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Have you ever wondered how long your favorite pepperoni will last before turning bad? As a popular pizza topping and snack meat, it’s important to know how long pepperoni can be safely stored in your fridge or pantry. Not only will this help you avoid food waste, but it could also prevent potential foodborne illnesses. In this post, we’ll explore the shelf life of pepperoni, factors that can affect its freshness, and proper storage techniques to help you make the most out of this delicious meat.

slices of pepperoni on paper towel


What is Pepperoni Made of?

Pepperoni is a spicy cured meat sausage made of a mixture of pork and beef, seasoned with paprika or chili pepper. It is a type of dry sausage that can last up to six months when uncut and unskinned in a pantry at room temperature or indefinitely in a refrigerator, according to the US Department of Agriculture. However, once cut, it is recommended to consume within three weeks in the fridge or two months in the freezer. Pepperoni is preserved using salt and nitrates, allowing it to have an extended shelf life.

Curing Process of Pepperoni

Pepperoni goes through a curing process where it is seasoned with ingredients such as paprika or chili pepper. The meat is then packed with lactic acid bacteria which lowers the pH balance and helps preserve the meat. The mixture is stuffed into casings and left to ferment for several days before being moved to a drying room for at least 20 days. Cured pepperoni typically has a natural casing made from animal byproducts and may also undergo an aging process to increase the flavor profile. 

close up of pepperoni slices
©Juanmonino via

Shelf Life of Unopened and Opened Pepperoni

Pepperoni has a long shelf life due to its curing process and the addition of preservatives. Unopened sticks of pepperoni can last indefinitely in the fridge or at room temperature. Once opened, it can last for about 3 weeks in the fridge, and sliced pepperoni should be consumed within 7 days. Following proper storage, such as placing it in an airtight container or freezer bag, and refrigerating or freezing it can extend its shelf life. It’s important to note that the quality of pepperoni may degrade after freezing. 

Best-by Date vs Expiration Date

When it comes to shelf-stable foods like pepperoni, there are two main types of dates to pay attention to: best-by and expiration. According to the FDA, the best-by date indicates when a product will taste its best, while an expiration date indicates when it may no longer be safe to consume. However, these dates are often conservative estimates, and the real shelf life may be longer, especially if the product is stored properly. It’s always best to use your senses to determine if a product is still good to eat.

Can Pepperoni be Frozen?

Pepperoni is a versatile sausage that can expire over time, even with its preservatives. Thankfully, freezing can be a great option to extend its lifespan. To do so, cut your pepperoni into slices or large chunks and divide them into different freezer bags, making sure to label them with the best before date. When thawing, only take out the batch you need and let them defrost in the fridge overnight. Remember that frozen pepperoni can last for up to a year, but it’s best to consume them up to 6-8 months to ensure freshness.

slices of pepperoni up close


Does pepperoni go bad in the fridge?

Pepperoni technically does not require refrigeration until opened, but it will retain freshness for longer when kept in the fridge. Once opened, it should be stored in an airtight container or resealable bag in the fridge to prevent it from drying out. Sliced pepperoni should also be kept in the fridge, and leftovers should be sealed in an airtight container or bag to prevent drying out. While pepperoni has a longer shelf life than other sausages due to its curing process, it can still spoil over time and become slimy.

How do you know if pepperoni has gone bad?

Pepperoni is a popular cured meat sausage that has a long shelf life if stored correctly. However, it will eventually go bad, and there are several signs to look out for. Brown color, white mold, or a slightly cheesy smell are normal, but black, green, or gray spots, a rancid or sewage-like smell, and a slimy or dry texture are signs that it has gone bad. It is advisable to freeze pepperoni before the expiry date following the instructions above.

Why did my pepperoni turn gray?

If your pepperoni has turned gray, it’s most likely a result of exposure to air. As this type of meat sausage is typically made using a mixture of cured pork and beef seasoned with paprika or chili pepper, the meat may react to air and turn gray. It’s not necessarily spoiled, but it’s best to check for other signs of spoilage like a slimy texture or a foul smell before consuming it. Remember to always keep your pepperoni refrigerated and consumed within the suggested time frame for safe consumption. If you’re unsure if it’s spoiled or not, it’s best to err on the side of caution and toss it out.

What is the white stuff on my pepperoni?

The white stuff on pepperoni is actually a natural mold that forms during the curing process. It is a good bacteria that helps prevent bad bacteria from forming. So, don’t be alarmed if you see white spots on your pepperoni. However, if you notice any spots that are black, green, or gray, it could be a sign of spoilage and the pepperoni should be discarded. It’s important to always check for signs of spoilage before consuming any kind of cured meat.

How long does pepperoni last unrefrigerated?

According to the USDA, pepperoni can last about 6 weeks in the pantry unrefrigerated if it is unopened and stored properly. Due to the air-drying process used during its production, unopened pepperoni does not require refrigeration. However, an opened package of pepperoni should always be refrigerated to prevent spoilage and should be consumed within 3 weeks. Leftover pepperoni can go bad if it has air contact in the fridge, so it’s important to store it in sealed bags or containers.

pepperoni sticks on plate
©LauriPatterson via

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