What Animal Does Pepperoni Come From? Origin & Fun Facts

Wondering what animal pepperoni comes from? Well, pepperoni is usually made from a blend of beef and pork. There are also cases of turkey added to this blend for extra flavor and low-fat content.

Pepperoni is one of the most popular pizza toppings in America. It is an accumulation of meat and seasonings in the form of a salami sausage, giving off a slightly smoky and meaty flavor.

This tangy, spicy sausage is the perfect complement to pizza in flavor and aesthetics, and it is impossible to imagine American pizza without it.

Well, the purpose of this article is to give you a total breakdown of pepperoni, what animal it comes from, what it is made of, and if it is good for you to consume.

What is pepperoni?

Pepperoni is an American salami made from cured pork and beef seasoned with paprika or other chili pepper. Pepperoni is specifically soft, slightly smoky, and bright red in color. It is mostly used as toppings for pizzas.

It can also be used as a component of cheese boards or antipasto platters. They are a great ingredient in quesadillas and grilled cheese sandwiches. The whole sausages can be minced or grated and used as a topping for baked potatoes, pasta salads, and as a garnish for soups.

Origin of pepperoni

You might assume pepperoni originates from Italy because of its name, but it comes from the United States. The pepperoni was created in New York by Italian immigrants adapting their cuisine to American kitchens.

The name pepperoni is derived from the Italian word “peperone,” which means pepper. The first mention of pepperoni occurred in 1919 in New York City, and the topping began to appear in several Italian delis and pizzerias across Lower Manhattan.

What animal does pepperoni come from?

Pepperoni comes from pork and beef trimmings. It is blended with salt, paprika, white pepper, cayenne pepper, and anise seed, through grinding, chopping, and mixing, and then cased in an artificial casing.

Pepperoni sausage doesn’t come from tomatoes, as most people naturally assume. Most times even turkey meat can be used to make pepperoni, which is also an alternative to conventional pepperoni.

What is pepperoni made of?

Pepperoni starts up as ground pork (pig) and beef (cow) mixed with spices like garlic, pepper, fennel, and mustard seed. Pepperoni makers add salt (mostly sodium nitrate) to the combination to cure it, and then it is sealed and refrigerated.

After a few days, this mixture is stuffed into the casings (often hog casings) to ferment. Once the cured meat is in the casings, the casting is tied off to form a rope of links.

The links are refrigerated for around twelve hours to solidify their shapes, and then it is hung to dry, usually in a smoke chamber to preserve them and to add extra smoky goodness, this is done for 3 weeks.

After the meat dries, the links are packaged individually or slice them up, depending on the manufacturer. After which, they are shipped to grocery stores or pizza houses.

What other ways can you eat pepperoni?

Apart from pizza topping, you can also find pepperoni in sandwiches, calzones, and microwave snacks such as pizza rolls. It also goes with baked potatoes and can also be eaten by itself.

SEE: Jimmy John’s Gluten Free Sandwiches

Is pepperoni healthy for you?

While pepperoni is delicious, it might not be all that healthy for you. This meat is high in saturated fat and sodium, considerably low on protein, and doesn’t offer many nutrients overall.

According to Myfooddata, Just 3 ounce (85 gram) serving contains 46.2% fat, 50% of your daily recommended intake. The salt or sodium content is even worse, having 58% of your daily recommended intake.

Pepperoni doesn’t offer much in terms of nutrients. Pepperoni is 19.2% protein, meaning a 3 ounce (85 gram) serving provides 33% of your daily recommended value. The mineral and vitamin content is also relatively low.

Eating pepperoni once in a while is okay, but it shouldn’t be a regular meal. People who are concerned about the nutritional value of pepperoni often go for turkey pepperoni, it has significant less saturated fats.

What does pepperoni taste like?

Because it is cured with salt, spices, and lactic acid, pepperoni has a salty, spicy, tangy taste. The texture is mostly chewy, which is one reason for slicing it so thinly. 

As mentioned earlier, typical spices in pepperoni include paprika, garlic powder, and sugar, but different preparations will feature different spice blends. The paprika is fairly standard, as it helps impart the slightly reddish color and flavor that pepperoni is known for.

What is the difference between pepperoni and salami? 

Pepperoni is not a type of salami. You can consider pepperoni as a modification of salami. A major difference is moisture. Pepperoni has low moisture content and it is made with a lot of paprika. This is why pepperoni tends to have a strong flavor that is more peppery than spicy.

How can you store pepperoni?

You can store your pepperoni by freezing it. You can also opt to keep it in the refrigerator; since it is cured meat, it has a moderate shelf life. 

Freezing it is fine. You can freeze the whole stick, wrapped in plastic, or just the slices, sealed in a container or freezer bags. It can last up to 8 months in the freezer and two months in the refrigerator.

SEE: Proper Steps in Freezing Your Pepperoni

Fun facts about pepperoni

  • Americans eat more than 250 million pounds of pepperoni yearly and more than 340 tons daily.
  • Excluding cheese, pepperoni is the most popular pizza topping in the United States.
  • National Pepperoni Pizza Day is September 20th.
  • Pepperoni pizza is the most popular frozen pizza variety.
  • Around 36% of people add pepperoni to their pizza orders.
  • Pepperoni typically gets its bright red color from paprika.


Is there pepperoni without pork?

Yes, there is. You can get pure beef pepperoni rather than the usual pork and beef mix, but it is not common. The turkey pepperoni seems to be the most common alternative.

Can you eat pepperoni raw? 

Yes, you can. Pepperoni is a cured, dry sausage much like salami, and you can certainly eat it without cooking it.

Is pepperoni made from organic meat?

No, pepperoni is not made with low-quality leftover meat or organ meats.

Which country did pepperoni originate from?

It originates from New York, America. But it was invented by Immigrant Italian butchers.

Conclusion: Which animal does pepperoni come from?

Pepperoni is made from a mixture of ground pork and beef mixed with spices and flavorings, and it is one of the most popular pizza toppings in America.

It is advisable to consume moderately as pepperoni is considered not too healthy, and this is because of the high-fat content and the low protein profile. You can mix up your diet and try other healthy meat-to-go options such as beef jerky.

If you enjoyed this article, you should also check out the key differences and similarities between pepperoni and salami.

Thank you for reading.