5 reasons to choose cheese-free pizza + 27 dairy-free topping combinations
Europeans have long understood the wonder of pizza without cheese made with fresh and tasty ingredients. But in North America, deep pizzas loaded with piles of stringy cheese are more than the norm, they’re practically the rule. Nevertheless, as awareness of food allergies, intolerances and health benefits emerges…and the rising cost of food weighs on household budgets…the potential of pizza without cheese is finally receiving the attention that he deserves.
5 reasons to choose a pizza without cheese
It’s time to try the healthier, lighter, cheaper and tastier side of pizza! Here are several reasons to help you convince yourself, a friend or family member that pizza without cheese is not a sacrifice.
It contains less fat, calories and salt
Dumping that layer of cheese will dramatically slice the fat and calories from your pie without compromising flavor (read reason #5). Mozzarella is one of the thinnest cheeses, but it still has 5-6 grams of fat, 80 calories, and 240 milligrams of sodium per ounce (vegan varieties are similar!). And let’s face it, who only eats an ounce of cheese (about a slice of cheese) while helping themselves to pizza?
Pizza without cheese is much cheaper
Cheese prices were ride at a rapid pace for decades, but this year they are going exponentially. In just one day, on January 5, 2022, the forecast price of raw materials per pound of cheese jumped almost 11%. The economists of both we and Europe say this means that cheese and other dairy products will increase significantly this year. Forget the cheese and you’ll cut your rising grocery bill a bit.
Dairy-free cheese alternatives can be questionable
Let’s face it, mimicking dairy cheese is hard and no brand has completely nailed it. Some are still quite good, while others… well, I don’t like to speak ill of anyone’s efforts. But they can be expensive, especially if you have to try ten different brands to find the one you like. With a pizza without cheese, there is no problem. You top the pizza with foods you already know you like.
Everyone can enjoy it
I love being able to introduce my friends and family to foods that meet everyone’s unique dietary needs. Mom is on a low-fat diet…pizza without cheese. Dad has lactose intolerance… pizza without cheese. A friend has multiple food allergies… pizza without cheese. I crave a light but fulfilling plant-based meal… pizza without cheese. Really, it’s practically a single meal. You can even choose a dairy-free and gluten-free crust, if needed.
You can really taste the toppings
Did you know pepperoni has the same umami as cheese? I’ve served a lot of people pepperoni pizza without cheese, and every time they swear there’s cheese on the pizza. A friend was convinced that I was lying! Layer the pepperoni generously and believe me, you’ll be deliciously blown away too.
But beyond the pepperoni, my taste buds opened up to a whole new range of flavor options when I removed the cheese. You can order pesto pizza, Thai pizza, whatever when it’s covered in cheese. Cheese tends to dominate both taste and texture. But skip the cheese, and suddenly you’re tasting the sauces and toppings in all their glory.
27 Cheese and Dairy Free Pizza Topping Combination Ideas
Here are some of my favorites, recipes from other cookbook authors, and beloved no-cheese pizza combos from our friends at Deliciously dairy-free group. I hope they will inspire you for your homemade pizzas, and when you order pizza without cheese at the restaurant.
Point: I often use extra sauce to prevent the pizza crust from being too dry. Cheese tends to seal in moisture, so it’s important to add some extra moisture when making pizza without cheese.
Sausage, spinach, olives and dried tomatoes – This has a Mediterranean pizzeria vibe. We mix the olives, between black, green and kalamata for different flavors.
Supreme – This one was shared by Julie, and is my husband’s favourite. Add more sauce and pile on the pepperoni, ham, bacon, green peppers, black olives and mushrooms. He likes sausages and sometimes spinach. Katie recommends the arugula.
Mushroom pesto – This is a personal favourite, of which I have a recipe in my cookbook Eating dairy-free. Use dairy-free pesto as a base and top with sliced cremini or baby bella mushrooms. Optional toppings include pine nuts, sliced cooked chicken breast, sliced roasted red peppers, chopped tomatoes and crushed red pepper.
Ham & Pineapple – Ashley shared, “Love the Hawaiian style! The pineapple gives the pizza a really good flavor so you don’t miss the cheese flavor too much. Ham and mushrooms are also a favorite. Kathy adds bacon.
hawaiian supreme – Jojo starts with a generous base of ham, then tops it with pineapple, olives, mushrooms and tomatoes.
Classic Pepperoni – As mentioned, pepperoni alone ready umami pizza. But we usually add sliced olives, oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, and sometimes mushrooms.
white pizza – Classic white pizza doesn’t need cheese when you have a savory taste dairy free alfredo. In the pizza section of Go dairy free (yes, there’s a whole chapter on pizza!), I have a white garlic pizza recipe that is cheese-lover-approved. I like to top it with spinach, mushrooms, and chicken, but sometimes we add crushed red pepper, chopped bacon, or sun-dried tomatoes.
Garlic chicken – Alexis uses a garlic olive oil base instead of red sauce and tops it with chicken, spinach, garlic and onion.
Daisy – The classic Italian pizza is tomato and basil. You can also add oregano or sun-dried tomatoes for a little something extra.
Thai Peanut – Use Thai peanut sauce instead of pizza sauce and top with chicken, bean sprouts, grated carrots and cilantro.
Roasted vegetable – This is my pizza impersonator from Amy. Tomatoes, eggplants and other vegetables are roasted and then pulsed to make both the sauce and the garnish. This is delicious! I have the full recipe Go dairy free.
Mediterranean – Jennifer cleverly uses hummus instead of cheese! She tops her pizza with basil, spinach, mushrooms, peppers, onions, pineapple, tomatoes, artichokes and “really all the vegetables.”
Heirloom tomato and olive – This pizza is a great option during the height of tomato season. the the recipe is here, and uses olive tapenade instead of tomato sauce.
Puttanesca style – This is another creative favorite rom Food matters. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet. Add 4 crushed garlic cloves and sauté for a few minutes. Add 2 cans (14 ounces) plum tomatoes, coarsely crushed, 2 teaspoons dried rosemary (or 2 tablespoons fresh), about a dozen sliced stuffed green olives and 6 finely chopped large anchovies (fits 6 slices of salami, thinly sliced or chopped). Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper, if necessary. Once thick, spread over your pizza base and sprinkle with a dozen or more sliced stuffed green olives.
Thai curry – Forget pizza sauce and use red curry sauce instead. We have instructions for Shrimp curry pizza.
African – This Superfood Pizza use harissa sauce instead of pizza sauce.
meat lovers – Jan stacks the chicken, ham, bacon, salami, pepperoni, ground beef and sausage. Michele makes a similar pizza, but adds banana peppers and serves it with herbal Hidden Valley Ranch.
Artichoke, Tomato, Pesto – Why only have one sauce? This recipe layers of tomato sauce, pesto and artichoke hearts, and offers other topping options.
Bacon, Pineapple and Onion – Michelle says this one may sound weird, but she loves it. Her husband is ok if she omits the pineapple and adds pepperoni and green pepper.
Honey Garlic Chicken – said Kerri Honey Garlic Chicken with green pepper, and pineapple is best on pizza without cheese.
Caramelized Onions & Sardines – It’s definitely unique, but the people of Food matters swear by it. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet and add 8 finely chopped medium onions. Cook covered for 5 minutes, then covered for 25 to 30 minutes, until the onions are lightly caramelized. Scatter the onions over your pizza base. Drain 6 sardines in olive oil, crush them carefully and distribute them over the onions. If desired, squeeze the juice of a lemon over the pizza, sprinkle with salt and lots of black pepper, and bake!
Bacon & Caramelized Onions – If sardines are too weird for you, Rachael says this is her favorite non-cheese pizza topping combo.
Pineapple, Grilled Red Peppers, Banana Peppers – I always try to wrap my taste buds around this very unique idea, but Michelle says it’s delicious.
BBQ Chicken – Tori uses barbecue sauce instead of tomato sauce on her dairy-free cheese pizza. She garnishes it with grilled chicken, banana peppers and tomatoes. We love our BBQ Chicken Pizza with sliced olives, tomatoes and spinach. Candice tops hers with bacon and onions, while Katie recommends fried onions.
garlic marinara – Courtney keeps it simple with thick marinara sauce and roasted garlic, sometimes with mushrooms.
Californian – Debbie tops her cheeseless pizza with seasoned chicken, pepperoni, broccoli, onion, garlic, and yellow squash or zucchini, sautéed in olive oil and seasonings.
Bacon & Mushroom – Kelley says this simple combination is great, but always with extra marinara sauce and sometimes garlic.
More unique dairy-free toppings not mentioned above
- Vegetable Beet “Pepperoni” (really, it’s delicious!)
- “Sausage” with walnuts (another healthy meatless option)
- Shelled hemp seeds (they add a delicious pop!)
- Roasted garlic (whole or crushed and spread over the dough)
- Broccoli florets (Brandi puts this on her supreme pizza)
- Prosciutto (refined cousin of bacon)