Pizza Doesn’t Have to Be a Junk Food
Pizza brings to mind a crisp chewy crust, tangy red sauce, and oddles of toppings swimming in a pool of melted cheese – a comfort food indeed.
But for many who are watching their diets, pizza is relegated to the realm of a taboo item, pushed aside to the junk food category alongside potato chips and candy bars.
Can pizza be redeemed? Absolutely, and it should be!
A healthier homemade pizza is a smart choice that can provide fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. Not to mention, it it almost guaranteed to be lower in sodium (and often sugar!) than the frozen, delivery, or restaurant optoins that are so commonly available.
I offer my tried and true recipe for healthy homemade pizza, complete with low sodium sauce and a whole wheat crust. I prefer to bake mine in one of my large, trusty cast iron pans or on a pizza stone – however, a cookie sheet will do just as well – especially if you like a thinner, crispier crust. You could even try a deep dish version like the one pictured above, with some adjustments to the cook time.
And for another healthy idea, try our zucchini and caramelized onion pizza, made with a gluten-free crust!
Now, you just need to decide what your toppings will be.
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 envelope RapidRise yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
- 1 cup very warm water 120-130°F
- 2 tbsp olive or vegetable oil
- 1 10.25-ounce can tomato puree or low-sodium sauce
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 2 tsp dried Italian seasoning blend
- 2 cups grated part-skim Mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup chopped fresh vegetables (peppers, onions, mushrooms, broccoli, etc)
- fresh basil (optional garnish)
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Make the crust first. In a large bowl, combine the two types of flour and the yeast. Pour the warm water and olive oil into the flour mixture and stir to combine. If needed, add more flour to the dough to make it easier to work with. Knead the dough until it is elastic, about 5 to 7 minutes. Place back into the bowl, cover, and set aside in a warm place. Let it rise for about 15 minutes (note that it will not rise much).
- Next, prepare the sauce. Combine the tomato puree, minced garlic, and Italian seasoning.
- Lightly grease a 14-inch pizza pan (or two 12-inch pans) with olive oil. Shape the dough to fit the pan, stretching it gently. Bake for 5 minutes, or until crust is slightly crispy to the touch. This will keep your pizza from getting soggy when you put the sauce and toppings on top.
- Ladle sauce onto the center and swirl to coat, leaving a one-inch border for the crust. Sprinkle cheese and your choice of toppings on top.
- Bake for 20 minutes, or until the crust is brown and crispy. Remove from oven and let it cool in the pan for 3 minutes before slicing. Top with fresh basil if using.
*Low-fat, low-sodium meat optoins include sliced grilled chicken breast or sliced turkey
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About Lynne Jaques
Lynne is a stay-at-home mother of two boys. As a former US military officer and the spouse of an active duty US military member, Lynne enjoys traveling the world (although not the moving part!) and finding new cuisine and methods of preparing food. She also has the habit of using parenthesis way too much!
52 thoughts on “Making Healthy Homemade Pizza”
I too agree pizza can be healthy, depending on the crust and the amount of cheese. As a vegetarian I like to be generous with my toppings and I do prefer a rich tomato sauce and a deep pan base. I don’t use as much cheese, just enough to bind the toppings together
Making it from scratch can take a while, but it is worth it as it can rarely go wrong and cold pizza if there is any left is great for a snack or breakfast.
Pizza is one of my favorite meals, I try to eat a slice as many times as possible. You are correct that pizza can be a healthy option when the recipe is adjusted. Lynn, you, still suggest Mozzarella. Are their other cheeses you have tried?
Pretty much any cheese that isn’t too strong and that can melt can be use; I’m the queen of substitutions.
I looooove pizza. I can eat so much it’s ridiculous. Pizza is life! 😀
Have any of you tried homemade pizza using cauliflower as the crust? It is really delicious and at least slightly healthier. It’s not too much extra work compared to homemade dough, either. Anyway, just thought I’d mention it!
I’ve never made homemade whole wheat crust before, and this looks like a good way to start! You are also now making me want a big cast iron pan!
The recipe and the picture look so very good. I am not a pizza eater though, but I believe this is something my daughter would love to make, or have me make. But then I don’t have anything to use to make it in…..so guess she’ll have to forgo pizza a little while longer.
Any cast iron pan will work or better yet try one of these:
Lodge Pro-Logic 14-inch Cast Iron Pizza Pan
Thanks so much for a healthy version! I love pizza and will have to try making it in my cast iron pan as well. I imagine it would give it a great crust. I like making pizza at home to control costs but also tailor it to my wants, definitely not wanting sweet potato puree! lol
I will add this to my wish list! I had no idea that a cast iron pizza pan was available. Nice brown crust is in my future….Yum.
Want to know my secret to homemade pizza? NO CHEESE! Don’t knock it until you try it. You’d be surprised at how little you miss cheese when it’s not there. It really brings out the sauce and vegetable flavor. Really, give it a shot.
Sorry. I gotta have the cheese; after living in South Korea for several years and suffering through tomato sauce and (sometimes) cheese being replaced by sweet potatoe puree, I like my pizza the traditional way – American style 🙂
My lord, I’d hate that. I can live with less cheese, or even sauce substitutions but sweet potatoes? give me barbecue sauce or even Alfredo, but I’ll have to pass on sweet potato puree.
Okay, I cant imagine that one Lynne, a sweet potato puree as subtitution for cheese? !
Anyway back to the recipe, this one is great as well. Haha. Im trying to eat healthier but I keep seeing the pictures in your blog that makes me think twice, luckily this one is a healthy version of pizza!
Although I’m quite scared of using yeast ( I don’t know, I bake but can’t make any breads because of that), I am going to try this one over the weekend. I sure hope that I would remember that because its the second recipe of yours that I will try before next week starts.
This looks like it would be a fun thing to make with the little chefs. They could pick out there favorite veggies and use them to decorate the pizza before its cooked. I think that pizza can be healthy I often joke it has all the food groups. Vegetables grains dairy and meat. ^^
I’m excited about trying this recipe I think I’m going to have a pizza party this weekend.
Oooh I like this post 🙂 Pizza is one of my favorite foods. I absolutely love making pizzas in my cast iron pan. The bottom gets a bit fried and crispy…and I like spreading cheese to the edge so it gets crunchy and brown too. I’ve never tried making a whole wheat crust but I do like whole wheat bread so I’m going to give it a go.
Making pizzas at home, while not the healthiest meal, is still much better for you than ordering out from one of those fast joints. I feel better about eating it while scarfing it down, lol.
Wow, your pizza looks like pizza from Pizza Hut. Yummy! I have to admit, mine never comes out looking that good. With that said, I still love eating it because I don’t feel guilty after. That makes eating pizza a whole lot more fun 😉 Anyway, I’m definitely going have to try out your recipe. It looks sooooo good!
I like that ‘redeeming the pizza!’…awesome i must say, well ordering outdoor pizza and getting to actually see the whole process of how its made, made me throw in the towel, i just might try out my luck this time round considering i have a safety net; an awesome easy-to-do recipe!
I love veggie pizza honestly I didn’t think I would. I was wrong the first one I ever had was awesome. I will eat them every chance I get. I don’t need all the unhealthy tops anymore I have been converted. I make homemade pizzas, and I add lots of veggies. I also make my dough which is so good. So yes pizza can be a healthy junk food thank goodness.
Making homemade pizza is a great way to make it as healthy as you want it. There are so many different variations that it can accommodate most diets. Plus, it is so fun to cook with kids, family or friends. Everyone can choose their own toppings to make it their own mini pizza.
We make english muffin pizza because it is a food that has multiple functions. The english muffins are generally thought of as a breakfast food, but they make great pizzas because the bread is solid and chewy enough to hold lots of toppings, but not so hard that you can’t bite through it. What makes it really nice is that everyone can make their pizza the way they want. The kids just want pepperoni, but I like a lot of veggies on mine.
Naaah, I do NOT believe that you have a crust made mostly of whole wheat and that it looks this much golden and delicious! That would be too good to be true…!
I usually don’t have more than a third of any flour amount as whole wheat, because I don’t like the taste of health… but mostly because I find a big amount of whole wheat makes it very very hard to get the right dough. :/
I will stick to putting a lot of veggies on my pizza and telling myself that it makes it all healthy. Up to the moment I master the dough making with whole wheat, that is!
Mmm that looks good! I’ve tried the cast iron pan in the oven before, It was OK, I ended up frying the bottom on the hot plates and grilling it off in the oven, was a bit charred on the bottom. I will have to try baking it through with the oven, I have done this with omelettes and they turn out pretty good.
I love making pizza so any suggestions on how to make it healthier are always welcome in my kitchen! Like other posters, I tend to overload my pizza with veggies in a vain attempt to cancel out the unhealthiness!
You know what, I’ve been making my own pizza for years now, and I’ve consistently had problems with the bottom crust becoming soggy. I never thought of baking it a little beforehand! Thank you for that simple tip, I think my pizza’s will be much better from now on!
Doesn’t she just have the best tips? For like, everything! I think I’m already a better cook just from reading here for a little while. I love all the tricks and tips to help perfect your recipes. It makes life a lot easier when you know what to do with all those little issues.
I like the recipes and the gadgets and everything else, but I have to say that my favorite part of this blog are all the great tips, tricks, and ideas.
Oh, I feel you. I used to make homemade pizza a lot when I was younger. I wasn’t watching my weight, but I always hated how few toppings you could put on a pizza. My favorite was pepperoni, pineapple, broccoli, and black olive. I never added much cheese if I could have all the toppings I wanted. Flash forward to now when I made pizza and add one topping and more cheese than I should have in a week!
I need that pizza in my mouth yesterday, lol. I don’t think EVERYTHING needs to be healthy. A really good cheese pizza straight from the oven could be a Friday night treat for you!
pardon me, but i love my junk foods, pizza most of all, hehe!! although i’m not supposed to eat anything with wheat (it’s not in the medical literature, but there was a book i read once that ‘wheat’ is not good for those with adenomyosis or endometriosis), but not having pizza is like a death sentence (it’s an exaggeration, of course! but you get the picture of how much i love pizzas, hehe!) so, i could truly enjoy this! (true, my symptoms are worse when i disobey, but drat pizzas like this is sometimes well worth the pain!)
I’ve been making my own pizza for years. I really have to work on my crust though. I was attempting to make a healthier version of stuffed pizza by supplementing the majourity of cheese for veggies but my homemade crust does not stand up to the weight. Suggestions?
I have a daughter who would live on pizza alone, if I would let her. I will definitely be trying this. I just won’t mention the word “healthy.” lol
This sounds like a great recipe. I never thought of using cast iron skillets for pizza, but that could work. I recently bought a pizza pan though, so I’ll probably give that a try as well.
I’d like to try this recipe out once I get a new pizza pan. I grew up eating homemade pizza, and frozen and delivery just aren’t the same. Lynne, do you have any idea whether rye flour would work in place of the wheat? I can make do with the wheat if i have to, but rye would be my preference. I can almost smell and taste this already, yum!
I don’t feel that replacing a little more than half of the flour with wheat flour is going to make the pizza healthier. To me, a healthier pizza would have added garlic for circulation, apple cider vinegar and a bit of mustard for digestion and especially some curry for good flavor. All the wheat does is add calories. The dough can be made with baking powder and a little baking soda as well and left to rise for 3-4 hours. Any regular sized pizza only needs one cup of flour.
This is a similar recipe to one I use (also in my cast iron pan). The difference is the ratio of the flours and what I like to do is apply a thin layer of butter on the dough – roll it flat, apply butter, tri-fold like a wallet then let it rise for another 30 minutes. Then I put it in the pan and the butter slowly melts as the dough cooks and creates a crispy, buttery (but overwhelming!) crust.
I like that your recipe doesn’t require too much time. But with the whole wheat and not rising much, is the dough a bit tough at all? I had problems using whole wheat flour in a recipe and it got very hard when it cooked.
This is excellent!
I am thinking of replacing the regular flour with some homemade oat flour or almond flour, so that I can get more fiber in and reduce the carbs but I will basically keep everything else the same. If you can share some more low carb recipes that would be greatly appreciated!
Thanks for the healthy recipe! I will report back once I give it a try 🙂
Great recipe. It immediately got my attention that you can make pizza healthy. I like making thing from scratch at home. All I need to do is get a good cast iron skillet.
I really love pizza. I have reverted to homemade pizza these days because the fast food places just aren’t making it the way I like anymore. So since I’m making my own I might as well make it healthy.
I make pizza every once in a while when I have company over. A couple tips I use to keep it healthy is to use whole wheat flour, keep the crust thin, minimal cheese and load it up with veggies. It still has the same great taste and satisfies my craving but isn’t nearly as bad for you.
I would probably start out with buying my own pizza crust before I adventure to making from scratch. The last time I made one was topped with loads of chicken when I was on a field trip years ago in school. I do agree that it doesn’t have to be ” junk food” if you put healthy ingredients in it. I once had a couple of slices topped with spinach and it was awesome.
I have a pizza stone..that I am in love with. It is perfect and ceramic. My girls and I make pizza all the time. Cheaper than ordering, better than store bought, and we know who made it. We make pizzas on Saturday family nights for a fun tasty activity/treat. I generally use store bought crust, however I will try and make this crust seems a little more healthier.
This sounds real nice, Lynne… and I can *so* see it as a family activity, too… like for Saturday nights when we try to do something fun with our dinner. Creating a “custom pizza” would definitely qualify. 🙂
I’ve enjoyed making homemade pizzas for a while now… our favorite so far seems to be BBQ Chicken .. so much better and healthier than that flavor from any of the pizzerias, local or national chains.
I love making homemade pizza as a healthy alternative to the takeout variety! When you make it yourself it’s so much easier to control the amount of calorie dense toppings like cheese and load up on veggies instead 🙂 My favorite combination is a little bit of marinara sauce, halved cherry tomatoes, a few bocconcinis, basil leaves, and a quarter cup or so of mozzarella sprinkled on top. It’s so yummy and flavorful but surprisingly low calorie! With a side salad it makes a great weeknight dinner, especially if you’ve got some pizza dough in the freezer ready to go.
I love this! Pizza is not really an unhealthy meal if you just don’t decide to put all the things that have the highest calories on top of it. I’ve noticed that homemade pizza can be sometimes even better and a cheaper option than the one that you order to be delivered to your home. You don’t have to get that pizza-stone, you can just do it in an oven. You don’t need to make your pizza to be round, it can be in a shape of an oven tray!
Absolutely genius! I have tried the box mixes where you make the dough and it has never worked out for me. A cast iron pan would be about the perfect size pizza for our family. I love the crust to be soft and doughy, yummm! I would love to learn a healthy alternative to the tomato sauce pizza, we love the new “white pizza”.
I adore pizza, it’s one of my favourite foods, and I probably eat it a bit too often, so anything that can be done to mitigate the impact of pizza-eating is good in my opinion. This is a great recipe and I will definitely be trying it out.
That sounds delicious. Pizza is my major downfall when it comes to cravings, and it would benefit me to have a healthier alternative and still be able to indulge. I’ll definitely have to give this recipe a try. Thank you!
Pizza is one of my biggest weaknesses so anything that can be done to mitigate the calorie load is very welcome. This recipe looks great, I’d probably add some jalapenos for a little heat!
As a health freak, I have always loved pizza but I will not eat that junk that they sell in the stores. So thank you for sharing because I can now figure out what ingredients I can leave out or add in order to get a great healthy pizza.
Honestly, I make a lot of pizza at home, but rarely order it from take-out joints or popular pizzerias because I vastly prefer my homemade version. I make the crust from scratch usually, but sometimes use the easy “just add water” Jiffy brand pizza crust mix. Usually, I don’t ever buy specifically toppings for pizza at the grocery store, we just use whatever we have on hand, even leftovers or whatever veggies are in the crisper. It’s a wonderful meal that gets eaten quickly and no one ever gets tired of!
Making food at home has always been one of the best things ever, it’s an opportunity to learn something new and the best part is that you can adapt it to your tastes and preferences. I’ve made several of these and let me tell you that I am really good at it, I’ve also thought about selling pizza in my university, but that would take most of my time, however, this recipe is great, thank you for sharing!
That’s a good recipe, too bad we don’t have that brand of yeast here in Romania because the local brands are pretty poor, I have to go to the supermarket to actually get something decent. Anyway, pizza at home has always been better in my eyes and also much healthier.
It looks so cool in the cast iron pan! I’ve never thought of that to be honest but it’s so intriguing I must try it next time insted of the stone!
what is the sodium content of this recipe ?
Thanks for your question, Margaret. In comparison to frozen or takeout pizza, this version contains less sodium since the crust is made from scratch, and using your own choice of sauce (or a homemade version) also allows for more control over the total sodium content.
This recipe was first published in 2014, and it’s awaiting an update to be published in our current format to include nutritional information.