Don’t settle for boring old pepperoni pizza when you’re making pizza at home! Homemade gourmet pizza is easy to make when you get creative with unique toppings that you already have in your fridge and pantry cupboards.
My husband is the pizza-maker in our family. He loves creating homemade gourmet pizza with unique toppings, and the cool thing is, these toppings are usually ingredients that we already have on hand.
Because his homemade pizzas are better than most pizza parlour pizzas, we almost never order pizza in anymore. Why shell out big bucks for delivery when you can make your own gourmet pizza for a fraction of the cost?
How Homemade Gourmet Pizza Became Our Friday Night Tradition:
Mike and I fell in love with “gourmet” pizzas more than 20 years ago when we lived in Ottawa. Every Friday night we would go to “La Favorita”, a tiny Italian restaurant on Preston Street, to indulge in wine, mussels and one of their to-die-for pizzas heaped high with a combination of exotic toppings.
Mike actually proposed to me one Friday night after returning home from La Favorita, our bellies full of wine and pizza, but that’s a story for another day.
Soon after getting married, we bought our first home and started a family, so our budget and social life changed significantly. Friday nights at La Favorita became a thing of the past. In an attempt to re-create our Friday night tradition at home, for a fraction of the cost, Mike began making homemade pizzas and experimenting with interesting combinations of whatever fruits, vegetables and meat we already had on hand. He’d add some interesting extras, and before long he was creating these awesome homemade gourmet pizzas that were as good (or better) than restaurant pizza.
Fast forward twenty-some years, and Mike’s still making his signature homemade pizzas on a regular basis, and everyone is crazy for them.
No two pizzas are ever alike because Mike changes up the toppings every time he makes one, usually just getting creative with whatever we have in the fridge and cupboards.
Let me show you how he made our pizza last night, and then I’ll give you a list of some of the unique pizza toppings we love best.
The crust and sauce for homemade pizza:
I’ll start by saying it’s perfectly acceptable to use store-bought ready-made pizza crusts. We often do. They usually come with a packet of pizza sauce, so making pizza is a breeze when you use one of these babies.
When he wants to make the entire pizza from scratch, Mike will often use this 20-minute no-knead, no-rise pizza crust recipe. It’s so quick and easy to make, and it’s delicious.
For a homemade pizza sauce, he makes this easy, no-cook pizza sauce. It makes a lot but we just freeze what we don’t use.
The pizza he made last night was topped with sliced onions, bacon, mushrooms, dried cranberries, green peppers and mozzarella cheese.
Just as he was about to add the cheese, I remembered we had a few spears of fresh pineapple left in the fridge.
Jackpot! He chopped those up and added them before topping everything off with a generous layer of grated mozza.
Years ago, if we didn’t have pepperoni or mozzarella on hand, I would’ve ruled out making pizza. Not anymore though. We just dig around in the fridge and get creative with whatever fruit and vegetables we have on hand. Then we hit up the cupboards for some interesting “extras”.
For me, the perfect gourmet pizza offers a variety of textures and flavours in every bite. Ingredients like salty bacon, sweet and tangy cranberries, crunchy cashews, chewy dried apricots and thin slivers garlic turn an ordinary pizza into one so irresistible that I crave and think about long after it’s gone.
Here are some of our favourite go-to toppings when we want to take our homemade pizzas to the “gourmet” level.
Unique Toppings for Homemade Gourmet Pizza:
- bacon (slightly under-cooked, as it will cook more once it’s on the pizza)
- diced or shredded chicken
- butter chicken ( Try it topped with mozzarella and fresh cilantro!)
- pulled pork
- summer sausage
Fruit or Berries:
- dried apricots
- dried cranberries
- halved grapes
- thinly sliced apples or pears
- julienned mango
- fresh peppers (green, red, orange or yellow)
- jalepeño peppers (remember it’s the seeds that carry the heat)
- hot pepper rings (the kind in the jar)
- fresh garlic, thinly slivered
- white or red onion
- sun dried tomatoes
- fresh tomatoes
- olives (green, black or kalamata)
Mix and match ingredients from the above categories, layer them on your crust, and pop it in the oven.
How to bake your pizza:
Pre-heat your oven to 425º F, and bake your pizza for approximately 10 minutes.
If you prefer, you can bake yours on your stone or pizza pan.
Slice and serve as soon as it’s out of the oven.
Looking for more inspirational ideas for making gourmet pizza at home? Here are 26 unconventional pizza ideas for you to check out.