Pepperoni Pizza Did Not Originate in Italy

Pizza is one of the most popular foods in the world, especially in Italy. Among the many varieties and flavors of pizza, pepperoni is one that most people order. But did you know that pepperoni pizza did not originate from Italy? Pizza in Italy is not like the pizza enjoyed in the United States. They are simpler and lighter on the cheese and toppings. They are also served in convenience markets and bars, making them a quick snack.

Even though many people believe that pepperoni pizza is of Italian origin, it is actually an entirely American product. In fact, it has an interesting and unique history. If you want to know more about it, read on as we’re going to explain the pepperoni pizza origin.

History of Pepperoni

freshly baked pepperoni pizza

The origin of the pepperoni begins with the method of curing meats as a way to preserve food. This dates all the way back to the Roman Empire, when refrigeration is not yet invented. The Romans established the method of curing meats using salt and other spices. These allowed them to keep a stock of meats instead of relying on what they could catch daily. In addition, curing was more reliable compared to other preservation processes at that time.

Eventually, different types of sausages were made across Europe, and these included spicy red sausages in regions of Italy. But no, pepperoni is not Italian. Even though it is being thought of as Italian meat, it is actually Italian-American. Pepperoni is an adaptation of other spicy sausage recipes, which is made using the ingredients available in America during that time. It was in the early 20th century when Italian immigrants started flowing into the United States, and they started mixing Southern European flavor traditions with American ingredients.

people getting pizza slices

It was in 1919 when the first known mention of pepperoni occurred in New York City. During this time, it began to appear as a topping to many Italian delis and pizzerias across Lower Manhattan. When the 1950s came, pizza was considered an ethnic Italian dish. The dish started to be popularized by the commercialization of the gas pizza oven, veterans returning from World War II, and the start of media coverage.

Can You Order Pepperoni Pizza in Italy?

In modern Italy, the word “pepperoni” refers to bell peppers. Therefore, if you’re in Italy and you asked for “pepperoni pizza,” especially in a part of Italy that is not used to serving tourists, you might be surprised at what you might get. It is possible to order pepperoni pizza in Italy. But you will not get anything with meat on it.

There is no such thing as pepperoni sausage in Italy as it does not exists there. It is an American deli that is a mix of smoked beef and pork, which is not made in Italy. The closest food to pepperoni that you can get in Italy is salami Picante, which is a spicy pork sausage. Remember that they do not do much-smoked meat in Italy. Their meats are usually cured, fermented, and aged.

How is Pepperoni Pizza Made?

The process of pepperoni making is fascinating. The thin and round slices of meat that we see on pizzas were made from fine or medium minced pork and beef combined with peppers, garlic, mustard seed, fennel, and other seasonings. To cure the meat, salt or nitrates are also added. After that, the mixture is sealed and refrigerated for a few days.

After a few days, the mixture is stuffed into casings. Traditionally, hog casings are used, and they will be tied off, forming a rope of links. These will be refrigerated for 12 hours to solidify their shape. Them they are hung to dry for a few weeks in a smoke chamber to add extra preservation and smoky goodness.

Later on, after the meat has dried, the links are packaged individually or in slices and shipped to grocery stores and pizza parlors.


The pepperoni pizza history is indeed very interesting. Even though it did not originate from Italy, it still became one of the most popular pizza flavors in the world, especially in the United States. When you say the word pizza, most people probably imagine pepperoni pizza in their minds. Today, you can also find many variations of this pizza flavor, depending on where you will order it. Chefs are continuously experimenting and putting twists on this very popular pizza flavor. We hope this post helped you in learning more about pepperoni pizza and its origins.