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Pepperoni pizza is a classic favorite, loved by many for its spicy, smoky flavor.
It’s no surprise that pepperoni is the most popular pizza topping in America, with about two-thirds (64%) of Americans saying they like this topping, making it one of the most popular pizza toppings in America and the world, according to YouGov.
While it’s delicious on its own, there are many ways to enhance and complement its taste by pairing it with complimentary toppings, sides and drinks.
This guide will walk you through what goes well with pepperoni pizza, from additional toppings to side dishes and beverages.
The Appeal of Pepperoni Pizza
Pepperoni pizza’s popularity can be attributed to its unique flavor profile. The pepperoni itself is made from a blend of pork, beef, and spices, which gives it a distinct, robust flavor. When baked on a pizza, the pepperoni becomes crispy and slightly curled, releasing its flavorful oils into the cheese and crust. This results in a pizza that is rich, savory, and slightly spicy, making it a hit with many pizza lovers.
Additional Toppings to Pair with Pepperoni
While pepperoni pizza is delicious on its own, adding additional toppings can create new flavor combinations and enhance the overall taste. Here are some popular choices that can add extra flavor and texture to your pepperoni pizza.
- Cheese: Mozzarella is the classic choice, but consider trying other cheeses like provolone, cheddar, or even gorgonzola for a unique twist. The creaminess of the cheese can balance out the spiciness of the pepperoni.
- Mushrooms: The earthy flavor of mushrooms complements the spiciness of pepperoni. Button, portobello, or shiitake mushrooms all make delicious additions.
- Bell Peppers: Bell peppers add a sweet, slightly bitter flavor and a vibrant pop of color to your pizza. You can use green, red, yellow, or orange bell peppers.
- Onions: Onions add a sweet and tangy flavor to your pizza, especially when caramelized. Red onions, white onions, or sweet Vidalia onions are all great choices.
- Black Olives: Black olives add a salty, briny flavor to your pizza. They pair well with the spiciness of the pepperoni.
- Jalapenos: If you like your pizza spicy, jalapenos are a great addition. They add a spicy kick that complements the pepperoni.
The Best Side Dishes to Pair with Pepperoni Pizza
While pepperoni pizza is a complete meal in itself, pairing it with the right side dish can elevate your dining experience. Here are some of the best side dishes that complement the robust flavors of pepperoni pizza.
- Salads: A fresh salad is a great way to balance the richness of pepperoni pizza. The light, crisp vegetables and tangy dressing provide a refreshing contrast to the pizza. Some popular options include:
- Caesar Salad: The creamy dressing and crunchy romaine lettuce of a Caesar salad pair well with the spicy pepperoni.
- Greek Salad: A Greek salad, with its tangy feta cheese and kalamata olives, complements the flavors of the pizza.
- Caprese Salad: Fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil drizzled with balsamic reduction mirror some of the flavors found in the pizza.
- Garlic Bread or Breadsticks: The savory flavors of garlic bread or breadsticks complement the spiciness of the pepperoni. Plus, they’re perfect for mopping up any leftover pizza sauce!
- Chicken Wings: If you’re looking for a meatier side, chicken wings can be a great choice. You can choose from a variety of flavors like BBQ, buffalo, or garlic parmesan to match your taste preference.
- Pasta: A side of pasta can make your meal more filling. Consider a simple spaghetti aglio e olio (garlic and oil) or a creamy fettuccine alfredo to complement the pizza.
- Antipasto Platter: An antipasto platter with a variety of cured meats, cheeses, olives, and marinated vegetables can be a great side dish that allows guests to customize their own plate.
- Roasted Vegetables: For a healthier side, try roasted vegetables like bell peppers, zucchini, or eggplant. The caramelization from the roasting process brings out the natural sweetness of the vegetables, providing a nice contrast to the spicy pepperoni.
- Soup: A light soup, like a minestrone or a tomato bisque, can be a comforting side dish that pairs well with the pizza.
Beverages That Pair Well with Pepperoni Pizza
The right beverage can enhance the flavors of your pepperoni pizza. Here are some popular choices.
- Beer: A cold beer is a classic pairing for pizza. Try a lager or pale ale to complement the spiciness of the pepperoni.
- Wine: If you prefer wine, a medium-bodied red wine like a Chianti or a Zinfandel can stand up to the strong flavors of the pepperoni.
- Soft Drinks: For a non-alcoholic option, a classic cola or a lemon-lime soda can balance out the saltiness of the pepperoni.
- Iced Tea: A refreshing iced tea, either sweetened or unsweetened, can cleanse the palate and complement the pizza.
Pepperoni pizza is a versatile dish that pairs well with a variety of other toppings, side dishes, and beverages.
Its popularity is a testament to its delicious flavor and its ability to cater to a wide range of tastes.
Whether you’re adding extra toppings, choosing a side, or picking a beverage, the best pairings are the ones that you enjoy the most.