Ah yes, pepperoni…
That delicious blend of salt and spice and smoke makes it the perfect topping for any pizza or ingredient in all kinds of delicious Italian cuisine, from pasta to salads and everything in between.
Pepperoni has come a long way since its creation in the early 20th century and today there are many types of pepperoni. From unique ingredients to specialty cuts, there’s a pepperoni to suit almost anyone, for any purpose.
So before you salivate at the thought of your next slice of pepperoni pizza, let’s take a quick look at what’s out there in the brave new world of pepperoni!
Pepperoni By Meat Type
There are several types of meat used for pepperoni, from beef to venison. We’ll touch on what makes each different from the other below.
Beef pepperoni is exactly what it sounds like – pepperoni that’s made from 100% beef. It’s also referred to as Halal pepperoni. Muslims do not consume pork products and so beef is used for pepperoni in traditional meals.
Almost all pepperoni that’s sold in the United States contains a mix of beef and pork. In fact, it’s this blend of meats that makes it different from pure salami, which is only made from pork. So while there’s no such thing as pure pork pepperoni, who cares, because it’s delicious no matter what it is!
Under labeling laws in the US, if you’ve purchased turkey pepperoni, that will be the only meat in the product. Pork is not used in turkey pepperoni. Even so, the taste is remarkably similar and many prefer to use it instead of traditional beef and pork pepperoni to cut on down on fats and calories.
If you’re a fan of deer meat, then venison pepperoni should be on your list to try. While you might have a hard time finding any to purchase, there are endless recipes for it online.
|Beef||Made from 100% beef, also known as Halal pepperoni, commonly used in traditional meals for Muslims who do not consume pork|
|Pork||A blend of beef and pork, makes it different from pure salami, commonly found in the US|
|Turkey||Made only from turkey meat, similar taste to traditional pepperoni, lower in fats and calories|
|Venison||Made from deer meat, harder to find but there are various recipes available online|
Pepperoni By Style (Or Cut)
Pepperoni is available in more than just slices today. From cubes to sticks, this delicious meat comes in a wide variety of shapes and cuts.
Cubed (Diced) Pepperoni
Cubed (or diced) pepperoni has become a popular style that’s made its way on to grocery store shelves in recent years. Rather than the traditional slicing preparation, the pepperoni is diced into 1/4″ cubes for easy use as other things besides pizza like salads, or even with your eggs at breakfast.
Cup Char Pepperoni
Cup char is a pepperoni lover’s dream. It’s a special type of pepperoni that curls up when heated into a cuplike shape, hence the name cup char. The reason it’s so beloved is that the shape the pepperoni takes holds in all the delicious greasy yumminess that pizza connoisseurs crave.
Lay Flat Pepperoni
Lay flat pepperoni is the tried and true original style we’ve all come to love. Unlike cup char, lay flat pepperoni doesn’t hold in the grease. For those who don’t mind the fat rendering out of the pepperoni and all over their pizza, lay flat is the go to topping for your next pie.
There are two kinds of stick pepperoni – the type you buy to cut your own slices and the snack stick type.
The first type are usually about 18″ long and about 2″ in diameter and made for slicing. If you’re looking to add some authentic flair to your next recipe, slicing your own pepperoni from a stick adds a personal touch to any meal.
The second type is reserved only for those pepperoni die hards out there. That’s right, what could be better than having a handy stick of pepperoni to munch on? Typically, they are much shorter and thinner than the pepperoni sticks you’d slice, but every bit as delicious.
|Cubed (Diced)||Diced into 1/4″ cubes, versatile to use in various dishes other than pizza|
|Cup Char||Curls up when heated into a cuplike shape, holds in all the delicious greasy yumminess|
|Lay Flat||The traditional style, doesn’t hold in the grease, good for those who don’t mind the fat rendering out of the pepperoni|
|Stick||Two types: (1) for slicing, usually 18″ long and 2″ in diameter, adds a personal touch to any meal; (2) for snacking, shorter and thinner than slicing type, but just as delicious.|
Pepperoni By Specialty Ingredients
Not everyone wants to (or can) enjoy the high fat versions of pepperoni we know so well. Today, there are types of pepperoni available to suit almost any dietary consideration.
Gluten Free Pepperoni
Most pepperoni is gluten-free but there may be situations where binding agents that are used contain trace amounts of gluten. The best thing to do is to check manufacturers’ labels to be sure. Unfortunately, there are no tests available for zero gluten but many makers of pepperoni like Hormel go to great lengths to ensure that their labeling is accurate.
Low Sodium Pepperoni
There are some options for low sodium pepperoni for those who need to watch their intake. Both Hormel and Armour make pepperoni that has 50% less sodium than their high salt counterparts. However, pepperoni is a high sodium food with 500 milligrams of sodium per serving. Armour’s brand of low sodium pepperoni contains 250 milligrams per serving so it can add up if eaten in large amounts.
Plant-Based Pepperoni (Vegan, Veggie or Vegetarian Pepperoni)
Plant-based pepperoni are enjoyed by vegans and vegetarians as a replacement. Although the ingredients used can vary from one manufacturer to another, they are usually a combination of soy protein, legumes, vegetables and wheat gluten. These are blended together to create a surprisingly “meat like” product that is then formed into the circular shaped pepperoni we’re familiar with.
As mentioned, for those who are sensitive to gluten, it’s worth noting that one of the key ingredients in plant-based pepperoni is wheat so be sure and read labels.
|Gluten Free||Some pepperoni may contain trace amount of gluten but manufacturers such as Hormel go to great lengths to ensure accurate labeling.|
|Low Sodium||Some options available such as Hormel and Armour that have 50% less sodium than traditional pepperoni, but still contains high amount of sodium.|
|Plant-Based||Enjoyed by vegans and vegetarians as a replacement, usually made from soy protein, legumes, vegetables, and wheat gluten, may contain gluten.|
Other Types of Pepperoni
Kosher pepperoni can only be made using beef since pork may not be consumed in kosher households. Additionally, it must be prepared in according to kosher guidelines.
However, finding kosher pepperoni is not always easy, so often plant-based options are used instead.
Further complicating matters is that meat and dairy cannot be consumed at the same time so if pizza is on the menu, it’s likely that it will either be cheese with veggies or a plant-based version of pepperoni as a substitute.
In Muslim culture, Halal is like kosher in the Jewish tradition in that only beef pepperoni can be consumed. However, so long as the pepperoni eaten is from pure beef, there are no restrictions mixing beef and dairy together in a meal, as would be the case in a kosher home.
|Kosher||Can only be made using beef, must be prepared according to kosher guidelines, hard to find, often substituted with plant-based options.|
|Halal||Consumed by muslims, can only be made using beef, no restriction on mixing beef and dairy together in a meal.|
I’m Griffin and I make my living as a freelance writer and wannabe sci fi author. Besides my obsession with words, I have a few others which may or may not include craft beer, backcountry hikes and spending time with loved ones – preferably in that order. Thanks for checking out my work and I hope you enjoy it!