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Pepperoni at a Glance


Italy, South Central Europe

Type of Charcuterie

Dry Cured Meat

Main Ingredient

Pork, Beef

Typical Ingredients

Pork, beef or poultry, salt sugar, curing salt, paprika, cayenne, anise or fennel seeds, black pepper

Other Names

Sliced pepperoni, sandwich pepperoni, pepperoni stick, turkey pepperoni, hot salami, peperoni, chicken pepperoni

Pepperoni Description

Pepperoni is a variety of air dried sausage that comes from the spicy Italian salamis popular in South Central Europe. The name pepperoni comes from the term pepper which refers to the flavor of this sausage. The spelling is a variant of the Italian peperoni the plural form of peperone that translates to bell pepper and may refer to different kinds of capsicum.

Pepperoni making practices dates back to Roman times when butchers seasoned various types of meat for soldiers to eat on journeys. This sausage was introduced to the United States by Italian immigrants and soon became a popular ingredient in dishes, especially in pizzas.

Modern day pepperoni is often made from pork, beef or a mixture of both. It may also have poultry included in it. These meats are cured and seasoned with salt, cayenne, paprika, crushed fennel or anise seeds and black pepper. After the seasoned meat is stuffed into casings the sausages are left to ferment then aged and air dried or lightly smoked in order to remove water content.

This process makes way for a hard, firm and dry sausage with a bright reddish-orange color that comes from the use of chilies, salt cure and paprika. It is fine grained and may be sold as thin sticks which can be eaten as a snack (similar to jerky) or in thin slices. Pepperoni comes in both small and big sizes measuring up to 4" (10 cm) in diameter for sandwich varieties. The flavor of this sausage is a mixture of spicy, salty and garlicky.

As mentioned earlier, it can be eaten as is but may also be included in cooking. It is most enjoyed as a pizza topping or sandwich filling. Pepperoni is also a welcome addition to pasta, meat dishes, appetizers and cold cut platters among some things.

Although it can be eaten without cooking, pepperoni sausage also tastes delicious when baked or sautéed, however, it tends to render oil due to the fat content. Pepperoni goes well with various ingredients including tomatoes, mushrooms, cheese, bread, pasta, crackers, olives, onions and other vegetables.

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