Pepperoni is an entirely American invention, so let’s get that out of the way. Pepperoni pizza did not come to us by way of Italy; this was created by Italian-Americans that reside here in the United States. What they typically use abroad in salami. It’s different!
Regular pepperoni versus Old World pepperoni pizza is an American thing that’s simply used as a way to differentiate the sausage-making process. Old World is more traditional, keeping with Old World customs, while regular tends to follow a factory-made process.
Now let’s discover more about America’s favorite pizza topping.
Regular Pepperoni vs. Old World Pepperoni
Is Old World pepperoni better than regular pepperoni? Well, that’s for you to decide. Old World pepperoni curls up into cups and shrinks when it cooks. It also may be sliced thicker and appear in irregular shapes other than a classic circle. Remember, neither of these types of pepperoni are Italian! American pizza is usually made with a beef pepperoni sausage (plus mozzarella, sauce and all that other good stuff, like bell pepper, olive oil, parmesan and high-quality pizza dough).
Regular or American-style pepperoni is a type of sausage that’s made with cured pork and beef and seasoned with paprika and other spices, like chili pepper, in an artificial casing. These are typically the orange-colored thinly sliced rounds you see at your local deli, grocery store and on pizza served across the United States and internationally. Regular pepperoni is generally mass produced unlike Old World pepperoni.
Old World Pepperoni.
Old World pepperoni is typically spicier and thicker than regular pepperoni, has a red color, and comes in a natural casing which makes it curl up at the edges and into deliciously oily cups when cooked. It’s almost fermented using different kinds of bacterial cultures rather than the simple cultures found in regular pepperoni. The sausage itself is made with ground pork and/or beef, plus seasonings like paprika, chili peppers, mustard seed and fennel. Because of its bolder seasonings and enhanced fermentation, this pepperoni gets a better texture and charr during cooking. Simply put, Old World pepperoni is higher quality and less industrialized.
It’s All About the Casings
At the end of the day, while the ingredients in Old World pepperoni tend to be higher quality like premium paprika and other herbs and spices that may be found in a traditional Italian salami, the real difference is all in the casing.
Regular pepperoni is made with an artificial casing, which is standard for highly processed, industrially manufactured meats. Artificial casing tends to be weaker than natural animal casing and disintegrates when cooked, which means there’s no bite on the float round pepperoni slices we find on our pies.
Natural casing, on the other hand, is made from beef, sheep or pork intestines which makes it stronger and thicker and tightens when met with high heat. This means the rims of the pepperoni curl up into cups and create a char on the outside. If you see “roni cups,” “cup and char,” or “pepperoni cups” at your pizzeria, they’re likely using Old World pepperoni and you can expect crispy, crunchy edges and juicy dollops of pepperoni oil on each bite.
Where to Buy Old World Pepperoni
Old World style pepperoni can be found at grocery stores and local markets around the world, especially at higher-end grocers and butcher shops in New York and beyond. Here are the mainstream food stores that carry Old World pepperoni:
While there’s no official “Old World” standard or certification, you can now detect for yourself whether you ordered a regular or Old World pepperoni pizza. When in doubt, ask!