West Virginia’s Pepperoni Rolls

Created by Italian immigrants in West Virginia’s coal mines, the pepperoni roll is a filling and delicious snack or lunch that couldn’t be easier to make.

What’s better than delicious, fatty pepperoni with creamy mozzarella cheese, baked into pillowy soft dough? We’ll wait.

Pepperoni rolls are an iconic handheld hailing from the heart of West Virginia. This simple yet delectable snack holds a special place in the culinary tapestry of the state and beyond. But what exactly makes these rolls so special?

What is a Pepperoni Roll?

At its core, a pepperoni roll is a simple but mouthwatering creation. It consists of yeasted dough rolled around pepperoni slices or sticks (a highly contentious debate in WV), sometimes accompanied by gooey cheese, all baked to golden perfection. The resulting snack is a harmonious blend of savory flavors and a touch of West Virginian heritage.

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Pepperoni Roll Recipe: Creating a Delicious Classic

The recipe for a pepperoni roll is a testament to simplicity and taste. To craft this culinary gem, one needs basic bread dough, pepperoni slices or sticks, and optionally, a layer of cheese. The dough is wrapped around the pepperoni and cheese, baked to a glorious golden hue, and often served with marinara sauce or garlic butter for an extra burst of flavor.

cutting pepperoni

Why are Pepperoni Rolls So Good?

The appeal of pepperoni rolls lies in their simplicity and robust flavors. The combination of savory pepperoni, melted cheese, and soft bread creates an irresistible snack that’s both comforting and delicious.

Is a Pepperoni Roll a Calzone?

While both contain bread, meat, and cheese, pepperoni rolls and calzones differ. The pepperoni roll is more akin to a stuffed roll, where the bread completely encases the filling. In contrast, a calzone is more of a folded pizza, often resembling a turnover or a half-moon shape.

pepperoni rolls out of the oven

What Goes Good with Pepperoni Rolls?

These rolls pair perfectly with marinara sauce for dipping, offering a burst of tangy flavor. They also complement sides like a fresh salad or even a warm soup, creating a well-rounded meal.

The History and Origin of Pepperoni Rolls

Pepperoni rolls trace their roots to the Appalachian region, where they were first introduced to provide a convenient, portable meal for coal miners. Created in the 1920s by Italian immigrants, these rolls were a convenient and filling option for the miners to carry in their lunch pails.

At the time, Italian immigrants working in the mines would bring a piece of bread and a piece of salami for lunch. Their wives came up with the idea of baking the pepperoni stick into the bread, so it was more portable and easier to quickly eat.

Why Are Pepperoni Rolls Mainly Found in West Virginia?

The pepperoni roll’s deep connection with West Virginia can be attributed to the state’s mining heritage. The rolls gained immense popularity in the coal mines and gradually became a beloved staple in the region.

pepperoni rolls

Are Pepperoni Rolls Healthy?

While they may not fall under the category of health foods, their ingredients can be modified to make them slightly healthier. Opting for whole-grain dough, leaner meat options, and moderation in cheese can make them a more balanced indulgence.

Fun Fact about Pepperoni Rolls

A delightful tidbit about these rolls is that they were initially wrapped in wax paper, serving as a complete, portable meal for the miners.

Pepperoni rolls continue to hold a special place in the hearts and stomachs of West Virginians, serving as a delicious link to the region’s cultural and culinary history. Whether enjoyed on their own or as part of a meal, these rolls are a testament to the simple pleasures of good food.

Pepperoni Roll

Author: Maddy & JD – Them Bites
Created by Italian immigrants in West Virginia's coal mines, the pepperoni roll is a filling and delicious snack or lunch that couldn't be easier to make.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Course Lunch, Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 12 rolls
Calories 1 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 12 frozen dinner rolls, such as Rhodes thawed and proofed according to package instructions
  • 1 6.5 oz pepperoni stick
  • 5 oz mozzarella
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • salt

Recipe Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 400 ℉.
  • Cut the pepperoni into three large chunks, about 3 – 4 inches long. Next, peel the natural casing off each piece. Then, cut a chunk in half, lengthwise. Cut the halves into 4 long, thin pieces.
  • Cut cheese into long thin pieces similar in size to the pepperoni sticks.
  • Pat or roll each dough ball on a large piece of wax or parchment paper into roughly 4 1/2-inches long rectangle. (Try not to flour dough surface; it could keep dough from sealing.) Place a piece of pepperoni and cheese together towards one edge, and roll the dough over. Place another piece of pepperoni and roll dough again. (Put 3 – 4 pieces of pepperoni per roll). Pinch the ends to seal.
  • Mix salt, garlic powder, and oregano in melted butter. Arrange rolls seam side down on a sheet pan and brush the tops with the seasoned butter. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes.

Nutrition

Calories: 1kcalCarbohydrates: 0.1gProtein: 0.03gFat: 0.004gSaturated Fat: 0.002gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.001gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.001gSodium: 0.1mgPotassium: 3mgFiber: 0.05gSugar: 0.01gVitamin A: 1IUVitamin C: 0.003mgCalcium: 1mgIron: 0.04mg
Keyword Pepperoni roll
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2 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I made these for my partner and I after seeing it on Instagram Reels. This recipe was SO SO good and will absolutely become a common part of our recipe rotation. We used sliced pepperoni and many different combinations of cheese and other items in the filling (such as jalepenos). Would recommend, 5/5

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words, and we’re so glad you liked it! We’re honestly very hooked on pepperoni rolls as well. We’ll have to try it with jalapenos next time.

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