When it comes to Italian deli meats, there is one sausage that sits prevalently amongst the populous and ranks very high on the deliciousness scale: Mortadella.
You just can’t have enough of this meat.
The sad news is: it could be challenging to find in a grocery store outside Italy.
Most people have been searching for the best mortadella substitutes but returned disappointed.
Well, I’m here to tell you what I’ve been using whenever we’re in a pinch.
And guess what? Thousands of prominent chefs and home cooks are using it too.
They are Bologna, Olive Loaf, Galantine, or Thüringer. And all of these options imitate the original flavor and texture of mortadella —which is why they are your best bet.
What Is Mortadella?
Mortadella is a large-format pork sausage made of emulsifying ground meat.
Mortadella is a large, finely ground Italian sausage made of heat-cured pork.
It is a traditional Italian delicacy from Bologna, with a light pink with visible fat cubes distributed evenly throughout the meat.
This sausage is a shelf-stable product that needs no refrigeration.
In addition, Mortadella is traditionally served in thin slices or thick cubes. It can be enjoyed cold on an antipasto platter or a charcuterie board, but it also works well with Panini and sandwiches—hot and cold.
They also go incredibly well in pasta, stuffed tortellini, ravioli, or chicken recipes.
If you want to add extra savory flavor, this Italian bologna can be a good option for meatball dishes. You can also make Mortadella spread by blending until it forms a paste.
9 Best Mortadella Substitutes
1. Olive Loaf
The olive loaf is a type of lunch meat that can easily replace mortadella in sandwiches, as they have similar textures and flavors.
Olive Loaf would be a fantastic substitute for mortadella since they have a similar texture and savory taste.
It is a meatloaf or cold cut in which green olives have been stuffed with pimentos.
And you would relish this tasty cold cut on cheese platters and sandwiches. I prefer it sliced thinly and served on my favorite pasta dish.
It also pairs wonderfully well with any cheese since it has a pretty flavor profile. This allows you to play with some toppings and condiments around it.
Furthermore, Olive loaf comes in different spice combinations — from neutral, spicy, to peppery depending on the brand.
Bologna is such an exact replacement for mortadella. Not only does it has a similar texture and flavor profile, but it is also as versatile as mortadella gets.
You can use it in many dishes, from cold and toasted sandwiches to pizza toppings, pasta dishes, appetizers, and many more.
We have even created a comparison post for these two.
So if you want to know how closely related they are and which is probably the best, I’d urge you to read our mortadella vs bologna blog.
There we took an in-depth look at both sausages.
Although bologna is saltier and has more spices than mortadella, this could tilt the expected flavor profile.
Aside from that, be sure you’re getting high-quality deli bologna since there are wide varieties on the market.
3. Vegan Mortadella
If you’re a vegan, this version of Mortadella is your savior!
It’s made of soybeans, water, olive oil, salt, spices, and yeast. It has a similar texture to traditional mortadella, but it’s made from plant-based ingredients instead of beef.
And because it’s made from soybeans rather than beef (often treated with hormones), it can even be eaten by vegetarians!
More importantly, you can use vegan mortadella the same way as classic mortadella in sandwiches, on bread sticks, or as a pizza topping.
Vegan mortadella also makes an excellent substitute for other meat-based products you might be craving.
For example, this is the perfect alternative if you love tossing some vegan sausage in your breakfast burrito bowl or adding vegan sausage links to a grilled cheese sandwich!
Since the cut is a meat-free vegan/vegetarian mortadella, all you will need is the following:
- Two tsp agar agar
- Three tbsp tapioca flour
- One cup of sliced olives (optional)
- Two tbsp beetroot juice
- Seven oz tofu (make sure it’s extra firm)
- One can of cooked white beans
- One tsp garlic powder
- ½ cup pistachios (optional)
- One tsp black pepper
- Four tbsp water.
4. Thuringer Sausage
This semi-dry sausage is a cousin of summer sausage and is a distant relation to mortadella.
You can replace Thuringer Sausage for Mortadella.
The main reason is that they have a lot in common.
Thuringer Sausage is a German sausage made of pork, while mortadella is Italian.
Although Thuringer Sausage has more flavor than regular sausage, even mortadella, it includes a mix of garlic, marjoram, salt, pepper, and caraway. The taste is complex.
Therefore, it’s important to note that you won’t be able to make a direct substitution because of the spicy and tangy taste.
But if you’re looking for something that’s similar but has more flavor, then Thuringer Sausage is an excellent choice!
The German sausage can be eaten raw, fried, or baked.
You can slice and enjoy it with crackers and cheese. But Thuringer is best cooked on a grill and enjoyed immediately.
Galantine hails from France and could hold the fort in your recipe for the Italian buddy, Mortadella.
The processed meat is made from a mixture of chicken, veal, pork fat, and truffles, with various herbs and spices.
When prepared, the meat stuffing is stuffed into a skin made from chicken and then wrapped in bacon to hold its shape.
Although they have other methods for preparing this cold cut, galantines are essentially sausages, a popular mortadella substitute.
They both have higher fat content, which helps provide that luxurious flavor and recognizable complexity your dish craves.
We present yet another German sausage with mortadella’s soft and silky texture.
Even though this sausage is considered more of a meatloaf, it can still do the trick. Moreover, it is made from pork meat, ground beef, bacon, and onions.
The combination of these ingredients makes it even more flavorful and aromatic.
You can use Leberkäse for nearly any dish where you want to add more depth and richness to your meal.
It works well in pasta dishes, on top of salads or sandwiches, or even just by itself.
Also, Leberkäse can be made with different kinds of meat, including horsemeat mixed with cheese and pork meat combined with salami, pickles, and peppers.
There are many variations, and the one you choose either draws you closer to the missing mortadella or robs you of it.
7. Chicken Mortadella
Even if you do not like pork or beef, there are always chicken alternatives for cold cuts—and mortadella is no exception.
The chicken versions of this Italian delicacy can be found in many stores and supermarkets. However, it isn’t as fatty and savory.
Chicken mortadella is often made with pistachio or olive slices, mimicking the original classic.
But the silky structure is what keeps these two cuts related.
Compared to more-flavorful chicken sausage varieties, chicken mortadella is usually milder and has lighter seasoning.
Landjaeger doesn’t have the soft silky texture that mortadella has. But it can be used in recipes that call for mortadellas, such as meatballs or meatloaf. However, it’s different than expected.
Landjäger is a semi-dried sausage from ground pork and beef mixed with spices. It is widely used in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, as well as in other parts of Europe.
It is different from mortadella because it has a smokey aroma and a robust, savory taste with less fatty content.
And because it has been smoked and air-cured, this sausage doesn’t need cooking to develop its flavor. However, you could also grill or bake it if you prefer a different texture—just don’t cook it too long!
Although Landjaeger is more similar to pepperoni than mortadella, thus, it’s perfect for substitution when delicious topping your pizza.
Aside from that, you can try it in any sandwiches and pasta dishes. It can also be a great companion with olives, cheese, and tomatoes when served as an appetizer.
9. Lebanon Bologna
Lebanon Bologna and mortadella are both cured meats. But they’re different.
Although Lebanon bologna is sometimes called “pork-based,” it is made with raw beef, cured, and smoked before being added to a mixture of vinegar, salt, and spices.
It resembles mortadella in texture and color but is darker. It is often served cold as an appetizer or sandwich filling.
This cold cut has a unique flavor that combines savor, sweetness, and acidity. It tastes similar to salami but tends to have a more intense aroma.
It’s no mild and neutral as mortadella, but you can still use it the same way.
Let me wrap this up real quick:
While some of the Mortadella substitutes came out in a way that looks and tastes almost exactly like the real thing, it doesn’t.
Some have a spicier and more flavorful taste but a similar texture. Others are semi-dry and smoky with less fatty content.
The point is you have to make do with what is available. Instead of missing out on the mortadella flavors, you can replace them with either of these options.