I didn’t start out as some formally trained chef guy. I brewed beer for a living until I was almost 30. Sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? While I was working at a brewery outside Mito, Japan, I happened to eat the best pizza of my life. Best pizza—in Japan? Crazy, right? After that trip, I knew that I wanted to concentrate on pizza and make it in my own highly personal way. My methods are old-school: Use the highest quality ingredients, make almost everything from scratch, and take the time to do it right. You can make the same great pizza that I make at the restaurant in your home, using your regular oven. Practice—and, okay, a few straightforward guidelines—makes pizza.–Joe Beddia

A rectangular pepperoni pan pizza on a rimmed baking sheet.

Pepperoni Pan Pizza

5 / 6 votes
This pepperoni pan pizza is made with a simple yet superlative from-scratch tomato sauce, two types of mozzarella, Parmesan cheese, pepperoni, and either store-bought or homemade dough. Lavished with everyone’s favorite topping and three types of cheese, this thick-crusted beauty means you can delete your closest pizza delivery place from your contacts and forget you ever craved anything else.
David Leite
CourseMains
CuisineItalian
Servings4 servings
Calories822 kcal
Prep Time25 minutes
Cook Time12 minutes
Total Time3 hours 30 minutes

Ingredients 

For the tomato sauce

  • One (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes or whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand or passed through a food mill
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt, or less to taste
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

For the pepperoni pizza

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1 for drizzling
  • One (1-pound) ball storebought or homemade pizza dough
  • 3/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 3 ounces fresh mozzarella*, pinched into small chunks
  • 2 cups shredded low-moisture mozzarella*
  • 3 1/2 ounces sliced pepperoni
  • Pinch or two dried oregano
  • 3 tablespoons grated hard cheese, such as Parmesan or pecorino Romano

Instructions 

Make the tomato sauce

  • In a bowl, combine the tomatoes, garlic, salt, and oil and mix thoroughly. You’re done. That’s your tomato sauce.
  • Let the tomato sauce sit in the refrigerator to let the flavors meld for at least a few hours and up to 1 week.

Make the pizza

  • Preheat the oven to 500°F (260°C) or 550°F (285°C). Adjust the oven rack to the middle position.
  • Slick a rimmed baking sheet or a large cast-iron skillet or a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with 2 tablespoons oil. If desired, line it with a sheet of parchment paper.

    ☞ TESTER TIP: Using parchment paper means there’s no soaking and scrubbing molten cheese and burnt-on tomato sauce from your skillet or pan after dinner. Simply crumple and toss the parchment and you’re done.

  • Carefully stretch your dough to fit your sheet, skillet, or dish.
  • Spread the tomato sauce over the dough and top with both mozzarellas. Arrange the pepperoni on top.
  • Bake until the crust turns golden brown and the cheese melts, 11 to 12 minutes.
  • Finish with a drizzle of olive oil, the oregano, and the grated hard cheese. Slide onto a cutting board, slice, and devour.

Notes

*What’s the difference between fresh and low-moisture mozzarella?

You might think it’s overkill to have 3 different kinds of cheese on a pizza (but if you’re like us, the only thing better than cheese is more cheese) but let us explain why. Fresh mozzarella (the kind in brine) is lovely on a pizza because it melts into creamy, milky-fresh pools. However, it does need to be dried a little beforehand, otherwise, you’ll end up with soggy spots. Tear it into smaller pieces and let it rest on paper towels for at least 15 minutes. Low-moisture mozzarella, on the other hand, is the other end of the spectrum. It’s drier and gives you that melted, stretchy cheesiness. You want a better quality low-moisture cheese because the cheaper stuff gets pretty rubbery.
Pizza Camp Cookbook

Adapted From

Pizza Camp

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Nutrition

Serving: 1 portionCalories: 822 kcalCarbohydrates: 67 gProtein: 35 gFat: 47 gSaturated Fat: 17 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 90 mgSodium: 2922 mgFiber: 5 gSugar: 15 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2017 Joe Beddia. Photo © 2017 Randy Harris. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Sometimes the crust makes the pizza, but for this pepperoni pan pizza, the sauce makes it. The key is good tomatoes. Because the sauce isn’t cooked until it’s on the pizza, good tomatoes are key. And they deliver a rich freshness that really sets it apart. And, of course, the hint of garlic and olive oil doesn’t hurt a bit!

Since I had a ball of homemade pizza dough already in the freezer, this recipe was a breeze, but even if you don’t, it’s pretty simple, particularly since you don’t have to cook the sauce for hours. The key is to get the crust nice and thin so when it goes in the hot oven, it crisps up nicely.

The bite of the pepperoni is a perfect offset to the three cheeses. The lessons? You never have to use store-bought pizza sauce again. And a delicious pizza dinner doesn’t have to take forever.

Our family loves homemade pizza so we were excited to try this pepperoni pan pizza. I especially loved the method for making the sauce. I made a few tweaks to the proportions, but I think this is an easy recipe for homemade pizza.

I have my own pizza dough recipe, so I didn’t use the one in the link.

Let me begin by saying, I ADORE pizza. I have made all types of doughs and sauces and baked them every imaginable way. I have cooked them atop the stove in cast iron, in a wood-fired oven, even a microwave. I have used nearly every topping, exotic and ordinary. I have angled my compulsion toward VERY elaborate sauces. My findings are very straightforward. Simple is ALWAYS best.

This pepperoni pan pizza, at first glance, is nothing out of the ordinary, which is precisely what makes it a winner. The sauce, being just 3 ingredients and a pinch of salt, is simple perfection. I have used it with several crusts this past week including a pretzel crust from this pretzel roll recipe found on Leite’s and My go-to pizza dough recipe.

This simple, earthy pizza will be a staple in your repertoire till the end of time.

This pepperoni pan pizza has lots of flavor for a family-friendly meal that’s simple to prepare with store-bought ingredients. We used store-bought dough and Muir Glen crushed tomatoes.

I was a bit surprised about the recommendation for crushed OR whole canned tomatoes as the crushed tomatoes here come in a thick puree while whole tomatoes come in juice. So whole should give you a fresher taste but perhaps too much liquid. I may try again with whole tomatoes to see if there’s a big difference.

I used an 11-inch (bottom measurement) cast iron pan. No clean-up except for a few charred bits of parchment to throw away. Pizza slipped right off of parchment onto a cutting board. Shockingly easy.

Loved the combination of fresh and shredded mozzarella although the fresh mozzarella did give off a bit of liquid. I tilted the pan 45 degrees at about 7 minutes and the liquid came off the side of the dough and sizzled away. Both of my kids (one of whom eats almost nothing) really liked this pizza, so much so that I went ahead and made a second one as soon as we finished the first. We added dried oregano and finely grated Italian pecorino. I put Aleppo pepper on mine, no red pepper for the kids.

The recipe refers to a cast-iron skillet, so I used that. I think the heat retention of thick cast iron helps crisp the bottom crust, so I would recommend that. Since canned tomatoes make enough sauce for 4 pizzas, you could easily make 4 pizzas for a bigger crowd with just 10 minutes to wait between each pizza being done unless you had more pans.

We tend to eat what some refer to as California-style pizzas. Some of our favorite pizzas that we order are a “white pie” with feta cheese and slices of tomato and zucchini, a pesto pie with chevre, seasonal pears, prosciutto, and herbs, and a pizza with sun-dried tomatoes, caramelized onions, olives, and mozzarella. All of them have a thin, crispy, crust. Not at all like this particular pizza. What surprised me was just how much we liked it.

I had not had a piece of pepperoni pizza for umpteen years or so, but after tasting this pizza, I’ll be having one again very soon.

This is a very easy pizza to make. I used a 1-pound bag of pizza dough from Trader Joe’s. This is a very nice alternative to making your own dough. You do have to let the dough sit for about 15 to 20 minutes at room temperature so that the dough doesn’t spring back and make it difficult to fill the pan, but you can let the dough sit while you are making the pizza sauce.

I loved this pizza sauce, and this is coming from someone who always makes her own pizza sauce. (And I have always thought that my own pizza sauce was about as good as it gets.) This sauce is very easy to make, and if you use very good tomatoes, you’re rewarded with a fabulous sauce. I had enough pizza sauce left to make 3 containers of sauce to vacuum seal and freeze so that I just have to defrost 1 to make my next pizza.

My pizza didn’t look like the photograph, because I used our mondo, amazingly HUGE (14-inch) cast iron pan. Step 1. of the recipe instructs you to oil your cast-iron pan. The cast iron was the way to go. The crust turned out brown and crisp.

This pizza was so large that it could have fed 6 people. We had a lovely salad with it for 2 nights and then enjoyed the rest at lunch the last day. I also found that the pizza reheated beautifully. I have a great toaster oven that has a pizza setting. The crust got extra crispy, and the ingredients melded together and melted into each other even more than they had originally. Total yum!




About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.


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10 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This is a terrific recipe! I made it this week and substituted Italian sausage for the pepperoni, along with sauteed mushrooms. It can be assembled very quickly (I used frozen pizza dough from Whole Foods), and there will be enough sauce for three more pizzas. It was just as good the next day, reheated, for lunch. I know it will become a regular on the pizza night menu in this house.

    1. Lovely to hear you find this to be as spectacular as we do, Donna! Greatly appreciate you taking the time to share your tweaks and tips!

  2. 5 stars
    Definitely going to try this with homemade crust. The beloved pizza parlor of my youth – Almont Pizza House in Mattapan, MA (neighborhood of Boston) – always grated hard cheese over their pizzas when they came out of the oven – that’s what made them so spectacular. To hint at how long ago that was, a plain cheese pizza was $.90, a salami pizza (julienned Genoa salami) was $1.10.