This meatball pizza, made with tomato sauce, mozzarella, and the surprise element of beef and sausage meatballs piled atop pizza dough, takes homemade pizza to a whole new and indulgent level.
The traditional Italian approach to pizza is one of restraint. This meatball pizza recipe upends that approach. Not a lot else to say about this indulgence. Sorta gotta experience it.–David Leite
Why our testers loved this
Our testers were unanimous in their love for this unconventional meatball pizza. They loved the crispy, chewy semolina pizza crust, the simplicity of the pizza sauce, and the tender beef and sausage meatballs.
Sofia Reino summed it up best with her comment, “Every single person in this house absolutely loved this meatball pizza. The meatballs were amazingly tasty and perfect on the pizza, but I must say, they were just as good on their own. The tomato sauce was such a hit that everyone asked me to start using this one instead of the typical one I use.”
Notes on ingredients
- Pizza dough–This recipe provides a fantastic semolina dough recipe, but you can substitute your favorite store-bought or homemade pizza dough here.
- Pizza sauce–Our testers loved the simple pizza sauce recipe that’s included here, but if you want to substitute another sauce, either homemade or store-bought, that is completely fine.
- Mozzarella cheese–For best results, use the best-quality low-moisture pizza mozzarella you can find, and shred it yourself. Pre-shredded cheese doesn’t melt well.
How to make this recipe
- Make the meatballs. Combine moistened bread with the remaining meatball ingredients and mix well. Shape into 10 balls and chill for at least 2 hours.
- Cook the meatballs. Heat a pizza stone in a 450°F oven for 1 hour. Cook the meatballs on a baking sheet on the pizza stone until golden brown. Cool and cut in half.
- Shape the pizza dough into 2 circles. Sauté the onion in oil. Top the pizza dough with sauce, onions, meatball halves, and mozzarella.
- Bake the pizzas on the pizza stone until golden. Let stand for 2 minutes, then top with Parmigiano-Reggiano before slicing and serving.
Can I make this without a pizza stone?
No pizza stone? No problem. When baking the meatballs, omit it.
When baking your pizza, flip your largest cast-iron skillet upside down or, worst-case scenario, use a baking sheet.
Can I make this in advance?
Several components of the pizza can be prepared ahead of time. The pizza dough can be prepared and refrigerated up to 1 day in advance or frozen for up to 2 months, and the meatballs can be shaped and chilled 1 day in advance. The pizza sauce can be prepared up to 1 week in advance.
- For evenly browned meatballs, turn them halfway through baking.
- If you like to meal-prep, double the meatball recipe and use the second batch for meatball subs, meatball lasagna, or smother them in marinara sauce and plop them on top of spaghetti.
More great pizza recipes
☞ If you make this recipe, or any dish on LC, consider leaving a review, a star rating, and your best photo in the comments below. I love hearing from you.–David
- Pizza stone (or large cast-iron skillet turned upside down)
For the meatballs
- 1 large slice stale white bread crust removed
- 1/3 cup warm water
- 4 ounces ground veal or beef very cold
- 3 ounces sweet or hot Italian sausage very cold, casing removed
- 1 small garlic clove minced
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 large egg white lightly beaten
- 2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano finely grated
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the meatball pizza
- 1 tablespoon olive oil plus more for shaping and brushing
- 1 ball Semolina Pizza Dough (or substitute your fave dough from a local Italian store) at room temperature
- 1 small yellow onion diced
- 3/4 cup Simple Pizza Sauce
- 4 ounces whole-milk, low-moisture mozzarella cheese shredded
Make the meatballs
- In a bowl, combine the bread and water. Let stand, turning the bread occasionally to thoroughly moisten it, for 10 minutes.
- Squeeze the bread gently to remove most of the water. Discard the water. Tear the bread into 1-inch chunks and toss them into a large bowl.
- Add the veal or beef, sausage, garlic, parsley, egg white, half of the Parmigiano-Reggiano, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste and mix thoroughly with moistened hands.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Form the meat mixture into 10 balls. Place the meatballs on the baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
- Place a pizza stone on a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 450°F (232°C). Let the pizza stone heat for 45 to 60 minutes.
- Remove the plastic wrap from the meatballs and place the baking sheet directly on the pizza stone. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Let the meatballs cool slightly and then cut each one in half.
Make the meatball pizza
- Place a large sheet of parchment paper on a pizza peel or baking sheet turned upside down and place the ball of dough in the center. Coat your fingers with oil and press the dough from the center outward into a 12-inch round with a slightly raised edge. (If the dough springs back when you try to shape it, cover it with a clean kitchen towel and let it rest for a few minutes, then try again.) Patience is the key here, as the thinner the dough is, the crisper the crust will be. Cover the finished dough round with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a skillet over medium heat, warm the 1 tablespoon oil. Add the onion, season lightly with salt, and cook until softened, about 8 minutes.
- Lightly brush the raised edge of the dough with olive oil. Spread the sauce over the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border uncovered. Scatter the onion over the sauce. Arrange the halved meatballs on top. Sprinkle with the mozzarella and season to taste with pepper.
- Carefully slide the pizza-topped parchment paper from the peel or baking sheet onto the hot pizza stone (or overturned cast-iron skillet). Bake until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbling, 9 to 12 minutes.
- Using the pizza peel or baking sheet, remove the pizza from the oven and transfer it to a cutting board. Let stand for 2 minutes, sprinkle with the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano, and then slice and serve.
- Make-ahead–The meatballs can be shaped and chilled 1 day in advance, the pizza dough can be prepared and refrigerated 1 day in advance or frozen for up to 2 months. The pizza sauce can be prepared up to 1 week ahead of time.
- Browning the meatballs–For evenly browned meatballs, turn them halfway through baking.
- Meal-prep tips–If you like to meal-prep, double the meatball recipe and use the second batch for meatball subs, meatball lasagna, or smother them in marinara sauce and plop them on top of spaghetti
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We’d love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This is a fun and very delicious pizza to make. The recipe works great and produces a really cool-looking pizza. Using a blend of hot Italian sausage and ground beef made the meatballs really sing.
The simple tomato sauce is truly simple to make and comes out silky but not overpowering in flavor. I did raise an eyebrow at soaking a slice of bread in water, wringing it out, and adding it to the meatball mixture, but there were no soggy clumps of bread in the finished meatballs. We purchased dough from our favorite pizzeria to make things go a bit quicker. The pizza came off without a hitch.
This could become a new Friday evening tradition around my house.
All of the different parts of this meatball pizza were easy to make and created a very good finished product. The semolina dough was very nice, I loved the simple sauce, and the meatballs were also very good.
I was very impressed with baking the meatballs on a sheet pan placed on top of the pizza stone that had been in a very hot oven for an hour. The bottoms of the meatballs were wonderfully caramelized, yielding great flavor. Next time I’ll turn the meatballs halfway through the baking, so that they’re browned on the other side also.
I really liked the idea of using the parchment paper to get the pizza on and off of the pizza stone. We have had many a pizza lose its toppings, as well as its shape, while trying to get those pizzas on and off of the peel.
All in all, a very nice recipe, which also gave us techniques that we’ll use for other dishes.
This was a very delicious pizza and the crust was very tasty and crisp because of the semolina. The meatballs were very tender, and I loved the tomato sauce and the amount of cheese. I found it very meaty, but indeed it is a meatball pizza. The next time I might add some veggies and reduce the meat.
The pizza was easy to assemble as most of the steps could be done ahead of time.
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Every single person in this house absolutely loved this meatball pizza. The meatballs were amazingly tasty and perfect on the pizza, but I must say, they were just as good on their own. The tomato sauce was such a hit that everyone asked me to start using this one instead of the typical one I use.
The crust is much lighter than the usual pizza dough but is tasty and very crisp.
This is definitely a recipe to make often as it was 100% approved by both adults and children.