How to Make Homemade Pepperoni - Recipe

  • Team Blue Admin Walton's Employee Power User

    Sliced Pepperoni

    How to Make Pepperoni

    Learn how to make Pepperoni with Walton's and Meatgistics. Read the guide, and then post your questions or comments below.

    Pepperoni Recipe

    What Is Pepperoni?

    Pepperoni is a cured style of Salami that is traditionally made from Pork and Beef, but it can be made from 100% of either one or other meats like Turkey or Wild Game. If you are going to slow cure it then using 100% pork is recommended. In America you can basically break down Pepperoni into Pizza Pepperoni and Sandwich Pepperoni, the Pizza Pepperoni is usually smaller in diameter and Sandwich Pepperoni is larger in diameter. Both can either be smoked in a similar fashion as a Summer Sausage or cold cured. We will be going over how to make smoked pepperoni with a smaller diameter today but you can follow this same process for making larger diameter, just use a large casing like the Fibrous Summer Sausage Casings.

    Meat Block

    4 lb of Beef Trim
    6 lb of Pork Butt

    Additives

    1 Bag Pepperoni Unit
    2 Quarts of Ice Cold Water
    Fibrous Casings
    Or
    Hog Casings
    Or
    Collagen Casings

    Optional Additives:
    Carrot Fiber
    Encapsulated Citric Acid

    Process

    Since we are making 10 lb of pepperoni we will need to divide out the seasoning, cures water and additives we are going to us. Since this bag of seasoning is enough for 25 lb of meat and we are making 10 lb we need to divide the weight of the seasoning by 2.5, make sure you do the same for the additives as well. That gives us .562 of a lb of seasoning, 1.6 oz of carrot fiber, 1.6 oz of Encapsulated Citric Acid and 0.8 of a quart of water.

    With Pepperoni we need to keep our pork and our beef separate until later in the process as we are going to want some particle definition in our product where we can see nice chunks of fat. A major factor in particle definition that is often overlooked is keeping your meat cold, we say it all the time for food safety reasons but keeping your meat cold is even more important here as we need it for particle definition.

    Grind your beef twice, first through a 3/16 and then through a 1/8 plate and set aside. Next grind your pork twice through a 3/8th plate. Keep the two meat blocks separate still.

    Meat Mixing

    Mix your beef, water, seasoning, cure and any other additives (other Encapsulated Citric Acid) for 3 minutes, until the seasoning is totally mixed in. Then add your pork and mix for 4 more minutes. If you are using Encapsulated Citric Acid add it during the last minute of mixing to prevent the encapsulation from breaking and releasing the acid into the meat too early.

    Sausage Stuffing

    We are using the 1.5" X 12" Fibrous Summer Sausage Casings for our pepperoni today. To make these pliable we need to soak them in hot water for about an hour before they are ready to use. To do this simply remove them from the package and soak as many of them as you will need, the rest can be stored in a cool dry area for future use. If you end up soaking more casings than you needed you can dry them back out and store them for future use.

    Load your casings onto your stuffing tube, since these are Fibrous Casings we are not worried about blowouts so simply stuff until the casing is full and smooth. Once you have stuffed all of your sausage you will need to close the open end with a Hog Ring or you can tie them closed as well.

    Note

    With Pepperoni we will want a longer link than we would with Bratwurst, something around 12-18" each.

    Thermal Processing & Smoking

    Stage 1 - 125F for 1 hour
    Stage 2 - 140F for 1 hour
    Stage 3 - 155F for 2 hours
    Stage 4 - 175F until internal meat temp of 160F

    Cooling

    To help set the casing to the meat and also prevent wrinkling we need to shower the Pepperoni or put them in an ice water bath. It should only take around 10 to 15 minutes to get the temperature to drop down. Then, we’ll let them set out for about 1 hour at room temperature before moving to the refrigerator/freezer. After we are totally done with the cooling process, then we will package in vacuum pouches for longer term storage.

    Wrap up

    Making Pepperoni is only slightly more difficult than some other cured sausages as particle definition is important and achieving that requires an extra step or two.

    Additional Tips

    • The particle definition only affects the appearance though so if you do not care about that, feel free to mix and grind all meat together.
    • Collagen Casings work just as well and are easier to handle and less prone to blow outs.

    Watch WaltonsTV: How to Make Pepperoni

    Shop waltonsinc.com for Pepperoni Seasoning

    Shop waltonsinc.com for Sausage Stuffers

    Shop waltonsinc.com for Salami Seasoning

    Shop waltonsinc.com for Pro-Series Grinder


  • Team Orange Power User Masterbuilt

    That looks great!! Will definitely go on the to do list.


  • I tried some pepperoni a friend made using your spices and directions, it tasted great but didnt have the “hard” consistency of pepperoni that you purchase in a store. Was something done wrong or is this normal?

  • Team Blue Admin Walton's Employee Power User

    dtabor This is normal, there are two types of pepperoni dry cured and cooked. The dry fermented pepperoni will be a hard pepperoni where as the cooked will have a consistency closer to summer sausage. We just recently made a batch of Fermented and Dry Cured here and will eventually be releasing a video on the process and the products needed to do it.


  • Did you let the pepperoni rest overnight before stuffing or do it directly after stuffing?

  • Team Blue Admin Walton's Employee Power User

    dazza I believe we used Encapsulated Citric Acid (can’t 100% remember but the write up indicates we made it more of an option) so we went right to smoker. However, if you don’t use that or some other cure accelerator you need to hold it overnight to let the cure work in the meat.


  • I am asking the experts here before I try to make my own pepperoni. Is there some additive that can used in conjunction with the Walton’s recipe to achieve the orang/reddish color of store-bought pepperoni, without altering the taste of the recipe? I know sure cure will lend some pinkish/red…but I also intend to use encapsulated citric acid for the bite, thus it will hit the smoker immediately. When using ECA and not holding overnight, does the sure cure still give the meat the reddish tint? In terms of the deeper color, I am afraid of just dumping in extra paprika for fear of ruining the product. Advice? Thanks for any suggestions!

  • Team Blue Admin Walton's Employee Power User

    JerL First, the orange color you’re referring to is more based on oils they use than anything else. They are additives to allow them to look like old world pepperoni while using modern techniques. Sorry, that’s all the info I have on that, I don’t know what they are or where they can be procured. However, letting it bloom (hold at room temp after smoking and ice bath) for a few hours is going to really improve your color more than any other additive.

    Holding meat with ECA can be tricky, if you rupture too much of it during the mixing you are then giving that acid 12 hours to work in the meat and destroy the bonds in your meat. Paprika absolutely could help though!


  • Thank you so much, Jonathon! I appreciate your advice. In thinking about it I am sure you are correct - based on the orange oil on pizza pepperoni. Gonna give it a whirl this weekend. Thanks again!

  • Team Blue Admin Walton's Employee Power User

    JerL I have spent a LOT of time trying to get that same appearance you are talking about. I make better Pepperoni now than I did back when we released this video but I haven’t succeeded in getting that appearance, so now I just enjoy the taste!


  • Well, taste is obviously the most important so I am happy to go for that and not have to worry about trying to make the color “right.” Can I ask you one more sorta related question? I still struggle with the ECA and pink salt directions. I know all about if you use ECA don’t hold overnight so the acid doesn’t release too early, etc. But, can the pink salt be mixed in with the spices and mixed into the meat, then hold the meat overnight and the next a.m. add in the ECA and onto the smoker?

  • Team Blue Admin Walton's Employee Power User

    JerL Yes you can do that but there are some dangers with it and that is the meat setting up before you mix in the ECA. Some people do exactly what you are talking about often if not most of the time BUT if something goes wrong and you mix a little too much and get the proteins really extracted then you might be in trouble. I assume you are asking about this from a time standpoint? Like, get home from work, grind and mix, and then don’t have time to smoke? If possible I’d recommend all at once but we all do what we need to do. I’d recommend you stop well short of protein extraction and then mix more and then add the ECA to sort of loosen everything up. Even better would be ground the first day, mix and stuff the 2nd though.

  • Team Orange Masterbuilt Big Green Egg Dry Cured Sausage Sous Vide Canning Power User

    JerL I agree with Jonathon when I had limited time I would grind and got everything ready for the next day. Making fresh sausage isn’t to much of a big deal, but I would still need to loosen things up to ease stuffing. If I didn’t use an accelerator I would stuff and hang overnight then finishing the next day. Making a cured sausage things get a little more tricky with protein extraction, cure, cure accellerators, etc…
    If I needed to go that route I would grind, mix in my seasonings and let sit overnight, the next day add the cure, water as needed, mix to protein extraction, add accelerator, stuff, smoke, cook and enjoy.


  • Thank you, Jonathon and Yooper! Your advice is appreciated!


  • Okay…last rookie question about pepperoni. I made a batch this weekend. I would categorize it as coming out so-so. I followed the recipe to the letter (pork was the coarser grind) except for the smoking part and herein lies my question. It was super cold outside yesterday where I live. I stuffed the casing and hung them in my smoker - it’s a Big Chief electric that only gets to 165 degrees on warm days - so it was never going to get to temp. I let it smoke with apple wood for about 1.5 hrs and finished them on racks in my oven set at 175 degrees and pulled them at 160. Did the proper cooling and wait time before sampling. Taste was pretty good - texture more like summer sausage which I knew it would be. My issue is the lack of particle definition between fat and meat - there was almost none. It looked nothing like the pepperoni picture on Meatgistics showing nice pieces of fat. Going back to the whole process - the only thing done differently was the smoking. The Big Chief isn’t adjustable so the “smoke at 120 for an hour…140 for an hour”…etc. isn’t an option. I think the links were at about 125 degrees after smoking and they went right into the oven at 175. So, is that perhaps the reason for lack of particle definition…that I didn’t stair-step up the temps? What is the purpose of increasing the temps in a graduated fashion?

  • Team Blue Admin Walton's Employee Power User

    JerL Your issue there isn’t going to be your smoke schedule but how you grind. If you want nice particle definition you should grind your lean meat twice, 1st through a 3/8 and then through a 1/8" plate and your fat either once or twice through a 3/8 plate depending on how big you want the particles. Now, when you have large clumps of fat like that in your sausage some of it is going to render almost no matter how slowly you cook it, so just be aware of that. I have done it numerous times and I have always been pleased with the results!

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