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Pepperoni vs. Chorizo: What's the Difference?

By Harlon Moss & Aimie Carlson || Updated on May 22, 2024
Pepperoni is an American variety of salami often used as a pizza topping, while chorizo is a Spanish or Mexican pork sausage known for its strong, spicy flavor.

Key Differences

Pepperoni is a popular American-style sausage made from a mix of pork and beef, heavily seasoned with paprika and chili pepper. It is known for its slightly smoky flavor and bright red color, making it a favorite pizza topping. Chorizo, on the other hand, originates from Spain and Mexico, with each version having distinct characteristics. Spanish chorizo is a cured and fermented sausage made primarily from pork and seasoned with smoked paprika, which gives it a rich, smoky flavor. It is often sliced and eaten cold or used in cooking.
Pepperoni is a staple in American cuisine, particularly in pizzerias, where its spicy yet approachable flavor enhances various dishes. It is widely used in sandwiches, pasta, and as a snack. Chorizo, in both its Spanish and Mexican varieties, plays a significant role in its respective culinary traditions. Spanish chorizo is commonly used in tapas, paella, and stews, providing a deep, smoky flavor. Mexican chorizo is popular in tacos, burritos, and breakfast dishes like chorizo con huevos, offering a bold, spicy kick.
The texture of pepperoni is generally firmer and chewier due to its curing process, while Spanish chorizo can be similarly firm, and Mexican chorizo is softer and more crumbly because it is typically sold uncooked.
Pepperoni's flavor profile is milder and less complex compared to chorizo, making it versatile for various dishes. In contrast, chorizo's robust, spicy flavor profile adds depth and heat to meals, making it a prominent ingredient in Spanish and Mexican cuisines.

Comparison Chart


United States
Spain and Mexico

Main Ingredients

Pork and beef


Paprika, chili pepper
Smoked paprika (Spanish), chili peppers, garlic (Mexican)


Cured, thin slices
Cured slices (Spanish), fresh and crumbly (Mexican)


Mildly spicy, slightly smoky
Rich, smoky (Spanish), bold, spicy (Mexican)

Common Uses

Pizza topping, sandwiches, pasta
Tapas, paella, stews (Spanish), tacos, burritos, breakfast dishes (Mexican)


Firm, chewy
Firm (Spanish), soft and crumbly (Mexican)


Ready to eat
Sliced (Spanish), cooked (Mexican)

Pepperoni and Chorizo Definitions


Seasoned with paprika and chili pepper.
Pepperoni slices are often used to top pizzas.


A spicy pork sausage from Spain or Mexico.
Chorizo adds a rich, smoky flavor to Spanish dishes.


A cured sausage made from pork and beef.
The pepperoni on my pizza added a nice, spicy flavor.


Spanish chorizo is cured and fermented.
Sliced Spanish chorizo is perfect for a tapas platter.


Known for its bright red color.
The red hue of the pepperoni made the pizza visually appealing.


Mexican chorizo is sold fresh and uncooked.
I crumbled Mexican chorizo into my breakfast tacos.


Popular in American cuisine.
Pepperoni is a common ingredient in American sandwiches.


Heavily spiced with paprika or chili peppers.
The smoked paprika in Spanish chorizo gives it a unique flavor.


Typically found in thin, round slices.
I like to snack on pepperoni slices with cheese.


Used in various traditional dishes.
Chorizo is a key ingredient in paella and Mexican tacos.


A highly spiced pork and beef sausage.


A spicy pork sausage seasoned especially with garlic.


A slice of this type of sausage.


A spicy Spanish sausage flavoured with paprika, often crumbled for use in filling tacos, quesadillas, etc.


A spicy salami-style Italian-American sausage made from cured pork and beef seasoned with pepper.


Pizza with only tomato sauce, cheese and pepperoni toppings.
Yo, Tony, gimme a slice of pepperoni and a coke.


A hard sausage of beef and pork, highly seasoned.


A pork and beef sausage (or a thin slice of this sausage)


What gives pepperoni its red color?

The red color of pepperoni comes from paprika and chili pepper used in its seasoning.

What spices are in chorizo?

Spanish chorizo is seasoned with smoked paprika, while Mexican chorizo includes chili peppers, garlic, and other spices.

How is Spanish chorizo different from Mexican chorizo?

Spanish chorizo is cured and smoked, while Mexican chorizo is fresh and must be cooked.

Can chorizo be eaten cold?

Spanish chorizo can be eaten cold, but Mexican chorizo must be cooked.

What dishes feature chorizo?

Chorizo is featured in tapas, paella, stews (Spanish), and tacos, burritos, breakfast dishes (Mexican).

Is pepperoni spicy?

Pepperoni is mildly spicy due to the paprika and chili pepper.

Is chorizo spicy?

Chorizo can be quite spicy, especially the Mexican variety due to the chili peppers.

What dishes commonly use pepperoni?

Pepperoni is commonly used on pizza, in sandwiches, pasta dishes, and as a snack.

What is pepperoni made from?

Pepperoni is made from a mix of pork and beef.

Can you eat pepperoni raw?

Yes, pepperoni is cured and ready to eat without further cooking.

How is Mexican chorizo prepared?

Mexican chorizo is typically cooked by crumbling and frying before being added to dishes.

What is the texture of pepperoni?

Pepperoni has a firm, chewy texture.

How is chorizo typically served?

Spanish chorizo is served sliced, while Mexican chorizo is crumbled and cooked.

Does pepperoni need refrigeration?

Yes, pepperoni should be refrigerated to maintain its quality and safety.

What type of meat is used in chorizo?

Chorizo is primarily made from pork.

What gives chorizo its distinct flavor?

The distinct flavor of chorizo comes from the smoked paprika (Spanish) or chili peppers and spices (Mexican).

Can you use pepperoni in cooking?

Yes, pepperoni is used in cooking, especially as a pizza topping and in baked dishes.

How is pepperoni typically served?

Pepperoni is often served in thin slices on pizza, sandwiches, or as a snack.

Does chorizo need refrigeration?

Cured Spanish chorizo can be stored at room temperature, but fresh Mexican chorizo requires refrigeration.

Can you substitute pepperoni for chorizo in recipes?

While they have different flavors, pepperoni can be substituted for chorizo in some recipes, but it will alter the taste and spiciness.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Co-written by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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