The most popular pizza topping in America? That’s pepperoni, hands down.
Folks, it’s time to think outside of the pizza box.
But you don’t have to think too hard. Here are six two-topping pizzas just unusual enough that they might not make America’s most popular list, but have the potential to become your new favorite. You’ll also find tips on how to upgrade each pie and a list of extra toppings to try out.
You’ll notice that none of them call for America’s favorite topping.
This pizza can go gourmet with the addition of honey. Start with 10-15 slices of salami and 1 jalapeno, seeded and thinly sliced. Keep the salami as-is or slice it into quarters for easier eating.
Bonus: Upgrade this pizza by drizzling it with ¼ cup honey after it is baked.
More toppings: Try adding Castelvetrano olive slices, red onion slices and red pepper flakes.
This one can easily be turned into a classic margherita pizza by adding fresh mozzarella. Start with 2 Roma tomatoes cut crosswise into ¼-inch-thick slices and 6 fresh basil leaves, plus extra for garnish. Sprinkle a layer of mozzarella over the pizza dough. Arrange the tomato slices in a single layer over the cheese. Sprinkle with another layer of mozzarella. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Arrange basil leaves on top. Save some basil for garnish after the pizza is baked.
Bonus: Upgrade this pie by trading grated mozzarella for thin slices of fresh — aka pizza margherita. Or swapping Roma tomatoes for heirloom.
More toppings: Try adding Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, minced garlic, salt and pepper to taste.
Make this pie with diced chunks of crispy fried bacon (from 6 thick slices) and 2 white button mushrooms cut into slices.
Bonus: Upgrade this pizza by marinating the mushrooms for 1 or 2 days in a mix of Italian-herb dressing, white wine and garlic.
More toppings: Try adding black olive slices, hamburger, plus salt and pepper to taste.
This one can easily be turned into a breakfast pizza. Start with 4 eggs (hardboiled slices or scrambled) and 3 sweet mini peppers (yellow, red and orange) cut into thin slices.
Bonus: Upgrade this pizza by cracking the eggs over your toppings just before you bake, roughly positioning 1 yolk on each pizza quarter.
More toppings: Try adding grated cheddar or Colby-Jack cheese and crumbled sausage to make it a breakfast pizza.
Make this pie with 1 pound (peeled and deveined) shrimp and 1 medium onion cut into thin slices. Saute the shrimp in olive oil over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Then flip shrimp and saute until each one is just seared on both sides. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add more oil to the pan. Saute onions for 5 minutes or until translucent.
Bonus: Upgrade this pizza by reducing 1 cup of dry white or red wine to a glaze and sauteing your prawns in that.
More toppings: Try adding red pepper flakes, dried oregano, minced garlic, grated Parmesan cheese, fresh basil, plus salt and black pepper to taste.
This is a vegetable pizza that looks like a salad before you bake it. Make this pie with 1 eggplant cut into ¼-inch-thick slices and 1 loosely packed cup arugula. Brush both sides of the eggplant slices with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place eggplant on a baking sheet. Line the baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy cleanup. Place on the top rack of the oven and broil for about 8-10 minutes, flipping at halftime, or until golden brown and tender. When baking the pizza, take it out 1 minute before it’s done, top with the arugula and finish baking; the greens should be just wilted.
Bonus: Upgrade this pizza by trading the mozzarella for crumbled asiago, ricotta blobs and/or crumbled gorgonzola cheeses. Toss the arugula with a dressing made with 2 teaspoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, plus salt and pepper to taste.
More toppings: Try adding halved grape tomatoes and minced garlic.
How to make them
Make each pizza with 1 medium pizza dough (12 ounces) and ¾ cup tomato sauce, either homemade or store-bought. If you decide to make your own dough and sauce, I recommend making New York-style pizza dough and crushed tomato sauce from Peter Reinhart’s “American Pie” cookbook.
Prepare all pizza toppings before tossing your dough. This prevents the dough from warming up too much and sticking to the pan.
Hand-toss your dough. Press the dough into the shape of a pizza on a lightly floured surface. Or let gravity help you shape the dough by slowly rotating it in your hands. You don’t actually have to toss it in the air — but more power to you if you do. Stop when your dough is stretched to 14 inches in diameter, or until it fits the size of your pizza pan.
Add the sauce next. Spoon ¾ cup tomato sauce and pour it in the center of the dough. Evenly spread the sauce by running the spoon through it in a clockwise motion, increasing the radius with every rotation.
Now you’re ready for toppings. Leave a 1-inch border around the pizza dough. This is your crust.
Make the pizza with 7-8 ounces (2 cups) shredded mozzarella. Unless otherwise noted above, sprinkle 1 cup mozzarella over the pizza dough, arrange your toppings in a single layer, then top with the remaining mozzarella. If you want extra cheese, top your pizza with an additional 1-2 ounces.
Bake the pizza at your oven’s highest setting (probably 500 or 550 degrees) for 5-7 minutes each, or until the crusts are crisp and brown on the bottom and the cheese is melted on top.
Cut the pizzas into wedges and serve immediately.