Salami is a traditional Italian cured sausage, while pepperoni is an Italian-American smoked sausage. Pepperoni may have evolved from knowledge of salami and traditional German sausage preparation brought to the United States by immigrants.
Salami is a type of Italian sausage with a long history. It is a cured sausage that has been produced in Italy for centuries. Cooks can choose from dozens of varieties of salami to use in dishes, including the Calabrian and Apulian salami that are spicy like pepperoni. Salami is made with minced meat, fat, garlic, salt, vinegar, wine, herbs and spices. The type of meat usually used is either beef or pork, but it may also be made from other animals.
Pepperoni is a smoked sausage, which indicates some German influence as smoking is the primary preparation method for German sausages. References to pepperoni first appeared in literature around 1919, when Italian pizzerias started taking off in America. Pepperoni is different from salami in that it is made from finely ground meat, with hotter spices like peppers, and it is lightly smoked. Salami is available hand-made and commercially made, while pepperoni is primarily produced commercially. Pepperoni is not well-known as a sausage in Italy, but it is very popular in the U.S., especially as a pizza topping.