In Cheese We Crust: 6 Amazing Cheese-Focused Pizza Recipes

By Tracy Morin

When pondering the impressive versatility of cheese (not to mention its gooey, melted goodness when baked on a pizza), it doesn’t come as that much of a surprise that U.S. consumers’ intake is steadily growing. According to Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, per-capita cheese consumption increased every year from 2008 to 2018, for a total of 18% growth in that decade alone, to 37.9 pounds.

Of course, cheese remains a staple in pizzerias, but most operators have gone beyond basic mozzarella, venturing from cheddar-flecked baked-potato pies to blue cheese-studded buffalo chicken varieties. And, as evidenced by the collection of cheese-laden recipes here, those iterations represent merely the tip of the iceberg. Here, we present pizzas that incorporate a variety of cheeses—soft, hard, flavored, aged—in a mishmash of ways to inspire your own kitchen experimentation.

Pizza de Justino 

Recipe and photo provided by Lisa Dahl, executive chef and owner, Dahl Restaurant Group/Pisa Lisa, Sedona, AZ

Ingredients:

  • Dough for a 12” crust 
  • 3 oz. fresh mozzarella, shredded
  • 3 oz. domestic provolone, shredded
  • 2 oz. imported prosciutto, torn 
  • 6-7 dollops fresh whole-milk ricotta
  • White truffle oil, for drizzling 
  • Handful of organic arugula, for finishing
  • 2 farm-fresh eggs (optional)

Directions:

Roll out the dough to form a 12” crust. Layer the crust with mozzarella and provolone. Add teaspoons of ricotta in dollops around the pie, then layer the prosciutto over the cheeses. If using the eggs, crack them on top of the pizza. Bake in a 750°F wood-fired oven for 4 to 5 minutes. Finish the pie with a light drizzle of white truffle oil and a handful of arugula. Makes 1 pizza.

Cauliflower Cheese Pizza 

Recipe and photo provided by Gozney

Ingredients:

  • 100g your choice of cheese (grate harder varieties) 
  • 200g crème fraîche 
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into a mix of small steaks and florets 
  • 6 tbsp. parsley, chopped 
  • 4 Neapolitan dough balls 
  • Sunflower oil
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

Combine the cheese and crème fraîche in a heatproof bowl and place over a pan of simmering water. Stirring occasionally, continue to heat until the cheese has melted, creating a semi-smooth sauce. Set to the side to cool a bit before adding it to the pizza. Toss the cauliflower florets in some sunflower oil and season generously. Preheat a pan and add the cauliflower to the hot pan. Roast, tossing occasionally, for about 4 minutes, or until well-charred and just starting to soften. Set to the side. Open the dough and top with 3 to 4 tbsp. of the cheese sauce, then generously cover with the charred cauliflower. Bake at 450°F, then sprinkle with the chopped parsley. Makes 4 pizzas.

Gyro Hero Pizza    

Recipe and photo provided by Fired Pie, Phoenix, AZ

Ingredients:

Cauliflower Crust:

  • 1 head of cauliflower stalk
  • 2 c. mozzarella, shredded
  • 4 c. Parmesan
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten

Directions:

Pulse the cauliflower in a food processor and steam it. In a bowl, combine all other ingredients and bake for 20 minutes.

Toppings:

  • 2 oz. tzatziki sauce
  • ½ c. mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tbsp. feta cheese
  • 6 strips gyro meat
  • 1/3 c. diced tomatoes
  • 1/3 c. diced cucumbers
  • 1/3 c. kalamata olive
  • ¼ c. red onion
  • 7 lines of drizzled tzatziki sauce

Directions:

After cooking the cauliflower crust, place the ingredients on the pizza in the order listed above. Bake at 425° for about 8 minutes.

Sei Cheese

Recipe and photo provided by California Milk Advisory Board

Recipe developed by Daniel Bothman, La Fiamma: Wood Fired Pizza, Bellingham, WA

Ingredients:

  • Herbed Ricotta Cheese:
  • 24 oz. whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • ½ c. Jack cheese, shredded
  • ¼ c. Italian parsley, chopped
  • 4 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. fresh garlic, chopped 
  • ½ tbsp. dried oregano
  • ½ tbsp. salt
  • ½ tbsp. red pepper flakes
  • ¾ tbsp. ground black pepper

Pizza and Toppings:

  • 6 portions prepared pizza dough, 12 oz. each
  • 4½ c. mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • ¾ c. provolone cheese, shredded
  • ¾ c. cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1½ c. crumbled blue cheese
  • 1½ c. Jack cheese, shaved

Directions:

To prepare the Herbed Ricotta Cheese, combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl, blending until thoroughly mixed. To prepare the pizza, preheat the oven to 525°F. Stretch one portion of pizza dough to 11” round. Combine the mozzarella, provolone and cheddar cheeses. Spread ½ c. of the Herbed Ricotta Cheese evenly over the dough, leaving a ¾” perimeter. Sprinkle evenly with 1 c. cheese blend, ¼ c. crumbled blue cheese and ¼ c. shaved Jack cheese. Bake 5 to 7 minutes, until the crust is well-browned and cheese is bubbly. Makes 6 pizzas.

Harvest Pizza

Recipe and photo provided by California Milk Advisory Board

Recipe developed by Giovanni Labbate, Bricks Wood Fired Pizza Café, Mount Prospect, IL

Ingredients:

  • 22 oz. prepared pizza dough
  • 1 tbsp. roasted garlic and olive oil base
  • 1 c. sautéed kale
  • 1½ c. mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 tbsp. Fontina cheese, shredded
  • ½ c. roasted butternut squash, cubed
  • ¼ c. caramelized red onions
  • 3 tbsp. pancetta, diced
  • 1 tbsp. pomegranate glaze
  • 2 tbsp. toasted sunflower seeds
  • Parmesan cheese, shaved, as needed

Directions:

Stretch the dough to a 16” circle on a lightly floured board. Spread with the roasted garlic and olive oil base, then add the sautéed kale. Sprinkle evenly with shredded mozzarella and Fontina cheeses. Top with butternut squash, caramelized red onions and pancetta. Bake at 550°F about 10 minutes, until well browned and bubbly. Remove from the oven; drizzle with pomegranate glaze and sprinkle with sunflower seeds and Parmesan cheese before serving. Makes 1 pizza.

Cheddar Apple Pizza Pie

Recipe and photo provided by California Milk Advisory Board

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz. pizza sauce
  • 1 (10”) extra-thin pizza crust (tart dough or cracker crust preferred)
  • 4 oz. shredded part-skim mozzarella
  • 3 oz. skin-on red and green apple, finely minced 
  • 2 oz. cheddar, shredded
  • 1 tsp. ground toasted cumin seeds

Directions:

Spread the pizza sauce thinly over the crust; sprinkle evenly with half of the mozzarella. Sprinkle with 1 oz. of the apples, reserving the most colorful pieces for garnish. Sprinkle the cheddar and the remaining mozzarella on top; dust with cumin. Bake at 475°F, until the crust has golden edges and a crisp bottom, and the cheese is slightly browned. Sprinkle with the remaining apples. Makes 1 pizza.  

Tracy Morin is PMQ’s senior copy editor.