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I need a pizza that will knock 'em dead!

Hey there chowhounds,

I'm going to a pizza pot-luck on Friday, where the guests bring the toppings and we bake them up all night.

Should be fun, and I'd like to impress. I've gotten nothing but good advice from these boards, so I thought I'd see if you have any ideas that are simultaneously fun, quirky and delicious.

Whatever I bring needs to be easy (there's going to be a boatload of us, so I don't want to put out my hostess by taking up too much prep-space/time). Anybody have anything in their bag of tricks that they're willing to share?

I'm not afraid of "out there" ideas and I'm not afraid of anchovies.


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  1. One of my favourite pizza that I eat all the time is Tuna and Onions. You still top with tomato sauce and mozza, and then you add thinnnly sliced red onion and drained canned tuna (packed in olive oil)...it is soo good, and different!
    There's a pizzeria here in town that does a Bruschetta pizza which is delicious....Basically, you just bake the dough with nothing on it...(or some oil if you'd like), and once it comes out, rub with garlic, and top with a mixture of chopped tomatoes (take out the seeds so its not too wet), olive oil, and basil. It is fresh and delicious.
    i'm not sure if you would consider this knock 'em dead, but they are really really good.
    If I think of something really out there, I will post it.

    1. Pesto pizza - use the pesto in place of tomato sauce and top liberally with parmeggiano cheese.

      Clam pizza - essentially white clam sauce on pizza. To identify the pizza, you can steam a few small clams open and place them, shell and all ontop of the pizza.

      The wifey's favorite pizza is prosciutto and arugula. Add both to a normal margarita pizza just after removing from the oven.

      1. I like making thick crust pizza w/ focaccia dough:


        You can bring it already stretched out on a cookie/half sheet pan. Bake halfway, top and then finish the rest. Recently I've done one w/ prosciutto, fig, goat cheese and caramelized onions; and one w/ fresh tomatoes, basil and fresh sliced mozarella cheese.

        4 Replies
        1. re: chowser

          I'd just like to vote for the prosciutto/fig/goat cheese pizza as most likely to knock my socks off. Yum.

          This thread has me a little depressed, though. My Superbowl (don't sue me, NFL) pizza was very blah. I just did mushrooms and red peppers and it fresh basil...somehow the flavor was lacking. Not sure if my cheese was bland or if I didn't have sufficiently flavorful toppings.

          1. re: danna

            For the record, that was the most expensive pizza I've ever made. Goat cheese $8, figs $6, prosciutto close to $20 (had a lot leftover). Caramelized onions--dirt cheap but took manual labor. It was a hit, though!

            Your superbowl pizza sounds good. Did you roast the peppers? Roasted red peppers have so much flavor. What kind of cheese did you use?

            1. re: chowser

              I think the cheese was the problem. I used both regular and fresh mozz from Whole Foods. My husband, always quotable, said "I knew I shouldn't have bought hippie cheese." Normally I adore the cheese from WF, but this stuff was out of their packaged section and just ....tasteless.

              Did not roast the peppers because of time constraints (the GAME"S ABOUT TO START!) and I had a limited number of aging button mushrooms. Having sent the husband to the store for two things: cheese and "3 kinds of mushrooms, you pick"...he forgot the mushrooms. In retrospect, it's no wonder the pizza sucked. ;-)

              Tonight, the well-aged leftover dough is going to become calzones stuffed w/ MUSHROOMS and ricotta...we'll see what happens.

          2. re: chowser

            the prosciutto pizza combo sounds terrific, chowser!

          3. Carmelized onions - everyone will love you and they are a no-brainer, make ahead and cheap to make! How many do you need? Our favorite for a long time was carmelized onions, roasted or carmelized fennel and goat cheese, add some garlic and olive oil. Add figs if you like some sweetness. In fact, fruit like roasted apple goes very well on pizza. Roast tart apple slices with no sugar until they are close to being done, and will just finish up on the pizza getting dark brown around the edges. Grilled pineapple - actually anything grilled is good. Smoked trout.

            1. One of our family's favorite pizzas started out as a way to clean out the fridge. We had some leftover ratatouille (eggplant, tomatoes, onions, & peppers), marinated artichoke hearts and leftover cooked Italian sausage. We stacked all this on the pizza, topped with some leftover Gouda, Jarslberg & Fontina with a little Romano. Woo boy, it turned out very well. You could make all these toppings in advance and bring them with you. Anchovies and sauteed mushrooms would work well with this combo as well.

              1. Greek pizza - saute onions, garlic, and oregano, add spinach, deglaze pan with juice of one lemon, spread on dough (can use phyllo too), cover with sliced mozz, top with breadcrumb covered tomatoes.

                1. I just made a pizza last night with bacon, shllots, and gorgonzola. Fry the chopped bacon till halfway finished, remove some fat, sdd thin slices of shallots, caramelize, then top crust with a little olive oil, shallot mixture, gorgonzola, and mozz if you'd like. It was fab- especially on a thin crust.

                  1. Try a "white pizza" with potato using no red sauce. Just mozz, parm, maybe a little romano, and a sprinkling of whatever herbs you may like. I use Red Bliss potatoes, sliced paper thin, and blanched for about 2 minutes. Put these on the top of the pie (just 1 layer, but cover the whole thing), drizzle with olive oil, and bake until the taters are slightly browned. You may have to finish the pie under the broiler in order to not burn the bottom. Sounded weird to my family at first, but now it's on the rota.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: grampart

                      I've never seen over here a "pizza alla cappriciosa," which is a great favorite in Rome. I've also had it in France and Germany. The topping generally consists of a tomato sauce, mozzarella, prosciutto, marinated artichoke hearts, olives and eggs. I've seen the egg added as an egg broken and baked on top. More often it is a cut up hard boiled egg. Sometimes there are also mushrooms.

                    2. We made a good one last week:
                      crust with a dash of WW flour (I use a modification of the ecipe in the Bread Bible)
                      sauce from MTOFC II (basic idea is to add some orange peel and saffron to a basic tomato sauce)
                      arugula on top of the sauce
                      goat cheese on top of that (fresh mozz would be good too)
                      drizzle of olive oil
                      grind of pepper

                      Epicurious also has a good recipe for Indian "pizza" topped with this spicy tomato-mustard green concoction that is good.

                      1. Its fun to have the pizzas with creativity as long as you have the familiar. And I think there is nothing better than a pepperoni pizza, homemade crust of course and great cheese.
                        Another favorite is garlic, red onion, and artichoke with olive with tomato and pesto and fontina, mozzarella, and provolone.

                        1. This one is AMAZING! I can't remember where I got the recipe, but it's out of sight and you can prep everything in advance:

                          Tomato sauce
                          A very little mozzarella
                          Slices red onion
                          Cooked crumbled Italian sausage (sweet or hot to your taste)
                          Sliced mushrooms
                          Sliced green peppers
                          Crumbled blue cheese (not tons, but a fair amount)

                          It's got this sweet, tangy, fresh taste that you wouldn't believe!

                          2 Replies
                            1. re: raf945

                              Oh it is.... I can almost taste it now...! :)

                          1. I used to make pizzas using a Boboli ready-made crust and they were quite good. I'd first get the oven up to temperature (around 400 degrees), then give the top of the crust a light brushing of olive oil, set it on a top rack for four minutes and then take it out and add the mixtures I had prepared beforehand. Among the ingredients I used were onions (both red and white), artichoke hearts, red and green peppers, daikon, olives, scallions and any other vegetable I happened to have on hand. I would chop everything into small pieces for ease of eating. I also used Boboli's pizza sauce and Sorrento's shredded cheese. I'd then pop it back on the top rack for six minutes and then turn it 180 degrees for the rest of the baking time. I know there are hounds out there that say everything has to be made from scratch but this way is pretty good and when time is a factor it can't be beat.

                            1. Bacon and egg pizza is an old college fave. (Egg boiled and sliced).

                              Had a spectacular pizza in sienna involving sausage and truffle. Think white truffle oil was sprinkled liberally over top. Mmmmm

                              1. Our favorite is pizza with pesto topped with sliced brie cheese and roma tomato slices. Sprinkle with kosher salt and cracked pepper. Combination of brie and pesto will knock their socks off.

                                1. Use a white alfredo sauce, sprinkle on some gently sauteed shrimp, fresh mozzarella, cherry tomato halves, and fresh basil.

                                  1. New Haven White Pizza

                                    * 1 can (10 ounces) refrigerated pizza dough
                                    * 2 tablespoons cornmeal
                                    * 1 can (10 ounces) clams, drained
                                    * 3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
                                    * 3 strips cooked bacon, crumbled
                                    * 2 tablespoons Romano cheese
                                    * 1 teaspoon dried oregano
                                    * 1/2 teaspoon TABASCO brand Pepper Sauce
                                    * Olive oil

                                    Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Prepare a 12 round pizza crust according to package directions. Dust crust with cornmeal. Distribute clams evenly over the dough, follow with garlic, bacon, Romano cheese, and oregano. Drizzle with TABASCO® Pepper Sauce and olive oil. Bake for 15 minutes or until the crust is golden brown

                                    1. this one is kind of unique...carmelized onions, marscapone cheese, and grapes on an oblong-shaped dough...taste great too! :o)


                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: soypower

                                        I recently made a great one--roasted potato, sauteed leeks, thyme, black pepper, gruyere cheese, and truffle oil.

                                        1. I made a hoisin duck pizza inspired by chow.com over the holidays, and it was delicious. Rave reviews. Use hoisin sauce instead of pizza sauce, layer on some duck breast and some sliced red onions, top with jack cheese, bake. Then garnish with fresh cilantro. Unique, and very satisfying.

                                          1. Hi Jandazza - I began replicating one of my favorite pizza-joint's signature pizza. They call it the Pesky Chicken.

                                            Pesto for the sauce, grilled chicken, good bacon pieces, slivered red onions, white cheese, and artichoke pieces. YUUMMYY!

                                            I love everyone's ideas - can't wait to try them

                                            1. I love the toppings combinations already given, but if the crust underneath has the flavor of cardboard, why bother to eat it?

                                              I would suggest that you spend the time to make a long fermented pizza crust on which to construct your magnum opus. I start 24-36 hours before with a poolish, and then ferment the resulting dough in the refrigerator to develop max flavor. Your guests will be amazed. I will post a recipe if you are interested.

                                              5 Replies
                                              1. re: Kelli2006

                                                Please post recipe, sounds great.

                                                1. re: rcspott

                                                  spinach goat cheese and olives. Just add everything over the tomoato sauce, and use less mozerella than usual

                                                2. re: Kelli2006

                                                  Yes! Please post the recipe Kelli206.

                                                  1. re: jandazza

                                                    1- 1/4 C warm(80°+/-) water
                                                    1 package or 2 Tsp active dry yeast
                                                    1/2 tsp salt
                                                    2 TBL olive oil (don't bother with EVO)
                                                    3-1/2 to 4 cups bread flour
                                                    1/4 semolina or fine cornmeal.

                                                    Mix the water, yeast together and let bloom for 3-5 minutes. Add about 2 cups of flour until you get a paste that looks like mayo. Cover and let ferment overnight on the counter-top.

                                                    In the morning add the remainder of the flour, oil, salt and cornmeal and knead until it forms a smooth ball or you can achieve a windowpane. Place in a oiled bowl and let rise until doubled on the counter-top, or fridge. The fridge will slow the rising, but the bread will develop deeper flavor. 2-3 hours on the counter or 6-8 in the fridge.

                                                    I punch down once and let ferment again while covered on the counter top for another 2 hours. This is optional.

                                                    Form the resulting dough in a pan or on parchment paper and let proof for another 1 hour while the oven/stone preheats to 450°F.

                                                    I like to par-bake for 5 minutes, Top the pizza and bake for another 10 minutes. The initial blind baking lets the crust rise w/o the weight and moisture of the toppings. It is entirely personal choice.


                                                    I like to add 2 tsp of both powdered onion and dry garlic to the initial ferment, but if you use onion and garlic salt, omit the additional salt in the recipe.

                                                    Brushing the crust edges with additional olive oil will help the color and add chew to the pizza.

                                                    This recipe can be made in both a food processor and you can also do a straight ferment. Just dump all the ingredients (proof yeast/water first, or use instant yeast) into a mixer and mix and knead. You won't have the subtle flavors from the poolish, but you will get a dough that is superior to any pizza shop.

                                                    The pizza in my avatar was made about 1 month ago.

                                                    I prefer K-A flours (sir Lancelot if you can get it, but their bread flour is very good) but any high gluten bread flour will work.

                                                  2. re: Kelli2006

                                                    I, too like to let the yeast ferment.It makes all the difference in the world.I keep mine moist for 36-48 hours before I use it.

                                                  3. One more for the already great collection,
                                                    Grilled chicken, crispy bacon, red onions, fresh mushrooms, roasted peppers all on a white sauce with lots of garlic and fresh mozzerella on top. Great combination.

                                                    1. One of my favorites is broccoli rabe, sausage and caramelized garlic. I've made it on the rare occasions when I've had leftovers, but usually start from scratch. Oh, and don't forget the Allepo pepper flakes.

                                                      1. 1. Olive oil + carmelized onions + butternut squash cubes + sage + gruyere or jarlsberg and/or parmesan

                                                        2. Tomato Sauce + Dollops of herbed ricotta cheese + Mozzarella + Romano + Parmesan + Sundried Tomatoes + Grilled Eggplant pieces + Basil -- top w/ more ricotta before serving

                                                        3. Black beans + lime grilled chicken + caramelized onions + cheddar and jack cheese -- top w/ salsa and sour cream after baking and guacamole if desired

                                                        4. Walnut pesto - wild mushrooms - fontina and mozzarella - parsley

                                                        5. Olive Oil + Ricotta + Mozzarella + Fontina + Pecorino Romano + Sundried Tomatoes + Sauteed Spinach + (Bacon)

                                                        1. Tarte Flambe!
                                                          When I make it I just mix cottage cheese with creme fraiche (plus salt pepper and a little bit of flour) instead of the fromage blanc.
                                                          The crust must be very thin though.

                                                          1. I have two unusual pizzas that I love. The first is from American Pie and has red onion, grated parmesan, pistachios, fresh rosemary, and olive oil. The second is one I had years ago and have reproduced with excellent results. It has roasted duck, leeks, radicchio, and fresh mozarella.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: maillard

                                                              wow, the 'American Pie' sounds wonderful!

                                                            2. Probably too late, but,,.
                                                              Pesto, canned artichoke hearts, feta cheese and parmesan
                                                              Extras - sun-dried tomatoes, olives, thinly sliced onions.

                                                              1. this thread is a keeper! you hounds are so inventive with these pizza recipes. thank you!

                                                                i like to mince fresh rosemary and use a tiny bit in my dough.

                                                                1. My favorite pizza consists of a sauce made with reduced balsamic vinegar, roasted garlic and honey in place of tomato sauce, a handful of baby spinach, caramelized sweet onions, smoky bacon and parmesan cheese. It's especially good with a thin whole wheat crust :)

                                                                  What did you end up bringing to the party?

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: afoodyear

                                                                    Oh my gosh.... my mouth is watering. I can't wait to try that! Thank you so much.

                                                                    Yes.... what did the OP take to the party? Any other goodies that came from that evening?