Pepperoni vs. Salami: What’s the Difference?

by Charlie
Difference Between Pepperoni and Salami

Pepperoni and salami are excellent ingredients for making great sandwiches and pizza. And if you love salami, then you must also love pepperoni. Many refer to them and use them interchangeably, thinking they are the same.

Both are cured sausages. They are made of pork, other meat, or a combination of different meat types. They are infused with spices and encased. Then, they are left to ferment, aged, and removed of all water content through air drying. They may or may not be lightly smoked.

Their spicy, rich, and intense flavors are sure to tickle your taste buds. And they blend in and still stand out at the same time in your recipes. They also keep for a long time.

Is pepperoni (or pepperoni sausage) and salami (or salame for singular) one and the same? No, they’re not. There are differences between the two. The main difference between pepperoni and salami is in terms of variety, or shall we say, word terminology. Salami is a general term or category that encompasses many different types of salami, while pepperoni is one specific type or variety of salami. Let’s make that simpler. Pepperoni is one type of salami, while salami is one main category for different varieties of salami.

What are Other Differences Between Pepperoni and Salami?

There are other differences between pepperoni and salami. Firstly, they differ in taste. Salami is rich and spiced, while pepperoni has a smoky, peppery flavor.

Secondly, they are different with regards to the ingredients used. We know that whatever mix of ingredient you use will influence the taste and texture of your food. Pepperoni is most often made with pork or a mixture of pork and beef. Salami, however, uses more varieties of meat and meat combinations. 

Moreover, pepperoni is usually seasoned with chili peppers and paprika. It is readily identified by its slightly smoky taste and smell. The color of pepperoni is bright red, and it is a drier and softer variety of salami.

Salami, on the other hand, uses more herbs than hot spices. This lends to its rich and spiced taste we mentioned above.

Thirdly, they are served in different ways. People often serve salami cold for guests to have it on its own. It is a popular antipasti. But pepperoni is a usual topping that is cooked or mixed in with another dish. It is a popular choice of pizza topping.

Fourthly, they differ in origin. Salami originated from Italy, and it is widely used in Italian cuisine. In fact, the word itself is taken from the Italian word salare, which means to make salty. In the past, old salami in Italy just meant salted pork that was air-dried and stuffed in a casing. So salami just meant cured sausage, and it’s essentially the same meaning today. Pepperoni, on the other hand, is an American variety of salami. In essence, it is an American sausage.

One last difference is in calorie and sodium count. Pepperoni has 494 calories, while salami has 336 calories per 100 grams. In the same amount, pepperoni contains 44 grams of fat (67% DV), while salami contains 26 grams of fat (40%).

Can You Substitute Pepperoni for Salami in Recipes?

Yes, you can always use pepperoni in place of other varieties of salami in recipes. But you cannot use just any type of salami to substitute for pepperoni. Pepperoni is a great stand-in for other types of salami, but pepperoni’s distinct taste cannot simply be substituted by any type of salami.

A better substitute for pepperoni is chorizo. This sausage traces its origins from Spain and Portugal. It is much closer to pepperoni. Like salami and pepperoni, chorizo is dried, cured, and made with different spices. It is often cut into slices, and you can serve it as a topping or an additional ingredient in a recipe. You can also have it on its own. It may or may not be smoked. 

For choices, you have Spanish chorizo or Mexican chorizo. Spanish chorizo may be eaten raw. It is high in garlic and herbs. The long ones are sweeter to the taste, while the shorter ones are spicier in taste.

Mexican chorizo needs to be cooked. It is much spicier than Spanish chorizo. It is made with lots of green chilies and herbs.

One Italian salami that is similar to pepperoni is a dry sausage from Naples. It’s called Salsiccia Napoli Piccante. It is a spicy and flavorful Italian salami. And just like pepperoni, it tastes great on pizza.

Which is Better on Pizza: Pepperoni or Salami?

The better choice depends on the taste you are after. Pepperoni is a popular and classic choice of topping for pizza. But both pepperoni and salami work well in complementing different types of pizzas. Do you want it more peppery and spicy? Then top your pizza with lots of pepperoni. Do you want it rich and herby? Then top your pizza with a generous amount of salami.

What are the White Chunks in Salami?

The white bits you see in salami are chopped fat. These give salami its flavorful taste and pleasing texture. Sometimes, you may also see some white covering around a log of salami. That is not fat. It’s Penicillium Nalgiovense, a non-toxic type of mold that manufacturers apply. It helps seal in flavors and prevents your salami from developing toxic types of mold.

Are Salami and Pepperoni Halal?

They may or may not be HALAL. Regular pepperoni is pork, beef, or both, so you need to check labels to confirm HALAL certification. Other varieties of salami are made from beef, chicken, turkey, or plant-based ingredients. And these may be HALAL.

Final Thoughts

  • Salami is a general category for all types of salami, while pepperoni is a specific type of salami.
  • Pepperoni is higher in calorie and sodium count compared to salami.
  • Salami originated from Italy, while pepperoni originated in America. Pepperoni is an American sausage.
  • Pepperoni is smoky and peppery, while salami is rich and spiced.

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