The great pineapple on pizza debate has been going on for years, and whether you love it or hate it, there is no denying the popularity of Hawaiian pizza. Of course, pizza was invented in Naples, Italy, as a simple dish of crust, cheese, and sauce. In Italy, they still keep it pretty simple.
But over the years as pizza has grown in popularity, reaching every part of the globe, pizzaiolos have gotten more creative with their pizzas. And somewhere along the way, the pineapple was added to the list of toppings, and it took off. So how did a sweet fruit like pineapple get added to this savory dish?
Now this debate is different from a normal pizza topping. It’s not like olives or anchovies or a certain preference. Pineapple on pizza is an absolutely polarizing issue in the pizza space. Tread lightly.
Who Invented Pineapple on Pizza?
Hawaiian pizza was not invented in Hawaii, nor was it invented by a Hawaiian native. Instead, this sweet, savory combo was invented in Canada by a Greek immigrant, Sam Panopoulos. He had a restaurant and was looking for something new to try.
At the time in 1962, Hawaii had recently become a state, and everything Hawaiian-themed was taking off in popularity, from tiki bars to hula skirts to canned pineapple.
Canned pineapple was being exported from the islands for the first time, and its popularity exploded. Around this time, pineapple was added to jello, fruit salads, and other dishes. So Panopoulos decided to try it on pizza at his restaurant in Ontario, Canada, in 1962. It was an experiment that everyone loved. And, the rest is history.
Nowadays, Hawaiian pizza is one of the most popular pizzas at any pizzeria. But there are still some that believe why pineapple should not be on pizza. Ever.
Where the Pineapple on Pizza Debate Originated
The pineapple and pizza debate is a hot topic that has been raging for several decades. It’s a rather touchy issue that has divided pizza lovers into two distinct camps. While some people love the sweet and tangy taste of pineapple on their pizza, others argue that it is sacrilegious to put fruit on a savory dish.
The origin of this pineapple on pizza controversy is not entirely clear, but it is believed to have started in Canada in the early 1960s when Panopoulos first started using the new topping at his restaurant. Word must’ve spread quickly in pizza circles.
Here at Homemade Pizza School, we fall somewhere in between on the pineapples on pizza debate. My wife is on board with pineapple on pizza. She absolutely loves it and orders it often, if not every single time we eat pizza. While I’m not staunchly against it, I prefer not to add a taste of the tropics to my meaty Italian pizza.
Ultimately, pineapple on a pizza shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. I mean, pizza is pizza. It’s always good. At one time, arugula and blue cheese were considered odd pizza topping choices, and now they are popular. There are many unusual ways to top your pizza, and they are all good in their own way.
Why is Pineapple on Pizza Controversial?
Pineapple on pizza is controversial because pizza lovers who are traditionalists do not like this fruit added to the savory dish! It’s as simple as that. Some actually complained about the acidity when they first tried it.
The sweet yellow fruit has too much acid, and it clashes with the acidity of the tomato base. Others just don’t like the texture and the deviation from traditional Italian pizza. Thus, the pineapple pizza controversy was born naturally.
Over the years, the pineapple pizza debate has taken on a life of its own, with many people expressing strong opinions on both sides of the argument. Some argue that pineapple belongs on a pizza because it adds a sweet and juicy flavor that complements the salty cheese and savory toppings.
Still, others rightfully contest that pizza is meant to be a savory dish and that adding fruit to it is a culinary crime.
How to Use Pineapple on Pizza
What Kind of Pineapple for Pizza
Most home chefs use canned pineapple when they add it to pizza. Canned pineapple is easy to find and comes in chunks, rings, or crushed—any of these works great.
However, for some pineapple pizza enthusiasts, the chunks are too big, and the rings are the preference because you can cut them to the size you like. All of the pineapple lovers we surveyed agree that crushed pineapple is best served with ice in a frilly cocktail and not on the pizza
Some home pizzaiolos like to use fresh pineapple. If you live somewhere where fresh pineapple is readily available, then it’s a great option. Up north in Minnesota where we are, the fresh pineapple isn’t always available, and when it is, it is overpriced and underripe.
Best Pineapple for Pizza
If you choose to use fresh pineapple, this affordable kitchen gadget makes it easy to the core and get to the meat of the pineapple. The core of the pineapple should never be used on pizza.
Instead, run that through the blender with some water and a small piece of fresh peeled ginger, then strain and add more water for a refreshing beverage. If you like a cocktail, throw a little rum or vodka in to make a satisfying adult drink.
Did you know you can actually use every part of the pineapple? Don’t throw the prickly skins away. Save them to make a fermented Mexican drink called tepache. I mean, if you are going to buy a whole pineapple, you might as well use every part.
So whether you use canned or fresh pineapple, you should always dry off the fruit before adding it to your pizza. Just place the fruit on a paper towel and squeeze out the excess moisture.
If you skip this step, your pizza will get soggy as the heat from the oven makes the pineapple sweat even more, and you will end up with a pineapple pizza soup.
More than Just Hawaiian
The classic way to use pineapple on pizza is, of course, the famous Hawaiian pizza. In the food industry, anything with pineapple is called Hawaiian. But this versatile fruit can be used to make other great pizzas.
Sweet on Sweet
Using sweet pineapple with other sweet ingredients makes a sweet on sweet pizza. Some examples are:
- Sweet corn, pineapple, and olives
- Mandarin oranges, pineapple, ham, slivered almonds
- Sweet BBQ pork with pineapple
My wife loves the sweet on sweet combo. Her go-to pineapple pizza gets dipped in a sweet creamy condensed milk sauce. Personally, I can’t stand it. But there are lots of dipping sauces to choose from when you are going for the sweet on sweet combo. Seriously, though, there’s such a thing as too sweet.
Sweet on Heat
Another favorite pineapple combo is the sweet with heat. That hot and sweet combo is commonly found in Chinese and Thai food. Here are a few ways to mix sweet pineapple with a tasty heat source:
- Jalapeño and pineapple pizza
- Habanero tomato sauce with pineapple and peppers
- Spicy sausage, pineapple, and pepperoncino
You can make this sweet hot combo by simply adding hot sauce to any pizza with pineapple. Hot sauce makes everything better.
Sweet adjacent means that the sweet is an afterthought, not the dominating flavor. Think of it like an orchestra and the pineapple is just one of the musicians working together to create something beautiful. A few examples of the sweet adjacent pineapple pizza are:
- Thai chicken pizza with peanuts and pineapple
- Supreme pizza with pineapple
- Veggie pizza with pineapple
While the debate continues to rage on, one thing is clear: pizza is a versatile dish that can be customized to suit a wide range of tastes and preferences. Conclusively, it’s up to each individual to decide whether they want to embrace the sweet and savory flavors of the Hawaiian pizza or stick with more traditional pizza toppings.
Where do you stand on the pineapple on pizza debate? What unusual pizza toppings do you love on your pizza?