HAVE A SLICE -- OR TWO
Pizza is cheap and loved by most everyone. The ingredients are simple and inexpensive, and for DIY types, the blank canvas of dough is hard to resist. Whether planning a make-your-own pizza party or looking for a tasty family meal, these pizza recipes will jumpstart your creative juices. In addition to 19 ideas for toppings, there are six crust recipes that add variety and accommodate dietary restrictions and time limitations.
BASIC MARGHERITA PIZZA
The tried and true Margherita pizza is a winner every time because it's all about simple, high-quality ingredients: tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil. Freshly chopped garlic in the base layer adds extra pungency and flavor.
Recipe: Sally's Baking Addiction
Cheese lovers may disagree, but a good pizza is just as much about a quality sauce and well-baked crust as anything else. Omitting the cheese on a classic Margherita is one approach; opting for other toppings -- say, for an Asparagus Potato Pizza with Kale Pesto that vegans and lactose-intolerant diners will appreciate -- is another.
Recipe: One Green Planet
A classic supreme pizza combines different types of meats and vegetables for a full-flavored mouthful in every bite. A traditional recipe combines sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, bell pepper, and black olives for zesty and earthy flavors. Customize the pie by substituting, omitting, or adding toppings or, better yet, set out the dough in personal-pan sizes and let everyone craft their own.
Recipe: Good Cheap Eats
White pizza omits the red sauce and leans on cheesy goodness, such as in a Homemade Three Cheese White Pizza calling for ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan. Go crazy and add a fourth cheese -- a touch of gorgonzola, perhaps, or goat cheese -- and sprinkle fresh or dried herbs in one of the cheese layers.
Recipe: Add a Pinch
Nightshade vegetables include tomato, eggplant, peppers, and potatoes, among others, and pose a severe risk to people with certain allergies. The TV show "The Doctors" jumps to the rescue with a delicious No-Nightshade Pizza that gets its characteristic tanginess from olives and feta. Other ingredients, including oregano, spinach, and mushrooms, make this a full-flavored option.
Recipe: The Doctors
BUFFALO CHICKEN PIZZA
The marriage of two beloved foods, Buffalo chicken and pizza, is an irresistible show stopper. Compared with takeout versions, which can cost upward of $20, Buffalo chicken pizza is easy to make at home and far cheaper. Try using premade wing sauce and chicken breast in addition to traditional pizza ingredients.
PEKING DUCK PIZZA
This fusion pizza combines the best of two worlds in a surprisingly seamless dish. Hoisin sauce adds Asian flair while the pizza theme provides a familiar format for tasty ingredients. Some versions include cheese but omits all dairy, making this an excellent recipe for the lactose intolerant or anyone who prefers to avoid dairy but still craves a pie.
GORGONZOLA AND PEAR PIZZA
The sweet and savory combination of gorgonzola and pear is a rich way to top a pizza and a delicious pairing with wine and craft beer. A recipe uses a smattering of strong gorgonzola on a base of provolone to ensure balanced pungency. Apples could be substituted for pears with good results.
FOUR CHEESE PIZZA
Pizza with four cheeses can take many approaches, including using a sparse amount of tomato sauce atop the crust for tang, and then layers of cheese for gooey goodness. The standard pizza-cheese trio of Parmesan, mozzarella, and ricotta can get a kick from brie, an indulgent treat for cheese-aholics.
Recipe: I Am a Food Blog
Salad pizza has taken on a life of its own in the past couple of years. The idea is simple: Rather than plating salad next to pizza, pile it on top. And while salad may be considered a healthy food, a Tossed Salad Pizza posted is all about flavor. Bake the base with a covering of cheese, onion, and carrot, and end with a flourish of salad tossed with a favorite Italian dressing after removing the pie from the oven.
Americans just can't help themselves sometimes, especially given the chance to mash up two all-time favorites: cheeseburger and pizza. Forget about its dubious nutritional value; cheeseburger pizza is an all-out indulgence. This is a beefy, cheesy monster of a pie that hits all the right notes.
Recipe: Spicy Southern Kitchen
EGGPLANT PARM PIZZA
A Mediterranean-inspired pie, eggplant Parmesan pizza is a vegetarian delight. Soaking eggplant slices in water before roasting removes bitterness and ensures clean, fresh flavors. Sprinkling breadcrumbs atop the layers of sauce, eggplant, cheese, and basil yields the characteristic crunch of eggplant parm.
HOT AND SPICY PIZZA
Adding a little heat to pizza is an exciting way to kick the flavor up a notch. A Hot and Sweet Triple Pepper Pizza uses a combination of spicy and sweet peppers for interlocking layers of sumptuous taste. Fresh peppers in addition to vinegar-cured peppers deliver even more intense heat.
Recipe: How Sweet It Is
ARTICHOKE DIP PIZZA
It's a genius move, putting the equivalent of spinach-artichoke dip on pizza, but it's also an easy DIY preparation. A recipe calls for cream cheese along with mozzarella, Parmesan, and, of course, spinach and artichokes, both available in frozen form. This is a creative way to serve a favorite party food at an upcoming gathering.
Nachos are the force behind an easy and low-cost Mexican-style pie that blends black beans with roasted red peppers as the base topping, followed by cheese and fresh tomatoes. Sour cream and shredded lettuce are piled on after baking. The flavors and textures are reminiscent of Tex-Mex, while the crisp crust, tangy tomatoes, and melted cheese keep this dish solidly in the pizza category.
Recipe: Food & Wine
Dessert pizzas are a category unto themselves, with fruit-forward versions, chocolate versions, and everything in between. Crowd-pleasing Cinnamon Roll Dessert Pizza is quick and easy, calling for simple household staples such as brown sugar and old-fashioned oats.
Recipe: The Recipe Critic
A basic pizza dough includes six simple ingredients: water, yeast, sugar, oil, salt, and flour, and directions can be easy to follow as well. No special tools are required, although a food processor makes the preparation even easier.
Recipe: Martha Stewart
Many people are choosing to eliminate gluten from their diets for a variety of reasons. A simple gluten-free pizza dough uses a gluten-free, all-purpose flour blend plus psyllium seed husk for body and texture. Gluten-free flour blends are available at many supermarkets and online.
Recipe: Gluten-Free Girl
Making pizza dough without any grains seems like a tall order. But there are several methods, one of the most popular being cauliflower crust. The texture and flavor are notably different, but delicious nonetheless. A little almond tapioca flour holds it all together.
Recipe: Paleo Leap
WHOLE WHEAT CRUST
Whole wheat crusts tend to be thicker, denser, and more bread-like than regular pizza dough. lightens things up with equal parts whole wheat and all-purpose flour for a texture as good as a conventional crust but with added nutritional value.
Some people crave cheese in every possible bite, including pizza crust. One no-fuss way to make a stuffed crust is to bake string cheese directly into the dough.
Recipe: Taste of Home
THIN AND CRISPY CRUST
Some pizza aficionados hold thin crusts in high esteem. The dough is shaped, rolled, and baked in a a perforated pan before the yeast works its full rising magic.
Recipe: Budget Bytes