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What is pepperoni? (Is it salami?)

What is pepperoni? (Is it salami?)

Do the bright, thinly-sliced red circles on your cheesy pizza excite you? I feel the same way! Those colorful red circles are called pepperonis and are considered to be an American version of salami. 

In our discussion today, I’ll be shedding light on “what is pepperoni?” and how you can use it in your home recipes!

Pepperoni is a bright red, thinly-sliced version of Italian dry sausage called salami. It is made of cured beef or pork, but mostly, it’s a combination of the two and is seasoned with salt and chili peppers. 

Pepperoni is ultimately soft and smoky like a sausage and is a popular pizza topping in the United States.

The concept of curing meat with spices and salt dates back to the Roman Empire when spicy sausages were curated in Italy for the first time. 

In 1919, pepperoni first started appearing in pizza parlors and delis in New York City. Since then, it has become one of 
America’s most favorite pizza toppings!

What does pepperoni taste like?

Other than the vibrant red color, pepperoni has a strong, spicy flavor with a smoky kick. Pepperoni’s flavor is more peppery, whereas salami tastes more herby and spicy. 

Meanwhile, paprika is the most common spice used to add flavor to pepperoni in America in addition to salt. 

If you’ve tried sausages before, combine their smokiness with the acquired taste of chili peppers, and you’ll understand what pepperoni tastes like.

How to use pepperoni

Here are five ways in which you can use pepperoni and add its unique flavor to your meals:

Pizza – Use pepperoni as a pizza topping. Before putting your pizza in the oven, top it with pepperoni. As the pizza bakes, the pepperoni will get crunchy and oh so delicious!

Grilled cheese sandwiches – The next time you head into the kitchen to make yourself a good ol’ grilled cheese sandwich, add a layer of pepperoni between your bread slices before grilling and toasting.

Pasta salad – Tired of eating pepperoni with cheesy dishes? Chop some pepperonis up and add them to your pasta salad for protein and a delicious smoky kick!

Baked pasta – Make your usual white or red sauce pasta. When done, top with lots of mozzarella cheese and pepperoni and pop the pasta into the oven for a few minutes.

Cheese boards – Assembling a cheese board for a special occasion? Dedicate some space on your cheeseboard to pepperoni. Not only will it add color to your board, but it will pair exceptionally well with all the different kinds of cheese!

How to store pepperoni

Unopened pepperoni can be stored in the refrigerator indefinitely (until expiration, of course) or in the pantry for up to six weeks. An opened packet of pepperoni needs to be refrigerated and can stay fresh for up to three weeks. If you want to freeze pepperoni, then go ahead and do so. Freezing will extend the shelf-life of the pepperoni. An open pack of pepperoni can stay good in the freezer for up to nine months.

Can you make pepperoni at home?

Yes! You can make pepperoni at home. Here’s what you’ll need to make four servings:

♦ 7 pounds of pork butt
♦ 3 pounds of beef chuck
♦ 1 tablespoon sugar
♦ 5 tablespoons salt
♦ 1 cup red wine
♦ 1 teaspoon garlic
♦ 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
♦ 3 tablespoons paprika
♦ 1 tablespoon anise seed
♦ 1 tablespoon saltpeter


Grind the beef and pork thoroughly. Once minced, mix the meats with all spices, red wine, salt, sugar, garlic, anise seeds, and saltpeter in a large bowl. 

Next, spread this mixture out on a large pan covered in wax paper and refrigerate it for at least 24 hours. Then add the mixture into sausage casings, about 1-inch in diameter, and twist off the edges. Using cotton twine, create a link between each casing, and make double knots.

Once each pepperoni casing is hung by the strings, hang the casings and leave them to dry for 6 to 8 weeks. Once dried, cut up small circles, add them to your meals and enjoy!

The bottom line

Now that you know everything about pepperoni, you are very well fully-equipped now to head into your kitchen and start whipping up delicious recipes that can be enhanced by delicious pepperoni flavor!

Whether you’re baking a pizza for a family game night or packing sandwiches for your child’s school lunch, add pepperoni and spread some smiles!