This vegan pepperoni is so flavorful, you’ll want to have it with your favorite pizzas, pasta or even as a snack. Say bye to that greasy, oily pepperoni that leaves you with indigestion! Say hello to this healthy and delicious vegetarian pepperoni alternative! Looks like pepperoni. Tastes like pepperoni. Make it your NEW best pepperoni recipe!
Pepperoni and Me
I used to love pepperoni on my pizza. And it seems like everywhere I go, pepperoni pizza is the go-to favorite. I get that.
One thing I hated about pepperoni pizza was the oil. It seemed like my non-vegan pizzas were full of oil. I would oftentimes take a napkin and dab away the excess oil from the top of those non-vegan pizzas. It was a lot of dabbing!
And then I learned what pepperoni is made from — pork, chopped beef, and even veal!
Fast forward to today when all my pizzas are vegan. I’m so grateful for my vegan diet because my pizzas taste SO much better! My cousin was in town once and we went to a pizza place and she asked to try a bite of my vegan pizza and guess what? She loved it! Even more than her regular cheese pizza!
But we are talking about pepperoni. So, I’ve been making vegan pizza with pepperoni for quite awhile. Check out my Vegan Deep Dish Pizza recipe for an example.
What is Vegan Pepperoni Made Of?
Typically, a vegan store-bought pepperoni is wheat-based. That is, it’s made from vital wheat gluten. Believe it or not, vital wheat gluten, otherwise known as wheat meat, has a convincing texture for pepperoni. It’s also referred to as seitan pepperoni. Get the seasonings just right and you’re there.
So, why am I presenting you with a homemade pepperoni recipe when you can just go to a store and buy meatless pepperoni? A few reasons:
- Sometimes, store-bought vegan pepperoni has been unavailable. There was a period of at least a year when we couldn’t find it at the stores. I vowed at that time to create a recipe to prevent any downtime in the future
- I wanted a gluten-free vegan pepperoni. I’m not entirely gluten-free, but I love reducing my gluten load
- This recipe happens to be basically “free” in the Weight Watchers FreeStyle points too.
That said, if you prefer to buy it at the store, our favorite vegan pepperoni brands are Yves and Lightlife Smart Deli Pepperoni.
Why is it Called Pepperoni?
Pepperoni is traditionally a soft, red sausage with a smoky, spicy, sweet flavor. The word “pepperoni” is basically the plural word for peppers in Italian. Pepperoni is the same as salami, except spicier.
Pepperoni seasoning is made with ingredients such as peppers, garlic, fennel, paprika, and of course, smoke sauce.
My goal was to create a vegan pepperoni that was also gluten-free and one that delivered on flavor and texture as well. I believe I accomplished this with today’s recipe. I skipped the peppers and went for sun dried tomatoes instead. It works!
How to Make Vegan Pepperoni
This vegan tofu pepperoni has a surprise inside, chickpeas. But there are more pepperoni ingredients. I created a pepperoni dough by combining chickpeas, tofu, and sun-dried tomatoes combined with spices.
I wanted this to be a pepperoni substitute that could be limited points for those on WeightWatchers looking for zero or low Freestyle points. Since chickpeas, tofu, and sundried tomatoes (the ones not packed in oil) are all zero points, this recipe is either zero or very low in points.
I entered this recipe into the Weight Watchers recipe tracker and it resulted in ZERO Points! 🤗
Once you’ve added the pepperoni spices to the batch, simply use a spatula to spread it out in two pans covered with parchment paper. Be sure to spread it out evenly.
I personally like the pepperoni slices to be a little thick, but if you prefer a thinner pepperoni slice, you can use even three pans to create a a more thin layer of pepperoni dough. Then place your pans in the oven and bake.
After the dough for this “fake pepperoni” has baked, use a small cookie cutter or some other circular tool in your kitchen to cut out the pepperoni. I used the end of a frosting tool!
Is Pepperoni Bad for You?
A one-ounce serving of meat-based pepperoni has 138 calories. It’s also made from cured meat (aka, highly processed). Thus, it’s full of saturated fats, sodium, and oftentimes questionable ingredients like nitrates. So, definitely, pepperoni leaves a lot to be desired in the healthy category.
This vegan pepperoni, in contrast, has only 50 calories per serving, only 1 gram of fat, and even some fiber, thanks to the chickpeas. That makes this the best healthy pepperoni for your next pizza!
We love this recipe for Vegan Pepperoni and we hope you do too! If you decide to make this recipe, be sure to get out your phone and snap a photo. Then use #namelymarly and post it on Instagram. We love seeing your photos!
- ½ cup sun dried tomatoes (not packed in oil)
- 10 oz extra firm tofu
- 15 oz can of chickpeas , including liquid from can
- 1½ teaspoons sea salt
- 1½ teaspoons black pepper , freshly ground
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Swerve, stevia, or Truvia sweetener
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (add more for spicier)
- ½ cup beet puree (see note)
- 1 – 2 tablespoons liquid smoke
- Heat your oven to 400F. Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking pan.
- Add about 3/4 of a cup of water to a microwave-safe bowl. Heat that for 1 – 2 minutes, until hot. Add the firm sun dried tomatoes and set aside to allow the tomatoes to soften.
- Remove the tofu, wrap in a dish towel and press to remove excess fluid.
- Chop the tofu into large cubes and then place that along with the chickpeas in a food processor. Pulse until mostly smooth. Add in the rest of the ingredients. Pulse until combined.
- Add the sun dried tomatoes and then pulse again, leaving bits of the sun dried tomatoes throughout the dough. I feel this adds a textured look to the pepperoni.
- Turn the dough out onto your prepared baking sheet and use a spatula to press it out to about 1/8 to 1/4-inch thickness. Spray the top with a light coating of vegetable cooking spray.
- Place in heated oven and bake for 25 – 30 minutes, until it starts to look a little crispy on the edges. Remove from oven and cool. Then use a small round cookie cutter to cut out pepperoni rounds. Save the uncut edges to use in things like pasta, where you’d like some pepperoni flavor.
- This pepperoni will last up to 5 days in the fridge or can be frozen for up to 2 – 3 months.
Serve this vegan pepperoni on pizza, in dips, over pasta dishes, or even as a snack. I have loved it in each of these applications and I hope you will too.
Health + Happiness,