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What Is Old World Pepperoni and Why Is It Trending?

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We have conducted multiple pizza surveys (by we, I mean people who are responsible for collecting pizza-related data). In those surveys or polls, pepperoni has always come triumphant in the category of “most loved pizza toppings”. The peppery slices of meat paired with greasy cheese and a crisp crust are what everybody loves. What people love even more is the curling of the pepperoni. 

Pepperoni Pizza

But it looks like this fan-favorite topping has some competition and it’s got all tongues wagging. Enter Old World pepperoni. Old World pepperoni is a new trend in both the pepperoni and pizza world (both the niche and the industry). Some claim it is better than the regular pepperoni, some claim it’s just another millennial thing, and some simply don’t care. Whether you like it, hate it, or just don’t care for it, the question still remains. What is Old World pepperoni and why is it trending?

Old World pepperoni is a better-quality pepperoni that is made by adding spicy seasonings to the ground meat. It is treated with bacterial cultures to give it a stronger and better taste. Also, Old World pepperoni uses an animal-based casing that holds up much better to heat. This animal-based natural casing’s resilience to heat results in the pepperoni curling and forming the now-famous ‘roni-cups’. 

This was a little tidbit about the Old World pepperoni, but there are multiple things we haven’t discussed yet. We need to understand more about the differences between the regular or the New World pepperoni and the Old World pepperoni. Also, don’t you want to know how you can make this famed Old World pepperoni at home? I have a lot of knowledge to impart; all you need is patience and the normal human attention span (ok, maybe more than that). Ready? Here we go!

A Formal Introduction To Pepperoni – The King of Pizza Toppings


If you are an American and don’t love pepperoni pizza, are you even American? I mean, you are, but you get the point. Pepperoni, as I said, is the uncrowned king of pizza toppings. It is one of the most popular pizza toppings.

It is made with cured meat, mainly pork and beef. The pork and beef are mixed with spicy seasoning and then they are cured with nitrates and nitrites. This is done to bolden the flavor.

This meat is stuffed into a casing to give you that long pepperoni cylinder. It is then thinly sliced and that’s how you find it over your pizza. Even though it is cured, it is advised against eating it uncooked. There are a lot of bacteria that even curing can’t kill. 

Let’s talk about its etymology (vocabulary flex!). It may sound Italian, but pepperoni is your friendly neighborhood American sausage. Actually, it is Italian-American. Only the name of this cured sausage is taken from the Italian language. It’s not as much as taken as much as it is borrowed.

The word ‘pepperoni’ is a derivative of the word ‘peperone’, which means bell peppers. Another word that is an inspiration for the term ‘pepperoni’ is the word ‘peperoncino’, which means hot chili peppers. This makes perfect sense because pepperoni is spicy cured meat. It came into being in the early 1990s and has been a favorite ever since. Now, this is all the intel you need to have on the regular pepperoni. Let’s see what is the Old World pepperoni. 

What Is Old World Pepperoni?

Old World Pepperoni

The Old world pepperoni is not something like its name suggests. It sounds like it is some ancient style of pepperoni that was passed on from the Old World to the New World. In reality, the Old world pepperoni is a slightly better and natural version of the pepperoni. Let me make it more clear.

Old-world pepperoni is also a mix of pork and meat. But it is made with more spices and seasoning. Rather than nitrates and nitrites, it is cured using bacterial cultures. These bacterial cultures are responsible for the strong taste of this pepperoni. Another thing is that the Old World pepperoni is covered with a natural casing. The natural casing of the Old World pepperoni gives it a signature cup-curl when it is baked. This red pepperoni is widely loved because it uses natural elements while curing and casing the meat.

The bolder and stronger flavors are what make this Old World pepperoni a new favorite. The ‘roni-cups’ has gone viral and people put thicker slices of this pepperoni for deeper curls. So, I hope you get what the hype is about. We know what Old world pepperoni is; now let’s see how it came into being. 

How Is Old World Pepperoni Different From Modern American Pepperoni?

The difference is there in the definition. Before counting the differences, let’s see what is common between the two. Both these pepperoni are amazing and taste great on a bed of crust and cheese. No matter which one you choose, you’ll enjoy your pizza or any other thing you put your pepperoni into.

Taste Coming to the differences, the first one will be their taste. The Old World pepperoni has a stronger and bolder taste than the Modern American version. The second difference between the two is their color. The Old world pepperoni has a darker red color, while the modern American version has a lighter orange shade. 

Curing The other difference is the way the meat is cured. As I already told you, the Old World pepperoni is cured with bacterial cultures, while the Modern American pepperoni is cured using nitrates and nitrites. The last difference is their casing. The Old World pepperoni uses a natural casing, while the Modern American version uses a synthetic casing. 

Slices One more difference, which may not be too important, but I feel I should mention, is the slices. By that I mean, the Modern American pepperoni has a thin casing and can be thinly sliced. But as the Old World pepperoni has a natural casing, it is difficult to slice and hence you get thicker and irregular slices. 

Reason Behind The Curling of Old World Pepperoni

Curled Old World Pepperoni

The reason behind the curling of the Old World pepperoni is actually simple and I feel like I have mentioned it. I’ll tell you again anyway. The natural casing has a role to play in the curling of the pepperoni. 

The natural casing is stronger than the synthetic one. This makes it harder to slice it. But as it is resilient to heat, the casing tightens when you bake the pepperoni. This tightening helps in curling the edges of the pepperoni slices. This results in the famous ‘roni-cups’ (how many times have I said this word now?). 

The rule is; the thicker the slice, the deeper the cup. But don’t make it too thick. It should still qualify as ‘a slice’. 

Places Where You Will Find Old World Pepperoni 

You can find Old World pepperoni in many stores. You can find Old World pepperoni in some of your local organic stores. Other than that, many high-end stores also keep their fair share of trending Old World pepperoni. But there is a probability that you might not find it that easily. In that case, there are a lot of stores and online brands that sell you delicious and flavorful Old world pepperoni. Here is a list where you can easily find Old world pepperoni.

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

There are many brands that sell amazing pepperoni on Amazon. You can check the review and ratings of the product before you decide to buy it. 

Where Can You Use Old World Pepperoni Besides A Pizza?

We know that pepperoni and pizza are soulmates. But it is not necessary that these two always gel together. So, where does the pepperoni go after having a fight with a pizza? Well, there are a few places where you’ll have your delicious pepperoni vibing. I present to you 5 delicious recipes where you can use Old World pepperoni besides a pizza.

1. Pepperoni Rolls

Pepperoni Rolls

Pepperoni rolls are delicious, fluffy, and soft rolls filled with your spicy pepperoni slices. All you need is some soft dough and some good Old world pepperoni. Knead and roll out your dough (after you have mixed and proof-ed it). Then, place your pepperoni along the sides and roll. Bake these rolls until golden and perfect and they’re ready! You can also fill them with some cheese and enjoy them with your favorite dips and sauces.

2. Crispy Pepperoni Egg Rolls

Crispy Pepperoni Egg Rolls

The crispy pepperoni egg rolls are yummy baked egg rolls filled with a mixture made of pepperoni, parmesan, mozzarella, marinara sauce, and oregano. This filling is spooned in some egg roll wrappers that have been brushed with some beaten egg already. If you want, you can add some whole pepperoni slices to it as well. Then, roll the wrapper, brush it with butter, freeze it for some time, and bake it. There you have it! Delicious crispy baked pepperoni egg rolls!

I feel the need to mention that egg roll wrappers are different than your spring roll wrappers. The egg roll wrappers are thicker. They are made with wheat flour and eggs and give a great and rich taste to the filling. I have baked the pepperoni egg rolls, but you can fry them if you want. 

3. Zucchini Pepperoni Pizza Boats

Zucchini Pepperoni Pizza Boats

Do you hate bread but love pepperoni? Do you think that lettuce wrapping things makes them healthy? Then, I present to you delicious zucchini pepperoni pizza boats. To make these dough-less pizza boats, all you need to do is slice and hollow out a zucchini.

Then, add some marinara sauce, seasoning, and some cheese to it. Bake these slightly filled boats to melt the cheese a little. Layer the pepperoni on top of this cheese and sprinkle more cheese if you want. Bake it again for some time and your pepperoni pizza boats are ready with no sign of dough or bread. 

4. Pepperoni Stromboli

Pepperoni Stromboli

Pepperoni Stromboli is the amped version of pepperoni rolls. There is pepperoni along with some other pizza elements rolled inside pizza dough. So, it is a pizza but not exactly pizza. Stromboli is a kind of Italian roll filled with Italian cheeses and cold cuts. The pepperoni Stromboli is slightly different but equally delicious to that, if not better. 

To make pepperoni Stromboli, just roll out some dough and add pepperoni slices, mozzarella, pizza sauce, roasted red pepper, red pepper flakes, and oregano. Roll the dough and brush it with some garlic and parsley butter. After that, bake the Stromboli until it is golden and you’re done! I have to admit, it does taste like rolled pizza, though. 

5. Pepperoni Pizza Bagel Bites

Pepperoni Pizza Bagel Bites

Are you a fan of miniature food? Do bite-sized things make you go ‘aww’ and your stomach go ‘grrr’ at the same time? (The ‘grrr is a hungry sound, just to be clear). So, the pepperoni pizza bagel bites are the perfect food for you. 

Just buy or bake some mini bagels. Then, slice them and top each slice with pizza sauce, fennel seeds, cheese, and diced Old world pepperoni. Bake it for some time and there you go! Hold the tiny bagel pizzas in your hands and feel like a giant (tee hee). Trust me; they are easy and delicious. 


So, with this, we have reached the end of this article. I feel you know a lot about Old world pepperoni that you knew before, right? Now, you know what is Old world pepperoni and I have also justified why it’s trending. To sum it, it’s trending because it’s au natural. Also, if you want a break from pepperoni pizza, make these other pepperoni dishes that also have a pizza feel but are still different. I shall take your leave now. See you with another informative and humor-filled article. Until then, take care and happy eating!

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