The Mystery of Pepperoni: Exploring the Curled Delight on Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizzas

Pepperoni, the quintessential American pizza topping, is a beloved feature on pizzas from coast to coast. However, a curious phenomenon has been observed by pizza lovers: the pepperoni on Chicago-style deep dish pizzas tends to curl upwards, forming little cups of crispy, greasy delight. This is in stark contrast to the flat, evenly distributed pepperoni found on New York-style pizzas. What causes this intriguing difference? Let’s delve into the mystery of the curled pepperoni on Chicago-style deep dish pizzas.

The Science Behind the Curl

Pepperoni curling is not a random occurrence, but a result of the way the sausage is processed and cooked. The curling is caused by the differential shrinkage of the casing and the meat inside. When the pizza is baked, the casing shrinks faster than the meat, causing the pepperoni to curl upwards. This is more pronounced in natural-casing pepperoni, which is often used in Chicago-style deep dish pizzas.

The Role of Thickness

The thickness of the pepperoni slice also plays a significant role in whether it curls or not. Thicker slices are more likely to curl than thinner ones. This is because the heat from the oven penetrates the thicker slices more slowly, causing the casing to shrink faster than the meat. Chicago-style pizzas often feature thicker slices of pepperoni, contributing to the characteristic curl.

Why Doesn’t New York-Style Pepperoni Curl?

New York-style pizzas typically use thinner slices of pepperoni and often opt for pepperoni without a natural casing. This type of pepperoni is less likely to curl when cooked. Additionally, New York-style pizzas are cooked at a higher temperature for a shorter time, which reduces the chance of the pepperoni curling.

The Impact on Taste and Texture

The curling of the pepperoni not only adds visual appeal but also enhances the taste and texture of the pizza. The curled edges become crispy, providing a delightful contrast to the soft, juicy meat inside. The curled shape also creates a small cup that collects the pepperoni’s flavorful oils, further enhancing the taste.


So, the mystery of the curled pepperoni on Chicago-style deep dish pizzas can be attributed to the use of natural-casing pepperoni, the thickness of the slices, and the cooking process. This unique feature not only distinguishes Chicago-style pizzas from their New York counterparts but also adds to the overall gastronomic experience. So, the next time you bite into a slice of deep-dish pizza, take a moment to appreciate the science and artistry behind that delicious, curled pepperoni.