https://www.tastingtable.com/1431465/absolute-best-sweet-ingredients-add-homemade-pizza/

The Top Sweet Ingredients to Elevate Your Homemade Pizza

Pizza … it’s what’s for dinner. This dense American favorite is often slathered with copious amounts of tomato sauce, melty mozzarella, and savory bits of pepperoni, mushrooms, and onions. You also get a lot of fatty and frankly overwhelming flavors in every slice. What your pizza is missing is not an extra sprinkle of parmesan or salt — but something a little sweet. 

There are many different ways to balance out your pizza’s salty and fatty flavors with a sweet element. Seasonal fruits, spreads, and condiments can be a vector for achieving a balanced bite and highlighting the other flavors of your pizza without becoming the star of the show. In most cases, the addition of a single sweet element won’t shift the balance of the entire pie into confectionary territory, although some people might opt to skip the savory entirely and make a dessert pizza. Whatever your go-to style is, we can all appreciate a good pie. Here are some of the best sweet toppings you’ll need to try on yours. 

Hot honey

Chili pepper infused honey

Hot honey is a sweet and spicy condiment you should drizzle on pizza. Not only can you use hot honey for your homemade pie, but you can also use it to up the ante on frozen pizza or the reheated slice from your local pizzeria. The spicy element of this infused concoction will sear your taste buds and curb the fattiness of the cheese, while the sweet honey flavor will bring a bright, light, and sweet element that makes the heat a little more tolerable and your savory flavors a bit more balanced. 

For the best results, add your hot honey to the pie after it’s finished baking. And we mean it when we say drizzle it everywhere, crust and cheese included. Plus, you might even get a little hot honey on the side for dipping. 

Grilled peaches and nectarines

Peaches on pizza with herbs

Pizza can be a summer food if you add fresh toppings like herbs, balsamic vinegar, and even seafood. But if you want to truly give your pie a bite of summer, you will want to top it with your leftover stone fruits like peaches and nectarines. Our sweet and savory Italian salad pizza is made with a ricotta base sauce. After the pizza is baked, it’s removed from the oven and topped with dressed arugula, prosciutto, and thinly sliced pieces of nectarines. The sweetness from the nectarines curbs the sharpness of the arugula and the fattiness of the meat. 

If you really want to sharpen the sweet flavors, you may consider grilling your peaches, like in our recipe for grilled peach and gorgonzola pizza. The key to grilling the fruit is to use firm rather than overly ripe pieces to ensure they don’t disintegrate on the pie. To avoid creating a moisture issue, you should also add your grilled peaches to the pie after it’s finished baking. 

Sugar

Pouring spoon of sugar dough

We don’t necessarily recommend adding sugar to the top of your pie, but we do recommend adding a bit to your homemade pizza dough for an unexpected sweet touch. 

There are many important functions that sugar serves in your dough. It promotes the crust to brown, which can be especially useful for people making their crust in a home oven that runs colder than a professional one. It will also give your dough a better rise because it provides a quick-acting food for the yeast and helps tenderize the proteins in the dough to give your crust a softer bite. 

The key to adding sugar to your homemade pizza dough is not to go overboard. You aren’t crafting a sweet, cookie-like dough, you’re just helping your dough out as you would by adding salt. Although an authentic Italian pizzaiolo might vehemently oppose adding this ingredient, we recommend it. 

Apples

Apple on flatbread pizza

Bhofack2/Getty Images

Fall is the perfect time of year to snack on a Honeycrisp or bake apple pies with Cortlands. But the best use for your apples may be something a bit more unexpected: pizza.

Picking the perfect apple for your pizza involves finding a complementary flavor and selecting a fruit that won’t disintegrate when you put it on the pie. Avoid apples like Red Delicious and mealy McIntosh, which tend to be watery. Once you have your apple, slice it thinly, peel-on or peel-off, depending on your liking. Then, you can layer the slices on the pizza before baking or hold off until afterward for a crunchy topping. Apples pair well with many different ingredients including fennel, bacon, squash, arugula, hot honey, prosciutto, and gorgonzola.

Strawberries

Strawberry salad pizza on plate

The next time you buy a pack of strawberries from the grocery store, your first thought probably won’t be to add it to your pizza — although it should be. One of our favorite ways to use this fruity ingredient is for a strawberry spinach salad pizza, which is essentially a summer spinach salad atop a crisp pizza base. Instead of using a tomato base, you’re going to want to substitute it with an olive oil base. Top the pizza with feta cheese, low-moisture mozzarella, and sliced strawberries. You can balance out the sweetness of this recipe with thinly sliced red onions and slivered almonds. To finish your pizza out, add a handful of spinach and a balsamic reduction post-bake. After trying this fruity rendition, you’ll likely never go back to eating plain cheese pizza again. 

Pineapple

Pineapple on flatbread pizza

If you’re ever thinking about fruit on a pizza, your brain likely goes to pineapple. The origin of adding pineapple to pizza isn’t actually Hawaii, despite popular opinion. The idea actually stems from a Greek immigrant living in Canada in the 1950s. His restaurant tried sweet-and-savory combinations of pies, including his Asian-American mashup of pineapple and ham. The “Hawaiian” component of the name merely came from the name on the pineapple can.

Pineapple and ham aren’t the only pairing for this fruit on pizza. For tastier pineapple on pizza, add bacon to the mix. The bacon’s savory, fatty texture will shine against the pineapple pieces’ sharp acidity. You can even caramelize the fruit in bacon grease before sticking it on your pizza for a more well-rounded sweetness and better flavor. 

Lemon slices

Meyer lemons in carton

Lemon on pizza? It might seem like the right move if you’re putting scallops on your white pizza and need to curb some of the fishy flavor. But we’re not talking about using the juice from this citrus fruit; we’re actually talking about using the whole lemon slice. The key to making lemon slices work for your pizza is to opt for a Meyer lemon, which has a slightly sweeter flavor than the standard lemon you’d find in your local grocery store. 

To prepare your lemon for this pizza, be sure to thinly slice it and remove the seeds. When the lemon bakes in the oven, it will develop a subtle sweetness and caramelized flavor that you won’t get from adding the slices on at the end. Lemon slices pair well with prosciutto, fresh arugula, goat cheese, and ricotta. 

Cream cheese

Cream cheese and different fruit on a dessert pizza

We’ve gone this far without mentioning dessert pizza. Unlike a standard pizza, this pie is made with predominately sweet ingredients. The major issue with this pizza class is that it tends to be too sweet and unbalanced in flavor, and that’s where cream cheese comes in. The spread, which can be sweetened with a bit of honey or maple syrup, is the perfect creamy base for dessert pizza. 

Mashed’s easy strawberry dessert pizza recipe uses whipped cream cheese. It’s easier to spread on pizza compared to the brick cream cheese. You will want to bake the base of your pie crust, which can be sugar cookies or a standard pizza dough, first. Once your pizza crust is thoroughly cooled down, you can spread the cream cheese on the pie and add your favorite toppings. Berries and chocolate are both great additions to this sweet pizza.

Candied nuts

Walnuts on pizza

Nuts serve numerous purposes on pizza, including adding a subtle crunch to the pie. But the easiest way to add sweetness to your recipe is to caramelize your nuts before adding them to your pizza. 

Start by melting butter in a pan with brown sugar before adding walnuts. Then, allow your candied walnuts to harden in a single layer on a baking tray for 10 minutes before chopping them up and adding them to your pie after it’s finished baking. These nuts are perfect for pairing with fruit like apples and pears or savory toppings like bacon, gorgonzola, feta, and spinach. Alternatively, you can add candied pecans to your pie. The topping pairings are similar to walnuts, but pecans tend to have a fattier consistency. 

Pears

Pears on pizza with arugula

Pears have a similar texture to apples but tend to be a bit less potent in flavor, which means they won’t upstage the other ingredients you might be adding to a pie such as arugula, garlic, thyme, and prosciutto. 

RECOMMENDED:  Creative Ideas for Repurposing Leftover Roast Beef

The best type of pears for adding to your pizza include green and red Anjou. The flesh is firm and tough, so the slivers will hold up during baking. Bartlett and Bosch pears tend to have a bit more moisture and a mealier texture, but they can suffice for your pizza in a pinch. When selecting a pear for your pizza, aim for one that is ripe so it has a little bit of give to it when you squeeze it but also isn’t entirely mushy.

Grapes

Grapes on pizza with meatballs

Most people just love eating grapes out of the fruit bowl on the counter — but not necessarily on their homemade pizza. Yet it’s actually a surprisingly delicious pizza topping you need to try. You can use either red or green grapes for your pizza, sliced in half. To concentrate the flavor of the fruit, try mixing it in a bowl with white wine and sugar. Then, pop the grapes on the pie with the rest of your toppings and bake. 

There are more toppings that go well with grapes than you’d think. Cheeses like fontina, gorgonzola, and ricotta are all stellar combinations that work well. Consider adding chopped bacon, fresh green onions, red onions, and a drizzle of honey post-bake to elevate your grape-inspired pie further. 

Pumpkin

Pumpkin on pizza

The fall months are the perfect time to use pumpkin on your pizza. For the best-flavored pizza, you should try slow-roasting your pumpkin before placing it on your pie. This process will caramelize the pumpkin’s flesh and add some sweetness to your recipe. You can leave the whole chunks on the pie, or mash it with a little bit of apple and maple syrup to make a pizza sauce. Other toppings that play well with the pumpkin include bacon, shallots, and sage. 

The best type of pumpkin for this recipe isn’t the same variety you’d use to carve a Jack-o-Lantern for Halloween. Instead, try a Japanese pumpkin (also known as a kabocha squash) or a sugar pumpkin. These varieties are sweeter and less stringy, which makes them ideal for cooking. 

Nutella

Dessert pizza with Nutella

Nutella is a solid spread to add to your dessert pizza, although some folks admit that it’s even more delicious when paired with bacon. We recommend covering a traditional pie dough with this chocolate hazelnut spread since using a cookie base would make it a little too sweet. Top your Nutella pie with chopped hazelnuts, almonds, banana slices, and strawberries for a delectable post-dinner treat. 

Although adding this spread may seem like an insult to the Italian culinary tradition, you should know that Nutella pizza is actually a common treat amongst children in the country. Pizza bianca con nutella is made by folding up the spread in a piece of salty pizza dough. The result is a crunchy yet creamy and equally blissful dessert brimming with chocolate flavor. 

Maple syrup

Maple syrup drizzled on pizza

Things are going to get a little sticky with maple syrup on pizza, but we assure you it will be well worth it. This liquid gold is the perfect topping to add to your pizza after it’s finished baking because it will infuse an oaky, sweet flavor to your pie. There are also numerous different toppings that mesh well with the sweet flavor, including bacon, onion, and apple. You can also stick with the autumnal flavors and include ingredients like pumpkin, squash, and nuts. 

When it comes to maple syrup, we love playing with the different grades to find the perfect maple flavor. If you’re looking for maple to be the standout flavor in your pizza, opt for a dark or very dark grade. And if you’re craving a mild maple backdrop that accents the other flavors of your pie, stick with a lighter grade. 

Rhubarb

Rhubarb and flatbread ingredients

Daniela Baumann/Shutterstock

Rhubarb is nothing short of an anomaly in the cooking world. Although this stalky vegetable is almost exclusively relegated to strawberry rhubarb pie and jam, it has more utility in the kitchen than you’d think. When you’re adding this vegetable to pizza, be sure to mix it in a bowl with sugar and salt and allow it to sit for at least an hour, but preferably overnight. This process will draw some of the liquid from the stalks and prevent it from turning to mush when it hits the flame. You’ll know the rhubarb is ready to go when it’s leached some of its juices out. This vegetable pairs well with savory toppings, including fennel and feta, and white-sauce pizzas with ricotta or aioli bases. 

Figs

Fig pizza on slate

ElenaVah/Shutterstock

We’re gettin’ figgy with it! All jokes aside, figs are a great addition to your pizza and are guaranteed to add a sophisticated flair to your pie. You can use any type of fig for your pizza, but black Mission figs are the most common (and widely available in grocery stores). Ripe figs tend to carry a lot of juice, so you’ll want to be sure to opt for a crust that’s thick enough to bear the weight of your toppings and avoid going overboard with the amount of said toppings on your pie. The placement of your figs on the pizza is also essential. If you tuck them gently underneath the cheese, they tend to stay juicy. Figs exposed to hot oven heat will caramelize. 

Some of our favorite toppings to pair with figs include rich Italian cheeses like fontina and gorgonzola, prosciutto, and asparagus. 

Peanut butter

Slice of Thai chicken pizza

Karin Nelson/Shutterstock

Okay, we wouldn’t classify peanut butter as a sweet topping exactly, but using a variety that has some added sugar can be the kick that your pizza needs. You can take a page from California Pizza Kitchen’s playbook with a Thai chicken pizza, which is made with a peanut sauce base infused with honey, hoisin, soy sauce, and vinegar. The pie is then topped with shredded chicken, onions, carrots, and mozzarella, which really allows for a great matchup of flavors and textures. 

But Asian-inspired pizza isn’t the only place where peanut butter shines. Add it to your pizza crust, then follow it with regular ol’ toppings like marinara sauce, cheese, pepperoni, and spicy peppers. Like other sweet toppings, the peanut butter will curb the fattiness of the meat and provide a soft bite to the crust. It works best for a deep dish with enough crust to handle the weight of a wet topping. 

Blackberries

Blackberry pizza with basil

Osman Bugra Nuvasil/Shutterstock

Blackberries are a beautiful spring and summer fruit that create a floral flavor on your pie and a beautiful purple hue. Since this fruit is rather delicate, it really pairs well with cheese and herbs rather than a heavy meat load. Instead of opting for a standard marinara-and-cheese pie, try pairing ricotta with blackberries and basil. The flavors make this pizza taste like it is straight from the garden, and it can easily be made more savory by adding extra salt and pepper, chives, or green onion.

There is some opportunity to stick with conventional pizza toppings for this recipe, too. Pair your blackberries with prosciutto, parmesan, and a tomato sauce base for a simple yet upgraded pie, or go a little upscale with caramelized onions and goat cheese. Like other fruits, blackberries tend to hold a lot of water, so be sure to use them sparingly on your pizza to avoid swamping it with juice. 

Blueberries

Blueberries on pizza

vlasna/Shutterstock

Blueberries go remarkably well with herbs, which is why we love adding them to an upscale slice of pizza. Since the flavor of this pie is relatively delicate, we recommend sticking to a white pizza rather than going the marinara route. Also, stick with complementary flavors for this berry, which include lemon, soft cheeses (like ricotta or goat cheese), honey, thyme, and basil. The blueberry won’t overpower the other ingredients but will instead add a fruity and bright pop to your slice. 

You can also forgo the savory pizza idea and add blueberries to your dessert pizza. Smother your crust with sweetened whipped cream cheese, and top with your macerated fruit. Add a sprinkle of lemon zest to the top, and you’ll have a pie that everyone is guaranteed to enjoy on a hot summer day. 

Apple butter

Apple butter in jar

Bhofack2/Getty Images

Apple butter is one of those autumnal food products you must try once. Its texture is thicker than applesauce, and because it’s been cooked down longer, it tends to have a thick, caramelized consistency that will taste like apple pie in a spread. The sweet, spicy notes of the apple butter make it the perfect base for both savory and sweet pizza. 

Spread your apple butter on a deep dish pie with sliced bacon, fontina, and shaved Brussels sprouts. The apple butter and the bacon marry so well, and it’s excellent when accented with the sharpness of the sprouts. You can also spread apple butter on a dessert pizza and top it with cinnamon sugar, marshmallows, and slivered apples. It’s like fall on a pizza!  

Static Media owns and operates Look and Mashed. 

Our Experts
Our Experts

Look's editorial team comprises seasoned writers and editors who specialize in the food and drink, hospitality, and agriculture sectors. We also collaborate with external experts to ensure the delivery of accurate, current information and unique recipes.

Our goal is to publish informative and engaging articles, offering readers the content they seek, from daily news to cooking tips, tricks, trends, and reviews. To maintain the highest standards of comprehensiveness, currency, and accuracy, our team continually reviews and updates our articles as needed.