Assorted cured sausages, including the best salami, on display at a market.

Which Salami is Best for Pasta Salad?

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Writer / Enthusiast / Meat Curer / Forager / Harvester | About Tom

For decades, immersed in studying, working, learning, and teaching in the craft of meat curing, now sharing his passion with you through eat cured meat online resource.

If you have ever had pasta salad during a summer gathering, it’s hard to forget the mouth-watering combination of noodles, salami, cheese, and vinaigrette.

Here at Eat Cure Eat, it’s all about the craft of salami, charcuterie, and salumi! Pasta salad, though not traditional – it’s a staple for many.

I want to give my favorites from experimentation and also just a massive list of ideas!

For those of us trying to recreate our aunt’s recipe at home, you may be wondering which salami is the best for pasta salad. 

Generally, the best salami to add to cold dishes such as pasta salad is those with a distinct flavor that doesn’t overpower the rest of the dish. Some of my favorite popular salamis for pasta salad are genoa, pepperoni, and Spanish chorizo. 

Salami is more than a simple side dish to go with mixed cheese, crackers, and olives, especially around here.

Look no further if you’re wondering which salami to add to your next pasta salad.

Now, here is a useful table about salami pasta salad ideas and more information about my favorites.

Salami TypeDescription
Genoa SalamiOriginating from Italy, it’s seasoned with garlic and red wine, and has a rich, robust flavor.
Milano SalamiSimilar to Genoa, but typically smaller in diameter, with a slightly milder taste.
SoppressataAn Italian dry-cured salami, often made with hot peppers for a spicy kick.
Calabrese SalamiOriginating from Italy, it’s seasoned with garlic and red wine and has a rich, robust flavor.
Felino SalamiA dry-cured salami from the Emilia-Romagna region, known for its delicate flavor.
FinocchionaA Tuscan salami flavored with fennel seeds, providing a unique anise-like taste.
Napoli SalamiOriginating from Naples, it’s a flavorful salami with a mix of spices and garlic.
Chorizo SalamiA Spanish salami with a bold, smoky flavor, often seasoned with paprika and garlic.
Saucisson SecA French dry-cured sausage, sometimes made with wine and garlic, offering a mild taste.
LoukanikaA Greek salami with orange peel and leeks, providing a distinctive Mediterranean flavor.
FuetA Catalan thin, dry-cured sausage with a mild taste, perfect for slicing into thin rounds.
Hungarian SalamiKnown for its paprika seasoning, it’s a flavorful sausage with a slightly spicy profile.
PepperoniAn American favorite, this spicy salami is perfect for adding a zesty kick to your pasta salad.
CacciatoreTranslating to “hunter” in Italian, these small, air-dried sausages are great for snacking.
Salame ToscanoA Tuscan salami with garlic and black pepper, offering a well-balanced, savory taste.
Abruzzese SalamiAnother Italian option, typically made with red wine and garlic, provides a rich flavor.
Molisana SalamiAnother Italian option, typically made with red wine and garlic, providing a rich flavor.

Which Salami to Use in Pasta Salad

Salami comes in a wide variety of preparation techniques and recipes.

The ingredients, how the meat is chopped, and how it is processed are the three key components that distinguish different varieties of salami (I wrote about sugar and carbs in salami also).

Though usually pork, some varieties may include beef, venison, chicken, or other meats. The meat is combined with fat before being seasoned with herbs and spices such as salt, garlic, or smoked.

With countless salami recipes around the globe, each one offers its own unique taste. Below are four of the most popular sali used in pasta salad. 

Genoa Salami

Homemade salami I made for pasta salad.

Genoa salami is a medium-grind, garlic-heavy salami that can be bought in most supermarkets. It’s ideal for incorporating into everyday meals since it’s often heavier in fat than other salamis and has a smooth, rich taste and clean finish. Genoa is ideal for pasta salads with mild cheeses such as provolone, fresh bell peppers, and a simple vinaigrette dressing.


Pepperoni stands out for its signature smoky and sweet flavor. A popular American pizza topping, pepperoni pairs well with any cheese and various ingredients. Try this one in a pasta salad with black olives, fresh red onion, and tortellini pasta.  

Tuscan Finocchiona

If you are craving the taste of antipasti, try finocchiona.

The spice combination of finocchiona salami is robust, with roasted fennel seeds and black pepper, adding a herby element to the sausage.  It goes great with cherry tomatoes, aged cheddar, chickpeas, and artichoke hearts.

Spanish Chorizo

Chorizo is a Spanish dry salami smoked with paprika, fresh garlic, herbs, and spices.

This spicy salami is produced with finely ground pork and beef, making it an excellent substitute for pepperoni.

It goes nicely with pickled foods.

What is Pasta Salad?

Pasta salad is a chilled dish consisting of pasta, cheese, veggies, and salami tossed together in a vinegar-based dressing. While you will typically see pasta salad eaten in the summertime, it can be served year-round and works great as an appetizer, side dish, or main course. 

The flavors found in pasta salad can vary by region and the ingredients chosen to be included, making each dish different from the last.

For example, Spanish chorizo works well in pasta salads that include ingredients like olives, piquillo peppers, and pickled onions, while genoa is more popular in salads heavy with fresh vegetables and cheese. 

Why Does Salami Work in Pasta Salad?

This might be a bold statement, but salami is truly the greatest of all cured meats, apart from Parma Prosciutto, Iberian Jamon, Speck, and a few others.

Salami is either a salted, fermented, or dried sausage. Or comes as a cooked/smoked version. The first type is dry-cured, and Artisan styles generally take several months to make. Since you have to cure, then dry the meat to reach a certain weight loss.

Commercially made, what I would consider sub-standard salami – uses a lot of acidity to repel unwanted bacteria and can be produced in a few days. Sadly, this has taken over most Western supermarkets and is called ‘salami’. Yes, I am a purist.

Traditional Artisan salami can typically be the shining star of the charcuterie board, with its deep savory flavors and spices, and there are so many different types to choose from.

On top of that, the flavors and textures that salami brings to a dish typically pair well with a variety of ingredients. 

This is what makes salami (different salami suit different pizza styles too, I wrote about this here) perfect for dishes like pasta salad, sandwiches, and even pizza!

On its own, salami can really pack a punch.

However, when paired with other ingredients, it not only enhances the dish’s flavor with its own spices but also brings out the subtle notes of other ingredients. 

Such as piquillo pepper and red onions, and tossed with a sherry vinegar dressing.

Final Thoughts

These are just a few of the ways salami can be used in pasta salad, but really, the list is endless. Enhance your Italian pasta salad with genoa or add a Spanish twist with spicy chorizo. Regardless, salami is as versatile as bacon, and you won’t be disappointed!


My thoughts (Tom) plus:

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