What’s The Difference Between Chorizo, Pepperoni and Salami?

Chorizo and pepperoni both have a obvious red color to them. If you don’t know what chorizo is you might think it just pepperoni. Although if you eat a slice you are in for a surprise.

This happened to me the first time I ate a slice of chorizo with crackers. I thought it would be similar to salami or pepperoni. The taste is very much different.

So “what’s the difference between chorizo and pepperoni?” Chorizo is a type of pork sausage originating from Spain and pepperoni is a form of American salami. Chorizo is made from only pork and pepperoni uses pork and beef. There are also many varieties of Chorizo depending on the region.

Chorizo is a little more complex than pepperoni, because there are different versions. But because pepperoni and chorizo use pork and similar spices they can sometimes be used interchangeably. One can at time stand in for the other.

Read more: How Can You Tell if Sausage is Spoiled?

Chorizo Vs Pepperoni

Pepperoni is used in the United States primarily for as a pizza topping. It is also used for sandwiches. The pizza pepperoni is usually smaller in diameter while the sandwich pepperoni is bigger.

Pepperoni uses both beef and cured pork that can be slightly smoked. The spices used for pepperoni can include any red peppers (cayenne, paprika).

There are two leading types of Chorizo, Mexican and Spanish. It is important to know the differences, because it could matter for what you want to get out of your recipe

Mexican ChorizoSpanish Chorizo
Fresh Ground (minced) PorkDry Cured Chopped Pork
Spicy red pepperSmoked Paprika (sweet or spicy)
Needs to be cookedAlready cooked/cured
VinegarWhite Wine

Which Sausage is Most Similar To Pepperoni?

Spanish chorizo has the closest resemblance to pepperoni. Because they are both dry cured. The Spanish version is also most similar to salami. These types are cut into slices and do not need to be cooked.


Some other ingredients used in the Spanish version include garlic and herbs. There are hundreds of varieties made in the region. It is a general rule of thumb that the short chorizo sausages are spicy and the longer ones are sweet.


Chorizo can be used for many different dishes but also eaten by itself. In Mexico it is used for tacos, tortas and burritos. Chorizo is a popular pizza topping in both Mexico and Puerto Rico.

Beef chorizo is more typical of mexico since the use fresh meats to make their versions. In Mexico they also can use turkey, venison or chicken.

When roasted with green chilies and herbs you can have a green version. This originates from the Mexican city of Toluca.

How to Buy Chorizo Sausage

When shopping for chorizo you can either buy dried or fresh ground. The dried can be sliced up for a snack appetizer, it will not need to be cooked. The ground chorizo is raw meat and needs to be cooked. This would be the Mexican version.

The Mexican version will be found in the meat section or in the deli. The Spanish version will be near the dried meats like pepperoni and summer sausages.

Can You Use Pepperoni Instead of Chorizo?

There is no harm in doing so. But pepperoni may not be as spicy as you want it to be. It really comes down to the ingredients used, what kind of spices are in the chorizo.

Pepperoni might not be a suitable substitute for Mexican Chorizo. Pepperoni is a dry meat and the other is fresh. The fresh chorizo might need to be cooked separately.

Can You Freeze Chorizo?

You can freeze either types of chorizo, Mexican or Spanish. Dry cured chorizo which is the Spanish version will last a long time without needed to freeze it.

Freezing chorizo will not harm it, but thawing out Spanish chorizo can be difficult. Because it is cured meat there isn’t suppose to be much moisture in it. Make sure it isn’t collecting a lot of ice crystals in the freezer.

Mexican chorizo uses fresh pork and has to be either refrigerated or frozen. It will not last in room temperature for more than a day. Refrigerating can help it last for up to a week or two. Make sure to check the best by date.

Chourico vs Chorizo vs Linguica: What’s The Difference?

All are similar styles of meats from different regions. Chourico is sometimes also called linguica. Both of them are a portugese sausage similar to chorizo. So they are different names for really the same thing.

Both of them are made from pork meat and use the same spices, paprika and garlic and black pepper.

The difference is chourico uses much less paprika and more of the other spices. They also add a lot of specialty red wine from Portugal. Both meats are popular as well in Brazil.

Chorizo Vs Salami

Chorizo and salami are very similar in the way that they are made. Yet these sausages can be very different in taste and appearance.

The most striking difference between the two sausages is the herbs and spices used. This is due in large part to the cultures that these sausages derive from. 

Chorizo sausage comes from Latin America. While salami has its roots in Europe and North America. 

Although there are varieties of chorizo in European countries, like Spain and Portugal.

Chorizo sausage and it’s varieties are usually more spicy compared to salami. 

Another difference between the two sausages are the foods that they are paired with.

Typically American salami is sliced and served with cold food. Such as on sandwiches, or with slices of cheese. 

Chorizo can be added to a variety of recipes. Such as with breakfast foods such as eggs and hash browns, tacos or in rice dishes.

Here is a table comparing the two types of sausages. You can see the main differences in the herbs and spices used.

Chorizo Salami
Meat Used:Meat Used:
PorkBeef, Pork or Veal (Cow Calves)
Possible Ingredients: HerbsPossible Ingredients: Herbs
Garlic, Cilantro, oreganoGarlic, marjoram, thyme, basil
Possible Ingredients: Spices Possible Ingredients: Spices
Paprika, cumin, corianderFennel, mace, coriander
Possible Ingredients: OtherPossible Ingredients: Other
Chili Peppers, Black Pepper, Tomatillo, Vinegar, Salt, WineWhite Pepper, Salt, Vinegar, Salt, Wine

So in summary the differences come from the cultures that the sausages are made. This is what makes each type unique from each other.

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