Salami vs. Pepperoni: What’s the Difference? (Explained!)

Salami and pepperoni are common ingredients in pizzas and sandwiches, so there is no reason why you are not familiar with them. Pepperoni and salami are both types of sausage, so they are sometimes used interchangeably, but they have different uses in the kitchen. Both add a rich, spicy flavor that can even be enjoyed when added to a dish. Now, since they share so many similarities, you may wonder:

What’s the difference between salami and pepperoni? Pepperoni is an American salami made from cured pork and beef mixed with an air-dried cured sausage. On the other hand, salami is a cured sausage made from fermented and air-dried meat. As a result, salami is rich and spicy, while pepperoni has a more smoky, peppery taste.

Now, while these two are often used interchangeably, they also give different flavors, which means they work best according to a preferred goal in a recipe. Thus, understanding how they affect a recipe is crucial when you’re bound to choose between the two.

This article will explain all the differences between salami and pepperoni and also explain the two on their own. This way, you can understand each component and use them to fit your recipe in the best way possible.

Without further ado, let’s get into it!

Salami vs. PepperoniPin

Is salami pepperoni?

No, salami is not pepperoni, but it can be because pepperoni is salami. Pepperoni is a cured sausage made in the United States using several Italian ingredients.

The name pepperoni came from the Italian term pepper, which means bell peppers. Thus, as the name suggests, pepperoni gives a peppery and smoky flavor.

Now, let’s have a look at both salami and pepperoni.

What is salami?

Salami is just an Italian term for a cured sausage. The first salami was created by Italian peasants, who found a way to ferment meat, allowing it to last for up to a year if they did not have access to meat for a while.

Salami originated in Italy and has become a popular topping for pizzas and other meals worldwide.

The traditional ingredients in salami are pork, veal, beef, and chicken. However, to create the specific flavor profile of salami, you can mix this meat with other ingredients.

This dish is made with salt, vinegar, white pepper, garlic, herbs, and vinegar. To make cured sausage, the meat and the sausage mix are shaped, and then the sausage is fermented and air-dried.

It’s important to note that salami contains a lot of fat. Although it is famous as lunch meat, salami is calorie-dense, containing around 75 calories per slice. Therefore, one salami slice is considered a serving compared to turkey, showing salami’s fat content.

Salami comes in a variety of tastes and flavors, so there are different kinds of salamis. It is a must to make sure you are buying authentic Italian salami. You’ll know right away the difference. There is nothing quite like the spicy, rich taste of salami!

What is pepperoni?

Pepperoni is one of the many variants of salami. This variety of salami is often considered dry and spiced. However, the main distinguishing factor with pepperoni is its high spice content, which gives it an intense flavor that is great on pizzas. 

Despite being derived from salami, pepperoni is primarily a US sausage. Pork, beef, and poultry can all be used to make pepperoni, which has the same nutritional value as salami. Paprika and chili pepper are two of the most popular spices used in pepperoni.

Overall, pepperoni gives a smoky taste, aroma, and a bright red color while drier than salami. There isn’t a better pizza than pepperoni, and you can’t substitute pepperoni for its smoky, high-spice flavor!

What is the difference between salami and pepperoni?

Having summarized everything you need to know about the differences between pepperoni and salami, here is what you should know:


Salami refers to an air-dried, cured, and seasoned sausage that is eaten cold. The pepperoni sausage can be defined as being seasoned with pepper and paprika with pork or beef as the primary ingredients. Salami is not a type of pepperoni, but pepperoni is a type of salami.

Type of meat used

Several different types of meat can be used to make salami, such as pork, beef, or poultry, whereas pepperoni consists of a combination of beef and pork.

Calorie Count

With a serving size of 3 ounces, salami is a good source of 419 calories, almost 33% of a 1500 calorie diet’s daily recommended serving. Pepperoni contains 540 calories per 3-ounce serving, corresponding to 33% of the daily calorie allowance for a 1500 calorie diet.


Traditionally, salami is sliced and served with other antipasti as a lunchtime meal in Italy. Pepperoni is usually eaten on pizza as a topping, rather than by itself.

Can you substitute salami for pepperoni?

Yes, you can substitute salami for pepperoni. Pepperoni is mainly used in pizza recipes since it’s pretty flavorful and packs a lot of richness as a topping on pizza.

Since salami has less flavor than pepperoni, you’ll need to season your salami if you need to substitute it for pepperoni. An extra seasoning will compensate for the lack of flavor.

Is salami better than pepperoni?

Overall, salami and pepperoni both have their strengths and downsides. Thus, if you want to know which one is better, it depends on preference and needs for flavor.

Compared to salami, pepperoni has more fat and calories but more vitamins A, E, and D. Salami, on the other hand, has more proteins, minerals, and most B complex vitamins. Therefore, these foods are generally not good for your health.

If you want something to eat on its own, then salami is ideal. On the other hand, if you want flavorful meat to mix with your pizza or pasta, then pepperoni will be better. In short, it all depends on how you need the cured sausage. 


Pepperoni is an American salami usually made from cured beef and pork mixed with air-dried sausage. As opposed to salami, which is cured, air-dried meat, salami is fermented. As a result, salami is rich and spicy, while pepperoni has a more smoky, peppery taste.

They are often interchangeable, but they also impart different flavors, so they are best used according to the recipe’s desired outcome. Understanding how they affect a recipe is essential when you’re forced to choose between the two.

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Image credits – Canva

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