Soppressata Vs Salami – What’s The Difference?

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Soppressata and salami are some of the most consumed types of cold cuts in the world. Their presence in sandwiches, side dishes, and other delicious recipes is widespread and beloved by all ages. 

Both these cured slices of meat can either be bought from stores and can also be made at home, where you can customize them as per your taste preference. But when it comes to the two, what is the difference? 

So, what’s the difference between soppressata and salami? Soppressata is a type of salami. It is made from coarse meat and contains a mix of herbs and spices whereas salami has finer ground meat. Salami has a cylindrical shape compared to the oblong shape of a soppressata log. 

Read below to learn more about both these delicious cold cuts, where they originate from, how they are made, how they differ, and more! 


Salami comes from a broader family of cured meats called salumi and is one of the most famous deli meats around the globe. 

It’s safe to say that salami has been around for centuries as it has been mentioned in many old cookbooks dating as far back as the 1300s! 

It is made by curing pork meat and mixing it with spices, herbs, and wine. But there isn’t a strict guideline for how to make salami as you can customize it as per your preference.

This cold cut is available in many varieties and it would be very difficult to generalize it when it comes to its taste. However, salami has a few key characteristics that make it unique and recognizable. 

For example, it is packed in cylindrical logs and is made from finer meat with a balance of lean meat and fat. The meat is mixed with a starter culture, herbs, spices, salt, and other flavorings before it is left to ferment. 

Salami is also known for its unique texture as it usually has beautiful marbling in and around the roll. It can be cut to any size and is usually paired with cheese, wine, roasted peppers, warm bread, and more

Deli meats can be stored for several weeks without requiring refrigeration because they are specifically cured to resist bad bacterial growth.

The pH of every type of salumi is such that it inhibits the growth of any organism in or around the surface of the meat while it is packed. 

How Is Salami Made?

The journey of salami starts at the slaughterhouse where healthy pigs are slaughtered and harvested for meat. The meat is divided into two parts: 1) fats, which include trimmings and large chunks of pure fat, and 2) lean meat. 

Every salumi maker has a unique take on the ratio of fat and meat. Some like to use an equal amount while others choose for a 60:40 or 70:30 ratio, where the higher ratio is of lean meat

The meat is then ground using specialized machines and all the ingredients are added to the mixer. These ingredients include spices, herbs, red/white wine, garlic (lots of it), salt, and a starter culture.

The meat is then forced through a grinder and is packed in beef or hog casings. It is then left to hang within a temperature-controlled room. 

What happens next is pure science!

The starter culture grows in higher temperatures and renders the sugars in the meat, producing lactic acid—which is naturally acidic. This lowers the pH of the salami and creates an environment that is inhospitable for bad bacteria.

The meat is then safely dried by increasing and dropping the temperature of the room over several weeks. 

Less water means less chance of rot, so properly prepared salami can last up to months or more if left unopened and stored properly! 

What Does Salami Taste like?

Salami has pork meat as a base and depending on how much fat and seasonings were used to make a specific log of meat, the flavor can vary greatly.

The standard flavor can be best described as being strong, garlicky, umami-laden, slightly sweet, sometimes smokey, and earthy

As we’ve mentioned, salami can be prepared in hundreds of ways so its flavor will depend on where you source it from – but one thing is for sure, you will easily taste the spices and garlic in almost every product. 

Sopressata – How It’s Made

As mentioned, soppressata is a type of salami. It is important to know that while all salami can be soppressata, not all soppressata can be salami!

The reason for this is that soppressata is prepared differently and has different physical and flavor characteristics.

For example, traditional soppressata can be made from all parts of the pig. Even the head can be picked of meat, including the tongue, which can be chopped and seasoned with spices and herbs

Sopressata also hails from Italy but has many local and regional variants but most of them follow the same methodology and processes as salami when it comes to its preparation and curing.

Texturally, soppressata is made from meat that is usually pressed down (thus, the name) with a wooden plank.

This gives the meat log an oblong shape, and while it is similarly iconic, some regions produce soppressata without pressing it or even curing the meat too!

Sopressata largely consists of lean meat and can be paired with cheese, bread, wine, or crackers, and it can also be used in various other recipes and sandwiches or subs as well

This type of meat, along with salami in general is beloved in North America and is a staple in many regions around the world too!

What Does Sopressata Taste Like? 

Soppressata has a distinctly meaty flavor since it uses multiple parts of the animal. The seasonings can range from spicy to umami-laden and you will commonly find ground pepper and garlic in this cold cut as well.

Since the meat is coarse, salumi makers can tweak the percentage of fat and lean meat as per local preferences.

Generally speaking, soppressata has leaner meat but still manages to have some marbling which adds to the presentation of this popular deli meat. 

How Is Sopressata Different From Salami?

Both cold cuts are easily recognizable due to their shape, texture, and flavor. While they are both created using the same curing process, they have subtle differences that make them unique. 

For example, every type of salami can be made into soppressata by coarsely grounding the meat and adding specific seasonings.

The texture of both deli meats is completely different as you may find soppressata to be a bit chunkier and chewier than salami, which is usually made from a finer ground

The color and marbling for both meats can also differ as soppressata can be made from either pork or ham and uses leaner cuts whereas salami is largely made from pork, specifically the shoulder area, and has a varying ratio of fat and lean meat. 

When it comes to the flavor of both, soppressata has a peppery or spicy flavor but is also available in non-spicy varieties too.

On the other hand, salami is made in many different ways too but you will almost always get a garlicky, strong, and spicy kick from it. 

Related Questions

Soppressata and salami may seem alike but are fundamentally different in many aspects.

You can easily find both these varieties in the USA and many salumi makers will tweak the flavor of these deli meats to fit the palette of various communities and regions. 

Here are some related questions for both!

Can sopressata and salami go bad?

Soppressata and salami, if unopened, can last for up to 6 weeks without refrigeration. Once cut, the meat will be exposed to bacteria and will require refrigeration. 

Both deli meats will remain edible for about 2-3 weeks in the fridge and can last indefinitely in the freezer as stated by the USDA. Please see the packaging for more storage information. 

Always check the meat for foul odor, growths, and slime before consuming it. 

Can you make deli meats at home?

Yes, while you can make many types of deli meats at home, including soppressata and salami, it is advised that you do it under the guidance of a professional.

Curing meat requires a lot of attention and any inadequacy may result in a health hazard. 

Is sopressata like pepperoni?

No, pepperoni is made using beef or pork cuts (and sometimes chicken) while soppressata is made with pork.

The meat in pepperoni is finely ground and seasoned with black peppercorns, salt, sugars, and herbs while soppressata is made with coarse meat and is seasoned with garlic, peppers, wine, and more. 

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