What is Genoa Salami?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Genoa salami is a cured meat product which is closely associated with the Italian city of Genoa. Although many other cured meats are made in Genoa, this particular salami appears to have captivated the popular imagination, and it is among the most well known of Italian foods.

Garlic, which is used in making Genoa salami.
Garlic, which is used in making Genoa salami.

Salami is made by chopping meat and spices and stuffing them into a casing. The resulting meat is cured, usually through a process of drying and smoking. Once cured, a salami can be stored at room temperature until it is cut open. The curing technique ensures that meat is available year round. Several meats are cured in this way, since the casing makes a convenient wrapper for the meat.

Genoa salami is a cured meat associated with the Italian city of Genoa.
Genoa salami is a cured meat associated with the Italian city of Genoa.

Several things distinguish salami from other cured stuffed meats. The meat in salami tends to be coarsely cut, so large chunks of meat and fat are present in the finished product. In addition, the dry cure used to preserve salami results in a very dry meat which is also slightly crumbly. Salami also tends to be more spicy than some cured meats, and it may have a slightly fermented flavor, depending on how it was handled and cured.

Typically, Genoa salami is a pork salami, although some producers mix in beef and veal as well. In addition to the loosely chopped pork, Genoa salami also includes garlic, salt, fennel seeds, whole peppercorns, and a small amount of white wine. The peppercorns create explosions of spice in the finished product, making Genoa salami a rather zesty food to eat. By tradition, white peppercorns are usually used in Genoa salami, with black peppercorns studding cotto salami.

Although salami is not cooked, the curing process renders it safe to eat. Many people use salami on sandwiches and take it on picnics, since it stays stable at room temperatures. The meat pairs well with mild, creamy cheeses and dense, chewy breads. It can also be used on antipasto platters, or sprinkled onto salads and pizzas. When selecting Genoa salami in the store, look for a firm specimen without soft spots or areas of slime. A small amount of white mold on the external casing is acceptable, although it should be scraped off before eating.

Traditional Genoa salami pairs well with provolone or other mild cheeses.
Traditional Genoa salami pairs well with provolone or other mild cheeses.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


The genoa salami you buy today does not have the same taste (red wine) that it had many years ago. I miss that taste!


Salame di Sant'Olcese, which is the salami produced in Genoa, definitely contains garlic, garlic that must have been produced in Sant'Olcese, 10 km from Genoa.

Look up Genoa salami online.

From what I gather, what you Americans call Genoa Salami is generic Italian salami, mostly Salame Milano or similar.


Some friends invited us to an Italian party a couple of months ago. We were all supposed to bring a type of Italian salami. We were assigned to bring Genoa salami. I didn't have any trouble finding it at a meat market downtown.

I was curious, so I asked the butcher how salami was made. He explained to me that chunks of meat and spices were mixed together and pushed into a wrapping. Then it was cured, which is basically the same as cooking. The salami is then safe to eat. I didn't know this.

At the party, we made tasty sandwiches with the salami. Each kind had different spices in it. They were all very good.


This is incorrect. Genoa Salami is a pure American invention, and while salami can be obtained from the city of Genoa, it bears no resemblance at all to "Genoa Salami" most notably in that it will never contain garlic.

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