There are so many incredible, creative pizza toppings that can easily get kids out of the plain cheese rut when you make your own pizza at home.
My kids love doing just that — because stretchy dough and messy sauce — and I love it when they make pizza, too, because dinner means hardly any effort on my part. (Well, except for clean up.) Plus, when kids make their own, they’re more likely to eat it, healthy toppings and all.
And those fun pizza topping combos? Well that’s where the magic is.
But there’s another benefit to a DIY pizza bar: It’s a fantastic opportunity to gently encourage kids to try new foods, especially of the veggie variety, and especially when you offer creative ways for kids to put them to use.
So get inspired by these ideas for creative pizza toppings, then have a special movie-night dinner in front of the TV while the kids — and, ahem, you — watch those butt-kicking turtles. I can’t think of a better way to spend a fun family night together.
DIY Pizza Toppings Bar: A few smart tips
* Be sure to set out at least a few of your kids’ favorite toppings, but also add some new, healthy ones for variety. They may not grab those sliced mushrooms on their own, but what if you point out that one — just one — would make the perfect nose on that pizza face they’re creating? It might happen.
* Don’t put out too much of any single topping the way you might for an adult gathering. There will be a lot of reaching and spilling no matter what, plus kids won’t use as much as you think. You can always refill any pizza topping if it runs low.
* Prep all of the ingredients ahead of time, especially if they require cooking, like caramelized onions or roasted tomatoes. They’ll stay good in the fridge for up to three days and save you a lot of last minute scurrying the night of your pizza party.
* If you want to have a little more control over the kids’ veggie intake, you can arrange toppings in categories; for example, put raw veggies together in a take at least two group, put meats together in a pick one group, and set everything else in the go crazy group where kids can grab as much as they want.
25 awesomely creative pizza toppings
Below is a list of our favorite creative pizza toppings and how you can combine them in sometimes unexpected ways to make super tasty pizzas.
Set out as many of of the ingredients as you like, and you can even gently nudge kids toward combinations you think they’ll love. They may surprise you!
1. pepperoni (a classic, and even better with a light drizzle of — you’ll never guess! — honey)
2. roasted sausage (try it with vodka sauce or BBQ sauce and cheddar)
3. prosciutto (especially delicious with burrata cheese)
4. bacon (great with caramelized onions and/or corn)
5. shredded leftover roasted chicken (so flavorful with BBQ sauce, red onions, and jalapeños if you like spicy)
6. sliced leftover meatballs (works well with provolone cheese)
7. sauteed ground lamb (sprinkled dough with za’atar before adding the lamb and sprinkle with feta)
8. smoked salmon (bake the pizza dough with a light brush of olive oil and a layer of thinly sliced potatoes, then top with smoked salmon and dollops of creme fraiche when it comes out)
9. very thin zucchini slices (cut them with a peeler; perfect with pesto and dollops of ricotta cheese)
10. steamed broccoli (just cover with cheese for goodness or pair with sausage, which also works well with broccolini)
11. spinach (trick: mix up baby spinach leaves with basil leaves, shhh…)
12. sautéed mushrooms (worth a shot, and great with caramelized onions and Gouda for adventurous eaters)
13. roasted tomatoes (can substitute for sauce too)
14. thinly sliced potatoes (paired with caramelized onion and ricotta is one of my favorite pies, you can add rosemary too)
15. caramelized onions (these make every pie better)
16. thinly sliced red onion (especially great with BBQ pizza)
17. thinly sliced — and seeded, if you want — fresh jalapeños (a nice way to add flavor and heat)
18. colorful bell peppers (a staple, and perfect for making smiley faces)
19. thinly sliced fennel (great with olives on a plain pie, and also with Taleggio if you’re fancy)
20. pitted black olives (my kids love olives, but even if yours don’t, these are great for decorating)
21. a fried egg (it’s not actually fried, rather you crack it on top of the pizza a few minutes before it’s done cooking; here’s a fried egg pizza how-to if you’re inspired)
22. leftover pasta (yes, seriously, and with dollops of ricotta it’s extra delicious!)
23. garlic sautéed shrimp (pair with Alfredo sauce, or sauté the shrimp with cajun seasoning and put it on the pizza along with plain tomato sauce, colorful bell peppers, shredded cheddar, and scallions)
24. salsa verde (use it as a sauce with crumbled chorizo, fresh mozzarella or queso blanco, corn, if you have it, and cilantro)
25. your favorite fruit (this is polarizing, yes, but great for a dessert pizza; use mascarpone instead of cheese or sauce like in the pizza pictured above)