Here’s how long pepperoni lasts in the fridge, important storage tips, how to tell if it’s gone bad, and delicious recipes!
Pepperoni is a popular ingredient in Italian and American cuisine.
You can enjoy it on a crusty pepperoni pizza, on a sub sandwich with genoa salami, in pasta salad, and more!
But, there’s often plenty of leftover pepperoni after making your favorite dish.
So, how long does it last in the fridge?
Here’s everything you need to know about the shelf life of pepperoni, proper storage, and how to tell if it’s bad. We also share delicious pepperoni recipes to use it up!
Before we detail how long pepperoni lasts in the fridge, let’s outline what pepperoni is and how it’s made!
Pepperoni is a deli meat with rich flavor, and a little bit of spice. It’s typically made with cured pork and beef and seasoned with ingredients like paprika or chili pepper.
It’s readily available in any major grocery store, and it comes in a wide variety.
You can enjoy sliced pepperoni, turkey pepperoni, whole pepperoni sausage, and more. Some of the most popular brands are Hormel pepperoni and Fiorucci.
How It’s Made
Pepperoni is a cured meat which means it’s made to last a long time.
The meat is mixed with salts and nitrates for preservation. This also prevents unwanted microorganisms from growing.
Additionally, the nitrates in pepperoni are responsible for its signature red color.
Pepperoni may also include other ingredients like:
- Black pepper
- Crushed red pepper
- Cayenne pepper
- Mustard seed
- Fennel seed
Pepperoni Curing Process
The curing process packs the pepperoni with lactic acid bacteria which lowers the pH balance and furthers the preservation of the meat.
The meat mixture then gets stuffed into casings and left to ferment for several days. And after the pepperoni ferments, it’s moved to a drying room for at least 20 days.
Cured sausage typically has a natural casing made from animal byproducts, and it may also undergo an aging process to increase the depth of flavor. Some pepperoni is also smoked.
How long does pepperoni last in the fridge?
Pepperoni shelf life varies depending on the type of pepperoni and the storage conditions. And in all cases, an unopened package will last much longer than an opened bag.
Pepperoni typically doesn’t have an expiration date but has a best-by date instead.
Whole Pepperoni Sausage (Pepperoni Sticks)
Whole and unopened hard or dry sausage (like pepperoni and Genoa salami) last indefinitely in the fridge or for up to 6 weeks at room temperature in the pantry. Once opened, it will last for about 3 weeks.
Sliced pepperoni is almost always refrigerated. It will last about a week past the best by date if unopened.
But once opened, sliced pepperoni should be consumed within 7 days, as a general rule.
Here’s a handy table to make things even more clear:
|Pepperoni sticks (unopened, sold unrefrigerated)||Best-by||Best-by + 1 month|
|Pepperoni sticks (unopened, sold refrigerated)||Sell-by + 1 week|
|Pepperoni sticks (opened)||1 – 3 weeks|
|Sliced pepperoni (unopened)||Sell-by + 1 week|
|Sliced pepperoni (opened)||7 days|
And for the best quality, you should follow the tips for proper storage, below.
The Best Way to Store Leftover Pepperoni
If you don’t store your pepperoni properly, it won’t last as long in the fridge, and it may lose some of its flavor. To avoid this, keep your pepperoni protected from the air as much as possible.
In the Refrigerator
You can store leftover pepperoni sausage in the refrigerator using an airtight container, aluminum foil, a resealable bag, or plastic wrap.
If your sliced pepperoni came in a resealable bag, you can continue to use that. Or, you can transfer it to an airtight container, or heavy-duty plastic bag.
In the Freezer
For longer shelf life, you can store pepperoni in the freezer. Just make sure your freezer is set to 0°C (32°F) at all times!
You can freeze an unopened pepperoni stick in its original packaging. And you can wrap it in aluminum foil, or plastic wrap, or place it in a freezer bag for extra measure.
For a partially used pepperoni stick, use a freezer bag with as much air removed as possible. You can pre-slice it or dice it so it’s easier to thaw.
You can also store sliced pepperoni in a freezer bag, using the same method as the pepperoni stick.
Dry pepperoni will last in the freezer for up to 10 months. And the best way to thaw pepperoni is in the refrigerator.
Once thawed, you should not refreeze your pepperoni.
How to Know if Pepperoni is Bad
Pepperoni’s shelf life is pretty long, but it does go bad. And bad pepperoni can be dangerous to your health.
Because of that, you should look for signs of spoilage before you eat it. Take note of what your fresh pepperoni looks and smells like and note any changes.
Typical signs of spoiled pepperoni are:
- An off smell (rancid, acrid, or putrid smelling)
- Brown, black, or green mold
- Change in texture (slimy, sticky, or grainy)
- Change in taste
If you have old pepperoni, past the recommended storage limit, it’s a good idea to throw it away even if it still looks and smells okay.
If you eat pepperoni and notice any symptoms of food poisoning like stomach pain, nausea, or fever, you should seek medical care right away!
Sliced pepperoni should always be refrigerated. But, a pepperoni stick (whole pepperoni sausage) does not need to be refrigerated unless that’s specifically noted on the packaging.
Unopened pepperoni sticks can last indefinitely in the refrigerator and for up to 6 weeks in the pantry. Once opened you should enjoy the pepperoni within 3 weeks.
Unopened sliced pepperoni in the refrigerator lasts a week past the best-by date. But, once opened, you should eat it within a week.
Bad pepperoni may have an off smell, changes in color or texture, and mold. Always check pepperoni and deli meats for signs of spoilage before you eat them.
And this is true even if it’s within the recommended shelf life.
If you know your pepperoni is old, you should throw it away even if there are no signs of spoilage.
The white stuff on pepperoni may be solidified salt/fats. But, some pepperoni may also have powdery white mold.
If you see those white spots, don’t panic!
This is good mold that’s edible and meant to protect the meat from harmful bacteria.
However, if you notice dark or greenish patches of mold on your pepperoni, it’s not safe to eat.
Recipes with Pepperoni
We’ve covered how long pepperoni lasts in the fridge, the best ways to store it, and how to know if it’s gone bad.
So, here are some delicious pepperoni recipes to help you use up those leftovers.
Pesto Pizza Pasta Salad
This pesto pizza pasta salad features shaped pasta, fresh veggies, sliced pepperoni, cheese, and basil pesto.
It’s ready in just 25 minutes and it’s perfect for a BBQ side dish or potluck.
If you’ve ever wondered how to make crispy English muffin pizzas that don’t get soggy, try this recipe!
You can use your favorite sauce like BBQ, alfredo, or marinara. And your favorite toppings (including pepperoni, of course)!
This kid-friendly recipe is ready in 20 minutes!
Here’s another pepperoni-forward pasta salad that’s great for a crowd. Serve this tri color pasta at your next cookout or family dinner.
This cold pasta salad features sliced pepperoni, tri color rotini pasta, fresh veggies, cheese, and Italian dressing.
Other Leftover Pepperoni Ideas:
- Pizza quesadillas
- Pepperoni pizza pinwheels
- Pizza grilled cheese sandwiches
- Pizza sliders
- Pepperoni chips
- Pepperoni casserole
- Pizza monkey bread
- Pizza lasagna
- Pepperoni bread
- Italian nachos
- Pepperoni tortilla roll-ups
- Pizza cups
- Pizza chaffle
- Pepperoni dip
- Garlic toast pizzas
- French bread pizza
- Pita pizzas
- Pizza pockets
- Italian sub sandwich
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