Soppressata vs Salami: Which Italian Cut Is Better?

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If you think all salamis are the same, then you’re in for a real treat. 

In this comparison, we’ll break down the difference between salami and a spicy Italian staple, Soppressata. 

This guide will help you understand the many layers that go into the unique salami varieties and how to find the perfect salami to satisfy your tastebuds. 

The Main Differences Between Salami and Soppressata

The main differences between Salami and Soppressata are:

  • Soppressata is a leaner cut of meat, whereas salami is made with fattier cuts of meat
  • Soppressata comes in a pressed form, whereas salami has a rounder shape
  • Salami is a type of dried sausage, whereas soppressata is a type of dried salami
  • Salami tends to have a garlic flavor, whereas soppressata can sometimes taste similar to pepperoni
  • Salami has a greasy texture to it, whereas soppressata tends to be drier with larger chunks of fat in pieces

What is Salami?

Salami comes from the Italian word salame, an umbrella term for any salt, cured sausage. Sale, or salt, is the root of this Italian delicacy and the foundation of all salami.

Traditionally, hard salami is seasoned ground meat minced and stuffed into a long casing. It undergoes a natural fermentation process then air-cured for weeks, months, or years. 

This process became a European staple, dating back to the pre-Roman era as a way to preserve food over a long period without refrigeration. 

Today, salami gets produced globally. But each variety stems from the practices based on its region of origin. The unique flavors, spices, and individuality get determined by the environment and climate where the salami originated. 

Salamis from the Mediterranean favor an air-cured process, giving salamis like Genoa and Sopresatta their firm texture and tangy taste. 

While the harsher climates of Northern European countries benefit from a smoked and cooking process, resulting in more tender salamis like Cotto and Bologna. 

What does salami look like?

Whichever salami you choose, they all share the same marbled texture, which comes from a blend of meat and fat. 

Traditionally, dry salamis are finely ground meat, speckled with different size fat cut throughout. The color will range from the light pink flesh of a fresh Genoa salami to the rich dark red of a spicy Soprasatta. 

What does salami taste like?

Salami is known for its complex layering of flavors. Native regional spices and seasonings make up the individual characteristics of each salami. 

Depending on the variety, you’ll find chunks of peppercorns, herbs, and fat when you slice into the meat. Salami can include an array of seasonings and spices from cumin to cardamom. But the most common seasonings are pepper, garlic, herbs, and wine.

Whether you like your salami mild and sweet or hot and spicy, there is a salami to satisfy all tastebuds. 

Soppresatta – The difference


Soppressata is a dry salami famous for its dark rich red hue. 

There are two main types of Sopresatta. Dry-cured from areas of Bascilla, Aquila, and Calabria and uncured, native to Tuscany and Liguria. 

Sopresatta differs from other dry salamis in several ways. Let’s explore what makes Sopresatta unique. 

Soppressata – What does it look like?


Besides the deep red color, Sopresatta traditionally comes from lean, high-quality cuts of meat, like the shoulder and ham. 

The meat is coarsely ground, unlike the fine grind popular in other dry salami. The fat is also cut in large chunks, giving Sopresata a stunning appearance. 

Sopresatta is pressed, sometimes between two sheets of linen, to remove any air pockets before production. This gives Sopresatta its flat, oblong shape that is much larger than other salamis. 

What does Soppressata taste like?

Soppressata is known for its pungent, spicy kick. 

Flavored with a mix of garlic, red wine, red hot chili flakes, and often the addition of fennel, basil, and oregano, make the taste reminiscent of pepperoni and one of the most popular salamis.

Though Sopresatta is most commonly spicy, it’s also produced in a mild and sweet version. Sweet Sopresatta includes spices and herbs such as cardamom and rosemary, giving it all the flavor of hot Soppressata without the heat. 

How Much Does Soppressata Cost?

Sopresattas’ mass appeal means it is widely available at all price ranges. You can find affordable options, pre-sliced and in small portions available at grocery stores everywhere. 

You can find individual packs of sliced Sopresatta from brands like Applegate, Olli, and Gusto for around $5.00 for 4 ounces. 

If you’re looking for an authentic taste of Italy, head to a specialty butcher. An imported variety will be higher in price, but the genuine flavor will be well worth the cost.

How do You Cook With Soppressata?

The best, and traditional way, to enjoy Sopresatta is freshly sliced with your favorite cheese as part of a charcuterie board. 

But its versatile flavor makes it the perfect swap for pepperoni on your pizza. Slice it into thin strips and toss it into your favorite pasta dish to punch up the flavor. 

Or make an upgraded grilled cheese sandwich. Grab a fresh loaf of bread, some provolone cheese, a perfectly sweet fig jam, and press until golden, gooey perfection. 

The options are endless, and whether you prefer the mild flavor of sweet Sopressata or the fiery kick of hot Sopressata, both will add bursts of flavor to your next weeknight feast. 

Soppressata – Alternatives

Sopresatta has a distinct flavor and texture that is hard to find in other salamis. If you’re looking for an alternative, try one of these. 

Pepperoni. A pizza topping favorite, pepperoni is a suitable stand-in when you can’t find Soprasatta. Try an artisanal, uncured pepperoni for a flavor that mimics Sopressatta. 

Spanish Chorizo. Chorizo is made from ground pork and seasoned with hot spices and smoked paprika. You’ve probably seen Mexican chorizo, which is sold raw and crumbled into dishes. 

Spanish chorizo differs as it is cured and sliced very thin like a traditional salami. The smokey, spicy flavors give a similar flavor profile that can be enjoyed just like Sopressata, without turning on the oven. 

Prosciutto de Parma. With its pink, fleshy hue, Proscuitto de Parma delivers a delicate, sweet flavor. It’s aged longer than traditional prosciutto creating depth of flavor and a chewy feel. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s check out some common questions regarding salami and Soprassatta. 

Question: Is Salami Unhealthy?

Answer: Cured meats, like Salami and Soppressata, are aged in salt, making them high in sodium. 

Yet, salami has a long heritage as a staple in the Italian diet. Despite its high salt content, salami can be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet when consumed in moderation. 

Question: How long does Salami last?

Answer: Unopened, dry salami can remain on the shelf indefinitely. A salami that has been smoked and cooked, like a Cotto, should be refrigerated and will hold for three weeks. 

Once opened, salami should be wrapped tightly and stored in the refrigerator for one week. 

Question: What’s the tastiest Salami?

Answer: This comes down to personal preferences, but the most popular salamis are Genoa, Sopresatta, and Pepperoni. 

The best way to discover which salami is the tastiest is to explore the vast world of salamis. Ask your butcher or local deli counter to taste a sample or for their recommendation. 

Start with a small portion to see if the flavor is right for you. 

Question: What’s the Best Quantity of Soppressata? 

Answer: Soppressata di Calabria is the most prized Sopresatta. This Soppressata holds the D.O.P. label (Denomination of Protected Origin), a certification that requires adherence to the strictest productions standards. 

Soppressata di Calabria must be produced in Calabria, and with pork coming from locally raised, free-range hogs.
Calabrian chili flakes, cumin, and black pepper give this Sopressata a one-of-a-kind taste.

Soppressata or Salami – Which Is Better?

By now, you understand that Sopressata is a type of salami that is widely popular and available. 

Soppressata carries on the time-honored Italian tradition of salami production. Today, there are various Sopressata and salami to choose from, making a classic Italian luxury, an everyday meal, or snack option. 

Further Read:

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