30 Essential Cured Meats To Know

A method of food preservation that dates back to ancient times, curing is the process of adding salt, sugar, and/or nitrates to meat in order to remove its moisture. This prevents bacteria growth and allows the cured meat to last for a much longer amount of time than it would otherwise — often several months! The flavor and texture of cured meat depends on the type of meat (or meats), the cut, the specific curing process, and the spices added, so there are a lot of options out there for you to try. And incorporating cured meats into meals is pretty simple, though many prefer to eat slices on their own without additional ingredients or even cooking.

So, if you've ever stared longingly at a leg of jamón, seriously considered purchasing a deli meat slicer, or tenderly wrapped prosciutto around a piece of melon, asparagus, or fig, you're in the right place. These are our favorite pressed, stuffed, dried, fermented, and thinly sliced cured meats. Get to know your new go-to charcuterie, and break out the wooden board for a world-class presentation of time-tested favorites and exotic new friends. Seriously, try the zungenwurst.


A German meat, bauernschinken is air-dried juniper-smoked ham. It's tender and tastes smoky, and can be ordered sliced or cut into chunks.


You probably already know about bologna and may have even enjoyed a bologna sandwich at least once in your life. This popular lunch meat is typically made from pork, beef, or both, though some bolognas out there may contain other meats like chicken. It's seasoned with garlic, myrtle berries, and spices like pepper, coriander, and nutmeg. Cooked and smoked, bologna is available at most delis, and prepackaged bologna slices produced by companies like Oscar Mayer can be found in grocery stores.


Bresaola is air-dried, salted lean beef eye of round, and is aged about three months. Lean and dark red in color, this meat is seasoned with garlic, pepper, and juniper, and its taste has been likened to pastrami. It's often served in antipasto, on pizza, or in a sandwich, though many just eat it straight from the package.

Butifarra negra

A Spanish sausage, butifarra negra is made of coarsely ground pork, blood, and innards seasoned with anise and paprika. It can be grilled or pan-fried, though many also add it to stews or have it as an appetizer.


A dry-cured smoked pork, bacon, and beef sausage, cervelat, a popular Swiss meat, is enjoyed on bread as a small snack or sandwich.


A coarsely ground fatty pork sausage, chorizo is seasoned with pimentón (hot paprika), garlic, and salt. People enjoy this Spanish meat in tapas or with eggs for breakfast, though it can also be added to a sandwich like this Cheese-Stuffed Argentinian Chorípan.


Also known as capocollo, capicola, or gabagool, the Italian meat coppa is pork neck that is spice-rubbed and dry-cured. It's usually sliced thin like prosciutto and has a fatty, chewy texture, and it's a great addition to charcuterie boards, pizzas, sandwiches, and antipasto.


Culatello is a select boneless cut of ham that is air-cured nd dry-aged. A popular Italian salumi (it's an essential food of Italy's Emilia-Romagna region), it's served sliced and is eaten on its own.


An Italian word to remember, Finocchiona is pork shoulder and cheek dry-cured salami spiced with fennel black pepper and garlic.


This Italian meat is produced from cured, dried spice-rubbed fatty pork cheeks. Guanciale is fatty and salty, and is often used in dishes like carbonara, though there are other tasty ways to cook pork jowl.

Head cheese

Despite it's name, head cheese contains no cheese, though it might have a similar consistency. Rather, it's is made from pig head meat (ear, jowl, tongue, and fat). It's seasoned with garlic and bay leaves, and set into a sausage or loaf with gelatin. Many enjoy spreading head cheese on crackers or toasted bread.

Jamón Ibérico

Considered to be the best ham by many, Jamón Ibérico is made of natural-foraging black Iberian pigs. The meat is salted and aged for up to two years. It's usually served as an appetizer with many placing it atop toast and drizzled with olive oil.


This Polish cured meat is thin air-dried pork sausage seasoned with caraway and black pepper. It's commonly eaten on its own or with cheese and crackers.


These sausages are made of air-dried beef and pork, and are seasoned with sugar, red wine, and spices. A popular German sausage, landjäger is a go-to snack for hikers and campers as it's produced in single-serving "sticks" that don't need to be refrigerated or cooked.

Lap cheong

Cured and smoked, lap cheong is fatty and seasoned with sugar, five-spice, and Shaoxing wine. These Chinese sausages are hot dog-like in size and shape, but are tough like jerky. Unlike some other cured meats on this list, lap cheong needs to be cooked before eating.


Not to be confused with lard, lardo is herb- and spice-cured pork fatback slab. It can be added to salads and is a tasty appetizer when served with bread or crackers.


Liverwurst is a sausage made from pork, pork liver, and bacon. It can be spread or sliced, and is usually used in sandwiches.


Simply put, lonzino is salted, dry-cured pork loin. It may also be seasoned with garlic, cayenne pepper, and black pepper.


Mortadella is an emulsified sausage consisting of pork, garlic, and spices that's studded with neck fat and pistachios and steamed. It's often compared to bologna (they do look similar), but while bologna uses multiple kinds of meat like beef, pork, and chicken, mortadella only uses pork. Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain was a fan of the cured meat, and he put his own spin on a mortadella sandwich using just five ingredients.


A spreadable fermented sausage, 'nduja is made from pork jowl, belly, shoulder, and back fat that's been spiced with chili peppers. If you're hungry to try this meat, follow our recipe for 'nduja avocado toast or our recipe for a 'nduja tomato Caesar salad.


Often eaten on bread or in a stew, paio is a dry-cured, smoked pork loin sausage seasoned with hot paprika. 


Pancetta is pork belly that's seasoned with herbs and spices and is salted and air-cured. People can eat pancetta cooked or uncooked, as well as sliced or cubed, and it tastes like bacon, though it's not smoked. A popular addition to soups, stews, and pastas, it can also be eaten on a sandwich. Celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis swaps out bacon for pancetta on her BLTs for a more umami flavor.


Pepperoni is a cured sausage of pork and beef that's been seasoned with ground red pepper and other spices. Though pepperoni is a popular topping on pizza (like this supreme personal pan pizza), fans of this meat can also enjoy simple pepperoni rolls and pepperoni pasta bakes.


Prosciutto is air-cured ham, salted, fat-rubbed, and aged for up to three years. It's typically eaten raw by itself or with other meats and cheeses on charcuterie boards, though it can be added to dishes like pasta or pizza.


A dry-cured sausage made from pork, fat, and salt, saucisson is eaten cold and in slices. You can find it in specialty shops across the U.S.


Soppressata is a coarsely ground, extra-fatty, dry-cured pork sausage with black pepper and garlic. While you can add it to any charcuterie board, the Italian meat best shines in sandwiches. Try our soppressata panini with mozzarella and pesto recipe or add soppressata to your next breakfast sandwich.


A fatty beef sausage, soujouk, or sujuk, is heavily seasoned with garlic and spices and air-dried. It's commonly used in Turkish and Armenian dishes, and can be enjoyed in scrambled eggs and omelettes. 


Speck is cured, smoked boneless ham spiced with juniper, pepper, bay leaves, and garlic, and you can eat it plain, on a sandwich, or as part of an antipasto platter. 

Summer sausage

Summer sausage is made from finely ground pork and beef that's seasoned with garlic and mustard, cured, and fermented. It's shelf-stable, and it can be consumed in sandwiches, as part of charcuterie boards, and even in casseroles.


Also known as blood tongue, Zungenwurst is blood sausage studded with suet and pickled pig or beef tongue.

An illustrated guide to cured meats