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Pepperoni topping a pizza, ready for the oven
Place of originUnited States
Main ingredientsPork and beef
Ingredients generally usedSpices
Food energy
(per 100 g serving)
460 kcal (1926 kJ)
Nutritional value
(per 100 g serving)
Protein23 g
Fat40.2 g

Pepperoni is a variety of spicy salami made from cured pork and beef seasoned with paprika and chili peppers.

Prior to cooking, pepperoni is characteristically soft, slightly smoky, and bright red. Sliced pepperoni is one of the most popular pizza toppings in American pizzerias.

Traditionally made pepperonis curl into "cups" in the pizza oven's intense heat; commercialization of the production of pepperoni created slices that would lie flat on the pie. The curled "cup and char" style of pepperoni remained popular in pockets of the Midwest.



The term pepperoni is a borrowing of peperoni, the plural of peperone, the Italian word for 'bell pepper'. The first use of pepperoni to refer to a sausage dates to 1916 at the latest.[1] In Italian, the word peperoncino refers to hot and spicy chili peppers.



In 1919, Italian immigrants in New York City created pepperoni.[2] It is a cured dry sausage, with similarities to the spicy salamis of southern Italy on which it is based, such as salsiccia or soppressata. The main differences are that pepperoni is less spicy, has a finer grain (akin to spiceless salami from Milan), is usually softer in texture, and is usually produced with the use of an artificial casing.


Pepperoni, Pork
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy1,940 kJ (460 kcal)
4 g
40.2 g
20.35 g
Percentages estimated using US recommendations for adults,[3] except for potassium, which is estimated based on expert recommendation from the National Academies.[4]

Pepperoni is made from pork or from a mixture of pork and beef.[5] Turkey meat is also commonly used as a substitute, but the use of poultry in pepperoni must be appropriately labeled in the United States.[6] It is typically seasoned with paprika or other chili pepper.[7]

Prior to cooking, pepperoni is characteristically soft, slightly smoky, and bright red.[7] Curing with nitrates or nitrites (usually used in modern curing agents to protect against botulism and other forms of microbiological decay) also contributes to pepperoni's reddish color, by reacting with heme in the myoglobin of the proteinaceous components of the meat.[8]



Sliced pepperoni is one of the most popular pizza toppings in American pizzerias.[9] According to Convenience Store Decisions, in 2009 Americans consumed 251.7 million pounds (114.2 million kilograms) of pepperoni annually, on 36% of all pizzas produced nationally.[10]

Pepperoni is also used as the filling of the pepperoni roll, a popular regional snack in West Virginia and neighboring areas.[11]

In the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, deep fried pepperoni served on its own (usually with a honey mustard dipping sauce) is common pub food.[12][13]

Cup and char

Cup and char pepperoni

Pepperoni has a tendency to curl up from the edges in the heat of a pizza oven; historically all pepperonis showed at least some of this tendency to curl in the oven because of their natural casings.[14]

As commercial suppliers became the main suppliers to pizza shops, they developed a fibrous synthetic casing which is intended to be stripped from the pepperoni before it is sliced.[15] This resulted in a pepperoni that does not curl.[15] An additional benefit of non-curling pepperoni is that it eliminates the small deposits of hot grease that formed in the cupped pepperoni, therefore also eliminating any possible liability for customers who burn themselves on it.[15]

The original style became known as "cup and char" pepperoni and remains popular in parts of the midwest and Great Lakes areas, particularly around Cleveland, Ohio, and Buffalo, New York, and regained popularity in other areas in the 2010s.[14][16][17][18] It is more expensive to produce.[19]

See also



  1. ^ "Fresh from the Smokehouse". Anchorage Times. Anchorage, AK. October 28, 1916. p. 7. Retrieved May 27, 2024 – via Newspapers.com. Open access icon
  2. ^ Kuestenmacher, Simon (2023). Marvellous Maps: Our changing world in 40 amazing maps. Welbeck Publishing Group. p. 78. ISBN 9781803380247.
  3. ^ United States Food and Drug Administration (2024). "Daily Value on the Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels". FDA. Archived from the original on March 27, 2024. Retrieved March 28, 2024.
  4. ^ National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Health and Medicine Division; Food and Nutrition Board; Committee to Review the Dietary Reference Intakes for Sodium and Potassium (2019). Oria, Maria; Harrison, Meghan; Stallings, Virginia A. (eds.). Dietary Reference Intakes for Sodium and Potassium. The National Academies Collection: Reports funded by National Institutes of Health. Washington, DC: National Academies Press (US). ISBN 978-0-309-48834-1. PMID 30844154. Archived from the original on May 9, 2024. Retrieved June 21, 2024.
  5. ^ Hui, Yiu H.; Culbertson, J. D. (2006). Handbook of Food Science, Technology, and Engineering. CRC Press. p. 72-68. ISBN 978-0-8493-9848-3. Retrieved December 22, 2020.
  6. ^ Food Standards and Labelling Policy Book, USDA, pp. 133–134.
  7. ^ a b Moskin, Julia (February 1, 2011). "Pepperoni: America's Favorite Topping". The New York Times. Retrieved April 22, 2013.
  8. ^ Flippone, Peggy Trowbridge. "A Recipe to Make Authentic Homemade Pepperoni". The Spruce. Retrieved December 12, 2017.
  9. ^ "America's Most Popular Pizza Toppings". Huffington Post. October 5, 2011. Retrieved April 22, 2013. According to a survey done by Technomic's MenuMonitor from July to September 2011 based on 235 different pizza places in America pepperoni and plain cheese were the #1 and #2 most popular pizzas ordered.
  10. ^ "Pizza Palates Changing". CStore Decisions. May 31, 2009. Archived from the original on September 28, 2022. Retrieved April 25, 2013. Pepperoni is by far America's favorite topping, (36% of all pizza orders). Approximately 251.7 million pounds of pepperoni are consumed on pizzas annually.
  11. ^ Edge, John T. (September 29, 2009). "United Tastes - Pepperoni Rolls, a Piece of West Virginia Culinary History: Fast Food Even Before Fast Food". The New York Times. New York, NY. Style Section: Dining & Wine. Retrieved November 3, 2010.
  12. ^ Eat This Town (February 1, 2016). "Nova Scotia Food Profiles: Pepperoni". Eat This Town. Retrieved January 7, 2018.
  13. ^ Brown, Lola (April 2, 2013). "You Must Try: Delicious Deep Fried Pepperoni in Halifax, Nova Scotia". Travel Mindset. Retrieved January 7, 2018.
  14. ^ a b Lukas, Paul (March 12, 2019). "The Great Pepperoni Debate: Should It Lie Flat on Your Pizza Or Curl Up?". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved September 12, 2023.
  15. ^ a b c López-Alt, J. Kenji (December 2012). "The Food Lab: Why Does Pepperoni Curl?". Serious Eats. Retrieved April 22, 2013.
  16. ^ Brooke, Eliza (February 8, 2019). "How Tiny, Curly Pepperonis Took Over NYC's Pizza Market". Eater NY. Retrieved September 12, 2023.
  17. ^ Tsujimoto, Ben (November 13, 2020). "Cup-and-char crunch: Buffalo's beloved pepperoni in short supply". Buffalo News. Retrieved September 12, 2023.
  18. ^ Dave, Large (August 5, 2022). "Like Roni Cup Pizza? You Should Thank Brewster's Ace Endico". i95 ROCK. Retrieved September 12, 2023.
  19. ^ Peng, Jen (April 8, 2022). "Why Does Some Pepperoni Curl When Cooked?". Tasting Table. Retrieved September 12, 2023.

Further reading

  • The dictionary definition of pepperoni at Wiktionary