West Virginia Pepperoni Rolls are the perfect portable food! Warm, flaky, and stuffed with spicy pepperoni and cheese. You’ve got to try them to see why they’re famous here!
West Virginia Pepperoni Rolls
Pepperoni rolls are everywhere in West Virginia — from restaurants, to grocery stores, to gas stations. Our school cafeteria served pepperoni rolls at least twice a month (my favorite day to eat school lunch!) Pepperoni rolls originated as a portable lunch for coal miners, but soon became the food that the state is most famous for.
However, when I moved to Texas, I never saw pepperoni rolls here. Growing up in West Virginia, I took for granted that pepperoni rolls were a staple. Here in Texas, almost no one has ever heard of them!
What are Pepperoni Rolls?
The best way I can explain a pepperoni roll to non-West Virginians is that it is similar to a kolache (for my fellow Texans) or a stromboli (for those of you who live in the East).
The dough is a yeast roll dough and when the pepperoni bakes into it, the oils from the meat soak into the bread so the whole thing is just bursting with spicy, meaty flavor.
However, I’ve never had a kolache here in Texas that even held a candle to the pepperoni rolls of my childhood and adolescence. I don’t even like pepperoni that much, but when it’s in a pepperoni roll it turns into something magical.
My husband grew up in Texas, so he’d never heard of a pepperoni roll, let alone tried one. On our first family trip to West Virginia I made sure that he sampled them. It was a short visit for the holidays, so we only had time to grab a bag from the local Kroger. My husband is a proud Texan, but even he couldn’t deny the amazingness that is a West Virginia Pepperoni Roll.
Football season and pepperoni rolls go hand in hand — they are pretty much the perfect tailgate food! For the beginning of football season, my husband treated me to a homemade batch of pepperoni rolls!
This is his own recipe with a few little tweaks, but he stayed true to the original. This West Virginian approves!
How to make Pepperoni Rolls
Watch a quick 1-minute recipe video first to see them fresh out of the oven! Then, keep reading for photo step-by-step instructions and prep tips.
Click video to play:Jump to Video
A free printable copy of the full ingredients/directions is available at the bottom of the post. Note: We’ve included shop-able ad links to some of the products used to make this recipe; disclosure policy here.
I’ve only attempted to make yeast rolls once by myself because they require a bit of TLC to get them just right. The most important thing is to make sure the water is warm, but not hot. If you mix your yeast with hot water, it will kill the yeast (you’ll know it’s gone bad because there will be no foaming action.
TIP: When dividing your dough, a cake scraper works really well for cutting the dough quickly and cleanly. Be sure to use plenty of flour on your workspace so the dough doesn’t stick!
Here’s a look at how much pepperoni and cheese we used in each roll:
My husband swapped out Oaxaca cheese (similar to mozzarella) for his one Texas twist on our pepperoni rolls. However, the flavor is almost exactly the same, so feel free to use mozzarella if you don’t have Oaxaca cheese at your grocery store.
TIP: We love these reusable non-stick silicone baking mats for just about all of our baking projects! You can wash them and use over and over and your food just slides right off when done!
Before baking, brush the rolls with melted butter. The more butter, the flakier the crust! Use as much as you want! Look at that beautiful golden crust:
Helpful Kitchen Tools
Can Pepperoni Rolls be Frozen?
They usually don’t last very long in our house, so we keep our pepperoni rolls in a large ziplock bag in the refrigerator. They should last for 3-5 days this way.
You can also freeze pepperoni rolls for up to a month or so — keep them in a sealed freezer bag. When your ready to reheat, allow rolls to thaw for a couple hours, then pop them in the oven on a baking sheet for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.
West Virginia Pepperoni Rolls Recipe (Printable Copy)
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West Virginia Pepperoni Rolls
- 2 packages dry yeast
- 1 cup warm water
- 4 cups flour plus extra for forming rolls
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 eggs
- 1 6 ounce package pepperoni
- 10 ounces Oaxaca cheese or mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup butter melted
- Combine yeast and warm water in a large mixing bowl. Leave for 5 minutes until you see foaming action. Water that's too hot will kill the yeast (you can tell because there will be no foam).
- Stir in melted butter, salt, sugar, and eggs.
- Slowly incorporate flour, one cup at a time, until all four cups are mixed into the dough. The dough should be sticky and hard to stir.
- Cover bowl and refrigerate for at least two hours.
- Spread a generous amount of flour on counter or large cutting board. Knead dough on the counter to work in a bit more flour, until the dough is not so sticky.
- Cut dough in half evenly, the cut each of those halves in half again. Repeat until you have 18 rolls.
- Flour the counter again.
- Roll each ball of dough, then flatten until about 1/2 inch thick. The diameter should be about the size of the palm of your hand.
- Place cheese and pepperoni on one side, then roll. Pinch ends to seal.
- Lay pepperoni rolls on a cookie sheet covered with a non-stick silicone baking mat, about 6 per tray. Cover each tray with a dish towel and let rise 45 minutes - 1 hour.
- Before baking, brush the rolls with melted butter.
- Bake for 18 minutes at 375°F.
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