how to layer a pizza

Last updated on:

How To Layer A pizza Image

Are you tired of just throwing your toppings on top of your pizza and hoping for the best? 

Well, it’s time to take your pizza game to the next level by learning the art of layering pizza. 

It’s important that you layer your toppings the right way, if not your pizza could end up being soggy or have burnt toppings. 

In this article, we’ll be walking you through step by step on how to layer a pizza and discover the ultimate tips, tricks and the best sauce for pizza. So get ready to impress your taste buds and your friends with the best pizza you’ve ever made!

The Best Way To Layer A Pizza

Is there even a best way to layer a pizza? Do the toppings need to go on in a specific order or can you top them how you want? 

Should cheese go on the pizza before you add the toppings? Or should you place the cheese on top of the toppings? 

The best way does depend on the pizza that you’re making. And your own personal taste. It’s your pizza after all! 

One of my go to pizzas when cooking in the pizza oven is Neapolitan. Traditionally the order of pizza toppings would be sauce, then cheese and then finally your other toppings and any garnishes you might want to add. 

But why is it important the order in which you layer your pizza?

Best Sauce for pizza

Finding the best sauce for your pizza is a crucial step in achieving that perfect, mouthwatering slice. Traditionalists often favor classic marinara for its harmonious blend of sweet and tangy flavors.

Those seeking a bold kick may opt for spicy arrabbiata, while pesto enthusiasts relish the fresh, herbal notes it brings. Creamy white sauces, such as Alfredo or béchamel, offer a luscious alternative.

Ultimately, the ideal sauce depends on personal taste and the toppings you choose. Regardless of your preference, using high-quality ingredients is key to enhancing your pizza’s flavor and savoring a slice that’s truly irresistible

Why This Pizza Topping Order Is Important

When I first started making my own pizza, I never really thought much about the order of the toppings. I pretty much assumed they went that way as that’s how I’ve always seen them on store bought or takeaway pizza. 

The way you layer your pizza is very important. It just makes sense, if you put wet toppings closer to the base you’ll end up with a very soggy crust. 

What makes the perfect tasting pizza? A crispy crust, perfectly melted cheese and properly cooked toppings right? That’s only going to happen if the order of pizza toppings is in the right order. If they’re in the right order it helps the moisture evaporate, so there’s no sogginess. 

One thing that irritates me is when the bulk of the cheese is put on last and on top of the toppings. My wife loves more cheese on the top but then wonders why it ends up being soggy. 

You see when you put the cheese over the sauce and toppings, you’re trapping the moisture as it cannot evaporate through the cheese. So it ends up just making the sauce wet and the dough soggy.

Cheese on top also prevents the toppings from cooking correctly. One of the best things about pizza is that grilled texture you get on the toppings. If cheese is over the top of them then this doesn’t happen, In fact they end up becoming boiled due to the trapped moisture. 

This again makes them soggy but also gives them a strange texture and impacts their flavor. Slimy peppers or boiled bacon does not result in an amazing tasting pizza. 

Finally the sauce, why does this go on first. It just makes sense right? 

It does but there is also a very good reason for it. 

The sauce adds that subtle flavor to the pizza, without the sauce it’s just not going to taste the same. You therefore need to make sure the sauce is spread evenly over the entire pizza base. 

If you put the cheese on first, you’re not going to be able to spread the sauce over the base.

The best pizza topping order is;

  1. Sauce
  2. Cheese
  3. Toppings
  4. Garnish
  5. Oils

Don’t forget, the way the pizza looks is also why we layer a pizza in this way. Imagine trying to guess what a pizza is if the toppings are covered with melted cheese. 

How To Layer A Pizza Step by Step

1. Prepare Your Base

The first step is getting your pizza base prepared. (here is my recommended pizza dough recipe). To prepare it, you want to stretch the dough out – you can find a guide on that here

2. Add The Sauce

Next we need to add sauce to our pizza dough. (Looking for an easy pizza sauce recipe, click here)

Pizza Toppings in Order

Get yourself a ladle of pizza sauce and pour it into the center of the pizza base. 

With the back of the ladle you want to spread the sauce around the base. You want to swirl the ladle around in the circle until the sauce has evenly spread. 

Make sure you do leave a 1 cm gap around the edge of the base. This will help to puff up the crust. 

Adding Pizza Sauce Topping First

3. Lets Get Cheesy

Now you want to sprinkle your cheese onto the pizza. Spread it out evenly so you don’t just have a clump in the middle. 

Topping Pizza With Cheese

You also want to make sure that you don’t go over the sauce edge as you don’t want melted cheese dropping off the pizza. 

In this step of layering your pizza, add all of the cheese toppings. So if you plan to add some grated and Mozzarella, add both now. 

4. Topping The Pizza – Layering Pizza

Next up, add your toppings to the pizza. The order that you add your toppings is also important. Thin meats such as bacon or pepperoni should be added first. 

Top Pizza With Meat

Next you want to add thicker meats such as chicken or steak. 

You also want to make sure you add vegetables after the meat. These tend to have higher water content. 

Some toppings do need to be pre-cooked, which ill go into in just a moment. 

5. Baking Your Pizza

Now it’s time to pop the pizza into your pizza oven or onto your pizza steel if you’re using your home oven. 

Remember to not put too many toppings on, as this makes it harder to launch the pizza into the oven. 

6. Lets Garnish

Now that the pizza is baked, you want to add any additional Garnish. 

This might be cured meat such as Prosciutto, herbs such as Basil or even a drop of oil or honey to give the pizza that extra depth of flavor. 

Topping Pizza Before or After Baking

When learning how to layer a pizza, it’s important to understand that not all toppings are placed on the pizza before it’s baked. 

The majority of toppings are added before baking, but there are a few that are done afterwards. 

This is because certain ingredients cannot handle the heat and this results in them burning. At the same time, there are also some ingredients that just don’t need cooking. 

What Pizza Toppings Should Be Added After Baking?

There are some pizza toppings that don’t need to be cooked and should be added after the pizza has baked. These include;

  • Salads
  • Basil
  • Cured Meats IE Prosciutto
  • Certain cheese
  • Nuts
  • Oils IE Olive Oil or Honey

Pizza Toppings That Need Pre-Cooking

As mentioned before, some Pizza Toppings need to be precooked. But Why? 

There are certain pizza toppings that do need to be pre-cooked before adding them to your pizza and baking them in the oven. These include meats, as generally the pizza is not in the oven long enough to fully cook meat. Meat like chicken should always be pre-cooked. 

Meat also causes additional grease/fat when cooking. This extra moisture will make the pizza soggy if cooked on the pizza. 

There are certain vegetables that you should also pre-cook. The most common are mushrooms and onions. These are high moisture vegetables, so if you don’t pre-cook them then they’ll make your pizza soggy. 

I also like to pre-cook bell peppers/sweet peppers as I don’t like them to have too much of a crunch. Pre-cooking will ensure that they are fully cooked and the pizza oven can finish them off. 

Pizza Topping Order

I did mention this before but the order in which you add your toppings or garnish to the pizza is also very important. 

Putting it in the wrong order will result in a soggy base, under-cooked toppings or burnt toppings. 

When I’m making a pizza, I always put the pizza toppings on in the following order; 

  • Thin meats IE pepperoni
  • Thicker meats IE Chicken
  • Vegetables with low moisture 
  • Vegetables with high moisture IE mushrooms
  • Salads/Herbs IE Basil
  • Oils IE Olive Oil or Chilli Honey

By following this order, you’ll end up with the perfectly layered pizza. It’s important to make sure we put the higher moisture content toppings on last, as these will produce more liquid when cooking which could make the pizza soggy. Soggy pizza is not nice to eat. 

Final Thoughts

So there you have it, How to layer a pizza. Its surprising how important it is to get the pizza topping order right. 

Getting it wrong can completely change the texture and taste of the pizza. Getting it right can take your pizza to the next level. 

To reinforce the correct way to top a pizza;

  • Roll the base
  • Add the sauce
  • Sprinkle on the cheese
  • Add the toppings
  • Bake
  • Garnish

If you follow this order then, you’re one step closer to making the very best pizza. Get more insightful guides on pizza at ‘My slice of Pizza‘.

Toppings or cheese first on pizza?

It’s best to start with sauce, then cheese, followed by toppings. This order ensures even cooking and prevents a soggy crust.

How to layer homemade pizza?

To layer homemade pizza, follow this order: sauce, cheese, toppings, bake, and garnish. This sequence ensures the best texture and flavor.

What are the best two toppings for pizza?

The best two toppings for pizza depend on your preferences, but classics like pepperoni and mushrooms or sausage and green peppers are popular choices. Experiment to find your perfect combo!

Leave a Comment