

Incorporate prosciutto into charcuterie boards, bruschetta, or crostini, where its rich flavor can be enjoyed alongside other complementary ingredients.

Prosciutto as a substitute for ham.

Salami as a substitute for ham

Salami, like prosciutto, can be used as a substitute for ham in certain dishes, but you do need to remember that it does have a different texture.

Use sliced salami as a filling in sandwiches or wraps to add a zesty and savory element. Its strong flavor can complement other ingredients such as cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes.

Top your pizza or flatbread with sliced or crumbled salami to provide a spicy and distinctive taste. It pairs well with various cheese, vegetables, and herbs.

Include sliced salami on charcuterie boards alongside other cured meats, cheeses, and accompaniments like olives and pickles. Its bold flavor can create a delightful contrast.

Incorporate salami into pasta dishes or salads as a flavorful addition. Chop it into small pieces or strips and toss it with the other ingredients to add a punch of taste.

Keep in mind that salami is typically cured and has a more intense flavor compared to ham.


Summary for Ham substitutes

Okay – that’s you all sorted with suitable substitutes for ham.

We hope you find the list of substitutes helpful whenever you need to find ham alternatives. In fact some of those suggestions you may already have in your fridge, so you can get cooking quickly.

Substituting ham in a meal may be necessary for many reasons. Individuals are more aware of their dietary restrictions, allergies, health concerns, ethical considerations, or personal preferences. There are several alternatives available, such as chicken or turkey, bacon, roast beef or pork, soy ham, and prosciutto and salami. Each of these choices can provide similar textures or flavors depending on the recipe and individual preference.

Ultimately, the decision to substitute ham or any ingredient depends on personal choices and requirements. It’s important to explore options that align with dietary needs, preferences, and values, while still enjoying the flavors and textures in your meals.

And remember if you’re looking to replace ham in a recipe, you’ll need to consider what role the ham was playing in the recipe and choose a suitable replacement that provides similar benefits.

We have gathered together a lot more facts on ingredients such as herbs, spices, oils, nuts, etc. if you would like to learn some more.