Can You Eat Uncured Pepperoni? Exploring the Health Benefits and Risks

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Christiana George
Christiana George
Welcome to The Tart Tart, my not-so-tart take on food, writing, and photography. I decided to start up this sucker after repeated nagging from Chris, my fiance, who cannot understand why the sight of a farmer’s market would send me into ecstatic convulsions (okay, total overstatement. I can be quite the histrionic at times).With that said, my interests, though chiefly in food, also span fashion, design, literature, and photography. So don’t mind the seemingly non sequitur odds and ends I toss in posts at times.

Curing meat is an age-old practice. In ancient times curing was done to preserve food in absence of refrigeration and canning. But now it is something we practice as a part of culture and liking. Pepperoni is the most famous of all curing meat.

Did the question come into your mind- Can you eat uncured pepperoni?

Yes, they are edible. Uncured pepperoni has no nitrates or additive chemicals. This meat is made only using natural salt and flavorings, unlike cured meats. It is safe to consume uncured pepperoni right after buying. But not to forget, it has high salt level.

That’s not all. There are a lot you should learn.

Let’s talk in detail about uncured pepperoni and the consequences of eating them.

What is Uncured Pepperoni?

Pepperoni is not cooked normally, it is made by dry curing. In this process, the spice and preservatives go through fermentation. Artificial preservatives are used here. The work can also be done with natural preservatives.

Uncured Pepperoni

This process used bacteria and makes the made safe for consumption. Uncooked pepperoni can also be consumed without any risk. People ask- is uncured pepperoni pork? Well, it’s a mixture of pork and beef.

Now depending on the ingredients used, the pepperonis are divided into two types. They are cured pepperoni and uncured pepperoni. When artificial preservatives are used then they are called cured pepperoni.

On the other hand, when natural ingredients are used, they are called uncured pepperoni.  So both are actually not so dissimilar. And both are perfectly edible and pose no health concerns.

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Can You Eat Uncured Pepperoni?

According to the World Health Organization( WHO), uncured pepperoni is safe unless you have specific health issues. The high level of salt can be harmful to your health if you have heart problems. 

On the other hand, cure pepperoni can lead to colon cancer. So it should be eaten less.

Uncured pepperoni is not so different from cured one. Yet people wonder things like- can you eat uncured pepperoni while pregnant? Well, here the recommended asnwer is it isn’t recommended. 

Uncured Pepperoni Vs Cured Pepperoni

We all are familiar with Pepperoni. It is made with cured pork and beef. Artificial preservatives, flavors, chilis, paprika, and other spices are added. This dry sausage is very spicy. Because it is derived from a South Italy sausage recipe, but fully American creation.

Pepperoni is normally cured with nitrites or nitrate. It tastes tangy because of the lactic acid. This bright red and spicy meat product is the number one pizza topping in America. Uncured pepperoni pizza is quite famous.

We already know that pepperoni is cured with preservatives, flavors, and spices. But have you ever come across a packet of pepperoni labeled as uncured? What does it actually mean? Is it safe to consume? What will be the consequences?

When pepperoni is made by curing with natural nitrites and salts, that is labeled as uncured. It is cured without any chemical reagent. 

On one hand, cured pepperoni is made by curing salt, and chemical reagents. On the other hand, uncured pepperoni is made using naturally derived ingredients like celery, beets, etc.

Though it is termed as uncured, we see that it actually cured with naturally derived ingredients.

Natural Nitrates: What Makes Uncured Meat Different?

Nitrates are naturally found in nature via soil, water, and plants. They are found in abundance in green leafy vegetables.

Nitrates are found in high concentrations in celery. That is why it is commonly used to cure meats naturally.  Juice or powder of beat is used along with that.

Celery breaks into nitrites and nitrates when they are put in bacterial cultures. Then these nitrates and nitrides cure the meat.

The Sausage Maker - Celery Powder

If you want to check out some celery, have a look.

 Sausage Maker’s Natural Meat CuringCheck Price Here
Anthony’s Pink Curing Salt No.1Check Price Here

Hope you found the suggestions helpful. Coming back to our discussion.

In cured pepperoni, the source of nitrates and nitrites are sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite salt. These are the chemical agents added during the processing of meats. This chemical reagent stops the meat from rotting and stops spoilage.

Pink salt is a type of curing salt. It contains sodium nitrate sodium nitrite. It is used during the curing of cured pepperoni. This salt brings a red color to the cured meat.

For this reason, uncured meat has a very bright red color but uncured does not.

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Why Lebel as ‘Uncured’?

There is a list of chemical curing agents allowed to use on food products. Not so long ago a USDA regulation stated a rule. If any unlisted alternative curing ingredients are used, the food will be labeled as  ‘uncured’.

For that reason, naturally cured meat or other food products are started to be labeled as ‘uncured’.

This thing has led to confusion. Because clearly both cured and uncured pepperoni contain equal amounts of nitrates and nitrites. The only difference is one is more processed and the other is naturally cured.

Some groups of consumers are against this labeling. They think that it is very misleading. People are becoming more and more conscious about their diet. Seeing the label, people also think things like- is uncured pepperoni vegan?

Some people also think that labeling them as ‘cured’ is a marketing strategy. It is done to manipulate the consumer into that it is healthier. Where they contain an equal amount of nitrites.


As a result in 2020, a petition was raised by groups of consumers. It was to remove the misleading regulation. USDA granted that petition partially. 

Is Uncured Pepperoni Healthy?

Uncured pepperoni contains equal nutrition as your cured one. The quality of pepperoni depends on the meat used for making it. It depends on the food safety standard maintained during the process.

Have you been thinking- is uncured pepperoni better for you? Here the source of meat is important. Whether it is cured or uncured, does not affect the quality of pepperoni. 

One thing to remember is that cured pepperoni is made by more processing and with chemicals. And uncured on is made with ingredients from nature. So they have the same nutritional profile.

But due to the lack of enough preservatives in uncured pepperoni, more salt is needed.

The risk associated with the presence of nitrates is similar in both types of pepperonis. 

Therefore you cannot call one healthier over the other. But if you want all-natural ingredients then uncured should be the better option for you. 

Points to Consider Before Buying Uncured Pepperoni

We’ll write a few points that you might find important as a consumer before buying pepperoni:

  •  Uncured pepperoni is cured using celery, beat, and normal salt. Cured pepperoni is cured with Pink salt, which produces sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite.
  • You can identify uncured from the cured pepperoni by the color. Cured pepperoni has a dark red color, whereas the uncured looks a bit paler.
  •  Uncured pepperoni does not contain any synthetic or chemical preservatives. For this reason, the amount of salt is normally a bit higher in it. Cured pepperoni may have preservatives but the amount of salt is lesser.
  •  Whichever pepperonis you may buy, both of them contain nitrates and nitrites products.
  • Nitrates and nitrites are often connected with colon cancer. It is yet not proven. There are controversies about this theory. But as a consumer, we should keep the consumption of nitrate products under control. Nitrates can form a carcinogenic substance called nitrosamines. This can later cause Kidney cancer or liver cancer. 

Though making pepperonis was at first a necessity. In ancient times there were no refrigerators or any chemical preservatives to preserve meat. With time this meat preserving process evolved into a form of culture and art. Now it is considered to be a part of the tradition.


Is it risky to eat uncured meat?

No, it is safe. Natural ingredients are used as preservatives in uncured meat. These preservatives kill bacteria and increase the shelf life of meat. It is perfectly safe to consume    uncured meat. Moreover, it is healthier than cured, because it is less processed meat.

What does uncured meat mean?

The name contradicts its meaning. Uncured meats are actually cured. Uncured meat goes through a more natural curing process than other cured meats. That is the only difference. Acid, salt, and sugar are used to preserve meat naturally. 

What kind of meat is used to make uncured pepperoni?

Port and beef cuts are used to make pepperoni. Uncured pepperoni is no different from that. They are only processed with natural ingredients and no artificial preservatives are added.


After reading the full article you must have understood that uncured pepperoni is safe in general. It may be harmful in particular health conditions. We hope that you found the answer to the question- Can you eat uncured pepperoni?

Take care of your health.

Bye- bye!

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