Pancetta is an Italian type of bacon produced from pork belly which is seasoned and dry cured. Use it in recipes such as our spaghetti carbonara, or in a traditional Bolognese ragu. A little crisp-fried pancetta can add richness to a macaroni cheese or saltiness to a warm salad.
More pancetta recipes
Flat slabs of pancetta are available and this is normally how you’d find it in Italy. It can be bought here pre-packed and either in cubes (cubetti di pancetta) or thin slices, the latter often smoked. Cubes are easiest to use for pasta sauces, while slices are excellent for wrapping round chicken breast or crumbling onto soups or salads. Thinly sliced, unsmoked, streaky bacon rashers will make a suitable substitute if you can’t get pancetta.
The cubes are fried and used in soffrito (the Italian version of a mirepoix) to give a base flavour to all kinds of dishes or incorporated in pasta dishes such as spaghetti carbonara. It has a delicious sweet-spicy taste. Sliced pancetta can be served as part of a selection of cold meats, or grilled until crisp and then crumbled over pasta, rice, salads and soups. Wrap pieces of fish, chicken or meat in slices of pancetta and oven-bake them, or use it as a pizza topping.