Homemade Pepperoni

Slices of homemade pepperoni on a plate

Photodisc / Getty Images

Prep: 60 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 60 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
2877 Calories
174g Fat
10g Carbs
295g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 2877
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 174g 223%
Saturated Fat 65g 325%
Cholesterol 1019mg 340%
Sodium 8698mg 378%
Total Carbohydrate 10g 4%
Dietary Fiber 3g 10%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 295g
Vitamin C 8mg 41%
Calcium 314mg 24%
Iron 24mg 132%
Potassium 3994mg 85%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Use this easy-to-follow recipe to make pepperoni from scratch. If you love pepperoni pizza or the flavorful taste of pepperoni in salads or sandwiches, you may be curious about how this sausage is made. It's actually thought of as the American answer to salami—which is why it shares a shape, flavorings, and culinary uses with it.

Firstly, pepperoni sausage is made with either pork or beef; this recipe calls for pork butt and beef chuck. Moreover, it needs to hang to cure for at least six weeks, so this food is not something you can simply whip up at the last minute. It requires that you plan ahead, but the end result is so worth it. You'll need to source something called saltpeter, which is potassium nitrate, which draws water out and makes the environment inhospitable to bacteria. (You should be able to find this online). Once you do, and you get started on your cured meats journey, you'll not only have delicious pepperoni but a fun cooking skill that's a mystery to most people. 

This recipe appears in the book "Home Sausage Making," by Charles G. Reavis (Storey Books), reprinted with permission.


  • 7 pounds pork butt

  • 3 pounds beef chuck

  • 5 tablespoons salt

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper

  • 3 tablespoons paprika

  • 1 tablespoon anise seed

  • 1 teaspoon garlic

  • 1 cup red wine

  • Optional:

    1/2 teaspoon ascorbic acid

  • 1 teaspoon saltpeter

Steps to Make It

For the Sausage Mix

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Grind the pork and beef through the coarse disk separately.

  3. Mix the meats together with the salt, sugar, cayenne, pepper, paprika, anise seed, garlic, red wine, ascorbic acid, and saltpeter in a large bowl.

  4. Spread the mixture out in a large pan, cover loosely with waxed paper, and cure in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

  5. Prepare the casings (see instructions below). Stuff the sausage into the casings, and twist off into 10-inch links.

  6. Using cotton twine, tie two separate knots between every other link, one knot at the beginning and another at the end of the stuffed casing. Cut between the double knots. ​

  7. The pepperoni is hung by a string tied to the center of each pair. Hang the pepperoni to dry for six to eight weeks. Once dried, the pepperoni will keep, wrapped, in the refrigerator for several months.

For the Casing

  1. Snip off about four feet of casing. It's better to snip too much than too little because any extra can be repacked in salt and used later.

  2. Rinse the casing under cool running water to remove any salt stuck to it.

  3. Place it in a bowl of cool water, and let it soak for about 30 minutes. Wait for the casing to soak.

  4. After soaking, rinse the casing under cool running water. Slip one end of the casing over the faucet nozzle. Hold the casing firmly on the nozzle, and then turn on the cold water, gently at first, and then more forcefully. This will flush out any salt in the casing and pinpoint any breaks. Should you find a break, simply snip out a small section of the casing.

  5. Place the casing in a bowl of water, and add a splash of white vinegar. A tablespoon of vinegar per cup of water is sufficient. The vinegar softens the casing and makes it more transparent, which makes your pepperoni look nicer.

  6. Leave the casing in the water-vinegar solution until you are ready to use. Rinse it well and drain before stuffing.


  • Pepperoni comes in different sizes, the most common being about an inch in diameter. Some commercial packers offer "pizza pepperoni," which is roughly twice the diameter of regular pepperoni and isn't as dry. This variety can better withstand the high temperature of a baking pizza. If you plan to use your pepperoni primarily as a pizza topping, you might want to experiment with the drying time for the best results. 

Preventing Trichnosis

If you're handling sausage, you should take steps to prevent contracting trichinosis. Several cases of the illness are reported in the United States annually. It is caused by a parasitic roundworm, Trichinella spiralis, or trichina. The worm, found in some pork and bear meat, can be transmitted to humans if the meat is eaten raw or untreated. Trichinae mature in a person's intestines and are usually killed by the body's defenses. Some, however, can survive in the form of cysts in various muscles for years.

Trichinosis need not be a problem for the home sausage maker. In the case of fresh pork not used for sausage, the meat need only be cooked to an internal temperature of 137 F. Pork to be consumed raw, as in dried sausage, can be made completely safe and free of trichinae by freezing it to -20 F for six to 12 days, -10 F for 10 to 20 days, or 5 F for 20 to 30 days.

A precise freezer thermometer is necessary when preparing pork for dried sausage. And remember never to taste raw pork or sample sausage if it contains raw pork.

Article Sources
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  1. Brian A. Nummer, Ph.D. and Elizabeth L. Andress, Ph.D., (2002) Curing and Smoking Meats for Home Food Preservation Literature Review and Critical Preservation Points, The National Center for Home Food Preservation Guide and Literature Review Series: Smoking and Curing