Salami Vs Pepperoni – Difference Between Salami And Pepperoni

Salami and pepperoni are some of the most famous toppings they use in the pizzas and sandwiches.

So anyone who loves pizza or even sandwiches is most likely familiar with them.

Note that although they are interchangeable in different aspects, they aren’t the same thing.

They have a few similarities, which include the fact that they’re both meat products.

They will also always give you a rich and spicy flavor. And they also look almost the same.

This leads us to the primary quiz, what are the differences between the two. We are going to find out.

Before we even delve deep into it, notice that the main difference is in the kind of meat they use and how it’s prepared.

Salami refers to the cured sausage. And they usually make it from fermented and air-dried meat.

Pepperoni, though, is your American style of salami. They mostly make it from cured pork and meat.

This is not all about it, though, so I’ll let you understand them below.

What is salami?


Image: Slice Pizzeria

This one is originally an Italian sausage style—no wonder the Italian salamis are much more popular.

Salami describes a cured, a little salty and spicy mix of meats set in an encasing.

It often has air dried and fermented meats that may be beef or pork. This came about at a time when people wanted to preserve their meats for a longer time. With this, they also prevented germ formation.

As they were using this method to preserve their meats, they realized that it had more advantages.

This method of preservation also enhanced the flavors. Regardless, like any other foods, the preparation method and the different ingredients meant we have different variations of the salami.

So then they mix the beef and pork for a blend of flavors. Notice that this one, since it’s mostly air-dried too, is much harder and drier than most other sausages you find in the market.

Generally, the sausages have been a part of the Mediterranean cuisine for more than 2000 years.

At the time, they were curing the meat for preservation. This was even before the fridge came about.

Although we have the cooling and freezing method, we still use the same method for the salami.

You will have different types of salamis with them using pork, beef, poultry, venison, and to mention a few.

The types of salami

There are different kinds of salami, and one thing that remains true is that you won’t use all of them on pizzas.

Genoa salami is a regular Italian salami that uses pork, salt, pepper, fennel seeds, garlic, and wine.

Milanese salami is a sweet style of salami that they use pork beef and small grains of pork fat.

Salami Cotto is unique since it involves cooking either before or after the curing of the meat. You know, though, that they season it with garlic and peppercorn.

Finocchiona is your Tuscan salami that they season with black pepper and fennel seeds.

German salami is your fatty salami that they make with pork, garlic, beef, and other spices.

Hungarian salami they make using pork meat, for example, fatty pork bellies.

Soppressata salami is where you have the Italian salami again that they make using garlic, peer, fennel, oregano, basil, and pork.

Spanish salami is your spicy salami that they make using peppercorn, beef, and ground pork.

French salami is a thick sausage they make using pork, dried fruit, and wine but sometimes even cheese.

What is pepperoni?


Image: Slice Pizzeria

This one is just a type of salami. Simply said, it’s an American style of salami, and notice that they make it from the cured beef and pork too.

They like to cut it into thin slices for the pizza toppings, and it’s often bright red color. You will know it because it’s soft, slightly smoky, but most of all, spicy.

They often season it with paprika and chili pepper. As you can see, therefore, they make it with a higher number of spices. This is also what will give it a deeper taste, and therefore, it’s better to use it on the pizza.

They usually make the pepperoni from beef, pork, and even poultry. We still categorize it in the list of the dry versions of salami, but it’s still softer with a smoky aroma.

Because of its distinct flavor and spiciness, theirs almost nothing to substitute it in the pepperoni pizza.

Even if you use the sausages or the Italian salami, it may not give the same spice and smoky flavors.

Notice that the Italian-American immigrants in the 1900s made the pepperoni and even gave it the name.

This name in Italian translates to peppers. But the real Italian pepperoni is the Italian salami.

The pepperoni is fine-grained, smoked, and air-dried. You may ask what air drying is, then you should know that it’s adding salt and nitrate, thus giving it the perfect texture.

What does pepperoni taste like?

At least if you like pizza and particularly the pepperoni pizza, you can describe this even better than I can do. Often it may vary a little bit depending on where you are.

Remember, the flavors they use may not be the same. This one will therefore add a level of spiciness to the meats but without really overwhelming it.

Expect that this is not rubbery, but neither is it dense when you are eating it. Also, it will be slightly different from your regular pizza toppings.

The grease will often just ooze out of the pepperoni. It has just the perfect blends of flavors to melt in your mouth.

Is it only ideal for the pizza?

Well, it works great on your pizza, but it will also make do on every other kind of Italian food that needs the use of salamis too.

Whether you will use it with a sandwich, quesadilla, pizza roll, Stromboli, there are a lot of things you will enjoy.

But did you know that about 36-50% of the pizzas they make across America contain pepperoni?

What do you expect of the salami?

It’s hard to describe what to expect when you have never tasted salami. It’s mildly spicy, sweet, savory, and hot.

I must say it’s just going to give you the perfect satisfaction level when you put it into your mouth.

The salami, therefore, gives you a close to rancid vinegary taste, but it’s also sweet, spicy, buttery, and a blend of flavors.

The best description to give it is that it’s tasty, and you are missing out if you have never tried it.

The differences

The difference in ingredients

  • The salami

You know we have different types of salami as we described above already.

The salami, like your pepperoni, is made using various meats. You can use veal, beef, and pork for the meats, and you should add on some spices.

When making it, the spices will use vinegar or sometimes white wine for that rancid like the taste.

Notice that they also use coarse black pepper, salt, and powdered garlic.

They will also further add the salt to give it just a unique taste. Generally, though, the different salamis contain different ingredients, thus the difference in taste.

  • Pepperoni

This one often contains beef, pork, and meat trimmings. Remember, though, that pepperoni is famous for being spicy, and as such, you expect to have a little more spices.

The spices include white pepper, anise seeds, cayenne pepper, chili pepper, fennel seeds, garlic, paprika.

They often add salt and sodium nitrate too to help with the curation. This nitrate also gives your meat a bright red color.

Notice that they sometimes even make the pepperoni with the turkey meat, in which case they refer to it as turkey pepperoni.

The origin and popularity

Well, this shows the significant difference too.

  • Italian salami

Italian salami is what pepperoni is to the Americans.  Since the world is a global village, today you can transport different things across the seas.

As such, you will find cured meats anywhere. Salami has its origin in Italy, but today thanks to the immigrants, you have it almost everywhere.

  • Pepperoni

Pepperoni, though founded by the Italians Americans, has its origin in America.

It’s no wonder it’s a popular topping on our pizzas. I like them both differently, just because they bring different flavors and vibes.

The simple definition

We have studied this in-depth already but if you understand what we are talking about, then let’s explain the two below.

So when you describe salami, the best way to talk about it is that it’s a seasoned and spiced sausage that they cure and air dry. You can also mostly eat it raw.

Pepperoni, on the other hand, they season with spices like pepper and paprika. Both salami and pepperoni use pork and beef.

Other meats that they have

Now the salami will always have different meats from the regular beef and pork.

It can also have pepperoni, soppressata, and prosciutto. The pepperoni, on the other hand, is a drier sausage. In fact, you can refer to it as a spicy salami.

Basically, the pepperoni is a type of salami, but the salami isn’t a pepperoni type.

It’s like the salami is the basic one or the mother of the other types.

The taste differences

We have tried to explain this already, but I’ll mention it here, too, just because they are also different.

Pepperoni is all about spices, and as you would expect, therefore it’s spicier than the salami. You can only equate it to the spicy salami of the Southern side of Italy.

It also stands out for being smoky, which is sometimes the salami is not. The pepperoni also has fine-grained textures, and this is softer than the salami.

Also, salami is different because sometimes it contains no spice, making it difficult to eat for those who like spices.

How to eat it?

Salami is eaten cold, which also means that you can use it in salads like antipasto. However, you can also use it in other different meals like pasta, egg, pizzas, or even other salads. Pepperoni is mostly favored for pizzas, but just like the salamis, you can have it work for different meals too.

You can use it for your cheese sandwiches, quesadillas, twice baked potatoes, cheeseboard, and antipasti skewers. If you know how to use it, you will find it is as versatile as salami too.

Best salami for pizza


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Notice that the salami you can use for your pizza will depend on the flavors you are after.

In simple terms, you can’t use any salami as some aren’t supposed to be cooked at all. When you want to use the spicy salami, you should choose the soppressata and or Picante.

You can also use Italian salami if you want to have the best pizza. Now there are very many versions of Italian salami.

But this makes it easy to choose it when you are away from Italy and don’t know much about the salamis. Generally, they will work, though.

Is pepperoni salami?

Well, pepperoni is a variety of different types of salami. It features the use of hot salami from the different parts of Italy.

The pepperoni, though, has its origin from the US, and how it’s made is borrowed from how you make salami.

Is salami pepperoni?

No, it’s not. As already mentioned, everything started with salami; you should know that salami is not a pepperoni variant.

Are they healthy

It’s important to mention that they aren’t very healthy and you shouldn’t, therefore, be eating a lot of them.

But when you generally compare the two, then the salami is healthier than the pepperoni.

This is based on the method of preparation, remember. It often has lesser fat and less sodium.

Generally, though, they come with the same level of nutrition.

The difference by calories

To know the difference in the calories, you should check them based on a similar serving. And in this case, we can check about a 3-ounce serving.

Salami has lesser calories and, therefore, healthier. It will have 415 calories, while the same ounces of pepperoni has 551 calories.

Remember, the salami is even better for the perfect reasons. It usually has less saturated fats compared to pepperoni.

Salami will always have higher sodium. It also has zinc, phosphorus, and vitamin B3, and that’s why we still say it’s safe. Just remember to take them in moderation.

How are pepperoni served – as antipasto or seasoning?

They serve the salami as part of the sandwich or sometimes even a side dish. When you are taking it in Italy, they use it as part of the lunch first-course meal.

Here the difference then is that the pepperoni will work as a seasoning on your pizza.

Aside from that, then they use it as part of the different toppings for your sandwich dishes. The difference here is that you won’t eat pepperoni alone they mostly are mixed into other toppings too.

Check the sourness

Generally, when you compare the salami and the pepperoni, you will notice that salami is slightly sour and even less spicy.

When it comes to salami, they will use white pepper, v8negar, herbs, garlic, nitrate, and minced fat.

When they have finally mixed it properly, you allow the fermentation to occur, thus letting the bacteria grow.

With this mix, too, you are sure it won’t develop pathogenic bacteria that it’s sour. The air-drying process will lead to the curation of the meats.

What do you know about the pepper in the pepperoni?

You see, the name pepperoni also comes from the terms pepper in Italy. Notice that the pepperoni has a higher proportion of spices.

This then will make it attain a deep and delicious taste. The pepperoni then adds a smoky and spicy taste. It’s ideal for the sandwich meals just as the pizza, though.

The generational differences

By now, you know they belong to different countries. One was born in America and another in Italy.

But that’s not all about it; they come from different generations too.

Salami is a traditional choice, and it was founded ages when the fridges weren’t even available. Pepperoni came in the 1900s when the Italians had settled in America.

It’s important to mention that most people like to substitute one for the other.

Even though you can do it, they are different; thus, you will have made a different recipe if you substitute.

I like to eat salami antipasto, but some people like to substitute pepperoni for this too.

Whoever already enjoys salami is likely to enjoy the pepperoni if they can develop an open mind. They have significant differences, but they are all just amazing to use.


Why does the salami have the white bits?

It’s nothing to be afraid of because it’s just the mold that forms when the meat is curing.

The white parts are marbled fats. This is where the flavors and the texture also come from.

Which one can you eat raw?

They are both cured meat, and you can consume either one of them in their raw form.

Even if you stored them at room temperature and consumed them in their raw form, you will still be safe.

If I’m pregnant, can I use pepperoni or salami?

When you are in most countries around the globe, you will be advised against eating deli meat.

This is mostly because they are pre-prepared or, even better said, cured meats.

Sorry but I’m going to rub it to your face that you shouldn’t eat the meats unless, of course, you heat them to the right temperature. They aren’t safe for the mothers to be.

Are they kosher or halal? -asking for a friend

Traditionally these meats they make from beef and pork that aren’t halal or kosher. The fact that they even use pork is already not halal.

You can have a certain type of salami made using no pork, and the beef they also use is halal.

For other variations, though, you should check them because you can take those made using chicken, for example.

Are they safe to eat anyway?

The fact that the meat is processed has it linked to cancer health risk. The international agency for cancer research has already classified any processed meat as a carcinogen.

Now, this puts you in a space where you have to decide whether it can work for you or not.

Nonetheless, there are questions about the accuracy of the research.

You know they don’t show whether the fact that they contain nitrate makes them safe or not.

Should I refrigerate the salami?

If you are intending to have it serve you over a long time and retain the taste, then you ought to refrigerate it.

How long will they last in the fridge?

Often it depends on the brand you have but mostly they are safe to use even 3 months.

I give it a plus one month but if you like to eat it when it’s still tasty then the window of three months is it.

Salami vs. pepperoni, which one works best for pizza?

I know this question will often arise because you want to know. Both of these options work for pizza; it’s just that there are select types of salami you can use on your pizza.

Now I’m not going to get into the debates like ‘how can someone use pepperoni on the pizza and the likes.

I will say, though, that the one that’s better for you will mostly depend on where you are from.

If you ask an American which one is greater between the pepperoni and the salami pizza, they will say they don’t enjoy salami on pizza.

But if you ask an Italian, they will say, ‘how can someone even think of using a tad pepperoni on the pizza.

I don’t think there’s anyone bad; it’s all about your taste buds. Pepperoni is excellent for the American and anyone who likes too spicy. Salami is excellent for the Italians and anyone who likes authenticity, sweet and sour.

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