What Is Old World Pepperoni? Why It Makes A Difference & Pizza Recipe


If you follow the food and recipes space online, you may have come across chatter about something called “old world” pepperoni. Some people like it, some people don’t. So, what is “old world” pepperoni, anyways?

Old world pepperoni refers to a higher quality kind of pepperoni typically prepared with spicy seasonings, bacterial cultures and a natural casing. The spicy seasonings and bacterial cultures give it a bolder flavor than other kinds of pepperoni and the natural casing causes it to curl into “cups” when cooked. Old world pepperoni may also be sliced into thicker, more irregular shapes which further affects the cooking process and adds character to the final product.

But there’s more to “old world” pepperoni than a bit of extra spice and a different shape. Read on to learn what sets old world pepperoni apart as well as to gain an understanding of the marketing gimmicks behind it that have made it so popular.

Left: Regular flat pepperoni. | Right: Old world pepperoni – notice the cup shape and deep red color.

What Is Pepperoni?

Part of the confusion surrounding old world pepperoni is a lack of understanding of what “regular” pepperoni is in the first place.

Pepperoni is a kind of American sausage that’s made from cured, dried pork and beef and seasoned with paprika as well as various kinds of chili peppers. Pepperoni can occasionally include poultry products such as chicken or turkey but this is less common and must be explicitly stated on packaging, at least in the United States.

Pepperoni is typically sliced into thin rounds and served on pizza in the United States and around the world. However, to the surprise of many Americans, pepperoni is not well known or commonly eaten in Italy. Pepperoni is an entirely Italian-American creation.

Interestingly, pepperoni is not even an Italian word, strictly speaking, although it does have an Italian derivation. Peperoni, in Italian, refers to a bell pepper while peperoncino (meaning “small pepper”) and refers to a hot or spicy pepper. It’s unclear exactly how or when, but somewhere along the line, Italian-Americans associated the word for bell and hot peppers with the sausage itself, and thus “pepperoni” sausage was born.

Of course, Italians make lots of spicy kinds of sausage as well, so while pepperoni as we know it is an American creation, early Italian-American immigrants would have had plenty of inspiration to draw from. Some of these Italian sausages include soppressata and salsiccia Napoletana piccante.

One important thing to remember about regular pepperoni is that is generally mass produced and almost always is made using an artificial casing. This point will be important as it regards “old world” pepperoni and what makes it distinct.

What’s The Difference Between Pepperoni & Old World Pepperoni?

Both regular and old world pepperoni share a lot in common, however old world pepperoni is distinct because of the way it is prepared and the ingredients used to make it.

Compared to regular pepperoni, old world pepperoni is spicier, thicker and comes in a natural casing which causes it to curl up into cups when cooked. Old world pepperoni is also fermented using several kinds of bacterial cultures compared to the more simple cultures used to make regular pepperoni. All of this leads to a “bolder” tasting pepperoni, due to the added seasonings and enhanced fermentation, with a more appealing texture and charring due to the natural casing.

In other words, “old world” pepperoni is simply a higher quality pepperoni made using less industrialized processing techniques than the traditional kind found in your supermarket.

Even the name is a bit misleading. “Old world” implies a kind of pepperoni made in Europe, as opposed to America, but as we discussed, pepperoni is an entirely American invention anyways. What the “old world” part is really referring to is the more traditional methods of preparing the sausage, like extra fermentation and drying, that leads to a better taste and texture, but these methods have been used to make high quality American sausage for generations as well.

As you can see, calling this pepperoni “old world” is really just a marketing ploy to make it seem like you’re getting something exotic and foreign while the reality is far more mundane. The difference between “old world” and “regular” pepperoni can be more accurately described as the difference between “high quality” and “low quality” American pizza sausage. There is very little having to do with the “old world” when it comes to “old world” pepperoni.

The Natural Casing Sets Old World Pepperoni Apart

“Old world” pepperoni may try to set itself apart by it’s “bigger, bolder” flavors, but the truth is pepperoni taste and seasonings vary from one producer to another. What does set “old world” pepperoni apart from regular pepperoni is the use of natural casing.

Nearly all regular style pepperoni is made using an artificial casing, as is standard for highly processed, industrially manufactured meats. Artificial casing is weaker than natural animal derived casing and tends to disintegrate under high heat when cooked. This means the pepperoni will generally bake into the flat round slices we’re accustomed to seeing on most American pizza, especially when the pepperoni is cut into extra thin slices.

On the other hand, natural casing, as is used with “old world” style pepperoni, is stronger and tightens under high heat. This causes the rims of the pepperoni to curl up into “cups”, hence the “roni cups” many pizzerias advertise who use this kind of pepperoni. When the pepperoni is sliced into thicker irregular slices, this effect is accentuated and a deeper cup is formed.

This kind of pepperoni is sometimes referred to as “cup and char” or “Buffalo style” though there likely many more local names in different cities across the US.

How Is Old World Pepperoni Made

Old world pepperoni is made much the same way as regular pepperoni, except instead of industrialized methods, old world style pepperoni is made using more traditional sausage making techniques.

Old world pepperoni is made with ground pork and/or beef, lots of seasonings like paprika, chili peppers, mustard seed and fennel, and fermented with various kinds of bacterial cultures. The mixed and seasoned meet is then stuffed into a natural sausage casing made from beef, sheep or pork intestines. The sausage is then dried and cured over a period of time to further develop the flavor and texture.

Who Makes Old World Pepperoni

Old world style pepperoni is made by a number of manufactures, including some pizzerias that have their own in-house recipes. For most of us, however, we’re limited to what’s available online and at our local supermarkets.

Brands That Make Old World Pepperoni:

  • BridgfordOpens in a new tab.: Makes various deli foods, jerkies and pepperoni
  • Kroger Private SelectionOpens in a new tab.: Kroger’s premium store brand food
  • HormelOpens in a new tab.: A family of brands that makes a number of different foods
  • OlliOpens in a new tab.: Makers of artisanal slow-cured meat products
  • BattistoniOpens in a new tab.: Makes a variety of different pepperoni types
  • EzzoOpens in a new tab.: Italians meats, sausage and pepperoni
  • Salt and TimeOpens in a new tab.: Austin based butcher and deli
  • MargheritaOpens in a new tab.: Popular packaged pepperoni maker
  • Boar’s Head: Maker of quality hams and other meat products

Keep in mind that there is no official “old world” standard or certification so the term is thrown around quite a bit and probably means different things to different people. The list I’ve provided here are of brands that either make specific claims of making “old world” style pepperoni, or simply brands that are generally well regarded whose pepperoni curls up in the oven.

At the end of the day, your own taste for the flavor and texture of these pepperoni brands will tell you which one is best!

What Stores Carry Old World Pepperoni?

Old world style pepperoni can be found at markets all over the United States, and probably the world as well. However, be advised that not all local markets carry it and it might be something you can only find at higher end grocers or delicatessens. Depending on where you live, in a big city or somewhere further away, it might be a good idea to call around first to see which stores carry it.

In any case, the following located all over the United States often carry old world style pepperoni:

  • Walmart
  • Kroger
  • Whole Foods
  • Safeway
  • Publix
  • Trader Joe’s
  • Aldi

This is not an exhaustive list by any means, and your local organic or artisanal market might be a safer bet anyways. Call around or use Google first before making a trip to the grocery store. If they don’t know what “old world” pepperoni is, tell them you’re looking for a rustic style pepperoni in a natural casing that cups and curls in the oven.

In many cases, your local deli might be the best place to start your search.

Buy Old World Pepperoni Online

If you’re like me and can’t find old world pepperoni near you, thankfully in this day and age we can find most things online. Amazon has a selection of quite a few brands of pepperoni and many of them fit the bill for “old world” style:

Bridgford Old World Pepperoni

Vermont Smoke & Cure Pepperoni

Foustman’s Artisanal Pepperoni

Margherita Pepperoni Sticks

Old World Pepperoni Pizza Recipe

AuthorDomenicCategory

Yields1 Serving

 250 g Pizza dough ball (see link below)
 23 tbsp Tomato sauce (see link below)
 100200 g Shredded Mozzarella or Monterey Jack Cheese
 23 pinches Dried Oregano
 3040 g Old world pepperoni sliced however you like
 23 dashes Grated or shredded pecorino or parmesan cheese

1

Ball your dough and leave it to proof at room temperature for 1-2 hours in a covered container. This helps to build gas in the dough which improves the crust.

2

On a well floured surface, shape the dough with your hands or roll it with a rolling pin into a flat disk. For a puffy crust, don't flatten or pinch the edges. If you're using a pizza stone, you'll want to do this on a peel. If you're planning on cooking it directly on the rack, a piece of parchment paper works best.

3

Spread tomato sauce on the dough and sprinkle grated parmesan and dried oregano

4

Distribute the rest of your cheese. You can use however much you like but I recommend not going overboard or else it can become too greasy.

5

Add your pepperoni in whatever quantity you like. As with the cheese, I recommend not over doing it. Less is more when it comes to pizza toppings.

6

Place the pizza in a preheat oven at 500F, either directly on the rack with a piece of parchment paper or on a pizza stone. If you're using a pizza stone, make sure to have preheated it at 500F for at least 1 hour beforehand.

7

The pizza can take anywhere from 5-15 minutes depending on your oven and your preferences. When the cheese is bubbly and has a few brown spots and the pepperoni has cupped and charred around the edges, remove it from the oven and place it on a cooling rack.

8

Tip: For an even crispier crust, try par baking the crust and sauce for a few minutes before adding the cheese and pepperoni. This gives the bottom of the crust extra time to crisp up without burning the toppings.

Ingredients

 250 g Pizza dough ball (see link below)
 23 tbsp Tomato sauce (see link below)
 100200 g Shredded Mozzarella or Monterey Jack Cheese
 23 pinches Dried Oregano
 3040 g Old world pepperoni sliced however you like
 23 dashes Grated or shredded pecorino or parmesan cheese

Directions

1

Ball your dough and leave it to proof at room temperature for 1-2 hours in a covered container. This helps to build gas in the dough which improves the crust.

2

On a well floured surface, shape the dough with your hands or roll it with a rolling pin into a flat disk. For a puffy crust, don't flatten or pinch the edges. If you're using a pizza stone, you'll want to do this on a peel. If you're planning on cooking it directly on the rack, a piece of parchment paper works best.

3

Spread tomato sauce on the dough and sprinkle grated parmesan and dried oregano

4

Distribute the rest of your cheese. You can use however much you like but I recommend not going overboard or else it can become too greasy.

5

Add your pepperoni in whatever quantity you like. As with the cheese, I recommend not over doing it. Less is more when it comes to pizza toppings.

6

Place the pizza in a preheat oven at 500F, either directly on the rack with a piece of parchment paper or on a pizza stone. If you're using a pizza stone, make sure to have preheated it at 500F for at least 1 hour beforehand.

7

The pizza can take anywhere from 5-15 minutes depending on your oven and your preferences. When the cheese is bubbly and has a few brown spots and the pepperoni has cupped and charred around the edges, remove it from the oven and place it on a cooling rack.

8

Tip: For an even crispier crust, try par baking the crust and sauce for a few minutes before adding the cheese and pepperoni. This gives the bottom of the crust extra time to crisp up without burning the toppings.

Old World Pepperoni Pizza Recipe

Related Posts:

Related Questions:

What Is The Difference Between Classic Pepperoni & Old World Pepperoni?

Old world pepperoni is different from classic pepperoni in the way it’s prepared and the ingredients used to make it. Old world pepperoni is a high quality American sausage made with traditional seasonings, fermented and stuffed into a natural casing. By contrast, classic pepperoni is a mass-produced, industrialized meat product with relatively few seasonings and stuffed into an artificial casing. Another key difference is that old world pepperoni cups up when cooked while classic pepperoni stays flat.

Is Pepperoni From The New Or Old World?

Pepperoni was created in the New World by Italian-American immigrants in the early 20th century. Contrary to popular American belief, pepperoni does not come from Italy and is not familiar to most Italians. Instead, Italians eat different kinds of sausage and salami such as salsiccia Napoletana piccante and soppressata from southern Italy.

What Is The Pepperoni That Curls Up?

Old world style pepperoni is a kind of pepperoni that curls up in the oven under high heat. This curling is made possible by the use of natural casing and thick slicing and is popular for the “cup and char” effect it produces on pizza.

What Animal Is Pepperoni Made From?

In general, pepperoni is made from ground pork and beef combined with seasonings and bacterial culture. This mixture is then put into a natural or artificial casing, such as cow intestines, before being dried and cured. In the United States, pepperoni must be made from either pork alone or a pork and beef mixture. Pepperoni made from only 100% beef must, by law, be labeled as “beef pepperoni”.

Domenic

Hi, I'm Domenic, the founder of this website. I've been making pizza at home for over 15 years and in that time I've perfected what it takes to bake a delicious pizza in a home oven. My goal is to share that information and experience with you.

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