What is Old-world Pepperoni? Info and Recipe

What comes to your mind first when you hear ‘pepperoni’? Yeah yeah, I can listen to your thoughts. Isn’t it a pepperoni pizza? Can’t we all agree that there is nobody who doesn’t like pizza? From house parties to movie nights, from cozy blanket dates to friends binge, everywhere the perfect suit stands for a pizza. And when it comes to choose or pick one, it is really a daunting task to decide one from a variety of options. And there, your all-time favorite appetizer might come in the form of a pepperoni pizza which brings us to the crux of the topic, old-world pepperoni.

Let’s dig into it a bit more to know a little more about old-world pepperoni…

Old-world pepperoni: what is it?

What is old world pepperoni

Old-world pepperoni is also known as sausage pepperoni. It is a kind of salami that is made from cured beef and pork. Although it is condemned that old-world pepperoni originated from America, many people believe that this has been derived from Italian salami.

This famous savory topping is seasoned with paprika and chilies. The smoked flavor that identifies old-world pepperoni is the result of paprika and chilies.

Old-world pepperoni comes in dark red, maroon, or brown color. It usually curls up due to its natural casing. So, the edges become crispy. For the people who love spicy pizza, old-world pepperoni is the best option because it beats its competitor in the market, the American pepperoni, on the spice scale.

Pepperoni: etymology and history

Interestingly, the name pepperoni comes from the Italian word ‘pepperoni.’ This means ‘Bell pepper’ in English. Etymologically the nomenclature probably indicates that old-world pepperoni was invented in Italy. 

For that, you need to know the history a little more. In the Early 20th century, Italian migrants came to America and started pizzerias and butchers. In fact, you will be amazed to know that the first time ‘pepperoni’ was used in written form was in 1919, in New York.

So, that puts an end to all the battle over the origin of pepperoni. It is an authentic American creation.

The amalgamation of both cultures leads us to a mixed flavor of Italy and America. However, to bring some different flavors, the Italians changed the traditional pepperoni and brought subtle changes.

Instead of the natural casing, they started using artificial cases. Even the use of finely ground meat was also predominant. 

How is pepperoni made?

Now that you have gathered a firm knowledge about pepperonI and its differences from other similar items, it is time to know the process of how pepperoni is made. 

  • The standard version of pepperoni usually contains a mixture of pork and beef. So the finely ground pork and beef are mixed well. Then, salt, spices, and other flavorings (such as pepper, paprika, anise seed, and so on) are added to the mixture. Some people use sodium nitrate in the mix as curing agents. The sodium refrains the meat from growing microorganisms in them, and the nitrate gives it the authentic red or brownish color. Some manufacturers use sugar to bring more flavor and color to the sausages. 
  • A type of lactic acid bacteria is used in making cheese and yogurt. This bacteria is then pushed into the meat. There is an essential part of the lactic acid bacteria to play here. The lactic acid bacteria produce lactic acid in the meat. As a result, the preservation process becomes much more manageable. 
  • Then the next part is fermenting the meat. The fermentation converts the carbs of the meat into alcohol or acid. So the mixture of ground beef and pork is then stuffed in a natural or edible casing (most commonly in sheep gut) with the fermentation ingredients and kept there for several days. 
  • Then the sausages are heated at a low temperature. The casing here plays the card here when it comes to keeping the mixture together while cooking. Another thing to keep in mind is that the casing is a vital part of the sausages. To increase and enhance the smoked flavor, a casing should be good enough to absorb the smoke. 
  • Then comes the final part of pepperoni making, namely, drying. The sausages are then moved to a drying room and kept there for almost twenty days. It is made sure by checking multiple times that no moisture remains in the meat to prevent fermentation. After the final stage, the sausages are packed and sent to the market for selling. 

Some manufacturers use sugar to bring more flavor and color to the sausages. Another thing to keep in mind is that the casing is a vital part of the sausages. To increase and enhance the smoked flavor, a casing should be good enough to absorb the smoke. 

Why does old-world pepperoni curl up?

One characteristic of the old-world pepperoni that is predominant in identifying them is the curling in them while cooking. We all agree that we love pepperoni. But has this question ever crossed your mind? Why does it curl up like that? 

If yes, then here is the answer. There are two predominant reasons for the old-world pepperoni to curl up. 

  1. Casing: since the old-world pepperoni is made using natural casing, it is normal for the sausage to curl a little while cooking.
  2. Thickness: another major reason for the old-world pepperoni to curl up is the thickness. When the pepperoni is placed on top of the pizza, the bottom of the pepperoni takes longer to be fully cooked due to its thickness. But the thin edges of the same are cooked within a short span of time. As a result, the edges curl up and give a crispy bacon-like flavor. 

Old-world pepperoni vs. American pepperoni

I am sure every foodie out there loves to eat pepperoni pizza. But hey, have you ever indulged in thinking why and how the old word pepperoni is different from American pepperoni? Now, this is something that every foodie or pepperoni lover would like to know. 

For those who did not know the types of pepperoni, here is brief information. There are two varieties of pepperoni. One is the American pepperoni, and another is the old-world pepperoni.

There should not be any comparison between them because they both taste different and unique. Hence, no comparison or winner trophy is there. But yes, Despite having so many similarities, they differ from each other on many points.

The American-style pepperoni sausage is relatively new, whereas the old-world pepperoni is a traditional choice amongst people. Although the good old pepperoni has been a classic choice of people worldwide, the American pepperoni has gathered many fan followings.

So, you might appreciate our youngster’s charisma. Despite having so many similarities, they differ from each other on many points.

  • The American pepperoni is relatively less spicy. On the other hand, old-world pepperoni is known for its smoky flavor from the chilies and paprika. So spice lovers might not enjoy American pepperoni but might be a fan of the old-world pepperoni.
  • The American-style pepperoni does not use natural casing. But on the contrary, the old-world pepperoni uses a natural casing that causes curl and crisp edges. 
  • The old-world pepperoni is dark red or maroon. But the American pepperoni has a subtle orange hint in it.
  • Last but not least, if we consider size to be an aspect of difference, then again, we will see another point here. Our own humble American pepperoni, the youngster, is bigger while served as a topping of pizza. On the other hand, if you look at the classic choice, the old-world pepperoni, you will see much smaller sizes while putting on a pizza.

Salami vs. pepperoni

Again there should be no comparison between salami and pepperoni. Then why mention this point? Well, salami and pepperoni are very similar to each other. They are cousins that appear to be hard to differentiate. Despite having so many similarities, they both are different in many aspects. They both are unique in their appearances.

Let’s know a bit more about salami and pepperoni and their differences

  • Salami is an authentic Italian cured sausage. The Italian residents tried to ferment the meat so that it can be preserved for an extended period. Hence the method was a clever one. Technically, salami was for times of food shortage.
  • Salami is made from chopped beef, pork, poultry, and veal. Then all the meat is mixed with preferred spices. Garlic, vinegar, white pepper, oil or fat, salt, and herbs are a few to name. Once mixed properly, it is stuffed in a natural edible casing like sheep gut and then left to cure.
  • Salami is a multidimensional item that can suit many dishes like sandwiches or antipasto cuisine. 
  • Pepperoni, on the other hand, is said to be discovered in America. But, indeed, the dilemma of origin can still be traced in the taste and texture.
  • Generally, pepperoni is spicier than salami. We might not notice much variety in the dishes made with pepperoni, but yes, you might appreciate its magnetism in the form of a pepperoni pizza. 

Beef pepperoni vs. pork pepperoni

You might have guessed from the names what can be the differential point here. Yes, you guessed it right. The former uses only beef, whereas the latter seems to be made with pork.

  • Pepperoni comes from a mixture of pork and beef. But in this case, the beef pepperoni is made from finely sliced beef. It is added as pizza toppings for a better flavor. You might find them in American pizzerias. You might see them used in pepperoni rolls or stuffing of sandwiches in West Virginia. This can be best friends to those who do not cherish pork with its smooth texture and red color. 
  • On the other hand, pork pepperoni is the most common pepperoni that any food or pizza place in America would have on their menu. This type is made extensively using pork only.

Traditional pepperoni pizza recipe

The most famous dish that uses pepperoni is the classic pepperoni pizza. From kiddos to oldies, all are fond of this mouthwatering appetizer. Nothing can match the level of a perfectly cooked pepperoni pizza. 

It is okay to order a perfect pizza from any food junction. But what if you can make it to your place? Doesn’t that sound amazing? Perfection might discourage you because you presume you can not make a pizza equivalent to one from the food corner. But you know what?

With a little planning and proper steps, anything in the world is possible. So, here is the recipe for a perfect classic pepperoni pizza…

What is old world pepperoni


  • All-purpose flour ( 4 cups)
  • Warm water
  • Dried yeast ( 2 teaspoons)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Pasta sauce
  • Shredded mozzarella
  • Pepperoni
  • Mushrooms
  • Kalamata olives
  • Green or red bell pepper


  • In a bowl, take two teaspoons of yeast and combine them with warm water. Let the bowl sit for five minutes. Now, take another bowl and take four cups of all-purpose flour in it. Add one teaspoon of salt, a pinch of superfine sugar, ¼ cup of olive oil, and the yeast mixture in it. Mix well so that it takes the form of pizza dough. Knead until the dough becomes soft.
  • Once you make the dough perfectly, cover it with a damp cloth and let it sit in a cool place (you can place it in the refrigerator) for approximately half an hour. The dough should be swollen within that time. And when you remove the damp cloth, the dough should be twice its previous size.
  • Now, take the dough out and knead it again. Spread the dough and sprinkle some flour on it. With the help of a rolling pin, make the dough spread even more until it takes a perfect round shape of a pizza. Some people love thin crust pizza, and some others love it to be thick. Manage the thickness according to your choice. Once you are done with the rolling part, it is time to prepare the pizza.
  • Take a baking pan and brush the pan with olive oil. Now put the pizza dough on the pan. Take a fork and make holes in the dough for a better taste and flavor. Take the pasta sauce and spread it evenly on top of the raw dough. Then take two cups of shredded mozzarella and sprinkle that on the sauce base. Now, add the toppings one by one. Add sliced mushrooms, olives, pepperoni, and bell pepper on top of the pizza. Your raw pizza is now ready to go in the oven.
  • Leave the pizza in the oven at 350°F until the cheese melts and the crust gets a nice brown color. Take that out and serve. You might add oregano and chili flakes if you wish to have some more spice.

Final Lines

If you are a die-hard pepperoni lover, you might enjoy it in its multiple versions. Although there should be no comparison in taste, the American-style pepperoni has gathered several fan followings within a limited span. The reason behind creating the popular American pepperoni is to get rid of the curled-up edges of the old-world version. Some people did not like the crispy curls at all. Hence the popularity of the American-style pepperoni.

But, some people still love the “old school” version of pepperoni and its American-Italian taste. The bacon-like flavor is also very famous in terms of pizza toppings.

Be it the escape from the hustle-bustle of weekdays or peaceful, cozy weekend evenings with loved ones; pepperoni pizza is perhaps the best match. And when it comes to old-world pepperoni pizza, its flavorful spiciness and crispy texture can blow your mind in every bite.

Well,  I am pretty sure by now that you are probably craving an old-world pepperoni pizza. Why resist when you can’t? Try that today. Don’t forget to fill up your coke and turn on your Netflix while chilling.

More Posts for You:

Leave a Comment