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3 Ways to Tell If Pepperoni Is Bad

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Being a product of cured pork does not make pepperoni immune from spoilage. Under most storage conditions, pepperoni – whether sliced, whole, or as sticks – will eventually go bad like any other food item.

So, while you can store pepperoni in a freezer or a refrigerator for extended periods (weeks to months), it may still spoil.

Of course, when pepperoni spoils, it becomes unfit for your consumption. But how can you tell when this happens? What are the signs of spoilage in pepperoni?

Below, we go over three ways to tell if pepperoni is bad. We also answer some questions you may have about pepperoni storage. Read on for more.

pepperoni on chopping board

3 Ways to Tell if Pepperoni Is Bad

Unusual Smell

In the earliest moments of spoilage, one of the most obvious signs you will perceive from pepperoni is a change in smell.

When still fresh, pepperoni should have its regular aroma. It should smell of cured pork, beef, and seasonings. Some people also describe pepperoni’s typical smell as slightly cheesy and acidic.

When you perceive any smell different from the usual pepperoni flavor, start suspecting spoilage. Spoilt pepperoni may smell like spoiled eggs or sewage. It may also give off an odor similar to spoiled pork or beef.

Also, since pepperoni contains some oil, it may smell rancid when it goes bad. So, if you notice any of the signs described so far, your pepperoni has gone off.

Not all changes in the smell of pepperoni signify rot. Pepperoni, like other cured meat sausage, may carry some natural mold. Mold may change the scent of pepperoni slightly without causing spoilage.

Some people describe a whiff of this natural mold as being slightly bleach-like. So, if this is what you perceive, the pepperoni may not be spoiled just yet. Look to other signs for confirmation.

Change in Appearance and Texture

When pepperoni has gone bad, you may notice a marked color change. The color of fresh pepperoni should be between pink and dark red. So, when you start seeing other colors like green, grey, or black, your pepperoni has most likely gone bad.

Besides a color change, another way to tell if pepperoni is bad is to examine its texture. Fresh pepperoni should not feel slimy or sticky. So, if your pepperoni feels slimy, it is definitely spoiled.

Not all color changes in a pepperoni signify rot. Sometimes, if you leave your pepperoni out in the open, it will dry out. As it dries, its color may change; it may become brownish. In such cases, the pepperoni is not bad. You can cut out the dry part and use the remaining pepperoni.

woman getting a slice of pepperoni pizza

Change in Taste

In many cases, bad pepperoni will only show a change in taste after other indicators have appeared. So, you do not have to taste your pepperoni to confirm spoilage if other signs are present. However, you may taste it if there is no change in appearance, texture, and smell.

Bad pepperoni will taste off. So, if you taste your pepperoni and it doesn’t taste like you know it should, discard it.

Some FAQs About Storing Pepperoni

Does Pepperoni Go Bad If Left Out?

Pepperoni does go bad if left out. However, the rate at which it goes bad depends on the type of pepperoni.

Dry pepperoni, whole pepperoni, and unopened pepperoni can stay out of the fridge for about six weeks without going bad. But open pepperoni sticks or sliced pepperoni may spoil if you leave them out for more than two hours.

sliced pepperoni with herbs and whole pepper corns

Does Pepperoni Go Bad After Opening?

Pepperoni does go bad after opening. But how fast this happens depends on the pepperoni type and storage conditions.

If you leave opened packages of sliced pepperoni or pepperoni sticks in the pantry, they may go bad after two hours. But in a refrigerator, the pepperoni sticks will stay fresh for about 1-3 weeks, while the slices can last up to seven days.

Does Sealed Pepperoni Go Bad?

Sealed pepperoni does go bad. However, it does not spoil as fast as pepperoni that has been opened. Generally, if you store your sealed pepperoni at room temperature, it will stay fresh till the best-by date.

If you buy refrigerated pepperoni from the store, refrigerate it immediately after you get home. Otherwise, the shelf life of the product may wane.

Does Packaged Pepperoni Go Bad?

Packaged pepperoni does go bad. But then, how fast it goes bad depends on package integrity and storage conditions.

If the package is broken, packaged pepperoni will go bad pretty fast. Also, if you store packaged pepperoni above the recommended storage temperature, it will spoil quickly.

Packaged pepperoni typically comes with a best-by date or best-before date. This date is, by and large, the manufacturer’s estimate of how long the pepperoni will maintain top quality. If it has passed the best-by date, packaged pepperoni may still be safe for consumption, provided it shows no sign of spoilage.

Does Deli Pepperoni Go Bad?

Like regular pepperoni, deli pepperoni does go bad. However, you can store it in a refrigerator after putting it in an airtight container or wrapping it in plastic foil.

different cold cuts, cheese, olives on a white plate

Does Dry Pepperoni Go Bad?

Dry pepperoni does go bad. But then, this depends on how you store it. If you store whole and unopened dry pepperoni in the pantry, it can stay fresh for up to six weeks.

While in the refrigerator, dry pepperoni will maintain top quality for up to six months. But even after that, it can still remain safe for consumption.

Dry pepperoni stored in a freezer can stay there indefinitely. However, it will maintain top quality for just about 10 months. Even after that, it will remain safe for consumption.

How Quickly Does Pepperoni Go Bad?

  • Whole, sealed pepperoni sticks will last up to six weeks in the pantry. But they will remain safe to eat indefinitely in a fridge or freezer.
  • Unsealed pepperoni sticks may go bad in a pantry after two hours. But they can remain consumable in a fridge for around 1 to 3 weeks.
  • Sealed pepperoni slices can last up to one week beyond their best-before date when stored in a fridge.
  • Unsealed pepperoni slices will last 5 to 7 days if you store them in a refrigerator. But if you leave them in a pantry, they may go bad after two hours.


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