About 36% of all of the pizza consumed in the United States each year is topped with pepperoni. In fact, we Americans annually consume about 252 million pounds of pepperoni on our pizzas. Those are some staggering statistics! So I thought to myself, why not make a pepperoni dog treat? Dogs can’t have all of the grease, tomato sauce, and copious amounts of gooey cheese that make our human-food pizzas so delicious, but these tasty little treats do have a touch of Parmesan cheese and lots of turkey pepperoni bits.
Turkey pepperoni, which is a dried sausage made from turkey, contains less calories, fat, and sodium than regular pepperoni, which is made with pork. As with any special treat, you don’t want to give your dog too much turkey pepperoni, but in moderation it is perfectly fine. Be sure to buy mild pepperoni for this recipe. Do NOT ever give your dog any pepperoni labeled “spicy”.
Makes about 75 treats
2 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 oz finely grated parmesan cheese
10 slices turkey pepperoni, chopped
1 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Combine the flour, baking powder, cheese, and chopped pepperoni.
3. Add the water and oil to the dry ingredients and knead until the mixture forms a smooth dough.
4. Let the dough rest at room temperature for about 5 minutes.
5. Take a piece of dough (about a teaspoonful), roll it into a ball, and place it onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remainder of the dough. The dough balls can be placed close together on the baking sheet but should not be touching.
6. Bake until firm to the touch and baked all the way through, about 12 minutes.
These treats must be stored in the refrigerator.
Dogs love cheese. It’s a universal canine characteristic—at least in my very non-professional opinion–so these little treats are always a big hit. The Parmesan imparts a strong cheesy flavor (and fills the kitchen with a delicious aroma as it bakes), but in a pinch you could easily substitute finely shredded cheddar or pretty much any mild cheese that you happen to have sitting in the fridge. Just remember that switching up the type of cheese may affect the baking time or the amount of water that is needed.
I like to cut these treats into small bite-sized pieces rather than large biscuits, because the fresh Parmesan cheese is packed with flavor (and you also never want to overload you dog with too much dairy). For this recipe, I used a 1-inch round cookie cutter. If you decide to make larger biscuits, you’ll need to increase the baking time to 20 minutes or more.
Since these treats contain cheese, they are best stored in the refrigerator.
Parmesan Cheese Bites
Makes about 125 small treats
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornmeal, plus more for dusting
1/2 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1 large egg
3/4 cup warm water
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Combine the flour, cornmeal, and cheese. Add the egg and mix to combine.
3. Add the water a little at a time, kneading the mixture by hand to form a smooth dough. (If the dough starts getting too wet, don’t add all of the water. If the dough is too dry, add more water a tablespoon at a time until the dough reaches the right consistency for rolling.)
4. Generously dust the countertop with cornmeal. Divide the dough in half, and roll the first half out into an even sheet about ¼ inch thick.
5. Use a cookie cutter to cut the dough into your desired shape and size. Repeat with the remainder of the dough. If the dough is sticking at all, try dusting both sides with more cornmeal.
6. Arrange the treats on a lightly greased baking sheet, and bake until firm to the touch, about 16 minutes. You do not want these treats to get too brown. I like to turn the treats over halfway through the baking time to help ensure even color.
7. Allow the treats to cool completely before removing them from the baking sheet.
NOTE: These treats are not extra crunchy, which can be a nice change from traditional hard dog biscuits. But if your doggie prefers crunchier treats, try leaving the baked biscuits in the oven (with it turned off) with the oven door widely cracked open for a few hours to overnight.