Differences Between Iberico/Serrano Ham and Prosciutto


Do you think Serrano and Iberico jamon and prosciutto are the same thing? In principle, it is true: they both come from a pig leg. But the difference is not about the pig leg itself; it is about how it was prepared. Ever wondered about Iberico vs. Serrano ham difference? Check out our comparison.

Is prosciutto and jamon Serrano and Iberico the same? Prosciutto and Serrano/Iberico ham are not the same, even though these are names for dry-cured pig legs. They have a different preparation method and are made from different pig breeds (Iberico from Iberian, Serrano from Duroc or Landrace, prosciutto from Duroc Italiana), all of which have a different diet.

Differences Between Iberico/Serrano Ham and Prosciutto

What is the difference between Serrano ham and prosciutto? The main difference between Serrano ham and prosciutto is the preparation. Serrano ham is salted and dried for 48 months. Prosciutto is also dried and salted. But, unlike Serrano ham, prosciutto needs a certain level of humidity. As a result, Serrano ham is drier while prosciutto is tender and juicy.

JamonProsciutto
Made in SpainMade in Italy
Pigs feed on cork oak acornsThe diet of animals includes corn and fruits, and sometimes whey.
The highest quality product is slightly blackLight color
Meat is dried in closed containersA certain level of moisture is maintained
Quite tough and dryA more juicy and soft delicacy
Raw meat is not heat treatedIn some cases, the ham is boiled before salting
The aging period reaches 48 monthsThe aging period is 10-14 months
Rare and expensiveMore affordable

Is Jamon like prosciutto? The fact that jamon is made in Spain and prosciutto — in Italy is no secret to anyone. It is a mistake to think that jamon is like prosciutto simply made in different countries. Italy’s climate is milder and more humid, which in turn affects pigs. Prosciutto is juicier and softer, while jamon is drier and harder to chew, so no, jamon is not like prosciutto. 

Serrano/Iberico Ham vs Prosciutto Taste

What does Serrano ham taste like? Serrano ham has a rich, buttery, slightly spicy taste with sweet notes, an intense aroma. Serrano ham has a soft texture and reminds the taste of prosciutto. Serrano jamon is more intense in flavor and scent.

What does Iberico ham taste like? Iberico ham has a saturated, rich, nutty flavor. The acorn diet gives the Iberico jamon its special meaty taste. Pigs are in constant movement in the fresh air and receive abundant nutrition. As a result, the ham becomes simultaneously more meaty and fatty, approaching in properties to marbled beef.

What does prosciutto taste like? Prosciutto has a slightly spicy taste with sweet notes. Jamon has an intense aroma and a sharper, rich, salty-sweet taste. Spanish gourmets most often eat jamon with olives, cheese and vegetables. In Italy, haute cuisine connoisseurs enjoy prosciutto with melon and fruit.

Can I substitute serrano ham for prosciutto? Even though Serrano ham and prosciutto are not the same, they can substitute each other in salads, pizzas, pasta and other dishes. Serrano ham is drier than prosciutto, so you will need to add extra sauce or cream to the dish. Both are equally tasty and will not leave your guests indifferent. 

Let’s start with the jamon. There are two main types of jamon: Serrano and Iberico. Their main difference is in the breed of pigs: Serrano is a ham from a white pig (Duroc or Landrace), Iberico comes from a black Iberian pig. In appearance, Iberico and Serrano can be distinguished by their hooves — they are black and white, respectively. Meat from black pigs is also darker in itself and, by the way, costs much more. After all, black pigs are very rare.

Serrano/Iberico Ham vs Prosciutto Price

According to Walmart, Iberico ham costs $80-$150 per pound, Serrano ham costs $20-$30 per pound, while a pound of prosciutto will cost $20-$50. 

Jamon Varieties

Jamon Serrano is made from the ham of a domestic white pig (Duroc or Landrace). This type of jamon is considered the most inexpensive. Most Spaniards can afford to eat it every day. Depending on the duration of felting, the following types of serrano are distinguished:

Curado is dried for 7 months;

Reserva is dried for 9 months;

Bodega is dried for 12 months.

Jamon Iberico: This type of jamon is made from the ham of a black semi-wild pig and is the most expensive of all types. It is almost impossible to try outside Spain, as the Spaniards prefer not to export this jamon. This variety is also classified into two types:

Recebro – pigs for such a ham are fed almost all their lives with ordinary cattle feed, and the remaining 2-3 months before slaughter in wild pastures among oak trees.

Bellota – This variety is made exclusively from wild pigs that have grazed on pastures all their lives and fed on the acorns of the cork tree.

Prosciutto Varieties

All types of prosciutto are made from common white pigs. Depending on the cooking method, the following types of prosciutto are distinguished:

Crudo: To make this prosciutto, the ham is first sprinkled with copious amounts of salt and dried in the sun. Italians refer to this variety of pork as “prosciutto”.

Cotto: To make cotto, the ham is boiled first and then felled. In fact, it turns out to be an ordinary ham, which, in principle, is not considered an expensive delicacy.

Serrano/Iberico Ham vs. Prosciutto Nutrition

The taste of pork meat directly depends on nutrition, which is fundamentally different from each other in Italian and Spanish pigs. Italian pigs are fed fruit, corn and whey that remains after cooking Parmesan. Iberian pigs are fed with cork acorns and fodder.

Iberian pigs live and graze in the wild. To find food for themselves, they have to move a lot. The activity of animals affects the quality of their meat: movement prevents weight gain, and fat stays between the muscles, making the meat more juicy and tasty. These dramatic nutritional differences have a profound effect on the taste of ham.

Serrano/Iberico Ham vs. Prosciutto Cooking Method

This is the main difference between jamon and prosciutto. The jamon is abundantly covered with salt and dried in a dry place for 48 months in a closed dry room. Sometimes the drying process takes less time, about two years. Prosciutto is also dried and sprinkled with plenty of salt. But, unlike jamon, prosciutto requires a certain level of air humidity. As a result, jamon is drier and chewier while prosciutto is tender and juicy.

Another difference between jamon and prosciutto is their place of origin. The homeland of jamon is Spain, while prosciutto is an Italian delicacy. Delicacies also differ in their taste properties. This is due to the diet of pigs and the climatic conditions of the countries they are raised. In Spain, animals are fed on the acorns of the cork oak. Black pigs are used to create the highest quality and most expensive ham. This explains the dark shade of the finished treat. In Italy, the diet of animals is based on corn and fruits, and in some regions, even whey.

Which is better prosciutto or jamon? Ideally, both delicacies should appear on the table, as they complement each other perfectly. Otherwise, it all depends on the mood and taste preferences. Nobody can predict which ham will be better for you. But every person in his life should definitely try both jamon and prosciutto.

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