Is Pepperoni Beef or Pork? (It Depends!)

Pepperoni is the king of all sauces and a common Italian-American loved meat that finds its way into pizza, pasta, lasagna, and various other dishes.

But, is pepperoni beef or pork? How much do you really know about the ingredients that go into making pepperoni?

If you are a pepperoni lover aching to know more about your favorite topping, let us introduce you to the world of pepperoni, where you will learn what this sausage is made from and how it is made.


Is Pepperoni Beef or Pork?

Most people love pepperoni and would not choose it over anything else but are not sure whether it is made from beef or pork.

This is a dry sausage that usually uses both ground beef and pork. Different spices are used to add flavor to it, including salt, chili powder, fennel seeds, mustard seeds, black pepper, garlic powder, and sweet paprika.

In the 20th century, Italian immigrants made their way to America and colonized the world with their pepperoni recipe containing more pork than beef.

Over time, wide other varieties were made, including beef pepperoni, chicken pepperoni, and turkey pepperoni. However, the original recipe for pepperoni remained the most popular because of its rich flavor.

If pepperoni is made from more than 55 percent beef, it is usually labeled as pork and beef pepperoni.

If 100 percent beef is used, it needs to be labeled as beef pepperoni. Similarly, pepperoni made with less than 20 percent turkey must be labeled as pepperoni with turkey, and if it has more than 20 percent turkey, it needs to be called turkey and pork pepperoni.

As long as it is appropriately labeled, officials have no issue with pepperoni. After all, individuals must know what they are consuming and putting into their bodies.

Since it is the law to label pepperoni accurately, you do not have to struggle too much when shopping for pepperoni at your local supermarket.

If you are in doubt, you must read the product’s ingredients, and you should have it all there!


Is Pepperoni Red Meat?

Apart from the ingredients mentioned above, curing salts are used to make pepperoni.

These include sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate. Contrary to the common misconception, pepperoni is not cooked. Instead, it is cured meat.

The curing salts help preserve the meat so that it can be consumed safely. In fact, you do not have to put it in the refrigerator either. The lack of cooking is what makes pepperoni slices so red and fresh.

Even though pepperoni is a kind of meat, is it red meat?

There are two common types of meat – red and white. These names are derived from the amount of myoglobin present in each. Myoglobin is a protein that becomes red when exposed to oxygen.

Red meat comes from different kinds of livestock, including pork, lamb, veal, and beef. White meat, on the other hand, includes fish, turkey, and chicken.

Even though pork is not as red as other kinds of red meat, it still falls in the category of red meat.

This means that pepperoni, which usually consists of beef and pork, is definitely a kind of red meat. Yet, turkey and chicken pepperoni cannot be categorized as red meat.

Usually, pepperoni made from a mix of beef and pork is softer, richer, and more succulent than all beef or all pork pepperoni.

On the other hand, pepperoni made from 100 percent beef is leaner and denser, creating a hearty flavor. Beef, chicken, and turkey pepperoni slices are halal and are usually consumed in the Middle East.

Moreover, a large majority of the population believes that turkey pepperoni is the healthiest since it contains a lower amount of saturated fat than red meat.

Despite this, it is loaded with salt. When consuming pepperoni, you must keep your sodium intake in check.


How is Pepperoni Made

A long process is used to make the best Italian-American sausage that you and many other generations before and after you have fallen in love with.

Specific cuts of beef and pork are used to make pepperoni- these are first put into a meat grinder.

If the pepperoni is supposed to be paper thin, it goes into the grinder twice. This depends on the kind of pepperoni the manufacturer wants to sell.

When using ground meat, it is essential that the fat-to-meat ratio must be accurate.

In case more fat is needed to make the pepperoni, most manufacturers make use of pork fat.

Once the meat has been minced, spices like paprika, garlic, fennel seeds, crushed red pepper, mustard seeds, black pepper, and cayenne pepper are mixed in. These spices help give pepperoni that kick that all spice lovers adore.

After this step, the meat needs to be cured to preserve it. Sodium nitrate and salt are added so that the pepperoni can be consumed without the need to be refrigerated or cooked.

This step is extremely crucial as it prevents microorganisms from growing and helps bring a deep red color to the slices of pepperoni.

Lactic acid bacteria are also injected into the slices of meat so that the pH balance of the slices can be lowered.

This helps kickstart the fermentation process, which is crucial for preserving pepperoni.

Now, just like sausage and other kinds of salami, the meat mixture is put into casings so that it can ferment for a number of days.

After fermentation, the pepperoni is hung in a dark, cool room for 30 days. Some manufacturers smoke them so that the sausages develop a nice, intense flavor.

Once these sausages dry up, they are cut into pepperoni slices and shipped to consumers. Keep in mind that some brands do not slice pepperoni. In this case, it is distributed whole.


The Taste of Pepperoni – What is it Like?

It is no wonder that pepperoni is the most well-loved meat to date.

It has a familiar and rich flavor that is easy to obsess over. When you first eat pepperoni, you will be amazed by the explosion of flavors in your mouth. The lactic acid and salt make pepperoni tangy in taste because of the curing process it goes through.

Some people also describe pepperoni as overwhelming, but in a good way.

This is because of the spices like cayenne pepper and paprika used to make it. It is pepperoni’s strong flavor that makes people buy it over and over again and include it in a variety of dishes.

Pepperoni also has a different texture- it is chewy and rough, which is why manufacturers ensure that they slice their pepperoni thinly.

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Dishes Where Pepperoni Can Be Used

Contrary to popular belief, pepperoni is not only used as a pizza topping.

Of course, it has become one of the most popular pizza toppings over the years, but it can also be used in many other dishes. Remember that pepperoni is a kind of meat that can be used in any dish.

Here are some food dishes that can incorporate pepperoni for a kick of flavor and texture:


Pepperoni Empanadas

You can make your empanadas any way you want without following the recipe.

It is a dish that requires you to let your imagination run wild. When you are filling up your empanada, you can use pepperoni and cheese and create your own version of this popular Mexican dish.


Chicken Pepperoni Bake

A classic Italian recipe, all you have to do here is take some cooked pasta and mix it with tomato sauce and chicken before topping it off with some sliced pepperoni.

Mix everything together and cover the top with as much cheese as your heart desires. Pop the dish in the oven till the cheese develops a golden-brown color. The final result will be a delicious pasta dish with pepperoni, adding flavor and texture.


Pepperoni Grilled Cheese

You can add pepperoni to absolutely any dish you want, including a classic grilled cheese sandwich.

Take two slices of your favorite bread and layer them with spinach, tomatoes, cheese, and pepperoni. Grill your sandwich till the cheese is oozing out.

You can use this as a meal at any time of the day, whether for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.


Conclusion – Is Pepperoni Beef or Pork?

Now that you know exactly how pepperoni is made, you can add it to a variety of dishes!

Pepperoni is a classic pizza topping and can be included in all kinds of diets. Since pepperoni slices can be made from beef and / or pork, as well as turkey and / or chicken, there is a range of options for you to choose from.

Even though pepperoni is exceptionally delicious and a staple in many American and Italian dishes, keep in mind that it is not extremely healthy due to its high-fat content.

Hence, don’t consume too much of it.