May 30, 2024
How do U.S.-made prosciutto brands compare to Italian imports? We taste-tested 13 prosciuttos, from Principe Prosciutto Di Parma to Trader Joe’s house brand, to find the most delicious prosciutto available locally -- and the stringy ones to avoid.

Prosciutto is prosciutto, right? It’s thinly sliced, dry cured pork that adds so much salty, buttery flavor to everything from sandwiches to pizza or a charcuterie board. It’s all pork, all salty, all aged. So why are there such huge differences between brands?

Related Articles

Restaurants, Food and Drink |


Taste-Off: The best supermarket Buffalo chicken wings — and the flops

Restaurants, Food and Drink |


Taste-Off: The best vanilla frostings to come out of a can — and the absolute worst

Restaurants, Food and Drink |


Taste-Off: The best mango juices on supermarket shelves — and the duds

Restaurants, Food and Drink |


Taste-Off: The best, most luxurious chocolate syrups — and the utter fails

Restaurants, Food and Drink |


Taste-Off: The best supermarket chicken soups — and the ones not worth the calories

First, it’s key to understand how prosciutto, whether it’s domestic or imported, is made. This pork is dry cured using salt over several months. In Italy, it must be aged for at least 13 months to be called prosciutto, but the best prosciuttos are aged much longer than that — up to 36 months. Aging concentrates the flavors and tenderizes the meat and fat. The longer the prosciutto ages, the better it becomes.

The United States produces some great prosciutto, but as you might have guessed, some of the best store brands are imported from Northern Italy, either from Parma, home to Prosciutto Di Parma, or Friuli Venezia, home to San Daniele. Prosciutto from Di Parma comes from heritage pigs and tends to be salty and deep-flavored; prosciutto from San Daniele is sweeter and less salty.

The best prosciutto is smooth and dense with an even grain. It can have veins of fat, but the fat is fully matured so that it melts like butter in the mouth and has rich, complex flavors that can be described as nutty, buttery, herby, fruity or spicy. We’ve all had the bad stuff — prosciutto that is tough, chewy and salty and either lacks flavor altogether or has out-of-place flavors that mask the true flavor of aged pork.

Here are details on the most ethereal bites of prosciutto at stateside markets — and the packs of stringy disappointments to avoid. Nutrition info refers to 1 ounce or 28 grams.

Principe San Daniele Prosciutto

The artistry that goes into the making of this prosciutto is inspiring. The intense rosemary note and impeccable, melting texture make for a perfect bite. 70 calories, 4 g fat, 546 mg sodium, 8.4 g protein. $8.99 for 3 ounces at Whole Foods. (4 stars)

Principe Prosciutto Di Parma

A blast of herbs mingled with a dash of earthy funk makes this one of the best. It’s dry but melts on the tongue. This is prosciutto perfection. 60 calories, 3.6 g fat, 587 mg sodium, 7 g protein. $5.24 for 3 ounces at Whole Foods’ deli counter. (4 stars)

Citterio Tagliofresco Prosciutto Di Parma

Buttery slices of fresh, sweet, fruity ham make for a seductive, memorable bite. It delivers plenty of flavor, but has more straightforward ham flavor than the top contender. 62 calories, 3.5 g fat, 520 mg sodium, 8 g protein. $6.49 for 4 ounces at at Trader Joe’s. (3½ stars)

Veroni Prosciutto Italiano

Fans of funk may enjoy this imported brand. It’s expertly sliced and well aged, with a huge earthy note that lingers. 70 calories, 4 g fat, 580 mg sodium, 8 g protein. $8.99 for 4 ounces at Safeway. (3½ stars)

Volpi Prosciutto

These extra-moist slices are a bit greasy, but they deliver delicious butter and hazelnut notes. 60 calories, 3.5 g fat, 670 mg sodium, 8 g protein. $7.99 for 3 ounces at Raley’s. (3 stars)

Creminelli Prosciutto

Soft and delicately flavored, these uber-thin, cloudlike slices mimic the nutty, sweet flavor of San Daniele prosciutto. Note that the cuts are far too thin to wrap or roll. 59 calories, 3.4 g fat, 511 mg sodium, 7 g protein. $6.99 for 2 ounces at Whole Foods. (3 stars)

Bellentani Prosciutto

Meaty texture and robust, meat-forward flavor make this a tasty option, but the slices are too thick and chewy. 60 calories, 1.5 g fat, 520 mg sodium, 7 g protein. $6.99 for 3 ounces at Smart & Final. (2½ stars)

Trader Joe’s Prosciutto

Clean, sweet flavor and a lovely, supple texture are a win, but fans of Italian prosciutto will be unimpressed, as it lacks the complexity of well-aged prosciutto. 70 calories, 3.5 g fat, 520 mg sodium, 7 g protein. $3.99 for 4 ounces. (2½ stars)

Primo Taglio Prosciutto

Love jerky? These slices of aged pork produced by Lucerne in Pleasanton may please.They are expertly sliced, but a bit leathery and lacking in complexity. 60 calories, 3.5 g fat, 670 mg sodium, 8 g protein. $7.49 for 3 ounces at Safeway. (2 stars)

Columbus Prosciutto

The seasonings used in the curing process for these deep, dark and dense slices make this taste more like salami than prosciutto. 70 calories, 4 g fat, 580 mg sodium, 9 g protein. $6.99 for 3 ounces at Raley’s. (1½ stars)

Boar’s Head Prosciutto Di Parma

These slices taste like old meat. They are so sinewy and tough, they should be packaged with a side of dental floss. 80 calories, 5 g fat, 610 mg sodium, 9 g protein. $8.99 for 3 ounces at Safeway. (No stars)

True Story Foods Prosciutto

This extra-salty prosciutto is so gristly that it actually crunches in your mouth. No. Just no. 60 calories, 3.6 g fat, 680 mg sodium, 8 g protein. $4.87 for 3 ounces at Whole Foods’ deli counter. (no stars)

Naturalissima Prosciutto

These thick, stringy slices are nearly taste-free and simply impossible to chew. 80 calories, 6 g fat, 640 mg sodium, 7 g protein. $6.99 for 4 ounces at Whole Foods. (No stars)

Reviews are based on product samples purchased by this newspaper or provided by manufacturers. Contact Jolene Thym at [email protected]. Read more Taste-off columns at www.mercurynews.com/tag/taste-off.

For more food and drink coverage
follow us on Flipboard.

>