Uncured Pepperoni vs Cured?

What’s the Difference Between Cured and Uncured Pepperoni – Which is Better For You?

Uncured Pepperoni vs Cured?

Pepperoni is a versatile, processed meat ingredient that can be found on pizzas, sandwiches, in pastas and as well as in some salads.

There are many types of this popular topping because it’s so useful for cooking other dishes besides just being used as a pizza topping.

There are many types of pepperoni, but the two main categories are uncured and cured.

Cured and uncured pepperoni are the most well-known varieties. What’s the difference, though? The biggest difference is in the curing process, which influences the pepperoni’s appearance and flavor.

In this article we want to go through some information on the differences between cured and uncured pepperoni. But first, let us learn more about the method of curing meats to give you a better understanding of uncured pepperoni vs cured pepperoni.

Curing Meat

If we look at cured and uncured meat in general, you will find that the main difference between cured meats and uncured meats, must be that cured meats contain artificial preservatives and chemical additives in contrast to uncured meat which is preserved by adding natural preservatives.

The process of curing meat is practiced in order to preserve meat — giving it a longer shelf life — and to provide an additional savory flavor to the meat. To cure meats happens to be one of the oldest and most effective methods used to preserve meat in order to prevent spoilage and bacterial growth, and it is still used today. It has in fact been a vital survival skill dating back centuries.

When curing meat, typically, chemical and synthetic salts are added to it in order to make it last longer.

Apart from the additives added to cured meat, there are two different ways of going about it. These methods are dry curing which is done by adding dry or powdery spices and preservatives and wet curing which is done with liquid preservatives such as brine.

As mentioned above, one can cure meat using natural or synthetic curing agents. But what is the difference between the two? Before we continue on to the topic at hand, let us see what the difference is between the two curing agents in order to get a better understanding.

Naturally Cured Meat vs Synthetically Cured Meat

Curing With a Chemical Preservative

When preserving meat using synthetic curing substances, chemical brine or curing salts — also known as pink salt — are added to the meat. Chemical and artificial preservatives such as sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite together with a salt mixture preserve the meat avoiding rapid spoilage.

These curing salts contain nitrates and nitrites which prevent harmful bacteria from spoiling the meat. This is a great benefit of cured meat.

Fun fact: the interaction between the curing salts and the meat is what gives cured pepperoni its reddish or pink color.

Preserving With Natural Curing Agents

When meat is cured naturally, instead of using synthetic salt, naturally occurring nitrates and nitrites are added to the meat. Natural nitrate and nitrite are found in foods such as celery and beets.

Natural nitrate and nitrites are actually also found all around us. They are naturally occurring, in soil, water, air and green leafy vegetables. Celery juice and beet extracts are typically used in curing as these vegetables contain significant amounts of salts.

When celery is used as an additive for preservation, it is typically added in the form of celery powder or celery juice.

What Is Uncured Pepperoni?

People often ask “What does uncured pepperoni mean?”, so here we’ll try to explain it for you…

Uncured pepperoni is a type of salami that is made without the addition of artificial nitrates or nitrites; it is however still considered to be processed meat. It is typically made with pork, beef, or a combination of the two, and seasoned with a variety of spices, including paprika, garlic, fennel seed, and chili peppers.

Uncured pepperoni is a good source of protein, vitamin B6, and selenium. It also has a relatively low-calorie count and is free of unhealthy trans fats.

The uncured pepperoni you find on a pizza is actually still considered to be cured meat. However, the curing components aren’t the same as what goes into “cured” meatballs or cured ham and other foods that require extended periods of time to finish properly. Uncured pepperoni is made to last longer by adding natural preservatives and curing agents that are found in foods such as beets and celery.

The USDA regulation requires uncured pepperoni labeled as “uncured” and then “nitrate or nitrite-free” or “No Nitrates or Nitrites added” if they contain natural sources of nitrates, such as seawater and brine.

What Is A Cured Pepperoni?

Cured pepperoni is a type of pepperoni that has been cured and dried. This type of pepperoni is often found in grocery stores, and it has a longer shelf life than other types of pepperoni and uncured meat.

Cured pepperoni is also known as hard salami, and it is made from pork, beef, or turkey.

Uncured Pepperoni vs Cured?

The preserving power of salt and artificial preservatives like sodium nitrite can prevent bacteria from growing in your cured meat.

Uncured Pepperoni vs Cured: Similarities

There are a few similarities between cured and uncured meat. See below for some points on pepperoni specifically:

  • Both types of pepperoni are often made with the same meat – a pork and beef blend.
  • The fact that both cured and uncured pepperoni are cured and considered to be processed meats, is the most striking resemblance between them.
  • Pepperoni, both cured and uncured, can be used on pizzas, sandwiches, and pasta.
  • Because of the method used to create it, pepperoni that has not been opened should not be refrigerated unless the package specifically specifies otherwise.
  • To keep your pepperoni fresher for longer, just store it in the fridge! It will maintain its peak quality and be safe to eat even after 10 months.
  • The best way to store your pepperoni stick and avoid rapid bacterial growth is by keeping it in a sealed container or bag so that the air cannot get inside and spoil its freshness.
  • Unopened pepperoni can be eaten within a month if kept at room temperature. The flavor and texture, however, may not be as good after that.

Difference Between Cured Meats and Uncured Meats

So, what is the actual difference between cured and uncured meats? Continue on for a few points on cured vs uncured pepperoni.

Preservatives Used in The Curing Process

Cured pepperoni, like most cured meats, is often seen as unhealthy because of its artificial preservatives, while uncured pepperoni, as well as other uncured meat products, is seen as healthier because of the natural preservatives such as celery powder and beet extracts.

Salt Level & Taste of Cured and Uncured Meat

Salt acts as a natural preservative and has the ability to prevent bacteria from spoiling meat. Seeing that uncured pepperoni does not have any artificial additives and preservatives, it will rely on salt for preservation. This begs the question, does uncured meat taste different to cured meat?

The answer is, more salt may be added to uncured pepperoni in comparison to the cured one, which means that it makes it naturally more salty in taste. A cured pepperoni in comparison has a more tangy flavor rather than salty, this is due to the presence of lactic acid.

Due to the potent flavors of cured meats, they tend to remain the more popular choice.

By Appearance

Unlike the bright red color of cured meats, uncured meats are a paler white. It’s because no chemicals are added, and instead, natural factors like light or bacteria can affect its appearance.

You will notice that cured pepperoni has a pronounced pink hue whereas the uncured one has a more naturally occurring color.

Curing Process

The curing process actually has a huge effect on the flavor and aroma of pepperoni. Uncured, it still retains some spiciness but is much stronger than what you would expect from just smelling them–the saltiness really sticks out instead.

Lifespan of Cured Meat vs Uncured Meat

Uncured pepperoni is made with fresh ingredients and has a shorter shelf life. Cured pepperoni is cured in salt and spices for weeks or even months, which gives it longer shelf life. Cured pepperoni is also less spicy than uncured pepperoni.

Color Difference

The difference between the cured and uncured varieties of pepperoni can be seen in their color.

The red that we all know comes from a curing process where sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate are added to enhance flavor, but it’s not present when you eat an unshelled snack or ingredient such as raw beef jerkies which have been tinted with foods like tomatoes instead.

The main advantage of uncured pepperoni is that it’s less processed than its cured counterpart. This means that it retains more of the flavor of the fresh meat. It also tends to be less spicy than cured pepperoni.

You may also notice a difference in color when buying uncured ham (fresh ham). It would be paler than the cured one.


Similar to other preserved meats, cured pepperoni has a longer shelf life and can be stored at room temperature while the uncured are refrigerated.

Cured Meats versus Uncured Meats: Which Is Better?

There are pros and cons to both cured and uncured pepperoni.

Some people argue that cured pepperoni is the best because of its intense flavor and salty taste. Others say that uncured pepperoni is better because it doesn’t have all the unhealthy chemical additives and chemical preservatives that cured pepperoni has.

No matter which type of pepperoni you prefer, there’s no denying that both have their own unique set of flavors.

If you’re looking for a pepperoni that packs a flavorful punch, then cured pepperoni is the way to go. However, if you want a slightly healthier option with fewer additives, then uncured pepperoni is the better choice.

The choice also depends on whether you agree with ingesting higher amounts of salt or whether you would rather prefer chemical preservatives.

Whichever type of pepperoni you choose, make sure to enjoy it in moderation. Too much pepperoni can lead to heartburn and other digestive issues.

So, if you’re looking to add some extra flavor to your next pizza night, go ahead and top it off with either cured or uncured pepperoni. Just don’t overdo it!

Which One Is Healthier — Uncured or Cured Products?

Generally speaking, processed meats or preserved meats are considered to be unhealthier than non-processed meats due to the artificial additives found in them whereas uncured meats rely on natural flavoring and natural salts.

This does not only include pepperoni, but also other deli meats such as ham or bacon, which are both cuts of pork often used on sandwiches and pizza. Uncured ham or uncured bacon are what we know as fresh cuts of meat. Both cured ham and cured bacon contain artificial additives as well as chemical preservatives which give them a longer shelf life.

Apart from deli meats, different sausages are also available on the market. This includes cured hot dogs and uncured hot dogs.

The difference between cured and uncured pepperoni lies in the preservation process, with cured pepperoni being treated with nitrates or nitrites, while uncured pepperoni or cured and uncured ham or any other meat for that matter, the uncured version may always be the one that is on the healthier side if you are looking at chemical composition.

Conclusion on Cured vs Uncured

So, Uncured Pepperoni vs Cured?

Pepperoni is a versatile ingredient that can be found on pizzas, sandwiches, and salads. Which type of pepperoni is right for you? If you’re looking for pepperoni with a longer shelf life as well as that classic pepperoni flavor, cured pepperoni is the way to go. If you’re looking for pepperoni with more flavor, the uncured versions of the sausage are the better option.

However, keep in mind that uncured pepperoni needs to be refrigerated, while cured pepperoni can be stored at room temperature.

The bottom line when it comes to cured vs uncured products, fresh is better, but it is a personal preference. If you use the product straight away, go for the fresh ham or pepperoni. If you know you would have to store it for a while, then the cured version is naturally better to use.

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