What is Pepperoni Made of?

What is Pepperoni?

Yes, Pepperoni is this tasty, but what is pepperoni made of? Pepperoni is a dried, cured, spiced beef or pork sausage. Making pepperoni, like all sausages, requires the use of proper cuts of meat to achieve a suitable meat-to-fat ratio. 

In the case of pepperoni, the meat-to-fat ratio is roughly 70 percent lean meat to 30 percent fat. Furthermore, it is also essential to achieve the desired texture (not too coarse nor too fine).


What is Pepperoni Made of?

What is in pepperoni that makes it so tasty? Pepperoni is made of ground pork and beef combined with spices and flavorings. The meat is then cured with salt and sodium nitrate. This step inhibits the growth of undesirable microorganisms. As a result, pepperoni does not become colored until nitrate is added.

Lactic acid bacteria are then injected into ground meat to reduce the pH balance. Lowering the ratio allows it to be better preserved for future use. The ground meat mixture is then stuffed into casings and ferments for several days, just like other types of salamis and sausage. 

The pepperoni is then transferred to a drying room, where it can stay for 20 days. Finally, the pepperoni is packaged and shipped after it has completely dried. Some of it is sliced, while others are left whole (depending on the manufacturer).

Where Does Pepperoni Come From?

Pepperoni is derived from the Italian word for bell pepper, peperoni, which is the plural of peperone (bell peppers). Although it is frequently associated with Italian cuisine, pepperoni was not invented there.

“Pepperoni is purely an Italian-American creation, like Chicken Parmesan,” food writer and historian John Mariana wrote in his book How Italian Food Conquered the World. Mariana claimed that there is no such thing as Italian pepperoni and that it was invented in America. 

Although some spicy salamis in Italy, particularly those found in Milan, have a similar flavor and color, the term “pepperoni” did not appear in print until 1919 in the United States. Around this time, pizzerias and Italian butcher shops began to spring up on the east coast. This should answer your question: Where does pepperoni come from?

What is in Pepperoni?

Pepperoni is typically made of pork. There are also mixed varieties, which sometimes consist of ground pork and beef encased together. So, the big question is, what is pepperoni made of exactly? Pepperoni ingredients include:

  • Pork (sometimes beef, too)
  • Salt
  • Water
  • Spices
  • Lactic acid starter culture
  • Sodium nitrate
  • Flavorings
  • Acids that aid in its preservation process

If you enjoy pepperoni, there are several pepperoni meal options for you. This popular topping can be found on the Works and Meat Lovers pies. Pepperoni is also available in Strombolis, Calzones, and pizza rolls!

How is Pepperoni Made?

What is Pepperoni? Pepperoni is made from ground pork and beef that has been mixed with spices and flavorings. Curing agents such as salt and sodium nitrate are then added to prevent the growth of unwanted microorganisms. Nitrate, which gives pepperoni its color, is also added.

The ground meat is then injected with lactic acid bacteria, which is commonly used in the production of yogurt or cheese. Lactobacillus and wild yeasts also produce it in a sourdough starter. The mixture is then stuffed into sausage casings, and the filled sausages are hung on racks in a smokehouse.  

They are then stored at a warm temperature of around 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius) in humid air, initiating fermentation. Lactic acid bacteria produce lactic acid, which lowers the pH balance of the meat, allowing it to be better preserved. The ground meat mixture is then stuffed into casings and fermented for several days in containers. 

The pepperoni sausages are then transferred to a drying room and stored for 20 days. Finally, the pepperoni is packaged and shipped after it has dried completely.

The meat and fat must be ground to granulation of about 1/16 inch to 1/8 inch (1.6 to 3.2 millimeters). The ground meat is seasoned with salt, sugar, and spices such as paprika and garlic powder. 

This mixture is inoculated with a culture of lactobacillus bacteria, which produce lactic acid, essential in curing the sausage and giving the pepperoni its distinctively tangy flavor.

Lactobacillus begins to consume the sugar in the seasoning, resulting in lactic acid production. In addition to imparting flavor, lactic acid inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria that cause food poisoning. The sausages are smoked after fermentation, typically with maple and hickory chips.

The thickness of the slices determines whether it will “cup” on your pizza as it cooks. Cupping occurs when the pepperoni slices curl up at the edges, forming a cup, giving the edges a crispy texture and allowing the pepperoni fat to pool in the center of the cup rather than spreading across the pizza.

Sliced pepperoni ingredients include pork, salt, water, spices, lactic acid starter culture, sodium nitrate, and other flavorings and acids to aid in the preservation process. If you like pepperoni, there are various ways to eat it. 

The popular topping is available on the Works, Meat Eaters, and unique pizzas. 

Pepperoni sausage

How to Use Pepperoni 

Pepperoni can be used as a component of cheese boards or antipasto platters and a pizza topping. 

They go well in grilled cheese sandwiches, and whole pepperoni sausages can be minced or grated and used as a topping for baked potatoes, pasta salads, and soup garnishes. To make grating the pepperoni sausages easier, you can freeze them ahead of time.

What Does Pepperoni Taste Like?

Pepperoni has a salty, spicy, tangy flavor because it is cured with salt, spices, and lactic acid. One reason for slicing it so thinly is that the texture is distinctly chewy. As previously stated, typical pepperoni spices include paprika, garlic powder, and sugar, but different preparations will feature different spice blends.

On the other hand, the paprika is reasonably standard, as it also contributes to the slightly reddish color and flavor that pepperoni is known for.

Can You Freeze Pepperoni?

Pepperoni can be frozen as part of the preparation process (to make it easier to grate), but it can also be frozen for long-term storage. Because it is cured, it does not need to be frozen and will keep well in your fridge for a long time. However, freezing pepperoni is also perfectly acceptable to do. 

You can freeze the entire stick wrapped in plastic or freeze the slices sealed in a container or freezer bags.

Pepperoni sticks, whole and sealed, can be stored in the fridge indefinitely or in your pantry for up to six weeks. Sliced pepperoni will stay edible in your fridge for several weeks, if not longer. It can remain edible in your freezer for at least eight months, if not up to one year. 

The most severe spoilage issue with pepperoni is that the fat can become rancid over time if exposed to oxygen, heat, or light.

Is Pepperoni Red Meat?

Is pepperoni red meat? To answer whether or not pepperoni is red meat, we must first define red meat. According to the Cleveland Clinic, meat is classified as either white or red meat based on the amount of myoglobin (a type of protein found in skeletal muscles that gives meat its red color when exposed to oxygen) it has.

Red meat is derived from livestock, the most common of which are beef, veal, lamb, and pork. Despite having less red color than other red meats, pork is still classified as red meat. White meats include poultry (such as chicken and turkey) and fish. 

So, yes, your typical store-bought pepperoni (made of pork and sometimes beef sausage) is red meat. Beef pepperoni is also a type of red meat. On the other hand, Turkey pepperoni is not red meat- it is white meat. 

Therefore, remember that pepperoni may be red meat or not (it all depends on what kind of meat was used to make it).

Pepperoni Slices

In Summary

Hopefully, this article clarified the different types of meat used in pepperoni and the other ingredients used to make it. This whole article should help you understand what pepperoni is made of exactly what makes pepperoni spicy but tasty. 

Get out there and enjoy your pepperoni today!