Best Vegetarian Pizza Toppings Tips

Last weekend I posted the recipe for grilled sourdough pizza dough, but got lots of inquiries about the toppings. I’ve been making vegetarian pizza for years (ok – decades) now and have wrangled the whole process down to a science.

First up; how do you make a tasty vegetarian pizza? One that has all the flavor of its more common pepperoni or sausage sibling?


  1. Start with a good crust. The dough is important in any pizza, but especially for a vegetarian pizza. I recommend making a sourdough pizza dough (find my recipe here). If you want pizza tonight and don’t have any sourdough starter handy, use any yeasted pizza dough recipe with these changes: Add up to 2 tsp of herbs/seasonings to the dough. You could use a pre-mixed pizza seasoning or make your own with basil, oregano, crushed red pepper, etc. Replace half of the all purpose flour in the recipe with whole wheat flour, semolina flour, Kamut® flour, or some combination.
  2. The red sauce should have a fresh tomato taste. I like to use crushed tomatoes cooked down a little to thicken them up, with only a bit of basil and oregano added.
  3. Now to the toppings. Always use a green. In this particular example I used purslane, but I have also used spinach leaves, arugula, or fresh parsley.
  4. Add a protein. Here I used walnuts. Most people don’t think about using nuts on pizza, but they add a gourmet touch. Cashews or hazelnuts work well too. Other vegetable proteins that could be used are hydrated tvp, crumbled tempeh, or black beans.
  5. Think crunchy. I like my pizza to have some crunch to it too! Chopped bell peppers are ideal for both crunch and added vitamins, as are zucchini slices or artichoke hearts.
  6. Add a salty or umami zing. Sliced black or green olives are excellent if you are partial to a salty flavor. Sun dried tomatoes or mushrooms will give the pizza a more satisfying umami feel. Find out more about umami here and here.
  7. Get your veggies. This is a vegetarian pizza after all. Now is the time to add all your favorite veggies that you haven’t used yet. I almost always add sliced zucchini to my pizza, because I love zucchini!  Roasted peppers and/or eggplant, fresh herbs like lemon balm or rosemary, sliced onions or leeks, steamed kale or collards, even shredded carrots or beets can turn an everyday pizza into a really special meal.
  8. Of course the crowning touch belongs to cheese. Don’t go the commercial pizza route and add tons of mozzarella hoping that the grease somehow gives your pizza flavor. Choose full flavored cheeses and use less of them. Some of my favorites are goat cheese, Feta, smoked Cheddar, and gorgonzola. Sprinkle the whole thing with shredded Asiago or Parmesan, and top with cracked black pepper.

I am the only vegetarian in the family, but the entire clan requests homemade vegetarian pizza on a pretty regular basis. No two pizzas are ever the same, but they are all are tasty and quite healthy too!
Do you have any pizza making secrets? Does your family enjoy vegetarian pizza?

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About the Author

Renee Pottle, an author and heart-healthy educator, loves to explore and write about the Mediterranean Diet. She blogs at and

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