It’s probably not a surprise to you, but we LOOOOOOOOVE pizza. And around here it comes in many forms. It could be a thin crust margarita style pie with fresh basil or a carry out special (that’s one large cheese pizza for 9 bucks just in case you were curious) from Vinnies. Occasionally if we’ve had a particularly draining day we’ll opt for a frozen pie in front of the TV, because we are human and sometimes humans need to VEG. But lately I’ve been turning to this skillet pizza. That is, a pizza, cooked in a skillet – cast iron to be precise.
Why skillet pizza though?
Well because sometimes I just don’t have the patience after arranging the toppings just so, to slide the thing deftly onto a blazing hot pizza stone, as this occasionally ends in rumpled pizza edges, cheese burning on the floor of the oven, and (emotional) scars that last a lifetime. More often than not this kind of pizza does not end in disaster, but I don’t believe it will ever exist for me without some level of stress.
So there is definitely an ease factor to constructing the pizza in the same vessel in which you’ll both bake and serve it. But to me the bigger takeaway comes via flavor. Sometimes I’m in the mood for the pan-style pizza of my youth. You know the one I’m talking about – plush and soft on the inside, crunchy and golden on the outside. Perhaps it came from a hut like structure? We lovingly refer to it as pizza cake and order it once a year – on Valentine’s Day. But on any other day this skillet pizza will do nicely.
Tips for making your own skillet pizza:
This is honestly easier than any other pizza I’ve ever made, but here are a few things that will guarantee success.
- Use a well-seasoned cast iron skillet. No, in this case ‘seasoning’ does not refer to salt and pepper. This is a process of maintaining the surface of your skillet so that it essentially becomes a non-stick surface. A lot of cast-iron pans already come pre-seasoned, but they do require a low level of maintenance to stay that way. If you’ve got your hands on a vintage cast iron pan and need to season it from scratch, hop on over to this video for a good how-to. If you’re working with a pre-seasoned one you just need to follow three steps to keep it beautiful and non-stick for life. First, thoroughly wipe it out after each use (and yes you can use soap and water if it needs it). Second, dry it completely, right away – ie: don’t let it sit with water in it, because rust. Third, pop it on the stove over medium heat for a few minutes and rub a teaspoon of neutral oil into the surface with a paper towel. Then let it cool down and store it away until next time.
- Don’t skimp on the olive oil. Even though you’re already working with a mostly non-stick surface, it doesn’t hurt to have a little extra insurance – especially if that insurance is also delicious.
- Avoid an oil/water slick by pre-cooking some of your toppings. Of course you can throw some things on raw like pepperoni, cheese, etc. But things that exude a tremendous amount of water or fat should be pre-cooked to avoid sogging out your crust. For instance, in this version I brown up the sausage separately so I could drain off the grease before I added it to my pie.
- Avoid using “fresh” mozzarella. Don’t get me wrong, I love a big knob of fresh mozz as much as the next cheese freak, but it brings too much moisture to the party, and unlike say sausage, we can’t “pre-cook” it to drive some of that water out. So it’s a no-go.
- Three toppings max! Ok, this isn’t really so much a tip as it is a very adamant plea. I believe the ideal amount of toppings for a pizza is three or fewer. Once you get beyond that you start to weigh down your dough, which means it will take longer to bake. Also, give those pizza toppings a little respect and let em shine! That’s really hard to do if there are 17 bajillion things on one pie.
- Oh and you can totally do this with store-bought dough, but if you’re looking for a good homemade version try this one!
So that’s a little primer on making your very own skillet pizza. If you make one of your own, and you’re the gramming type (that’s my cool Instagram lingo that I realize is not really cool at all), then tag it #joeats so I can see your beautiful and delicious creations!
Sweet and Spicy Skillet Pizza
This sweet and spicy number is plush and soft on the inside, crunchy and golden on the outside, and is made, baked, and served all in one cast iron skillet.
- Prep Time: 25 Minutes
- Cook Time: 20 Minutes
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- Yield: 6 Slices
- Category: Pizza
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Italian
3 T extra virgin olive oil
1 lb pizza dough (either homemade or store bought)
⅔ C whole, peeled canned tomatoes
¼ lb hot Italian sausage, removed from its casing (about one, large link)
8 ounces whole milk mozzarella, grated
1 large jalapeno, sliced into rings
¼ C honey
½ tsp red chili flakes
Basil to garnish
Preheat your oven to 425° F.
Evenly coat a 12 inch cast iron skillet with the olive oil.
Place the dough in the skillet and using your fingers to press it out towards the edges. It won’t make it all the way, but it will spread as it rests. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and set aside to proof for 20 minutes.
In a small skillet brown the sausage, crumbling it into small pieces. Drain on paper towels and set aside.
In a small bowl, squeeze the tomatoes in your hands to break them down into a chunky sauce. Set aside.
After the dough has rested for 20 minutes, it should have spread a bit and will be easy to nudge to the edges of the pan.
Top the dough evenly with the tomatoes, mozzarella, cooked sausage, and sliced jalapeno. Sprinkle with a little salt and bake for 20-22 minutes, or until the cheese is brown and bubbly and the underside of the crust is golden (just give it a peek with a spatula).
While the pizza bakes combine the honey and red chili flakes in a bowl and microwave for 30-45 seconds. The honey should be very warm and runny.
Let the pizza cool in the pan for 5 minutes before slicing.
Garnish the pizza with fresh, torn basil and drizzle with the spicy honey.
Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods are both great sources for a quick store bought dough. You can also ask your local pizza place to sell you a ball or two of dough. If you’re looking to make yours from scratch try this recipe!
Keywords: easy pizza, skillet pizza, spicy pizza