genoa vs hard salami

Genoa Salami vs Hard Salami – What Are The Differences?

Everyone enjoys some cured meat now and then. Are you having a dinner party? Both Genoa and hard salami are perfect for your cheese plate.

Did you know that these two foods are not the same? Keep reading to see what Genoa and hard salami have in common and what they do not.

What Is Genoa?

Also called Genoa salami, this type of salami got its name because of the Italian region where it is from. Normally, you will find it comes from pork, but veal could be in it too. The cured meat is often seasoned with garlic, salt, peppercorn, and wine.

Genoa has a strong fermented flavor that varies depending on whether it has red or white wine. This region of Italy is known for pigs that are fed acorns, chestnuts, and hazelnuts. Since the climate does not allow cattle raising, Genoa relies on pork products.

genoa salami

Like other salami, you make Genoa by chopping pork or veal meat and stuffing it into a casing. The meat is then dried or smoked. After, you can store the Genoa at room temperature for further curing.

This type of salami is never cooked, but it is cured, which makes it safe to consume. The flavor is strong and salty, and it pairs well with cheese, bread, and salads and can even go in some pizza and flatbreads. Due to the curing process, you might see some white mold on the outside casing, but it is best to remove it before eating.

Since it does not require too much equipment, you can expect Genoa to be available year-round. However, this is not a unique process, and most salami is prepared like this too. The difference in flavors comes from the meat and the seasonings used.

Genoa also happens to have a higher fat and cholesterol content that results in a fattier texture. Using smaller portion sizes can help keep your dish healthier. Be sure to also limit it because it can be high in sodium.

Nutrition Facts

One serving of Genoa (28 g) has the following nutritional content (*):

  • 89.9 calories
  • 7 g protein
  • 7 g fat
  • 1 g carbohydrate
  • 0 g fiber
  • 0 mg calcium
  • 0.361mg iron
  • 431 mg sodium
  • 2.5 g saturated fats
  • 24.9 mg cholesterol

Is Genoa Healthy?

Genoa salami is relatively low in calories and high in protein. However, this food is high in fat and can be very salty. It is important to know that Genoa should not be a daily food for you.

Because it is a cured meat, Genoa will always be high in sodium. Salt is added as part of the curing process and allows the meat to age without cooking. However, sodium in excess can cause fluid retention, hypertension, and fluid imbalances.

This food also contains some vitamins and minerals. Genoa can have some potassium, vitamin B6, and iron. These are all important nutrients for heart health, electrolyte balance, and cognitive health.

Recent studies suggest that cured meats contain high levels of nitrates. These compounds turn into nitrosamine in your body, which is carcinogenic. Genoa that has also been smoked has even more nitrates. (*)

Although cured meats are safe to consume, they do not undergo the normal cooking process, which can make them more at risk for foodborne illnesses. When you consume these meats, you are more vulnerable to Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria monocytogenes. These infections are harder to detect when you do not heat the Genoa salami before eating it.

To make your diet healthier, choose a smaller piece of Genoa salami and possibly low in sodium. Otherwise, try using smaller bites when you do consume this meat. Be sure to limit how much Genoa you eat to prevent health issues.

What Is Hard Salami?

hard salami

Hard salami is a type of cured sausage that is dried and fermented meat. For many centuries, salami was the only safe way to consume pork meat in France, Hungary, Italy, Germany, and Spain. Hard salami is usually made with pork but might contain beef meat.

In the past, hard salami could be prepared using venison or poultry. Some regions of Italy also make horse meat or goose. The addition of spices, including garlic, is common.

Traditional hard salami comes from the Piedmont region in Italy. There the salami can be smoked before or after the curing process. The flavor is not affected by the smoking but more so by the spices.

The first step to making hard salami is to mix the ground meat with salt and spices. You then place the meat into casings that undergo fermentation. The final step is drying the hard salami, and nitrates might be added for color and stability.

Unlike Genoa, hard salami has a much chewier texture and is darker in color. It pairs well with other meat, mild cheese, bread, or fermented vegetables. Most people use oregano and garlic when it comes to making salami.

Hard salami is considered the original type and what inspired other versions. Variations of this food have resulted in pepperoni, Napolitano, and more. All versions of salami are high in fat and cholesterol.

Nutrition Facts

One serving size of hard salami (27 g) has the following nutritional content (*):

  • 99.4 calories
  • 6.99 g protein
  • 7.75 g fat
  • 0.432 g carbohydrate
  • 0 g fiber
  • 0.054 g sugar
  • 3.24 mg calcium
  • 0.494 mg iron
  • 96.1 mg potassium
  • 535 mg sodium
  • 3 g saturated fatty acids
  • 26.2 mg cholesterol

Is Hard Salami Healthy?

Hard salami is high in sodium and fat like Genoa. It is also relatively low in calories and contains some protein. It is not the best idea to eat this food every day, as it can cause health issues.

This type of salami is dangerous for individuals with heart disease or diabetes because of its high saturated fat and cholesterol content. Some newer variations contain olive oil instead of pork fat. Using this type of oil can elevate the polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acid content.

As with Genoa, hard salami can also lead to bacterial infections. Using higher-quality meat can help prevent bacterial overgrowth. The wrong preservation method can also result in fungal infections.

Since nitrates can be in hard salami, this meat can become dangerous. Nitrates turn cancerous once ingested. They are part of the curing process, and they will likely be present in any cured meat.

Hard salami also contains a higher sodium content. More salt leads to high blood pressure, heart problems, and dehydration. If you have a pre-existing condition, you must manage your daily sodium intake.

Avoiding large pieces of hard salami and using it sparingly will also lead to fewer health issues. You might also want to seek variations of hard salami made with olive oil. In general, you should treat cured meats like salami as a treat and not a daily food item.

What Are The Key Differences Between Genoa and Hard Salami?

To begin with, the first difference between these two types of salami is the meat in them. Genoa is almost always made with pork and sometimes veal. Hard salami can come from pork or beef or a mixture of both.

The next important difference is the rest of the ingredients in both foods. Genoa contains garlic, salt, peppercorn, and red or white wine. Salami usually is made with garlic, salt, pepper, and oregano.

While they might seem similar, their origin is not the same. Genoa comes from the Genoa region in Italy. Hard salami has its origin in various countries, including France, Germany, Italy, and Spain.

When it comes to flavoring, these two types of salami are different. Genoa has a distinct fermented flavor. Salami is milder and slightly sweeter as it does not contain any wine.

These two foods also do not look the same at all. Genoa is slightly lighter in color and can change depending on what ingredients are in it. Hard salami is dark red, and the color depends on the blend of pork or beef.

The nutrient profile is also different when it comes to these two foods. Genoa is slightly lower in calories, fat, and sodium per portion. Hard salami contains more calories, fat, and sodium per portion and also more nutrients due to the combination of meat.

Genoa vs Hard Salami DifferencesGenoa salamiHard Salami
Origin Italy Germany, Spain, Italy, France, and Hungary 
Meat  Pork and sometimes veal Pork and beef 
Taste Tangy and strong Salty and slightly sweet 
UseSandwiches and cheese platesSalads, sandwiches, cheese plates, and pizza 
Cost$7.99 per 10 oz   $7.99 per 10 oz 
Calories per serving  89.9 calories 99.4 calories 

Are Genoa or Hard Salami Healthier?

The truth is neither of these foods is truly healthy. Due to their preparation and fat content, both Genoa and hard salami are high in cholesterol, saturated fat, and sodium. All of this can be hard for your body to digest.

If possible, choose a hard salami made with olive oil, but this might be hard to find. You should also limit the amount you eat regardless of the preparation because of the high salt in it. Consuming too much fat and sodium can lead to hypertension, obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.

For those with medical conditions, the best choice is to go with healthier and leaner meat. If you choose either Genoa or hard salami, make sure to limit how much you eat per week. Never exceed the recommended 3.4g of sodium a day, and avoid going overboard on your fat intake.


Next time you are preparing your cheese board, you can choose the right meat to go with it. Genoa and hard salami might seem the same, but they are not. Choose wisely and carefully now that you are aware.

See more: Can salami be frozen?

*images by karenr&bandd/depositphotos

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