The jury is still out on whether we can classify mini pizzas as a snack or a meal, but no matter what they are, they sure do hit the spot.
You might assume that mini pizzas are easy to make at home because they're much smaller than a standard takeout pie. Plus, you don't have to worry about tossing your dough, stretching it thinly so it doesn't tear, and storing your awkwardly-sized leftovers in your already-cramped fridge. But mini pizzas open the door for complications of their own, including finding a suitably sturdy base to support your toppings, deciding how much sauce and cheese to add, and most importantly, discovering the best way to give your mini pizzas pizzazz.
As mini pizza enthusiasts, we've done the heavy lifting to provide you with the best tips, tricks, and secrets to hack this tiny yet delicious food. Here are some of our recommendations for making tasty and structurally sound mini pizzas at home.
Use A Pre-Made Pizza Base For The Easiest Recipe
The fact that you can go with a traditional pizza base for your mini pies or opt for something a little more sophisticated is both a blessing and a curse. We love the familiar taste of a Neapolitan pie, complete with its chewy, wood-fired crust. But the litany of other base options opens up the opportunity for experimenting with unconventional ingredients and finding something truly spectacular.
If you consider yourself a pizza purist, you'll want to use pizza dough as the base for your mini pies. Luckily, brands like Pillsbury make mini pizza crusts that allow you to pop open the can, unfurl the small rounds of pizza, top them with your favorite options, and bake. It's easy, convenient, and rather inexpensive. But you can also just use plain, store-bought pizza dough that's been stretched out and sliced with a biscuit cutter into your desired shapes. The trick to getting the most pies from your pizza dough with this method is to first allow the refrigerated dough to come up to room temperature before trying to handle it. This will give you the best stretch and make for easy handling.
Swap Canned Biscuit Dough For The Crust
If you don't have access to pre-made pizza dough rounds, canned biscuits will give you an easy option for quick mini pizzas. The dough is flaky, easy to separate from the can, and has all of the qualities of a good pizza dough -- besides actually being made of pizza dough. The trick to getting the most pizza-like experience from flaky, store-bought biscuits is to roll each one out with a rolling pin to flatten it. This will prevent the flaky layers from rising as the mini crusts bake.
Once your mini pizzas are rolled out, you'll want to coat them in olive oil and dried herbs, like a standard Italian seasoning medley or just plain oregano, and pre-bake the pizzas in the oven for about 10 minutes. This will give the dough a chance to firm up, in turn preventing you from overcooking your sauce and cheese. Once you smother your toppings on the top of each round, you can finish the mini pies off in your oven. It's a simple snack idea that will help you kill off the leftover can of biscuits you have in your fridge.
Bake Your Dough In A Muffin Tray For Evenly-Sized Cups
Deep-dish pizza is hard to replicate at home in general, but it's even tougher when you hit your pizza with a shrink gun. Luckily, you can use this muffin tin hack for effortlessly easy mini pizzas that you can feel proud to serve as an appetizer at your next dinner party or indulge in when your hangover lingers a little bit too long.
You can use biscuit dough, pizza dough, or whatever appropriate substitute you have in your kitchen. Gently tuck your dough rounds into a greased muffin tin to form little cups. From there, you can carefully layer in your sauce, cheese, and desired toppings until you reach the rim. Unlike conventional pizza, which always takes way too long to cook in the oven, these cups will cook in about 15 minutes, thanks to their small size. They're also handheld and easy to customize in your tray, which is perfect for when you can't commit to eating an entire 12-inch Hawaiian pizza.
Put It On A Piece Of Sweet Potato Instead
Although we don't always like to admit it, there are more fiber-rich alternatives for pizza crust that will make us feel that good about getting our daily serving of veggies in. For example, you can make bite-sized sweet potato pizzas for a tasty snack or an elegant dinner party. These tubers have a profoundly sweet flavor and a bright color that will contrast any sweet or savory topping you complete them with.
You'll want to start by cutting your potato into ½-inch rounds and pre-baking it to soften the texture. For the best results, use sweet potatoes that are wide and long, as this will allow you enough surface area for your toppings.
Some of our favorite pairings for these unconventional pizzas are goat cheese, pecans, and a drizzle of honey. You can also go super fancy with a few garnishing sprigs of thyme. Red sauce and mozzarella are more typical pizza toppings that work well with this base, and we're sure that the soft texture of the sweet potato will take this duo to new heights.
Use Eggplant Rounds Instead Of Traditional Crust
Eggplants are one of the most underappreciated fruits you can find in your standard grocery store. While they're perfectly delicious fried and smothered in cheese, they can also be used for a light baba ganoush with tahini and other Mediterranean flavors. And now, you can add eggplant mini pizza to your list of ways to utilize the ingredient.
Eggplants are very wet fruits, even if they don't appear so at first glance. To make these rounds for your mini pizzas, you must allocate enough time to salt your eggplant slices and allow the water to sweat out slowly. After you've dried your slices, bake the wedges until lightly brown before saucing, cheesing, and topping your wedges. We recommend adding crumbled, pre-cooked sausage and going big with fresh herbs like basil, thyme, and tarragon. Since the eggplants are relatively neutral in flavor, the slices will easily absorb any toppings you put onto them.
Use English Muffins For A Sturdy Pizza Option
As children of Middle America, we can assure you that we have eaten our fair share of English muffin pizzas over the years. It's a go-to staple for when parents are running late at work or when the request for takeout gets firmly shut down.
The English muffin is the perfect vehicle for some tomato sauce and mozzarella. Its exterior is crispy and covered in a layer of cornmeal, while the inside is plush and soft and gives you a satisfying mouthfeel when you bite into it. Plus, unlike other bases, English muffins are sturdy enough to hold the weight of an especially wet sauce or toppings that you sliced a bit too coarsely. Pop one of these muffins open with a fork or your fingers, add your toppings, and bake it in a toaster oven just until the bottom gets crispy.
Make A Thin Crust Version With Lasagna Sheets
Whatever you do, don't tell Nonna that we repurposed lasagna noodles to make the ultimate mini pizzas. And although you too might be skeptical of this tip, considering that lasagna sheets are much thinner than even the crispiest apizza, we can assure you that it does actually work.
You'll want to first start by boiling the pasta sheets in water until they're flexible -- but not flimsy. Once the sheets reach the al dente stage, transfer them to a lined baking sheet and dry them with a paper towel. Then, add a light amount of sauce to avoid making the pasta too rubbery and soggy, a light layer of toppings, and bake the avant-garde pizza in the oven just so that it becomes sturdy again. This hack certainly won't work for heavy toppings like shrimp or chunky sauce, but it will suffice when the craving for a mini pizza strikes and sends you to your pantry in a hunger-motivated frenzy.
Grab The Puff Pastry From Your Freezer
We firmly believe that everyone should keep a box of puff pastry in their freezer at all times. It's the secret to making easy pigs in a blanket or when you crave a simple spin on apple pie, but it can also be used to replace pizza dough. Robert Irvine uses this slept-on freezer staple for his mini pizzas -- and we think you should, too.
To help these mini pizzas reach their loftiest potential, Irvine bakes the frozen pastry dough, slathered in egg wash, in the oven for at least ten minutes before he constructs his pizzas. Then, after he adds his favorite pizza toppings, he bakes the mini pies in the oven for a mere four minutes. As is the case with other types of mini pizzas, the short oven time is not sufficient to cook ingredients like bacon or sausage safely, so this should be done ahead of time. You should also par-cook any hard veggies like peppers or onions (that you don't want to be crisp) to ensure they are soft enough to bite into.
Get Crunchy With Your Favorite Crackers
If you've exhausted your dough options, you may just have to turn to your snack cabinet next. You should always have a box of crackers in your pantry for crumbling on top of your mac and cheese, breading your fried chicken, or, in this case, making super small mini pizzas. These one-bite wonders can be tailored to whatever cracker base you have in your kitchen, from butterfly crackers to Saltines.
Unlike many other mini pizza bases, crackers are already crispy. So, they won't need nearly the same amount of time in the oven -- which is perfect for when you need a quick snack after classes or between work assignments. Simply place your crackers on a baking sheet, add a small dollop of sauce, and sprinkle with shredded cheese. The limited surface area of these crackers can make it difficult to top with your favorite pepperoni or pineapple chunks, so this is one mini pizza variation that is best kept simple. A couple of minutes in the oven is all it takes to melt your cheese into the cracker.
Cook Frozen Mini Pizzas In An Air Fryer
Companies have long capitalized on our affinity for pizza with frozen pizza bites. But the problem with cooking a frozen pizza, regardless of its size, is that the pieces always get soggy. We admit that we can't enjoy this spongy treat, especially when the lackluster sauce and powdery cheese set it back even further.
The easiest way to get perfectly crisp frozen mini pizzas is to bake them in your air fryer rather than a conventional oven. Not only will you save time, thanks to the rapid preheating function and small size of the appliance, but you'll also get a circulating airflow that will encourage the top, bottom, and sides of the pizza to cook evenly. You can forgo the parchment paper lining to make your crust even crispier. However, this decision might come at a cost, opening the door for molten cheese to stick to every crevasse of your appliance and making it nearly impossible to clean.
Cover The Center Of Your Pizza Bagel With A Pepperoni Slice
We couldn't mention mini pizzas without mentioning one of the top-tier options, which also happens to be a repurposed breakfast food. You can use your mini bagels as a base for your pizza, especially when you're craving a higher ratio of crust to toppings.
The main issue with these bagels is their shape. While we love that we can easily fit a mini bagel half in the palm of our hand, we don't love that the center hole allows molten sauce and cheese to drip through and onto our fingers, plate, and seemingly every surface underneath. Luckily, we have a solution. A well-placed pepperoni slice will ensure a mess-free pizza bagel and capitalize on extra topping space. The only caveat for this tip is that you'll need the pepperoni slice to be slightly larger than the hole you intend to cover. While this often isn't a challenge for mini bagels, it might be for standard-size deli bagels.
Make Things Fancy With Pizza Roll-Ups Instead
Let's be frank, serving mini pizzas at a dinner party likely won't impress your guests. But an elaborately tucked and wrapped crescent roll adorned with traditional pizza toppings might.
You can easily transform your mini pizzas into something more sophisticated with canned crescent rolls. Pop open a can, cut the pieces into individual triangles with your hands, and carefully add the toppings to the roll. We recommend leaving just a little bit of buffer space around the edges to ensure that your molten cheese won't pour out and burn on the baking sheet. If you aren't the neatest cheese sprinkler (and honestly, who is?), you can always substitute the dairy product with a low-moisture cheese stick. Toss a couple pieces of pepperoni into the rolls, too, before folding and baking until perfectly golden brown.
This recipe is great for dinner parties because you can fill and shape the rolls a few hours before you need to bake them. They're loved by kids, adults, and anyone who is feeling particularly hungry.
Serve It With A Dipping Sauce
We can't help but notice that dipping sauce is often considered an insulting addition to pizza. After all, if your pizza isn't good enough, smother it with ranch, and you won't be able to taste a thing. But really, dipping sauces and spreads can elevate your mini pizzas and make them more fun and tasty to indulge in.
The obvious toppings for pizza include ranch dressing and marinara, but you can also make use of your favorite aioli recipe to craft an extra-special pizza. Mix mayo and hot sauce together, or go with a garlic base for a punchy flavor that complements a solid Italian pizza sauce. Another sweet and spicy condiment that needs to make its way to your mini pizza is hot honey. Drizzle it on the pizzas right after it's done baking, or pour a little bit in a ramekin for dipping.
Don't Neglect Your Toppings
Just because these pizzas are small doesn't mean that you have to limit yourself to the flavor possibilities you add on top. Rather than just sticking to the conventional tomato sauce, cheese, and three carefully placed slices of deli pepperoni, you can expand your palate to include a diverse range of toppings.
For example, a sprinkle of punchy scallions can add a bit of a crunch to your tiny pizzas, while going with leftover taco meat is a savvy way to make the most of what your refrigerator can offer. Moreover, the size of these rounds will make it easy for you to experiment with topping combinations that you may not want to commit to on an entire 14-inch pizza. Pair bacon with a drizzle of maple syrup, or opt for a thinly sliced fennel bulb with a sharp arugula. Get creative, get messy, and have fun with it!
Avoid Overloading Your Mini Pizzas With Sauce And Toppings
A major limitation in preparing your mini pizzas is that they are rather small and delicate. Moreover, if you're using a thin base, you'll want to be wary about how much seepage your toppings might be creating on your bite-sized pies.
The truth is, your pizza does not need a wave of tomato sauce to course over it. It just needs a very thin layer of it to cover every bite. Depending on the size of your pizza, you should cap this out at a couple of teaspoons at the absolute most. As you can probably assume, the same standard will apply to your cheese and other toppings. You only need a few specks of cheese to cover each bite of the pie, otherwise, you risk making it too heavy to crisp up in your oven. You should also opt for a low-moisture cheese to avoid making your crust too soggy.
Opt For A Flavorful, Non-Tomato Sauce
Your mini pizzas are not limited to tomato sauce alone. Swapping your store-bought sauce out with a brighter, more flavorful base may elevate your mini pizzas in ways you never thought possible. Some of the most delicious alternatives to classic pizza sauce include a summery pesto (either homemade or store-bought) topped with sun-dried tomatoes or roasted red peppers. If you're looking to include a diverse portfolio of cheeses, experiment with goat cheese, feta, or smoked cheddar, and stick to a basic herb-infused olive oil so that the cheese takes center stage.
Store-bought sauces, including barbecue and buffalo sauce, can also help give your pizza a more casual flavor. It's important to remember that these sauces tend to be very viscous, so a teaspoon or two will go a long way when adding it to your pizza. Pair these toppings with leftover shredded or rotisserie chicken and bacon for a great football-watching snack that conveniently fits in the palm of your hand.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.