What are the differences between Iberian, Duroc and Serrano ham?

Many customers often ask us which ham is better: Ibérico, Duroc or Serrano. Normally we would say that the Iberian ham is better because it is more expensive, but this is not the case. We will try to explain their differences so that you can choose your best ham.

It is very easy to ask yourself this question when choosing a ham online. At first glance, Iberian ham, Duroc ham and Serrano ham do not have so many differences. However, when I am asked which of the three is better, I always give the same answer: they are simply different hams. Which one would you recommend? And I always give the same answer: it depends on your taste, because all three types of ham are very good. To justify our answer, let's explain the characteristics and differences between them.

Characteristics of Iberian ham

Iberian hams and shoulders come from Iberian breed pigs. For the pieces to be marketed as such, they must be 50% Iberian, 75% Iberian or 100% Iberian. The main characteristic of the pigs of this breed is that they have a high level of fat infiltrated in the muscle mass, which is why this type of ham has a marbled appearance. The appearance of the whole leg is slender and has a thin stick. The meat has a reddish colour, a juicy appearance and an intense flavour.

Depending on its feed and the percentage of Iberian breed in the piece, it can be labelled in 4 ways: white label, green label, red label and black label. The colours of the label correspond to the regime in which they have been reared and fed, corresponding respectively to: cebo, cebo de campo, bellota and bellota pata negra.

Characteristics of Duroc ham

Duroc ham and shoulder come from pigs popularly known as white pigs. Its origin is in the United States through the crossing of the Old Duroc and Red Jersey pig breeds, although nowadays it can be found practically anywhere in the world. One of the reasons why it is used for extensive breeding is its high resistance to external factors. In addition, it requires fewer months of maturation than the Iberian breeds.

One of its distinguishing features compared to other white pig breeds is the percentage of fat incorporated into the muscle mass, which is higher than in other white pig breeds. In addition, its hoof is black, which makes it even more similar to the Iberian pig. However, it is the only breed that can be crossed with Iberian pigs according to the Iberian quality standard.

Characteristics of Serrano ham

Serrano ham and Serrano shoulder also come from pigs commonly known as white pigs, but can come from pigs of breeds other than Duroc, such as Landrace, Large White and Pietrain. The fat content in the muscle mass is lower, the skin is pinkish, the legs are small and wide and the hoof is white. The taste of this type of ham is mild and the meat is low in fat.

What are the differences between Serrano, Duroc and Iberian ham?

Differences between Iberian and Duroc hams

Duroc hams come from white Jersey Duroc pigs, while Iberian hams come from Iberian pigs.

Iberian hams have a higher fat content in the muscle mass compared to Duroc hams.

The physiognomy of Iberian hams is more elongated and stylised.

Differences between Iberian ham and Serrano ham

Serrano hams can come from any breed of white pig, while Iberian hams only come from Iberian pigs.

Iberian hams have a high proportion of fat in the muscle mass, while this proportion is lower in Serrano ham.

The taste of Iberian ham is fruitier and longer in the mouth, with a more unctuous and mellow texture. However, the flavour of Serrano ham is more intense.

While the physiognomy of Iberian ham pieces is elongated and stylised, Serrano ham pieces are smaller.

Differences between Serrano and Duroc hams

All Duroc hams are Serrano, but not all Serrano hams are Duroc. In other words, the Duroc breed is one of the breeds used to produce Serrano ham.

Duroc hams have a higher percentage of infiltrated fat compared to the other white ham breeds.

The physiognomy of Duroc hams is more elongated than Serrano hams, although they are not necessarily larger.

If you are wondering whether all three are delicious, the answer is clear: yes! If you still have doubts about their differences, don't hesitate to ask us. See you next time!