What Is Pepperoni Made of, How It Is Made, Ingredients and Many More!

You may have used it for pizzas, sandwiches, quesadillas, and cheese boards, but have you ever stopped to wonder how pepperonis are made?

Pepperoni is a popular topping for a cheesy pizza or an add-on ingredient for a hearty sandwich. It has been a staple and a favorite since the early 1900s.

Not everyone knows when people started using pepperonis or how it is made.

Sharing pepperoni facts is a great conversation starter and an interesting topic to talk about over a meal.

Let’s take a closer look at nice-to-know facts about pepperoni in this article.

After reading this article, you will know about the ingredients of this tasty treat.

All things pepperoni is explained in this article, from its manufacturing process to its invention.

In summary, here are the topics this article covers:

  • What Is Pepperoni?
  • A Short History: Where Does Pepperoni Come From?
  • What Animal Does Pepperoni Come From?
  • What Are the Pepperoni Ingredients?
  • How Is Pepperoni Made?
  • Is Pepperoni Sausage?
  • What Is the Nutritional Value of Pepperoni?
  • Fun Facts About Pepperoni
  • Final Thoughts
  • Further Reading With Slice Pizzeria

What Is Pepperoni?

Pepperoni is an American variation of salami. It is a type of salami made primarily from pork and a mix of ground beef and seasonings.


In most cases, it is cut into thin circular slices and is red in color.

As for the taste, it usually has a smoky flavor and a tinge of spiciness and tanginess.

Moreover, it tends to be salty and chewy. You can find pepperoni on top of pizzas and in various sandwiches, pasta dishes, appetizers, and salads.

A Short History: Where Does Pepperoni Come From?

The word pepperoni is a loose translation of big peppers in Italian. Although many people think pepperoni was originally made in Italy, it was actually invented in New York City, United States.

Italian butchers and several Italian pizzerias in New York City started using it in the early 1900s.

The original recipe used pork and beef, but now chicken and turkey are used as well.

Pepperoni on pizza was believed to have started as early as the 1950s based on photo documentation in a pizzeria in New Haven, Connecticut, called The Spot.

Today, pizza is a staple and a favorite ingredient for various dishes.

What Animal Does Pepperoni Come From?

Is pepperoni pork or beef?

Generally, pepperoni is made from the animal pig and cattle. Pepperoni uses only cured pork or a mix of pork and beef.

However, due to popularity and innovation, you can also find pepperoni made from turkey and chicken.

If you have given up on pork, you can always find alternatives like plant-based, beef-based, chicken-based, and turkey-based pepperoni.

For pepperoni made from pork, the meat usually comes from the shoulder and belly, which are parts with high-fat content.

Some pepperonis are also made from ribs and loin. It is typically from pork or beef trimmings.

What Are the Pepperoni Ingredients?

Pepperoni Ingredients

The key ingredients of pepperoni are meat (ground pork and beef), spices, salt, and nitrate.

The spices usually used are paprika, black pepper, oregano, anise, nutmeg, cinnamon, garlic, and mustard, among other things.

Although the amount for each spice varies per manufacturer, paprika usually dominates the mixture to give its peppery taste.

The ingredients are combined in such a way it creates its unique pepperoni taste.

Paprika contributes to its orange color.

However, it is actually the nitrate that causes cured meat’s color to develop.

Salt and nitrate are important ingredients that help preserve food and add flavor.

How Is Pepperoni Made?

Making pepperoni involves three basic steps: mixing the ingredients, stuffing the meat into casings, and cooking it by smoking.

Stuff sausage into casings and twist off into 10 inch links

The measurement of ingredients and the cooking style depend on the recipe you are following.

However, most recipes typically incorporate these steps:

  1. The first step is to prepare the meat mixture. This typically includes ground pork and beef, salt, seasonings, and spices. Make sure to mix the ingredients well until the mixture forms a paste texture.
  2. Once you have achieved your desired flavor of the meat mixture, you have to stuff it into a sausage casing. You can do this manually by hand. However, it will be a lot easier if you use a vertical sausage stuffer.
  3. After stuffing the meat mixture in a casing, it has to be hung in a cool and dry place for a few days. This process allows it to be dried and to develop its flavor.
  4. Next, it is time to smoke the sausages with a smoker or griller at low temperatures. Using a smoker is better since it gives you an amazing smoky flavor and color. However, if you don’t have a smoker, you can use your kitchen oven or griller.
  5. After smoking the sausage for a few hours, you can now slice them into pepperonis for pizzas, sandwiches, and many more.

Is Pepperoni Sausage?

Pepperoni Sausage

Pepperoni is often confused with regular sausage since it contains both pork and beef.

However, pepperoni is considered a type of dry sausage.

The difference between pepperoni and sausage is that pepperoni is cured and smoked, while a regular sausage is typically fresh, less dry, and not cured.

What Is the Nutritional Value of Pepperoni?

Consuming pepperoni in moderation is recommended due to its high fat, high cholesterol, and high sodium content.

It only contains small amounts of Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Calcium, and Magnesium, among other things.

In the table below, let’s take a closer look at its nutritional value per 100 grams of pepperoni provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Nutrient Amount Unit
Water 28.6 g
Energy 504 kcal
Energy 2110 kJ
Protein 19.2 g
Total lipid (fat) 46.3 g
Ash 4.74 g
Carbohydrate, by difference 1.18 g
Fiber, total dietary 0 g
Sugars, total including NLEA 0 g
Sucrose 0 g
Glucose 0 g
Fructose 0 g
Lactose 0 g
Maltose 0 g
Galactose 0 g
Calcium, Ca 19 mg
Iron, Fe 1.33 mg
Magnesium, Mg 18 mg
Phosphorus, P 158 mg
Potassium, K 274 mg
Sodium, Na 1580 mg
Zinc, Zn 2.44 mg
Copper, Cu 0.091 mg
Manganese, Mn 1.07 mg
Selenium, Se 29 µg
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid 0 mg
Thiamin 0.271 mg
Riboflavin 0.257 mg
Niacin 4.99 mg
Pantothenic acid 0.93 mg
Vitamin B-6 0.362 mg
Folate, total 5 µg
Folic acid 0 µg
Folate, food 5 µg
Folate, DFE 5 µg
Choline, total 51.2 mg
Betaine 2.8 mg
Vitamin B-12 1.3 µg
Vitamin B-12, added 0 µg
Vitamin A, RAE 0 µg
Retinol 0 µg
Carotene, beta 0 µg
Carotene, alpha 0 µg
Cryptoxanthin, beta 0 µg
Vitamin A, IU 0 IU
Lycopene 0 µg
Lutein + zeaxanthin 0 µg
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) 1.03 mg
Vitamin E, added 0 mg
Tocopherol, beta 0 mg
Tocopherol, gamma 0.11 mg
Tocopherol, delta 0 mg
Tocotrienol, alpha 0 mg
Tocotrienol, beta 0 mg
Tocotrienol, gamma 0 mg
Tocotrienol, delta 0 mg
Vitamin D (D2 + D3), International Units 52 IU
Vitamin D (D2 + D3) 1.3 µg
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) 5.8 µg
Vitamin K (Dihydrophylloquinone) 0 µg
Vitamin K (Menaquinone-4) 41.7 µg
Fatty acids, total saturated 17.7 g
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated 20.8 g
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated 4.46 g
Fatty acids, total trans 1.53 g
Fatty acids, total trans-monoenoic 1.4 g
TFA 16:1 t 0.065 g
TFA 18:1 t 1.34 g
TFA 22:1 t 0 g
TFA 18:2 t not further defined 0.124 g
Fatty acids, total trans-polyenoic 0.126 g
Cholesterol 97 mg
Tryptophan 0.23 g
Threonine 0.869 g
Isoleucine 0.901 g
Leucine 1.58 g
Lysine 1.65 g
Methionine 0.511 g
Cystine 0.228 g
Phenylalanine 0.778 g
Tyrosine 0.661 g
Valine 0.987 g
Arginine 1.3 g
Histidine 0.688 g
Alanine 1.18 g
Aspartic acid 1.82 g
Glutamic acid 3.01 g
Glycine 1.07 g
Proline 0.862 g
Serine 0.771 g
Hydroxyproline 0.382 g

Fun Facts About Pepperoni

Here are some interesting fun facts worth knowing about pepperoni:

  • According to The Washington Post, Americans eat about 251.7 million pounds of pepperoni every year.
  • In the United States, pepperoni accounts for about 36% of all daily pizza orders.
  • Celebrate your love for pepperoni on September 20th, Pepperoni Pizza Day.
  • The Italian word for pepperoni is pepperoncini.
  • One thing to know about the origin of pepperoni is that pepperoni was first mentioned in 1919 in Lower Manhattan, New York.
  • The thickness and casing of pepperoni cause it to curl.

Final Thoughts

Since the 1900s, pepperoni has been a customer favorite and is definitely here to stay.

You cannot go wrong with pepperoni if you want a tasty treat. As you now know, pepperoni is a delicious Italian-American food made from pork, beef, and the right combination of spices and seasonings.

Having learned everything you need to know about pepperoni, why not try to make it yourself?

Follow a recipe or try creating your own according to your liking. Not only can you use pepperoni as pizza toppings but in pasta dishes, sandwiches, wraps, salads, and appetizers as well.

What do you think about pepperonis? Do you also love pepperonis? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Further Reading With Slice Pizzeria

Are you interested in learning more about pepperonis? Take a look at Slice Pizzeria’s guides.

You can read about Old World Pepperoni – What You Need To Know and Salami Vs Pepperoni – Difference Between Salami And Pepperoni.

I also have helpful guides on How Long Does Pepperoni Last and Can I Eat Pepperoni While Pregnant?

Aside from pepperoni facts, you can find information on pizza reviews, pizzeria comparisons, top-rated pizzerias, and menus and prices.

For more information about menus and prices, check out these guides:

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