We Found the Best Pepperoni for Pizza

Pepperoni is the best pizza topping, and I don’t think that’s really up for debate. Pepperoni pizza stands alongside legends like chicken parm and spaghetti and meatballs as one of the greatest culinary classics Italian-American immigrants have bestowed upon the U.S. Grazie, Italy! We love pepperoni pizza, but not with just any ol’ pepperoni. We believe the best pepperoni for pizza is greasy, meaty, and spicy.

Over the course of two taste tests, we tried nearly 30 different types of pepperoni. We cooked them on frozen cheese pizza and we also tried them raw for a side-by-side comparison—because not all pepperoni is for pizza. Some pepperoni is equally at home on a charcuterie board or simply enjoyed as a snack. So, how did we determine the best? We looked for a meaty, spicy flavor. There should also be some pronounced kick, and—this is controversial—but it should taste like beef or pork or something other than a salty, homogenous meat-like mixture. Pepperoni is also great when it curls up and holds a little grease, so we looked for some pepperoni cups action, too. Here’s the best pepperoni for pizza and snacking, including turkey pepperoni, beef pepperoni, extra spicy pepperoni, and more.


Private Selection Old World Turkey Pepperoni

Best Turkey Pepperoni

Private Selection Old World Turkey Pepperoni

We tried a few different turkey pepperoni brands and most of them didn’t taste like much. But this thick cut pepperoni has a good, meaty flavor and spice that comes through as flavor rather than heat. It’s a bit too thick to really work on pizza, to be honest, but it’s a great snacking turkey pepperoni for a charcuterie board. If you’re craving pepperoni but aren’t interested in eating mammals, this is the turkey pepperoni for you. — Justine Sterling 

Credit: Liv Averett / Instacart

Rating:

6/10

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Hormel Hot & Spicy Pepperoni

Best Spicy Pepperoni

Hormel Hot & Spicy Pepperoni

If you’re looking for an extra kick of heat on your ‘za, this could be the best spicy pepperoni for you. It’s not ghost pepper hot—this isn’t Hot Ones level heat. But it definitely has more of a burn than any of the other pepperoni we tried. Cooked on pizza, it’s super duper savory and oily. The spice builds and builds. So, your first bite might be practically mild but just wait. That heat will catch up to you. — Justine Sterling

Credit: Liv Averett / Walmart

Rating:

6.5/10

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Foustman’s Artisanal Pepperoni

Best Artisanal

Foustman’s Artisanal Pepperoni

This pepperoni is pricey, but it’s so good it deserves a spot on the best pepperoni for pizza list. The flavor is perfect; there’s a great beef and pork taste. There isn’t a ton of spice, but it’s got that high-quality, homemade pepperoni thing going on (Foustman’s is a family business that doesn’t use nitrates). Just make sure to peel off the inedible casing! The mild flavor and thick, meaty texture of this pepperoni will play great on a meat lover’s pizza. It’s pretty expensive ($15 for one stick), but if you have the cash to burn, do it. — Danny Palumbo

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Amazon

Rating:

7/10

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Pepperoni Prima Della

Best for Sandwiches

Pepperoni Prima Della

You can get this pork and beef pepperoni sliced to order at the deli. It’s big (about the size of my palm), so go thin. Absolutely cover a pizza with the large slices, or use it as a sandwich pepperoni (that’s how it’s labeled, anyhow). It has a really nice blend of spices, with prominent fennel seed flavor. It straddles the line between salami and pepperoni. Pile these pepperoni slices onto an Italian sub or a pizza sandwich (that’s a sandwich with pepperoni, mozzarella cheese, and tomato sauce, run through the broiler—try it). — Justine Sterling  

Credit: Liv Averett / Walmart

Rating:

7/10

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Applegate Naturals Pork & Beef Uncured Pepperoni

Best Salty

Applegate Naturals Pork & Beef Uncured Pepperoni

These small pepperoni cups crisp up nicely. The salt factor is strong, so this pepperoni will add great seasoning to any pizza. The flavor is complex, too. Some notable Applegate pepperoni ingredients listed are rosemary, paprika, cherry powder, celery powder, lime juice, and granulated garlic. You can really taste the depth of flavor, and it’s refreshing. Applegate does good deli meats and that extends to making some of the best pepperoni for pizza. — Danny Palumbo

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Amazon

Rating:

7.5/10

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Margherita Thick Sliced Pepperoni

Best Herbs

Margherita Thick Sliced Pepperoni

This is the best pepperoni if you want a ton of herbs in the mix. You can for sure taste some oregano or parsley, although it’s not explicitly listed in the ingredients. Margherita pepperoni is also a good cupping pepperoni—we love pepperoni cups—and it’s got a pleasantly mild taste. That’s not what I’m looking for (I want pepperoni with a strong bite), but if you’re cooking for a kid or can’t handle spice, this is the best pepperoni for pizza in your home. — Danny Palumbo

Sarah Demonteverde / Walmart

Rating:

7.5/10

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Hormel Pepperoni Cup N’ Crisp

Best Cupping Pepperoni

Hormel Pepperoni Cup N’ Crisp

Hormel’s Cup N’ Crisp pepperoni promise to become pepperoni cups, and they fulfill that promise with flare. Even uncooked, these pepperoni are pretty dang tasty—they’re seasoned with lots of herbs for a complex flavor. But they really shine once they’re hit with heat. They cup up just like the cupping pepperoni at an NYC pizza parlor. If all you care about is covering your pizza with lots of little pepperoni cups, this is the best pepperoni for you. — Justine Sterling

Credit: Liv Averett / Target

Rating:

7.5/10

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Hormel Original Pepperoni

Best Budget

Hormel Original Pepperoni

I didn’t really expect much out of Hormel, but this was a pleasant surprise. Hormel Original Pepperoni has a lot of fat and a lot of salt. It’s hard to argue with the flavor. The quality isn’t artisanal, but then again, it’s not trying to be. Sure, it’s processed, but it’s cheap and it tastes better than most of the other pepperoni in this price range. Also, it makes me think of cafeteria-style sheet-tray pizza, which I have an affinity for. — Danny Palumbo

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Instacart

Rating:

7.5/10

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Private Selection Old World Pepperoni

Best Thin Pepperoni

Private Selection Old World Pepperoni

Private Selection Old World Pepperoni is salted really well, and it’s got the classic paprika kick you expect from pepperoni. It’s on the thinner side, so if you like thin pepperoni these are the best pepperoni slices for you. That thinness also means that the pepperoni crisps up nicely in the oven. If you want a little crunch from your pepp (almost like crispy bacon), I’d go with this one. — Danny Palumbo

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Ralphs

Rating:

8.5/10

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Boar’s Head Natural Casing Traditional Pepperoni

Best Pepperoni Stick

Boar’s Head Natural Casing Traditional Pepperoni

The real selling point for a stick of pepperoni is that you’re in the driver’s seat in terms of thickness. Cut it as thick or thin as you like. This particular stick of pepperoni has a natural casing, too, so there’s an enjoyable snap when you bite into it. The ingredients listed are the same as Boar’s Head pre-sliced pepperoni, but to me this one tastes bolder, and therefore better. It’s not quite as convenient for pizza as the pre-sliced Boar’s Head pepperoni, so it’s a dead heat for these two. Both earned a solid score of 9. — Danny Palumbo

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Instacart

Rating:

9/10

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Boar’s Head Pepperoni

Best Widely Available

Boar’s Head Pepperoni

Boar’s Head Pepperoni is a great product that’s available nearly everywhere, and therefore is the  best pepperoni for pizza that’s easily attainable. It’s also a little cheaper than Battistoni (our number one pick, spoilers), and although it’s not quite as good, it still packs a great pepperoni punch. It’s a pork and beef pepperoni that’s full of fat, so if you like your pepperoni pizza a tad greasy, this will do the trick. It’s also got a great bold flavor and the meat itself feels like actual meat versus a cheap, chewy mixture shaped into a flimsy circle. These spiced meat discs rip apart like good meat should. Boar’s Head makes some of the best pepperoni, and the pre-sliced option is just too convenient and good to pass up. — Danny Palumbo

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Amazon

Rating:

9/10

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Battistoni Cup & Char Style Pepperoni

Best of the Best

Battistoni Cup & Char Style Pepperoni

Unanimous, perfect score pepperoni right here. Definitely the best pepperoni for pizza. Not sure how you could improve upon Battistoni Cup & Char. The flavor is flat-out spectacular. These spicy, porky, and fatty little slices of pepperoni are highly snackable whether they’re raw or cooked. However, they create perfect pepperoni cups on pizza, so you can really layer every square inch of pie with little pepperoni cups like a good New York slice. Battistoni is both artisanal and affordable, landing it in that rare sweet spot where food shines brightest. It doesn’t get better than this. — Danny Palumbo

Credit: Sarah/Demonteverde / Amazon

Rating:

10/10

Sporks

Other Products We Tried: Mama Cozzi’s, Simm’s Thick Cut Pepperoni, Great Value Original Pepperoni, Gallo Salame Pepperoni, Mama Mary’s Pepperoni, Kroger Sliced Pepperoni, Signature Select Original Sliced Pepperoni, Primo Taglio Uncured Pepperoni, Dietz & Watson Premier Pepperoni, 365 Mini Pepperoni, Margherita Pepperoni Slices, Kroger Turkey Pepperoni, Hormel Turkey Pepperoni, Bridgford Turkey Pepperoni, Applegate Turkey Uncured Pepperoni, Hormel Pepperoni Minis (these are great mini pepperoni for novelty sake but just didn’t taste good enough to make the list!), Great Value Sliced Pepperoni Dry-Cured


About the Author

Sporked Staff

The Sporked Staff tastes everything and anything. They are obsessive about groceries and finding the best of any type of food or drink, from frozen fried shrimp to Dijon mustard to gummy candy. And they're always on a hunt for the best new products. When they aren't eating professionally, they're eating recreationally. And often they're browsing grocery store aisles, just for fun.

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  • Agree 100% on #1. I discovered the brand through tedious research a few years ago, and the wild. Spicy. Meaty. Bursting with flavor. It’s a shame the price has doubled in just a few years for it. It keeps me from stocking up, So I only get it occasionally, and use boar’s head as my workhorse pepperoni, which is a fine product. It doesn’t touch the winner, but it’s very good.

    On another note, I’m surprised margherita is on the list. It’s about the most ghetto, unimpressive pepperoni I’ve ever tried.

    Reply
  • Thanx do much for rating props yum! I have always hated margarit pepperoni. & Coming from a small town we basically only have Hormel. But.. I will seek out your #1&2. Yum! Just found you Danny ,,,now a follower ❣️😋🍕‼️

    Reply
  • Thanx do much for rating props yum! I have always hated margarit pepperoni. & Coming from a small town we basically only have Hormel. But.. I will seek out your #1&2. Yum!

    Reply
  • hi guys I love sporked and especially ur mustache danny 😉 *meant to be read in a friendly & non-creepy way*

    Reply
    • hahaha hell yeah. thank you!

      Reply
  • Thanks for including “best budget” versions, I love these “The best x” articles.

    Reply