Pizza is such a classic dish that has taken over the world. I have never been a big fan of restaurant offerings, as they never seem to live up to my standards. I like a crispy, firm crust, classic tomato sauce, and liberal vegetable toppings. In this post, I’ll discuss the components of my homemade pizza, and how I switch it up when I make it myself.
The pizza base
The bottom half of the pizza consists of two very crucial components: the crust and the sauce.
The crust is one of the most important parts of a pizza. Structurally, it holds everything together. Without a firm crust, the toppings and sauce are liable to fall off and go everywhere. It also adds a crunchy texture, as well as well-rounded flavor.
Personally, I like my crust to be firm and slightly crispy on the bottom, chewy in the middle, and soft on the top. The only pizza I really ever eat is one I’ve made myself, so I get to have it exactly how I want. In that case, I use my white whole wheat pizza dough recipe.
The next layer, the sauce, is also a major factor in a good pizza. In my opinion, the sauce sets the tone for what type of pizza you’re having:
- Tomato sauce—classic
- White, creamy sauce—rich
- BBQ base—edgy and sweet
- Pesto—fresh and green
For a classic pizza, I make a classic tomato pizza sauce. It gives the dish a familiar taste, and adds a nice acidity to bring all the elements together. There is nothing particularly unique about this sauce, and that’s what I like about it.
The list of toppings are almost endless. Below, I’ve written about which toppings I’ve used, and how to prepare them before topping the pizza, if necessary.
If I’m making myself a pizza, it is almost always a veggie pizza. There are sooooo many vegetables to choose from, but some are better than others. Here are some of my favorites:
- Caramelized onions
- Red bell pepper
- Artichoke hearts (from a can)
A lot of my toppings get pre-cooked before being put on the pizza. This allows them to gain a nice color in the oven, and helps the dish taste more uniform. Here is a general overview of how I prep my ingredients:
- For vegetables like onions, bell pepper, mushrooms, and eggplant, that means putting them in a 400°F oven for about 20 minutes. I want them to be soft and cooked, but have no browning.
- The artichoke hearts and tomato get left raw, as they don’t need that much preparation. I slice the tomatoes very thin, and the artichoke hearts get cut into 1/4ths.
- The spinach gets a quick blanching and pat dry, so it retains its color and doesn’t burn in the hot oven.
I am not a huge pepperoni fan, but it is a pretty standard topping when making pizza for other people. If I am going to use it, I’ll get the nice stuff that is in the fancy section of the grocery store.
Personally, I don’t eat cheese. However, my husband does, and requests it every time. The only cheese I’ve used is mozzarella, the type that comes in a ball. For the best results, it should be sliced very thin. If not, it may make the top watery, which makes the pizza less enjoyable to eat. I am still trying different methods to see how and when to add the cheese for the best results. For more mozzarella tips, check this post by The Spruce Eats.
How to make homemade pizza
Once you have all the ingredients, putting them together is super easy. Simply top the crust with sauce, then add the toppings. Put in the oven as soon as you can to prevent the crust from getting soggy. Bake at 525°F for 20 minutes, or until cheese is melted and crust is dark golden. I use a 12″ cast iron skillet, but a pizza stone or baking sheet will work also.
Homemade pizza is very time consuming compared to eating out, but it is so worth it. Not only is there so much more flavor, but you can customize it exactly the way you want it. For someone like me who doesn’t eat cheese, that is a major plus.
What is your favorite combination of sauces and toppings? Let me know in the comments!