Have you ever wondered why such a huge chunk of the world’s population considers pizza their ultimate comfort food? Besides affordability and ease of preparation, it also has a lot to do with the fact that pizza is one of the most customizable dishes out there.
You can never run out of possible pizza toppings since there are so many combinations. Whether it’s America’s all-time favorite pepperoni, sausage, mushroom, and bell peppers, or the super controversial pineapple, the sky is the limit when it comes to pizza toppings.
The rule of thumb when choosing pizza toppings is to make sure that the flavors complement each other and don’t clash too much. With that in mind, I’ve put together a list of the most popular pizza toppings of all time.
So, whether you’re just looking to spice up your usual order or trying something new, you’ll be able to find something here that will make your taste buds go wild.
How Do You Define “Pizza Toppings”?
Don’t take the phrase “anything can be a pizza topping if you are brave enough” seriously. Just because you theoretically can put anything on a pizza, it doesn’t mean you should. There are generally two schools of thought when it comes to pizza toppings.
The first is that you should stick with traditional toppings like pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, and olives. These are tried and true crowd-pleasers that will never let you down. The second is that there are no rules when it comes to pizza. If your heart tells you to put pineapple or chicken tikka masala on a pie, go for it!
By my own admission, I am a traditionalist when it comes to pizza. I like my pizzas simple, with pepperoni as the primary topping and maybe some olives or mushrooms added for good measure. I strongly believe that pineapple belongs on pizza only if you are in Hawaii or high—and even then, it’s debatable.
As a general rule of thumb, if you are going with multiple toppings, here are three things to keep in mind to avoid ending up with a disaster –
- The combination of ingredients should complement each other and not fight for attention. While the pineapple may be sweet, the spicy sausage will overpower any sweetness. In addition, the acid in tomatoes can dull some flavors more than others.
So if you are going to put tomato on your pizza, it is best to keep it simple and avoid adding other acidic foods such as peppers or olives at the same time.
- Hear me out; too much cheese is a thing. While I do like my pizza with copious amounts of cheese, drowning it in cheese can make the pizza heavy and greasy. If you are going to add a lot of wet toppings to the pizza, choose low-moisture mozzarella. Trust me; you will thank me later.
- You also want to make sure that your pizza has enough sauce. If there is too little sauce, the pizza will be dry and unappealing. But if you go overboard with the sauce, it will run off of the pizza and onto your plate instead of staying put on top of the cheese.
Also, please do yourself a favor and check the seasoning of the sauce before putting it on your pizza. I have had too many pizzas ruined by the oversalted sauce. It’s painful.
Most Popular Toppings for Pizza Around the Globe
The choices are practically unlimited when it comes to pizza toppings, but some are more popular than others. The most-ordered pizza toppings around the world include:
Pepperoni has been consistently voted as the top favorite pizza topping in the United States, as well as in many other parts of the world. It is a type of spicy Italian sausage that is typically made from a mixture of pork and beef, and it is known for its bold, savory flavor.
It can elevate a classic NY slice with its spicy kick and satisfying meaty texture.
Basil and Mozzarella
Basil has sweet, herby undertones, while mozzarella is traditionally made from water buffalo milk. These two ingredients are commonly used together on pizza because they complement each other well and add a fresh, crisp taste that is pleasing to many palates.
This combination is often associated with the traditional Neapolitan pizza, which originated in the city of Naples and is considered by many to be the quintessential Italian pizza.
Sausage is traditionally made of pork, but you can easily find sausages out of chicken and turkey as well. Like pepperoni, sausage also brings tons of umami flavor and a delicious, fatty mouthfeel to the pizza.
It pairs well with a variety of other pizza toppings, such as onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms.
A spicier cousin of regular sausage, Italian sausage is also made from pork and contains a high amount of fat and spices, such as fennel seed, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, oregano, and black pepper. It can be cooked on the grill or baked in a casserole dish.
Italian sausage is often paired with peppers and onions on pizza for a spicy kick. It’s one of the key ingredients in Chicago deep-dish pizza, where it beautifully complements the richness of the sauce, cheese, and thick crust.
If you are looking for a delicious combination of sweet, smoky, and tangy flavors to the pizza, you need to give this topping a try.
Grilling the BBQ sauce marinated chicken allows the sauce to caramelize and develop a rich, complex flavor. When added to a pizza, BBQ chicken provides a tasty contrast to the cheese-loaded base.
The crunch, the umami, the smokiness – what’s not to like about bacon as a pizza topping? It’s no secret that bacon makes everything better. And pizza is no exception. The smoky, salty flavor of bacon pairs wonderfully with the tomato-based sauce found on many pizzas.
Moreover, it adds an extra crunchy texture to each bite. When combined with other toppings like cheese, onions, and bell peppers, bacon can add a delicious umami component that enhances the overall flavor profile of your pizza.
Commonly referred to as “prosciutto,” in Italy, cured ham is one of the most popular pizza toppings. It has a delicate, smoky taste that pairs well with thin-crust pizzas. If you are looking for something mild enough not to overpower the sauce but has a presence of its own, try topping off your next pizza with cured ham.
The iconic meat lover’s pizza is incomplete without seasoned beef. It’s important to use a lean cut of beef that will cook quickly and evenly, like sirloin or top round. Beef should be sliced very thin and seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
The key to cooking beef properly is to use a hot pan and cook it quickly on each side. You can also use hamburger/ground beef patties if you have some lying around in your fridge. The strong flavor and meaty texture of beef make it a great fit for thick-crust pizzas.
Meatballs are easy to make at home and can be a flavorful addition to your homemade pizza. You can also buy frozen meatballs for a quick fix for your pizza cravings at ungodly hours.
Meatballs and chunky tomato sauce are a match made in heaven. It’s very filling too, so you will need only a couple of them for a standard 12-inch pizza.
Black olives have been used as a topping for centuries and can be found on pizzas from Italy, Greece, and North America. Black olives are often thought of as a delicacy due to their unique flavor profile and high-quality ingredients. The majority of black olives are made from ripe black olives that have been preserved in oil and spices.
This process helps to preserve the flavor of the olive while also giving it a unique texture. I love them because they add an extra salty flavor that accentuates the taste of a simple yet soul-satisfying Neapolitan pizza.
Here’s the thing. Jalapeño is my #1 go-to pizza topping of all time. I know it’s not even nearly as popular as the other names mentioned in this roundup. But here’s why I feel jalapeño, well, picked jalapeño to be more specific, is an ideal pairing with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese.
First is the heat, obviously. It levels up the pizza with just the right amount of heat for me.
Second, I love the acidity of the jalapeño. It adds a tangy flavor that complements the sauce and cheese very well. I also like that it gives your pizza some texture, unlike most other toppings on this list. You know how hard it is to find a topping that has both flavor and texture? Well, jalapeño does just that!
A lot of people can’t stand the texture of mushrooms. I don’t get along with these people very well. Mushroom is the closest thing to the meat we will ever get. It’s packed with umami, which paired naturally well with the sauce’s sweetness and the cheese’s creaminess.
It can elevate a basic pizza with its delicious combination of earthy, umami, and slightly nutty flavors.
The only thing I don’t like about mushrooms is that it’s very hard to cook. It has a tendency to get soggy and rubbery if you don’t know how to cook it right. But if you do, it’s pretty much the perfect pizza topping.
For those who like to keep their toppings simple, onion is the way to go. It’s a classic pizza topping that goes great with any kind of cheese. The sweetness of the onion complements well with the saltiness of the cheese and helps to cut through all that richness.
It has a mild flavor but packs quite a punch when it comes to texture. Slightly charred onions also add a hint of sweetness to the pizza, which helps to cut through the saltiness of all that cheese.
Spinach is often overlooked in favor of more traditional pizza toppings, such as pepperoni, sausage, and mushroom. However, I would argue that spinach is an equally compelling topping for pizza because it adds a delicious combination of mild, slightly bitter, and slightly sweet notes to the pizza.
When added to a pizza, spinach provides a tasty contrast to the richness of the cheese and the sweetness of the sauce. It also adds a satisfyingly crunchy texture to the pizza.
This green vegetable has a mild flavor that pairs perfectly with cheese and tomatoes. It’s also very healthy and loaded with vitamins. So, if you want to have your pizza and have it too, top it off with spinach and pair it up with ricotta, feta or goat cheese, or gorgonzola, if you want something a bit more decadent and unconventional.
Bell peppers are a popular pizza topping because they’re sweet and have a pleasing crunchy texture. They are also good for adding color to your pizza, which makes it look more appetizing. When roasted, bell peppers also bring a delicious hint of smokiness to the pizza.
A lot of people swear by anchovies on pizza because they apparently add a delicious combination of salty, savory, and slightly briny flavors to the pizza. Anchovies are small, silver-colored fish that are often salted and packed in oil, and they are known for their strong and distinctive flavor.
However, if you are not used to the smell and saltiness of anchovies, save the experiment for another day and dish.
Pulled pork is made by slow-cooking pork shoulder or butt until it is tender and easily shreddable, and it is typically seasoned with a BBQ sauce or other spice blend. I love how this topping manages to shine without clashing with other toppings. It also lends a rich mouthfeel and juiciness to the pizza, which can be especially nice when paired with a crisp crust.
Baby corn is a small, immature variety of corn harvested before it has matured. The natural sweetness of the corn pairs well with spicy ingredients like pepperoni and Italian sausage, while the crunchy texture adds an interesting textural dimension to the pizza.
Baby corn is also a great way to add more vegetables to your pizza, which can be helpful if you are trying to eat healthier or lose weight.
Sun-dried tomatoes have a rich, tangy flavor that pairs well with many different types of pizza. They can be sliced thin or chopped into larger pieces, depending on your preference. Sun-dried tomatoes also add a hint of sweetness to the pizza, which helps balance out the salty flavors from cured meat and cheese.
Although not very common, artichoke hearts on a pizza was a revelation to me. I went to a high-end office lunch once where I had artichoke and spinach pizza with mozzarella and goat cheese. I wasn’t sure what to expect but long story short, the combination worked for me.
Artichoke hearts have a meaty texture and a mild flavor, which allows them to blend seamlessly into any type of pizza sauce. You can add thinly sliced artichoke hearts directly onto your pizza or saute them in a pan with oil before adding them.
Pesto is an iconic Italian sauce that is made from basil, garlic, pine nuts, and olive oil. It’s usually served over pasta but can also be used to top pizza for an extra flavor boost.
You can use store-bought or homemade pesto, depending on your preference and available time. Its bright, herbaceous, and nutty flavor and creamy texture will go well with the saltiness of meat toppings.
Quattro Formaggio is a popular Italian-style pizza that uses four different types of cheese. The combination of mozzarella, parmesan, gruyere, and gorgonzola creates an irresistible flavor profile that goes well with meat toppings.
Many pizzerias also use robiola, pecorino romano, gaot cheese, and emmental on their quattro formaggi pizzas. If you’re looking for a cheese lover’s dream meal, this is it.
I deliberately kept this one for the end. Objectively speaking, the combination of pineapple and pizza is one that you either love or hate. The sweet, fruity, and mildly smoky flavor of grilled pineapple works well with savory ingredients like ham, pepperoni, and sausage.
The sweetness of the pineapple can also be used to balance out spicy ingredients like jalapenos or red peppers. If you’re in the mood for something a little different, give it a try.
Most Ordered Toppings in Popular Pizza Stores Across the United States
Curious to see what toppings are most popular in the U.S.? I’ve got you covered
To get a better sense of the most popular pizza toppings in America, I analyzed data from popular pizza chains. I looked at which toppings were most frequently ordered by customers over a five-year period. Here are some of the results:
Most Popular Pizza Toppings at Domino’s:
Most Popular Pizza Toppings at Pizza Hut
- Extra cheese
- Black olives
- Fresh garlic
- Green peppers
Most Popular Pizza Toppings at Marco’s
- Italian sausage
- Signature three cheeses
- Sliced tomatoes
Most Popular Pizza Toppings at Papa Johns
- Canadian bacon
- Green peppers
- Red peppers
- Golden corn
Most Popular Pizza Toppings at Hunt Brothers Pizza
- Italian sausage
- Black olives
- Banana peppers
Most Popular Pizza Toppings at Jet’s Pizza
- Bold pepperoni
- Grilled chicken
- Red onions
- Fresh spinach
- Ground beef
Most Popular Pizza Toppings at Costco
- Black olives
- Italian sausage
Unique Veggie Pizza Topping Ideas
Veggie toppings on pizza have become increasingly popular in recent years as more and more people look to incorporate more plant-based foods into their diets.
This trend is driven by a variety of factors, including concerns about the environmental impact of meat production, the health benefits of eating more vegetables, and the growing availability of high-quality vegetarian and vegan options at pizzerias.
In addition, many people simply enjoy the flavor and texture that vegetables can add to a pizza. Common veggie toppings on pizza include mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, olives, and tomatoes, but the options are endless and can include any vegetables that you enjoy.
Below I have listed some of my favorite veggie pizza combinations. Feel free to experiment with these options or come up with your own variations!
Roasted Red Peppers
Roasted red peppers have a mildly sweet and smoky flavor that pairs extremely well with a variety of other ingredients, such as mozzarella cheese, olives, and onions. To roast red peppers, you can place them on a baking sheet and roast them in the oven until the skins are blackened and blistered.
Once they are cool enough to handle, you can peel off the skins, remove the seeds, slice the peppers into strips, and sprinkle on the crust.
Roasted Butternut Squash
Another unconventional pizza topping on this list can take you by surprise. Its mellow nuttiness and jammy texture can do wonders when put on a light and airy pizza crust.
To roast a butternut squash, place the cubes on a baking sheet and toss them with olive oil, salt, and any other seasonings you like. Roast the squash in the oven until it is tender and slightly caramelized. It is also loaded with vitamins and fiber, making it a healthy addition to your diet.
Roasted Broccoli and Sun-dried Tomatoes
Roasted broccoli and sun-dried tomatoes are the perfect combination or zing and freshness. Roasting the broccoli brings out its natural sweetness and enhances its texture, while the sun-dried tomatoes add a tangy and slightly chewy contrast.
To roast the broccoli, you can toss it with olive oil, salt, and any other seasonings you like and then roast it in the oven until it is tender.
Soft and smoky grilled eggplants are delicious on their own, but putting them on a pizza? Yep, it makes sense, especially on a thin and crispy crust. The textural contrast combined with the rich mouthfeel of eggplant creates a symphony of flavors in your mouth.
To grill eggplant for your pizza, you can first slice it into thin rounds and brush both sides with olive oil. Place the eggplant rounds on a hot grill and cook them until they are tender and slightly charred on both sides.
Grilled zucchini is another great way to add some color, crunch, and fiber to your pizza. You can slice it into thin rounds or long strips, brush both sides with olive oil, and place it on a hot grill. Cook the zucchini until it is tender but not mushy. If you like, you can add some garlic and herbs to the olive oil before brushing it on the zucchini.
What are the five most common pizza toppings?
According to a survey by the American Pizza Community, the five most common pizza toppings are:
- Green pepper
These toppings are popular because they are widely available, easy to prepare, and pair well with cheese and tomato sauce, which are the two other main components of a pizza. Additionally, these toppings are fairly versatile and can be used on a variety of different pizza styles and crusts.
What goes on an Italian Pizza?
The traditional Italian pizza has a thin crust topped with tomato sauce, buffalo milk, mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil.
You can also add a variety of other toppings, like prosciutto, porcini mushrooms, Italian sausage, mushroom, spinach, anchovies, etc., on a traditional Italian pizza.
What not to put on a pizza?
There are certain ingredients that you should not put on a pizza. These include but are not limited to the following:
2. Canned tuna
5. Any raw seafood
Pizza is one of the most popular foods in the world, and for a good reason. It’s easy to make, inexpensive, and can be customized to fit anyone’s tastes.
Most people are familiar with the standard pepperoni and cheese pizza, but if you want something a little more interesting or adventurous, there are plenty of other toppings that will satisfy your inner gourmand.