Being a type of salami, made from ground meat, it’s difficult to determine at a glance what type of meat pepperoni is made from.
There are two options people consider most here – is pepperoni pork or beef?
Pepperoni is typically made from a combination of beef and pork. The spices and curing process give it its distinctive flavor and red color. However, there are also versions made with just beef, especially to cater to those who do not eat pork for dietary or religious reasons.
Always check the label or ask the manufacturer if you need to be certain about the meat content of a particular brand or product.
Is Pepperoni Meat?
Though the word pepperoni comes from the Italian word for bell pepper (“peperoni”), it is most certainly meat. It’s a type of sausage, and more specifically, a type of salami with American origins.
Pepperoni dates back to the early 1900s, and it’s first use was said to be in New York City. It was commonly used as a spicy meat topping on pizzas and could be found in most butcher shops – trends that are still true today!
What is Pepperoni Made Of?
When it comes to the question of whether pepperoni sausage is made of pork or beef, the answer is usually both for this sausage varietal.
Most pepperoni you find in the store or local butcher shop is made of both ground pork and ground beef.
Pepperoni is known for its spicy flavor and is often seasoned with cayenne pepper, black pepper, crushed red pepper, mustard seed, fennel seed, garlic, and paprika (which gives it its characteristic red color).
Also found in pepperoni are curing salts (sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite). Because pepperoni is a cured meat, it isn’t cooked.
Although pork and beef are the most common ingredients used together to make pepperoni sausage, you can find substitutes like turkey pepperoni beef pepperoni (made from just beef) or (made from just turkey).
People who may lean more towards beef pepperoni include those have dietary restrictions that don’t allow them to eat pork (for example, those of Muslim faith, who can only eat halal pepperoni, or pepperoni made without pork).
Those who reach for the turkey pepperoni likely include people who want to avoid red meat.
Is Pepperoni Red Meat?
To answer the question of whether or not pepperoni is red meat, let’s first define what red meat is, exactly.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, meat is classified as either white meat or red meat, depending on the amount of myoglobin (a type of protein found in the skeletal muscles that give it its red color when exposed to oxygen) it contains.
Types of red meat come from livestock, with the most common being beef, veal, lamb, and pork. Examples of white meat include poultry (like chicken and turkey) or fish.
Despite pork having less red color compared to its other red meat counterparts, it’s still considered red meat.
So yes, your typical pepperoni (consisting of pork and beef sausage) you come across in the store is red meat. Beef pepperoni is also considered red meat. Turkey pepperoni, however, is not red meat.
How Is Pepperoni Made?
The pepperoni-making process follows that of most sausages.
Cuts of pork and beef are first pushed through a meat grinder. Sometimes, the meat is put through the grinder twice, depending on how finely ground you want the meat to be.
In the ground meat mixture, it’s important to make sure to have the right fat to meat ratio. If more fat is needed, pork fat is often used.
Salt, cure (even for uncured pepperoni – click here to learn more), and spices also need to be added for flavor, preservation and prevention of unwanted bacterial growth, and color.
Lactic acid bacteria are also added to kickstart the fermentation process for preservation.
The mixture is then stuffed into casings and allowed to ferment for several days. Once fermented, the pepperoni sausages are hung in a cool, dark room to dry for up to a month or so. They can also be smoked at this step for added flavor.
Hopefully this article cleared things up in regards to the types of meat that goes into pepperoni and other ingredients it’s made of.
This beloved salami is a classic, American pizza topping that comes in varieties suited for all types of diets!
Considering what goes into pepperoni, it’s not uncommon to question whether it’s healthy – click here to learn more