Let’s be very clear that pizza is absolutely perfect in every form. You don’t have to add anything for a culinary masterpiece. Heck, even the most basic frozen pizza has the holy trifecta of deliciousness: crust, sauce, and cheese. And that’s enough for a glorious meal, anytime.
But you can make something good even better. Whether you crafted a homemade pizza, got a pie delivered, or picked up a frozen pizza at the store, there are plenty of ways to amp up tonight’s pizza flavor and experience.
How to Upgrade Your Homemade Pizza
Heat the Crust Correctly
The crust is the foundation for an exquisite pizza-eating experience. It shouldn’t be soggy, undercooked, or cold. For any pizza—homemade, delivery, or store-made—the best way to create the most delicious crust is with a pizza stone. If you don’t have a pizza stone, get one immediately.
In the meantime, your next best options are to heat the pizza directly on the oven rack or on a rimless, preheated baking sheet.
For homemade pizza, preheat the oven with the pizza stone in it before cooking the pizza. The preheating is essential for a perfectly browned, crispy bottom crust. Cook’s Illustrated recommends preheating the stone in a 500-degree oven for an hour.
For delivery pizza, slide the pie onto a preheated stone (or preheated baking sheet) for a few minutes to crisp and heat the crust. Premade pizzas, frozen or fresh, benefit from the preheated pizza stone as well; if not, cook on a preheated rimless baking sheet or, for frozen, directly on the oven rack.
Season that Crust
While we’re on the subject of crust, let’s talk about making it even better with seasoning. This is a great trick if you’re serving generic frozen pizza or not-so-impressive delivery pie. Amp up the flavor on the crust and the whole thing becomes gourmet.
Here’s how: brush the crust with olive oil or melted butter, sprinkle with your choice of seasoning, then cook or heat as needed. Garlic salt and parmesan are a great pair that work with almost any pizza. Or, try one of these seasoning and topping combinations:
- Coarse sea salt and cracked black pepper on a plain cheese or classic Margherita
- A meat rub or grilling blend on barbecue chicken pizza
- Sea salt, garlic powder, and thyme for mushroom pizza
- Smoked paprika and cumin with sausage, beef, or meat combos
- Chili powder and garlic salt for a vegetable combo
Downgrade the Grease
A healthy amount of fat, of course, is essential for a good pizza. But you don’t need a pool of grease on your slice. Before serving, grab a paper towel and crush it into a loose wad, then quickly dab up any excess grease. The flavor will still be there, without grease dripping down your hands. And that makes it easier to hold on to your slice, so win-win.
More Cheese, Please
For homemade pizza, here’s how to maximize the cheese power: pull the pie out of the oven a couple of minutes before it’s done. Add another layer of cheese, then return for the rest of the bake. The same method works for frozen pizza, too.
For delivery, add another layer (or two) of cheese before you heat the crust. You can get quite gourmet with the cheese selection—throw on some fresh mozzarella slices, grated asiago, or extra-sharp flavor. Or just gob on shredded mozzarella for the ultimate in stretchy, stringy, extravagant cheese. We’re certainly not judging.
More Ways to Amp Up Tonight’s Pizza
Get Extra with Toppings
While we’re adding on, let’s talk about toppings. Can you ever have too many toppings? If you’re a purist, you might think so—and that’s fine. But if you’re ready to get a little wild, then pile on the flavor.
You can go big in volume (layers of pepperoni, bacon, ham, and mushrooms) or big in flavor (spicy arugula, sweet pineapple, fiery jalapeños). Experiment with different combinations—you might create a new favorite.
Make a Dipping Sauce
Dipping sauce isn’t just for dipping; you can drizzle it, too. But that’s entirely up to you. The simplest version is oil or melted butter, seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic. You can use fresh minced garlic or garlic powder. It will taste divine either way. Here are a few other dipping sauce options:
- Buffalo: mix ranch or blue cheese dressing with equal parts hot sauce and melted butter
- White garlic: add garlic powder, parmesan, and a dash of vinegar to mayo, plain yogurt, or sour cream
- Marinara: season plain old tomato sauce with basil, oregano, garlic powder, and salt
- Curry peanut: thin peanut butter with coconut milk and add curry paste
- Soy ginger: mix equal parts sesame oil, rice vinegar, and soy sauce, then add powdered ginger
Top with Fresh Herbs
For flavor heaven, fresh herbs are the way to go. They’re much more potent than the dried version. Dice the herbs up fine, and sprinkle on as soon as you pull the pizza out of the oven. Or set them on the side and let each person dress their own slice. Try fresh minced parsley, dill, cilantro, or chives.
A secret to great food is contrast. A contrast in flavor, temperature, or texture keeps things interesting, and highlights the individual ingredients. For contrast on a pizza, after the bake, try adding one of these:
- fresh diced onions
- sliced cherry tomatoes
- crumbled feta
- shredded basil or mint leaves
- crumbled french fried onions
- diced avocado
Drizzle with Honey
Honey and pizza? Well, yes. It sounds like a weird combination, but it works. And people who try it are raving about it, especially if hot honey is available. If you don’t have fancy, chili-infused honey, that plain old stuff in the plastic bear will work, too. Drizzle it over your slice, take a bite, and prepare to be wowed.
Set Out the Sides
The final move is about the essential accompaniments: crunchy, spicy, tangy goodness. Pepperoncinis, jalapeños, and banana peppers are clear winners. Try putting out some olives and pickles, too. They’re perfect bites for between slices—cool, crunchy, salty, and fresh. Now get in there and amp up tonight’s pizza!
No matter what you decide in the end, it is not that difficult to amp up tonight’s pizza and upgrade your homemade pizza game. Contact us if you have any other relevant ideas.