We Found the Best Pepperoni for Pizza (and 7 Other Great Options)

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 pepperoni is best when it’s thick, greasy, meaty, and spicy.

We got 21 different types of pepperoni for this taste test and I cooked them all in an oven with some Great Value cheese pizza (which rules, by the way). We also tried them raw for a side-by-side comparison. So, how did we determine the best? Like I said, pepperoni  should have a meaty, spicy flavor. There should also be some pronounced kick, and I know 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 cup action with each type. 

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Best of the Best

Battistoni Cup & Char Style Pepperoni

Unanimous, perfect score pepperoni right here. 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 curl up perfectly in the oven on a pizza, so you can really layer every square inch of pie with little cups of pepperoni 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.

Credit: Sarah/Demonteverde/Amazon

Rating:

10/10

Sporks

Best Widely Available

Boar’s Head Pepperoni

Boar’s Head Pepperoni is a great product that’s available nearly everywhere, and therefore should be most people’s go-to pepperoni for pizza. It’s also a little cheaper than Battistoni, and although it’s not quite as good, it still packs a great pepperoni punch. It’s a pork and beef blend 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 versusa cheap, chewy mixture shaped into a flimsy circle. These spiced meat discs rip apart like good meat should. Boar’s Head does great pepperoni, and the pre-sliced option is just too convenient and good to pass up.

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde/Amazon

Rating:

9/10

Sporks

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. It’s got 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.

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde/Instacart

Rating:

9/10

Sporks

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 this is your brand. Thin 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. The flavor here is nothing spectacular, but it’s a good standard.

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde/Ralphs

Rating:

8.5/10

Sporks

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. Hard to argue with the flavor. It’s slick to the touch, and therefore greasy, but Hormel serves a purpose. It’s perfectly fine to buy and put on top of a frozen pizza. The quality isn’t artisanal, but then again, it’s not trying to be. Sure, it’s overly 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.

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde/Instacart

Rating:

7.5/10

Sporks

Best Herbs

Margherita Thick Sliced Pepperoni

This pepperoni is really herby. You can for sure taste some oregano or parsley, although it’s not explicitly listed in the ingredients. Margherita pepperoni also cups really well, and it’s got a pleasantly mild taste. That’s not what I’m looking for (I want pepperoni with a strong bite), but it’s inoffensive and has a steady, subtle flavor. Its only crime is it doesn’t have a bold taste, but it does just about everything else well.

Sarah Demonteverde/Walmart

Rating:

7.5/10

Sporks

Best Salty

Applegate Naturals Pork & Beef Uncured Pepperoni

This is another small pepperoni that crisps 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.

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde/Amazon

Rating:

7.5/10

Sporks

Best Artisanal

Foustman’s Artisanal Pepperoni

This one is pricey, but Foustman’s pepperoni is top-notch. The flavor is perfect; there’s a great beef and pork taste. There isn’t a ton of spice here, 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. Pretty expensive, but if you have the cash to burn, do it.

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde/Amazon

Rating:

7/10

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.


About the Author

Danny Palumbo

Danny is a comedian, cook, and food writer living in Los Angeles. He loves gas station eggs, canned sardines, and Easter candy. He also passionately believes that all the best chips come from Pennsylvania (Herr's!). If you can't understand Danny when he talks, it's because he's from Pittsburgh.

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

    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