More Than a Pizza Topping: 10 Smoky, Savory Ways to Use Pepperoni

Two Extra-Crispy Bar-Style Tortilla Supreme Pizzas, cut into wedges on a wooden cutting board.
J. Kenji López-Alt

Pepperoni is still number one among pizza toppings, but beyond that, it hardly gets any respect. Admittedly, it's not the fanciest salami around, but it's smoky, fatty, and delicious—what's not to respect? Pepperoni is great for quickly adding a dash of meaty flavor to dishes like our fried-zucchini stacks, or our pizza-inspired macaroni and cheese. And there are plenty of pizza-inspired dishes, with similarly satisfying combinations of chewy dough and melted cheese, for which the addition of pepperoni is never a bad idea—we can name grilled cheese, nachos, and mac and cheese, for a start. In fact, out of all the recipes in this collection, only two can reasonably be called pizzas—and they're made with English muffins and tortillas. Keep reading to see your humble supermarket salami in a whole new light.

Zucchini Stacks in the Style of Eggplant Parmesan

Jennifer Olvera

This homey riff on eggplant parm layers breaded, fried zucchini with pepperoni, tomato sauce, basil, and a mix of mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. We bake the stacks and finish them under the broiler to get the cheese nicely browned and bubbly. A bit of white wine and balsamic vinegar lend depth to the tomato sauce.

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Crisp, Flaky, Pepperoni Pizza Puff Pastry Waffles

J. Kenji López-Alt

As stated, there's no proper pizza in this list, but there are lots of inventive snacks that essentially cram pizza components into a different, equally delicious form. Take this crazy (and crazy-good) little number, made by rolling up puff pastry with tomato sauce, pepperoni, and shredded mozzarella and cooking it in a waffle iron. It'll come out well browned and crispy, with a delicately flaky interior and long strands of melted cheese.

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The Best English Muffin Pepperoni Pizza

J. Kenji López-Alt

Just like the ones you used to devour in front of the after-school special—except upgraded, using a few simple tricks. First, we toast the English muffins so that they don't soak up too much of the homemade pizza sauce. Second, we precook the pepperoni slices in a pan before adding them to the pizza—otherwise, the pizza cooks too quickly for the pepperoni to properly curl and crisp up. Not only that: You can use the rendered fat to brown the muffins and infuse them with flavor.

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Extra-Crispy Bar-Style Tortilla Pizza Supreme

J. Kenji López-Alt

When you're craving a super-thin bar-style pizza in the wee hours, there's no way you're gonna want to roll out pizza dough. Reach instead for tortillas, which get beautifully crispy and crunchy in a cast iron skillet—plus, they provide a completely flat plane on which to build, allowing you to spread the cheese out all the way to the edges. I like to keep my tortilla pizzas simple, with just tomato sauce, cheese, olive oil, and fresh basil. For really wild nights, though, pile on sausage, pepperoni, yellow onion, and green bell pepper.

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Pepperoni Pizza Supreme Nachos

Yvonne Ruperti

Why limit supreme-pizza toppings to just pizza? For another route to midnight-snack bliss, top tortilla chips with pepperoni, sweet peppers, sliced onion and olives, and mozzarella. We use a thick homemade tomato sauce here—typical store-bought varieties will be too thin and soak the chips. Finishing the nachos with pickled jalapeños after they come out of the oven gives them a little extra kick.

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Fully Loaded Pizza Macaroni and Cheese

J. Kenji López-Alt

This recipe starts with our basic stovetop macaroni and cheese, but replaces the cheddar with mozzarella and Parmesan, though we keep the American cheese for its unparalleled creaminess. Once the cheese is melted, we stir in an eye-popping variety of tangy, savory, spicy, and otherwise flavorful pizza toppings: Italian sausage, pepperoni, soppressata, black olives, peperoncini, tomatoes, and basil.

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Easy Pull-Apart Pepperoni Garlic Knots

J. Kenji López-Alt

The concept of garlic knots goes from "pretty good snack" to "unbelievably delicious" when you add pepperoni and cheese and bake them in a cast iron skillet for a well-crisped, golden crust. And this show-stealing party dish takes only about half an hour of active time, since you don't need to make your own dough—with so many strong flavors involved, store-bought pizza dough works perfectly fine.

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Pepperoni Garlic Bread Burgers (Grilled Cheeseburgers With Pepperoni Sauce Served on Garlic Bread Rolls)

J. Kenji López-Alt

Combine the best elements of pizza and garlic bread for burgers with an Italian-American twist. We toast the buns in garlic butter flecked with oregano and parsley and make our own tomato sauce of crushed tomatoes, stick pepperoni, and a splash of vinegar. Topping the burgers with sharp provolone and Parmesan adds more flavor than using mozzarella.

Get the recipe for Pepperoni Garlic Bread Burgers (Grilled Cheeseburgers With Pepperoni Sauce Served on Garlic Bread Rolls) »

Grilled Cheese With Pepperoni and Pickled Cherry Peppers

J. Kenji López-Alt

Anything that's tasty on pizza is likely to be tasty on a grilled cheese—especially pepperoni and sharp little pickled peppers. As with our English muffin pizzas, we recommend pre-crisping the pepperoni before adding it to the sandwich. You can do this in the microwave, but using a skillet will allow you to keep the rendered fat for toasting the bread. Homemade or store-bought banana peppers or cherry peppers will do nicely.

Get the recipe for Grilled Cheese With Pepperoni and Pickled Cherry Peppers »