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What is Pepperoni and How is it Made?

It’s a fact – pepperoni and pizza go together like peanut butter and jelly.

Like Riggs and Murtaugh.

Like Milli and Vanilli.

You know it’s true, but you might not know exactly what pepperoni is or pepperoni is made.

Ready to read all about ‘roni? ‘Cause we’re all pepped up to talk about it.

How is pepperoni made?

Glad you asked!

Recipes and methods vary, but most pepperoni starts with a mix of pork and beef. After the meat is trimmed to achieve the proper fat-to-meat ratio it’s finely ground and combined with lactic acid bacteria.

Lactic acid bacteria isn’t the yummiest sounding ingredient, but don’t worry, this the good kind of bacteria – this is what jumpstarts the fermentation process for cheese and yogurt, and it’s critical to making the spices in your well-rounded pepperoni shine (more on that in a bit).

Over the course of a few days, the meat is fermented, smoked, dried, and stuffed into casing. Later on, pepperoni is sliced, distributed on your pizza, and stuffed into your face.

What spices are in pepperoni?

The pepperoni spice blend usually includes:

  • Paprika
  • Garlic
  • Black Pepper
  • Crushed Red Pepper
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Mustard Seed
  • Fennel Seed

Every pepperoni producer uses a different mix and ratio of ingredients, but paprika is essential to the flavor profile and gives pepperoni its signature orange hue.

What are some pepperoni alternatives?

Pepperoni is widely regarded one of the very best spiced meats to top your pizza, but, here’s the thing – variety is the spice of life.

If you’re looking for a new and exciting pepperoni-type topping for your next pie, we highly reccommend hot soppressata, the prized spicy salami of southern Italy. This cured sausage utilizes a courser cut of pork and hits you with more heat than pepperoni.

You can think of hot soppressata as the more sophisticated cousin of pepperoni. Other sausages in the same wheelhouse include salsiccia Napoletana piccante and Calabrese salami.

You’ll find a wide spectrum of pepperoni at local mom-and-pop pizzerias, including all-pork, all-beef, and turkey pepperoni. No matter what you’re feeling, there’s a pepperoni out there for you.

National Pepperoni Pizza Day

National Pepperoni Pizza Day is on September 20th, and it’s one of our top ten favorite pizza holidays of the year.

It may not be a bank holiday, but it should be. Gather ’round the table with your beloved friends and family and dish out the fine china:

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