Cotto Salami Guide

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In today’s guide, we’ll have a look at the origins, preparation methods, and common alternatives of cotto salami.

Cotto Salami is a popular variety of cold cuts of meat. It follows the standard process to prepare salami. The meat is fermented, smoked, boiled, then dried before consumption or being sold.

Cotto salami is one of the most popular salami varieties that has a rich flavor profile. Used in salads, sandwiches, antipasto platters, and charcuterie boards, Cotto salami works perfectly with everything you put it in!

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Cotto Salami – The Basics

Cotto salami is a slice of popular lunch meat native to the snow-capped Alps of the Piedmont region of Italy. The word Cotto means cooked in Italian, highlighting the main difference between Cotto salami and all other varieties of salami.

While many salami varieties were (and still are today) not heated but cured and fermented with salt, Cotto salami has always been prepared by cooking at a high temperature. In addition, unlike other cold cuts of beef, pork, and chicken, Cotto salami uses a host of spices, ingredients, and aromas to create a delicious and slice of flavorful lunch meat.

Cotto salami can be easily prepared at home using a smoker, and depending on your preference, you can cook it in one of two ways. While the ingredients are the same in both varieties, it is the preparation method that gives them both a distinct look and taste.

What does Cotto Salami look like?

As mentioned earlier, there are two ways to prepare Cotto salami, and each method creates a unique look and taste. The tender Cotto cold cuts of Cotto salami, typically sold in supermarkets, are prepared using the wet cooking method. It looks pinkish-red and is soft to the touch.

The other method of preparing Cotto salami is by dry-aging the meat. This results in a darker color and wrinkly appearance that may have a white exterior. Dry-aged Cotto salami is typically smaller in size as compared to cold cuts.

What does Cotto Salami taste like?

To prepare the Cotto salami, I bought the beef from D’Artagnan. As smoking is involved in preparing the salami, I used my Char-Broil American Gourmet Smoker that gave the meat a smoky flavor.

Cotto salami has a great rich taste, thanks to the quality ingredients used during preparation. Both types of Cotto salami offer a distinct flavor, and in my opinion, you should try both. The dry-aged Cotto salami has a salty flavor with a little crispiness to it. I would recommend frying or grilling them a little to make them crispy.

The cold cut is soft and goes well with a sandwich, sub, and salad. In my opinion, it has a better flavor profile, but I know many people prefer the dry-aged variety. Regardless of which variety you prefer, both preparation methods result in an aromatic and delectable taste.

How much does Cotto Salami cost?

The cost of Cotto salami will depend on the type of meat used, the cost of meat per pound in your state, and the ingredients. Cotto salami can easily be prepared with ground chicken, beef, or pork. Typically, pork or beef is used in making Cotto salami, but chicken has become a popular meat variety in many parts of the country.

The price of beef can be anywhere between $3 to $8 per pound, depending on the cut. The price of pork can be anywhere between $2 and $6, depending on the cut. Chicken can range anywhere between $3 and $8 per pound.

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How do you cook Cotto Salami?

To keep it simple, we will cover both the cooking methods for Cotto salami using beef. Pork is just as delicious, so it’s all a matter of preference. While the cooking method is easy, there are a few things to keep in mind to get the best taste possible.

To prepare the Cotto salami, I bought the beef from D’Artagnan. You can also buy ethically raised chicken and beef from Fossil Farms. I used my trusted Char-Broil American Gourmet Smoker. If you’re not a fan of charcoal smokers, then the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker is a great alternative to have.

Now that we’re all set let’s get to the preparation method!

Cold cut Cotto salami

  1. Ground the beef using a meat grinder.
  2. Add salt, peppercorn, garlic powder, paprika, sugar, and coriander to the ground beef and mix thoroughly.
  3. Add beef fat to the seasoned beef and put it in the grinder once more.
  4. Stuff the beef into a collagen casing and keep it in the refrigerator overnight.
  5. Preheat the smoker to 115° F. Smoke the sausage for about 3 hours.
  6. Once you’ve reached the 3-hour mark, remove the sausage from the smoker and add it to water at 175° F.
  7. Slowly cook the sausage in water until it reaches an internal temperature of 155° F.
  8. Remove the sausage from the water, let it dry for 1 hour and serve or pack it to store.

Dry-aged Cotto salami

  1. Add salt and nitrates in ground beef and let it cure for 2-3 days.
  2. Add the seasoning mix (except for salt) to the ground beef and mix thoroughly.
  3. Cook the sausage for 90 minutes in water or until the internal temperature reaches 155° F.
  4. Remove the sausage from the hot water and submerge it in cold water for 15-20 minutes. Let the salami dry for 40 minutes to an hour before refrigerating. It gives the sausage a wrinkled appearance.

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Cotto Salami Alternatives

Cotto salami is a relatively easy salami to prepare, but if you want to try something different, here are a few alternatives to consider:


This is a great authentic traditional salami that you’ll appreciate. One of the best cold cuts, capocollo, can be bought from an Italian deli or made at home. Though there’s a bit of a learning curve when preparing it at home, especially the traditional way, the result is a delectable salami that goes well with just about anything!

Genoa Salami

This is a great alternative for people who want a tender and tangy salami. Genoa salami is made from pork, but veal is also used. It’s seasoned with garlic, pepper, salt, and wine to give it a rich taste and classic fermented flavor.

Corned Beef

If you want to try some other type of cured beef, go for corned beef. This is an easy to cook cured meat that’s very appetizing. It can be shredded into small pieces and goes well in a sandwich, sub, and even a topping for salads.

Is corned beef better or brisket? Our comparison of corned beef vs. brisket should help you answer this question!

Cotto Salami Frequently Asked Questions

Check out the answers to some common questions about Cotto salami:

Question: Can I prepare Cotto Salami without a smoker?

Answer: Yes, but that takes away the classic smoky flavor from the Cotto salami. Instead of using a smoker, you may use an oven to heat the meat. You can also replicate the smoky flavor by putting in soaked wood in the oven with the meat.

Question: Can I buy Cotto salami instead?

Answer: Yes, you can buy Cotto salami from most delis, supermarkets, and grocery stores. The tender variety of Cotto salami is sold more commonly, but you should be able to buy the dry-aged variety from Italian delis.

Question: Is Cotto salami healthy?

Answer: That depends on the type of Cotto salami you are having. When meat is cured in salt or nitrates, the sodium content increases significantly. Therefore, the dry-aged variety of Cotto salami is not healthy. The tender variety, however, is one of the healthiest cold cuts you can have. As it’s smoked and cooked in hot water, all the bacteria is removed from the salami, and it preserves all the nutrients from the meat and spices.

Question: Can I get a smoky flavor in an electric oven?

Answer: Yes, and it’s quite easy. Just as you did with the oven, add soaked wood pellets in the smoker, and you should be able to replicate the smoky flavor. While it’s no match for the smoky flavor created from cooking in a charcoal smoker, the salami will still have the signature aroma that you seek.

Question: Does Cotto salami go well with other salami varieties?

Answer: Yes, Cotto salami adds a unique rich taste and can be used in making salami sandwiches. I like putting pepperoni, Cotto salami, and thinly sliced pastrami with cheddar cheese to make some tasty sandwiches and subs!

Question: Can I add Cotto salami to an antipasto platter?

Answer: Yes! I suggest adding dry-aged Cotto salami to the antipasto platter with prosciutto, capocollo, and other varieties of Italian cured meats.

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Conclusion – Should You Try Cotto Salami?

Yes, and I suggest you try both the varieties – the tender and dry-aged ones. Cotto salami is one of the best salami out there, and I’m sure you must have had the tender variety if you’ve bought salami. It has a distinct taste that goes well with just about everything you put it in, be it sandwiches, subs, salads, and more!

Cotto salami is easy to cook with simple instructions and can be prepared within a few hours. To get it the distinct smoky flavor, I recommend using a smoker. But if you don’t have one, then an oven would do just fine. The smokiness adds a bold tone to the rich flavor of the Cotto salami.

Whether you prefer pork, beef, or chicken, one thing is for sure – Cotto salami tastes great! So make sure to give it a try when you can. If you want to learn more about preparing different salami and Italian cured meats, Meat n Marrow is your go-to source!

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