Pepperoni Rolls are a West Virginia speciality! Spicy pepperoni and melty cheese are tucked inside a fluffy bread roll — it’s the perfect portable food! One taste of this recipe and you’ll know 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 they 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 batch of homemade pepperoni rolls!
This is his own recipe with a few little tweaks, but he stayed true to the original. This West Virginian approves!
Related: See more game day recipe ideas here!
Pepperoni Roll Ingredients
This is a quick list of shop-able ad links (whenever possible) to help you find the products used to make our Hocus Pocus Cookies. (Disclosure policy here)
- Dry yeast
- Warm water
- All purpose flour
- Mozzarella Cheese
Kitchen Tools Used
What is the Best Cheese to Use in Pepperoni Rolls?
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.
How to Prepare the Dough
Combine yeast and water in a large bowl and allow to sit for 5 minutes until you see foaming action. Stir in melted butter, salt, sugar, and eggs.
Slowly incorporate the flour one cup at a time, stirring as you go, until all flour is incorporated. The dough will become sticky and tough to stir.
Cover bowl of dough and refrigerate for 2 hours.
How Do I Know if My Yeast is Working?
Before this recipe, I’d only attempted to make yeast rolls once by myself because they require a bit of TLC to get them just right.
When working with active yeast, 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).
How to Make Pepperoni Rolls
When the dough is ready, flour your counter or workspace. Knead the dough, working some of the flour into it so it will be less sticky.
Cut the dough in half, then continue halving until you have 18 equal portions of dough.
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!
Add more flour to counter, roll each piece of dough into a ball, then gently flatten to about 1/2″ thick.
Place a couple pepperoni slices and a handful of cheese on one side of each circle of dough. Fold up and pinch the ends to seal the pepperoni and cheese inside.
Place rolls on a baking sheet with silicone baking mat or parchment paper, seam-side down. Cover with a towel and allow to rise for 45 minutes to an hour.
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!
Brush with melted butter and bake for 18 minutes at 375°F, until the crust is golden brown. The more butter you use, the flakier the crust! Use as much as you want!
How to Serve Pepperoni Rolls
Honestly, my favorite way to enjoy pepperoni rolls is as-is, warm out of the oven! You can also sprinkle with Parmesan cheese or marinara sauce for dipping.
Since all the fixins’ are contained inside, these make an excellent school snack or lunch!
Can You Make the Dough in Advance?
Yes! You can make the dough, fill the rolls, and have them ready to bake on a pan. Simply keep in the fridge until you’re ready to bake. The dough will hold for overnight until you’re ready to bake.
You can also freeze the dough, but you’ll want to do this before you fill the dough with pepperoni and cheese. After you mix up the dough and let it rise for 2 hours, move to a freezer bag and keep frozen for up to 2 weeks. When you’re ready to bake, simply remove from freezer and thaw to room temperature.
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)
If you liked this recipe, please rate it! We’d also love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
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.
Pin our West Virginia Pepperoni Rolls on Pinterest:
More of Our Favorite West Virginia Recipes: