Pepperoni sauce

So when I say pepperoni sauce you either immediately think of Top Chef or you think, “Wait, what?”

A chef made this during the 2011 season of Top Chef and I was fascinated by it.  How had this never been done before? It’s brilliant, and certainly never occurred to me to make it.

I’ve made some tweaks to it for us — we like a little more sweetness in our tomato-based sauces, and I also used bacon grease instead of olive oil — sticking with the pork theme, right? But I didn’t stray too far from the original.

This sauce is fantastic on a meatball sandwich, on pasta, or anything you’d use red sauce on. I definitely want to try it with pizza soon. Love it!

Pepperoni sauce


  • 2 Tbsp. or so bacon grease (or olive oil if that sounds better to you)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, sliced thin
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • 6 ounces pepperoni, cut into thin slices (I used Boar’s Head)
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 large can crushed San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 Tbsp. sugar


  1. Heat the bacon grease in a large, heavy pot till it’s nice and hot, then cook the onions over low to medium heat till they’re very soft — a good 15 minutes or so. If you’re worried about them burning you can add a few splashes of water to the pan to help with that
  2. When the onions are soft, add the garlic and cook for 3-5 minutes or so until they’re soft — keep an eye on them because they’re easier to burn
  3. Add in remaining ingredients and simmer for at least 45 minutes, but longer won’t hurt anything
  4. Puree with a stick blender or in an actual blender till completely smooth, and enjoy!

I need more ways to incorporate this into my life. What would you use it on?

8 thoughts on “Pepperoni sauce

  1. We love this sauce. Daniel had it at his restaurant in DC and we’ve been making it since. Yummy on gnocchi or tortellini.

  2. Even though I was totally on Team Richard, this sauce made me love Mike in a crazy way. And when I read your title, I thought of Gayle “Pepperoni Sauuuuuuucce.” Can’t wait to try this! 🙂

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