Can Pepperoni Go Bad? How Long Does Pepperoni Last?

image of peperoni shelf life

This may not be a popular opinion, but we believe that Pepperoni makes everything better! And if you’re a fan of this cured meat, you’ll agree with us too!

It’s the best homemade pizza topping and a fantastic sandwich filling. But, more than that, it’s also a great addition to your charcuterie board, quesadillas, grilled cheese, and many more!

Unfortunately, Pepperoni is available in either pack or stick, but the recipes you can use them on require only a few slices. Because of this, you have no choice but to store excess Pepperoni until the time you’ll use it again.

But will it still be okay by the time you need it again? Does Pepperoni go bad? How long does Pepperoni last? How to tell if Pepperoni has gone bad?

This article will answer all of your questions, so let’s get started!

Does Pepperoni Go Bad?

Same with all types of meat, Pepperoni can also go bad. The good news is, it won’t go bad as quickly as other meats do.

This is because Pepperoni is a type of cured meat that has been processed using salt (sodium nitrite) and other preservatives to extend its shelf life.

As a result, they tends to keep better as compared to other meat products. (*) But as mentioned, it can still go off, so you should learn how to determine if the Pepperoni has already spoiled or what are the ways on how you can store it properly.

image of Pepperoni

If you have a pack of Pepperoni or half a pepperoni stick in your fridge and you’re thinking of using it, but you’re not sure if it’s still safe for consumption or not, the best thing that you should do is to inspect the product closely.

How to Tell If Peperoni Has Gone Bad?

Here are the telltale signs that Pepperoni is bad:

1. Discoloration

The regular color of Pepperoni is somewhere between dark red and pink. However, you’ll also notice that it has tiny white spots. Those are molds caused by good bacteria and are necessary to prevent the growth of bad bacteria.

When it has already gone bad, it will have discolorations ranging from brown, green, and gray to black. If your Pepperoni has any of these discolorations and a fuzzy growth, throw it right away.

2. Texture Changes

One of the first signs that you’ll notice in an expired pepperoni would be its texture changes. Some become dry, hard, and discolored. Others would have a slimy and wet surface.

These texture changes indicate spoiling, so discard it as soon as possible.

3. Bad Smell

Pepperoni sausage has a distinct smell which is often described as acidic and a bit cheesy. Most people sometimes claim that the Pepperoni smells like bleach, which is also quite normal considering that it has natural molds that give it a bit of a pungent smell.

If the Pepperoni starts to smell rancid or its aroma is similar to that of rotten eggs, it’s high time that you get rid of that pepperoni package to avoid food poisoning.

4. Weird Taste

If the Pepperoni doesn’t have any of the abovementioned signs but has been in your refrigerator months past the printed date, err on the side of caution and taste a small amount of it first before using it in your recipes.

Any changes in taste (became rancid or sour) mean that it has already gone bad, so throw the pepperoni package in the trash can as soon as possible.

image Pepperoni on pizza

How Long Does Peperoni Last?

The shelf life of the pepperoni package will vary depending on:

  • The kind (pepperoni sticks, fresh and dry Pepperoni),
  • Current condition (opened and unopened Pepperoni, pre-sliced Pepperoni, sliced pepperoni stick),
  • And how it is stored (at room temperature or in the refrigerator).

To help you determine how long does it last here’s comprehensive information about the Pepperoni’s shelf life of the different types of pepperoni packages available in the market:

1. Dry Sausage (ex: Pepperoni and Genoa salami)

Also known as unrefrigerated Pepperoni, the dry sausage is sold unrefrigerated in shops because they are preserved or cured (either through ingredients or the production method) and can last longer than refrigerated or fresh Pepperoni.

The dried meat usually comes as pepperoni sticks and can last for up to 6 months past the sell-by date when stored at room temperature.

When stored in the refrigerator, it can last almost indefinitely (meaning it’s safe for consumption until it starts to show signs of spoilage).

Sliced or opened pepperoni packages can last for up to 3 weeks in the refrigerator and 1 to 2 months in the freezer.

2. Fresh Sausage

Like dry sausages, fresh sausage pepperoni sticks also come with either a sell-by or best before the date indicated in its packaging. Unless there are already signs of spoilage, the unopened pepperoni package will last for a few more days past its sell-by date.

On the other hand, leftover pepperoni slices must be consumed within 3 weeks (for some brands, it’s only 1 week).

3. Pre-sliced Pepperoni

We’re referring to salami and other pre-sliced deli meats that are often stored in the refrigerator by sliced Pepperoni. Same with fresh sausages, you should also observe the best before date on its package.

Once it’s opened, it’s recommended that you consume everything within 5 to 7 days.

How to Store Peperoni Properly

Storing Pepperoni properly is the best way to extend the pepperoni shelf life. How you should store it will vary depending on the type of Pepperoni you’re using. With that said, here are some of the food storage tips that you need to know:

1. Store in a cool and dry area.

This type of sausage comes with a natural casing and contains preservatives (salts and nitrates) which can extend its shelf without the need for refrigeration. This is also true for pepperoni types that have undergone the curing process.

If you plan to use it within the next few days, you can store it in a cool and dry place like your pantry.

But if you aren’t going to consume the stick in the next 2 to 3 weeks, refrigerate it.

2. Store in the fridge.

Sliced pepperonis that are sold refrigerated should be refrigerated it at home too.

If you’ve already opened the package or sliced your refrigerated pepperoni sticks, you need to refrigerate them too.

You can transfer these into a resealable plastic bag, freezer bag, or an airtight container to prevent them from drying out. You can also wrap it in plastic wrap.

3. Prep it properly before freezing.

But if you happen to purchase lots of pepperonis and you won’t be able to consume it within the best before date, you’ll have to freeze it.

While freezing Pepperoni isn’t the best option because you won’t be sure if its texture will stay the same after thawing, the risk of texture changes will be reduced if you follow these tips on how to freeze Pepperoni:

  • Slice pepperoni sticks for easy thawing (in the way they will be used in most recipes that you’ll prepare).
  • Wrap in aluminum foil or plastic wrap.
  • Double wrap in resealable bags.
  • Date the bags so you’d know how long the Pepperoni has been in the freezer.

When you’re ready to use them, just simply transfer them to your fridge and allow them to thaw overnight.

Learn more: Can you freeze pepperoni?


The Bottom Line

Pepperoni is a dried and cured meat filled with preservatives that can last longer than most cured meats. However, it can still go bad, especially if you don’t store it properly or are exposed to bacteria and other contaminants.

To avoid this, make sure to follow the food storage tips we’ve shared with you. Also, don’t forget to inspect and look out for signs of spoilage before using in your dishes.

image of pepperoni shelf life

Up Next: The Shelf Life of Meats

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