10 Best Toppings for Homemade Pizza - Yenra

Ten toppings to try on pizza, including pictures and a history of the ingredients

1. Mozzarella Cheese

A pizza staple, mozzarella is known for its excellent meltability and mild, creamy flavor. It's the go-to cheese for a classic Margherita pizza.

Mozzarella Cheese Pizza
Mozzarella Cheese Pizza: A classic Margherita pizza fresh out of the oven, with bubbling, golden mozzarella cheese. Bright red tomato slices and vibrant green basil leaves are scattered atop the cheese, on a perfectly cooked thin crust pizza base.

Mozzarella Cheese History

Originating from Italy, mozzarella cheese has a rich history rooted in the Neapolitan cuisine. Traditionally made from the milk of water buffaloes, it became popular in the 18th century. Mozzarella is celebrated for its soft texture and mild flavor, making it a staple in Italian dishes like pizza Margherita, which itself has a storied origin. The pizza was named after Queen Margherita of Savoy in 1889, symbolizing the colors of the Italian flag: red (tomato), white (mozzarella), and green (basil).

2. Pepperoni

This slightly spicy and crispy meat topping is a favorite in many households. It adds a robust flavor to any pizza and pairs well with a variety of cheeses and vegetables.

Pepperoni Pizza
Pepperoni Pizza: A close-up of a pepperoni pizza, showcasing slightly charred and crispy edges of pepperoni slices. The pepperoni is evenly distributed over a layer of melted mozzarella, with a glistening, rich tomato sauce base.

Pepperoni History

Pepperoni, though associated with Italian-American cuisine, does not have a direct counterpart in Italy. It evolved in the early 20th century in America, likely influenced by Italian salami varieties like ‘salame piccante’. Pepperoni became popular as a pizza topping in the U.S., known for its bright red color, smoky flavor, and slight spiciness, making it a beloved choice in pizzerias nationwide.

3. Bell Peppers

Offering a sweet and slightly tangy flavor, bell peppers, whether green, red, or yellow, add a crunchy texture and a splash of color to your pizza.

Bell Pepper Pizza
Bell Pepper Pizza: A colorful pizza topped with red, green, and yellow bell pepper slices. The peppers are arranged in a vibrant pattern over stretchy mozzarella cheese, contrasting against the golden-brown crust.

Bell Peppers History

Bell peppers, native to Central and South America, were spread globally by Spanish and Portuguese explorers in the 17th century. They became integral to many cuisines, including Italian and Mediterranean, where they are often used in pizza toppings. Their sweet and mild flavor, along with their vibrant colors, makes them a popular choice for adding freshness and visual appeal to dishes.

4. Sautéed Mushrooms

Mushrooms, especially when sautéed in garlic and olive oil, bring an earthy depth to pizza. They pair well with both white and red sauces.

Sautéed Mushroom Pizza
Sautéed Mushroom Pizza: A rustic pizza topped with golden-brown sautéed mushrooms, garlic, and herbs. The mushrooms are nestled among patches of bubbly, browned cheese, on a crispy thin crust smeared with a light garlic white sauce.

Sautéed Mushrooms History

Mushrooms have been savored around the world for centuries, with each culture having its unique way of preparation. Sautéed mushrooms, often used in pizza toppings, have roots in French cuisine, where sautéing is a common cooking technique. This method brings out the earthy flavor of mushrooms, making them a favorite topping in various pizza styles, from classic to gourmet.

5. Goat Cheese

For a tangy twist, add crumbles of goat cheese. It's particularly delightful on pizzas with pesto or white sauce and pairs beautifully with vegetables.

Goat Cheese Pizza
Goat Cheese Pizza: A gourmet pizza with dollops of creamy goat cheese and a drizzle of pesto. The pizza features a combination of fresh cherry tomatoes, arugula, and a sprinkle of pine nuts, on a hand-stretched, crispy crust.

Goat Cheese History

Goat cheese, with its history dating back thousands of years, was likely one of the first dairy products made by early farmers in the Mediterranean region. Its tangy and creamy texture has made it a prized ingredient in various cuisines, especially in French and Greek dishes. On pizza, goat cheese offers a sharp contrast to traditional mozzarella, lending a gourmet touch.

6. Prosciutto

Thin slices of this Italian dry-cured ham add a salty and rich flavor. Prosciutto is perfect atop a pizza with a white sauce base or even just with mozzarella and arugula.

Prosciutto Pizza
Prosciutto Pizza: An elegant pizza topped with thin, delicately draped slices of prosciutto, fresh arugula, and shaved Parmesan cheese. The toppings are arranged on a light base of mozzarella and a crispy, hand-tossed crust.

Prosciutto History

Prosciutto, an Italian dry-cured ham, has a history that dates back to pre-Roman times. Originally made as a way to preserve meat, it has become synonymous with Italian charcuterie. Prosciutto di Parma, from the Parma region of Italy, is among the most famous. Sliced thin and often paired with sweet and savory flavors, prosciutto is a luxurious addition to pizzas.

7. Caramelized Onions

Slow-cooked until sweet and tender, caramelized onions add a depth of flavor that complements both meat and cheese toppings.

Caramelized Onion Pizza
Caramelized Onion Pizza: A golden pizza showcasing a generous topping of caramelized onions, glistening in rich, amber tones. They are spread over a layer of gooey, melted cheese, with hints of rosemary and Gruyère, on a thick, chewy crust.

Caramelized Onions History

Onions have been a staple in cuisines worldwide for over 5,000 years. Caramelizing onions, a technique of slowly cooking them to bring out natural sweetness, is a culinary method used in many cultures. As a pizza topping, caramelized onions add a rich, sweet depth that complements both meat and cheese toppings.

8. Gorgonzola Cheese

For a bold flavor, sprinkle some Gorgonzola. Its strong, slightly pungent taste is an excellent match for sweeter toppings like figs or balsamic glaze.

Gorgonzola Cheese Pizza
Gorgonzola Cheese Pizza: A sophisticated pizza with crumbled Gorgonzola cheese creating pockets of intense flavor. Accompanied by sliced pears and a drizzle of balsamic reduction, the toppings are beautifully contrasted against a golden, fluffy crust.

Gorgonzola Cheese History

Gorgonzola, one of the world's oldest blue cheeses, originated in Italy around the 9th century. Named after the town of Gorgonzola near Milan, this cheese is known for its strong flavor and blue-green veining. As a pizza topping, Gorgonzola adds a bold, piquant flavor, often balanced with sweet ingredients like honey or figs.

9. Pineapple

A controversial yet popular choice, pineapple adds a sweet, tangy contrast to savory flavors, especially when paired with ham or bacon for a classic Hawaiian-style pizza.

Pineapple Pizza (Hawaiian)
Pineapple Pizza (Hawaiian): A vibrant Hawaiian pizza with chunks of juicy pineapple and slices of ham, creating a perfect balance of sweet and savory. The toppings are scattered over melted mozzarella, on a perfectly baked crust.

Pineapple-on-Pizza History

Pineapple on pizza, known as Hawaiian pizza, surprisingly originated in Canada in 1962, created by Sam Panopoulos. It has since become a polarizing but popular topping globally. The combination of pineapple with ham or bacon offers a unique sweet and savory taste profile, challenging traditional pizza conventions.

10. Figs and Honey

For an unconventional topping, try sliced fresh figs drizzled with honey. This combination is exquisite on a pizza with goat cheese and prosciutto, offering a perfect balance of sweet and savory.

Fig and Honey Pizza
Fig and Honey Pizza: An artisanal pizza featuring thin slices of fresh figs and a generous drizzle of honey. The figs and honey complement dollops of ricotta and streaks of prosciutto, all on a thin, crispy crust dusted with cornmeal.

Figs and Honey History

Figs have a rich history, cultivated since ancient times in the Middle East and Mediterranean. Honey, too, has been used as a natural sweetener for millennia. Combining figs and honey on pizza is a relatively modern culinary innovation, offering a sophisticated blend of sweet and savory flavors, often paired with rich cheeses and cured meats for a gourmet experience.