You guys, please stop whatever you’re doing and make this pepperoni bread recipe, stat. Filled with all the pepperoni and lots of cheese along with an intensely flavored pizza sauce, this pepperoni cheese bread will be the hit of your game day snacks or a fun twist on your pizza night!
If you want to be super fancy, you can use grandma pizza dough to make your braided loaf. And for a similar filled bread recipe, you may want to try my pizza bread recipe.
For ease of browsing, here are all of my appetizer recipes. Thanks for stopping by!
Pepperoni Bread vs Pepperoni Roll
An old boyfriend used to make this bread. He learned to make it from his mom, ladder braid and all. I always loved it, so when it came time to make a snack to take to a Super Bowl party, I was all in for pepperoni cheese bread.
NOTE: the video is for a pizza bread (linked in this post), but the procedure for making the braid is the same, which is why I want you to watch it!
I started doing some research and it turns out that pepperoni rolls are a big Thing in West Virginia. Neither my old boyfriend or his family were from West Virginia, so I’m not sure where his mom learned to make this version, but there you go.
Turns out, items very similar to what I was making also live in cellophane bags at almost every gas station and convenience store in West Virginia! Who knew?
Well, some folks did. Turns out that pepperoni rolls are a West Virginia coal miner’s best friend. Kinda like a Cornish pasty: hearty pastry wrapped around savory or sweet filling (and sometimes pasties had one-side-savory and one-side-sweet, sort of like a precursor to Wonka’s flavor changing gum).
But in this case, it was soft white bread dough wrapped around a hunk or shreds or slices of pepperoni. When baked, the oils would permeate the bread.
The main difference between my pepperoni bread and pepperoni rolls is that my recipe uses pizza sauce and cheese along with sliced pepperoni.
How to Make Pepperoni Bread
Many of the recipes I’ve seen for pepperoni bread involve frozen dough, jarred pizza sauce, shredded mozzarella and pepperoni slices. And that’s it.
You either roll out the dough, layer on the toppings and roll it up like a big cinnamon roll (no slicing–you bake it in a big snake) or you arrange the toppings in layers in the center third of the dough and then cut an equal number of strips into either side of the dough.
You just fold the strips over, alternating sides, until the fillings are completely enclosed and the loaf looks all beautifully braided. Magic!
I’m giving recipes for all the components, but there is no shame in buying some pre-made components like pizza dough and sauce.
Pepperoni Bread Components
Here’s what I made sure to include for Maximum Flavor Impact:
Here’s What You’ll Need to Make This Recipe
For the Dough
- warm water: For gluten development and for getting all ingredients into solution
- olive oil: For a touch of richness
- bread flour: You may substitute all-purpose flour, but your dough will not be as sturdy. I use bread flour so I can also add Parmesan cheese. Consider leaving out the cheese when using all-purpose flour
- salt: Helps moderate yeast development, adds structure to the gluten, and flavor to the dough
- yeast: Rising agent. You may use instant yeast or active dry. If using active dry, proof the yeast first in a portion of the warm water
- garlic powder: For flavor. Not strictly necessary, but if you get a bite of bread that doesn’t have pepperoni or cheese in it (which can happen towards the ends of the loaf), the bread itself has lots of flavor
- Italian seasoning: Same as above
- black pepper: Ditto
- Parmesan cheese: Ditto, and the Parm also helps to make the dough more delicate like a pastry and less like bread
PRO TIP: For best quality, if you’re not going to make your own dough, opt for balls of dough usually available at the deli counter rather than a “Pop-N-Fresh” can or frozen dough.
For the Sauce and Filling
- olive oil:
- Italian seasoning:
- black pepper:
- canned diced tomatoes: You can start with canned whole tomatoes if that’s what you have. Just break them up as they cook so the sauce isn’t too chunky
SUBSTITUTION: For a twist, use vodka sauce in place of the pizza sauce
- fresh mozzarella: usually sold in large balls in the deli section of the grocery. If they have marinated little mozzarella “pearls,” those would be delicious as well
- block mozzarella (I don’t recommend pre-shredded because it doesn’t melt as well): part skim or whole milk
- sliced or diced pepperoni: lots of it. Layers and layers! The first couple of times I made this bread, I used only 2 layers of pepperoni. Don’t be like me. If you’re going to go for it, go big so you can really taste the pepperoni
How to Make This Recipe
This pepperoni bread loaf has a few steps, but it’s not hard to make. And the results are truly delicious, friends.
- Make the pizza sauce. You can do this ahead by several days and refrigerate it.
- Make the pizza dough, let rise, then roll out into a rectangle.
- Pile on all your fillings: sauce, fresh mozzarella cheese, shredded mozzarella cheese, and a ton of pepperoni.
- Make the ladder braid (See Video. NOTE: The video shows me making the pizza bread recipe, but the procedure is exactly the same.)
- Let it rise, then bake. Cool to warm before slicing and eating. Or cool completely and then reheat to serve.
Making the (Easy, Delicious) Sauce
The sauce for your pepperoni bread is easy to make, so I generally just go for it rather than subbing storebought.
You can serve it as a dip on the side, or you can spread some onto your bread before baking. Or both!
All you have to do to make the sauce is heat the oil, add the garlic and let it get a little color on it, then add in the canned tomatoes, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning.
Let it simmer until very thick, and this is what you’ll end up with:
As I said above, you can use store bought dough as a shortcut. You can also use store bought pizza sauce if you’d like.
If you decide to go this route, I recommend either:
- reducing the sauce on the stove, and thus intensifying the flavors and making it thicker and less likely to leak out of your bread or
- pouring your jarred sauce into a strainer lined with a coffee filter and letting some of the liquid drain off. This will yield a similar result.
How to Make the Ladder Braid
You’ll definitely want to watch the video to see how to make the “fake braid.” Here are the steps:
- Roll your dough out into a rectangle.
- Make cuts in from the long edges, about 1″ apart and about 3″ or so into the rectangle.
- Spread your filling ingredients in the center part of the dough where there are no cuts.
- Fold one short edge up over the end of the filling and then cross one cut strip over the filling to the other side.
- Then cross the matching strip on the other side over to the first side.
- Continue alternating crossing strips until the filling is encased in dough and you have a pretty ladder braid.
- To finish the last 2 strips, first, fold the far end of the dough up over the last little bit of filling, and then cross the last 2 strips, tucking them in or under the dough as you can to make a tidy loaf.
More Game Day Snack Options
I am not one to watch The Game–any game, except for Game of Thrones–but I am all about the game day food!
Laying out a spread of hummus, either homemade or store-bought, along with easy hummus toppings is an impressive but low-stress option as well.
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A Note About Measurements
This is the kitchen scale that I recommend for home cooks and bakers. Using a scale will help you be more accurate and consistent in your measurements.
It is lightweight, easy to store, accurate, and very easy to use.
Don't let its small price and small size fool you. The Escali Primo is an accurate and easy-to-use food scale that I have used for years. It's easy to store, easy to use, has a tare function, and easily switches between grams and ounces/pounds for accurate measurements.
I really hope you love this pepperoni cheese bread recipe, you guys! If you make it, please share a photo with me, either in the PCO Facebook Group or on instagram by tagging @onlinepastrychef and using hashtag #pcorecipe.
Thanks, and enjoy!
For the Dough
- 8 oz warm water
- 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 13 oz bread flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 rounded teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- several grindings of black pepper
- 2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
For the Pizza Sauce
- 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- several grindings black pepper
- 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
To Assemble and Bake
- 1/4-1/3 cup sauce
- 1 round fresh mozzarella, sliced
- sliced pepperoni, (how much is up to you)
- about 4 ounces grated/shredded mozzarella cheese
- More extra virgin olive oil, for brushing
For the Dough
- If you are sure of your yeast, just dump everything in your mixer together. If you're not sure, proof it in the warm water. Once it's happily bubbling away, add all the other ingredients.
- Fit the mixer with the dough hook and turn it on to medium low speed. The dough hook will eventually incorporate all the ingredients and then knead the dough.
- Check the dough occasionally by stretching it. It should be pretty smooth and extensible when you're done--a total of about 10 minutes.
- The dough will be kind of soft, so make sure you have oil up your hands and the dough.
- Turn the dough out and shape it into a ball.
- Spray the mixing bowl with pan spray or oil and then drop the dough back in, smooth side up. Spray the top of the dough and then cover to let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 1/2-2 hours, depending on the temperature in your kitchen.
For the Sauce
- Heat a small saucepan over medium heat.
- Add the oil--it looks like a lot, but it'll be okay.
- Add the garlic and let the garlic get some nice color. Watch is closely so it doesn't burn. Some lovely deep golden brown patches are what you're shooting for.
- Dump the tomatoes in, juice and all.
- Season with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning.
- Turn the heat down to medium low and continue to cook until almost all the liquid is gone. You can stir occasionally during this process, but mostly it will take care of itself.
- Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
- Puree using an immersion blender (it's really not enough to put in the regular blender). You can always choose to keep it chunky, if you want.
- Let cool to room temperature.
To Assemble and Bake
- Once the dough has doubled, press out all the gases and then turn it out on a pan-sprayed surface.
- Roll the dough out to about a 12"x15" rectangle (no need to whip out the ruler).
- Spread the sauce in a strip about 3" wide down the center of your rectangle. Top with sliced mozzarella, pepperoni and the shredded mozzarella. Repeat the layers of cheese, pepperoni and cheese once more (to get extra meaty-cheesy goodness. Or you can just stop at the first layering).
- Use a pizza cutter to cut 1" strips in towards the filling. Stop the cuts about 1" from the filling to help guard against blowouts.
- Fold some of the dough over the top and bottom edges of the filling to keep it from leaking, and then cross the strips over, one over the other, all the way down until the loaf is completely Sewn Up.
- Use a couple of large spatulas to transfer the loaf to a baking stone or a greased cookie sheet.
- Brush the top of the loaf with olive oil and cover. Let rise for about 35-45 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 375F
- Once the dough has risen again nicely, bake on the center rack until the internal temperature in the center of the loaf reaches 205F, give or take just a few degrees.
- Remove the loaf from the oven and brush again with some olive oil.
- Let cool and then serve at room temperature or reheat to serve hot. Don't serve it straight from the oven, or the dough won't have had a chance to set up and will taste gummy.
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Nutrition InformationYield 12 Serving Size 1 slice
Amount Per Serving Calories 315Total Fat 15gSaturated Fat 4gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 10gCholesterol 9mgSodium 572mgCarbohydrates 37gFiber 3gSugar 3gProtein 8g
The stated nutritional information is provided as a courtesy. It is calculated through third party software and is intended as a guideline only.
And there you have it. Good stuff, friends.
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