The Definitive Pizza Topping Ranking

I am a mass consumer of pizza. In my household, we probably consume two or three pizza or pizza-like substances a week at bare minimum. I think because my wife and I both work retail and she goes to school full time, our food options tend to lean toward the easy and the take out. I have always been a pizza lover and over the years have developed into a pizza snob. I will tend to eat anything on a pizza but I definitely have my favorites. 

1. Cheese

The most important aspect of a good pizza is the cheese. Without it, you basically have sauce and bread. Extra cheese on a pizza can be a nice addition sometimes. The ooey gooey melty-ness provides the binder to the whole pie. It really ties the pizza together.

Picture of Brian Williams smiling and holding a slice of pizza. Sparkly superimposed text reads "Pizza or GTFO."
Cheese pizza. Because Brian Williams said so.

2. Sausage

The best meat you can have on a pizza. If you can get a good sausage, the pizza improves 100 fold. I have always preferred this suspect meat product to the basic pepperoni. In school, sausage pizza day was my favorite. I know it wasn’t really sausage, but those little brown balls of deliciousness were something I looked forward to. Sausage also pairs really well with most non-meat toppings.

3. Pepperoni

I debated ranking it lower on the list, but pepperoni tends to be the basic one topping pizza besides cheese. It is the mass market ingredient of pizza. There is a reason most places that serve slices always have pepperoni on stand by. I think its because Big Pepperoni has consistently paid off pizza places to use their ingredients over sausage.

Animated gif with a line drawing of a woman dancing on a pepperoni pizza, with Obama's head, in front of a starry background with fireworks.
Pepperoni, y’all

4. Mushrooms

The fungi provide a nice meaty alternative on a pizza and pair really well with pretty much any other ingredient you can get on your pie. Most mushrooms tend to be like tofu, flavorless, but great for absorbing surrounding flavors. With the right combo of spices and the tomato sauce, mushrooms get super flavorful.

5. Onions

Like on hamburgers, onions on pizza add a bit of texture and bite that adds a level of flavor. Red onions tend to be the best ones to use and most pizza places now use them. Even Domino’s does.

6. Olives

Much like mushrooms, olives are waiting to take on the flavors around them. Their pickled nature though adds just a bit of salty sweetness that makes them perfect to be paired with a mushroom, or a sausage, or even a pepperoni. I really love olives and tend to get extra olives on everything.

7. Red Peppers

Green peppers tend to be the default pepper on a pizza, but red peppers actually contain more flavor and don’t taste like water. I will jump at a chance to get red peppers on a pizza if it is an option.

8. Pineapple

I am sure I have lost you by now. Pineapple tends to be very divisive. I just really love my Canadian bacon/pineapple pizza. It’s really damn good. Pineapple also pairs well with sausage. Actually anything that could use a little sweet and pineapple can go with.

9. Bacon

Bacon is a great second meat but I would never really order it as the main or only meat on a pizza. It doesn’t have the gravitas to hold a good pie together.

10. Canadian Bacon

Really, only use when ordering pineapple. Otherwise ham is super boring.

11. Sun-Dried Tomatoes

A newer addition to the pizza oeuvre, a good veggie pizza will tend to have sun dried tomatoes on it. I find it a bit too acidic because the sauce is also tomatoey. I am not a tomato person so that is probably why. I know a lot of people swear by them.

12. Green Peppers

Not as good as the red pepper.

13. Spinach

Really only good on a veggie pizza or if you are getting some sort of white sauce pizza. I like white sauce pizzas, but to me that feels a bit non traditional. I love spinach, but I prefer it in my salad than on my pizza.

14. Chicken

Chicken on a pizza? Exactly. Most of the time it’s when you get something like a thai chicken pizza or a chicken spinach white sauce pizza. It just seems to be not the best ingredient for a great pie experience.

The Worst: Anchovies

I like anchovies but they are really fucking salty. I think I am going to love eating them. Take one bite and I regret it.. Every. Single. Time.

I know there are plenty of other ingredients I am missing. Tell me your favorite pizza ingredients and places. I want to know where I should eat in every city!

Animated gif of a tabby cat "eating" a slice of pizza.
Or tell us where your cat likes to eat pizza!

By Alyson

Queer Pop Culture Junkie in the Northwest. Addicted to Coffee, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Fantasy Sports, The Mountain Goats, and Tottenham Hotspur.

20 replies on “The Definitive Pizza Topping Ranking”

If I’m in charge, extra cheese. If I’m ordering with my mother or sister, we compromise with artichoke hearts (artichokes are one of my tied-for-favourite vegetables). If I’m with my father, half gets extra cheese & half gets pepperoni, although at some pizzerias I will gladly eat the pepperoni.

About ten years ago, I had my first cholesterol test, and the result was over 200. My mother asked how it could get so high. I just replied, “cheese.” It’s still just over 200, but my physician feels the ratio is gorgeous, so I just need to make sure it doesn’t get out of hand.

Once Buffalo is visitable again, I recommend the following:
Casa di Pizza (also in Florida because the owner is nuts or something) — greasy in a great way. I soak up said grease with my crust. I’ve been going here for decades. Great overall menu.
Pasquale’s — fantastic Italian food, too. I recommend the stuffed shells. They know how to work cheese. Also the seafood soup is fabulous. Go to the location in East Aurora before or after a walk around the village!
Guzzo’s — a neighborhood corner pizzeria in an OLD working-class neighborhood. (I’m not exaggerating; my family’s lived in that neighborhood since the late 19th century.) Huge selection of subs, too.
Prima — going to a concert, play, or sporting event downtown? Eat at Prima afterward, especially if you love pizza sprinkled with parsley & oregano.
Bob and John’s — also greasy, but a treat if you’re a saucy unicorn. Plus they have a lunch buffet!
Emergency — open until FOUR IN THE FREAKING MORNING twice a week, and until 2:00 the other five days. Spicy pepperoni.

Honorable Mentions to Ricotta’s, Just Pizza, and Leonardi’s.

Meatballs! Or breaded and fried chicken, so it’s like chicken parmesan on a pizza! Sadly, most of the pizza places out in Seattle-land are crappy-ass thin-crust Neopolitan-style things that make a mockery of pizza.

I’m from New Jersey-I have OPINIONS! Also, one time we ordered from this place that had great New York style pizza AND it was named “Fatty’s” but, as it turned out, the night we ordered was their last night in business. So much sad :(

My favorite is pepperoni, but I am *quite* fond of chicken with barbecue sauce instead of marinara. Ideally the latter should have a mix of cheddar with whatever white cheese you are using (mozzarella and provolone are both acceptable IMO). I like pineapple with “canadian bacon” but only when the canadian bacon is in decent sized pieces and not like, shreds/matchsticks. Bacon is nice on cheese sticks. Oh, and I second Hillary’s vote for meatball (sliced). I’ve only found one place near me that does it, but it’s good when you can get it. Gyro meat can be pretty tasty too. Actually, I like pulled pork with barbecue sauce, too. I like a lot of pizza!


tl;dr version

Veggie pizzas WITH pepperoni are my favorite.

South Perry Pizza in Spokane, the pizza place across the street from Powell’s in Portland (bonus: they do a really good vegan Caesar salad, so no anchovies), and Pizza Baron in Great Falls are the favorite places off the top of my head.

Pizza Baron is fairly new. Its in the same building that Beer Baron was in (and yes, they have Beer Baron sausage to use on pizza). We order it a lot into the Row when we need food while setting up for events because they are close by and also delicious. Their pepperoni is excellent, but I also love the meatball and taco pizzas.

I totally just had pizza for dinner! A slice and a half of sausage, because it’s amazing, and about half a slice of cheese, because I don’t actually want to have a heart attack tonight.

I’m all about meat on pizza. Pepperoni was always my fave growing up, though I don’t get it much anymore unless I’m eating Totino’s. The place we go to here has amazing sausage pizza, and their chicken parm pizza is pretty good too (you have to add extra cheese and sauce to get a really good chicken pizza, otherwise it can be kinda sad and dry). I used to work by a place that had amazing super-thin crust bacon pizza (Pie in the East Village in NYC). And it may just be an NYC thing, but meatball pizza where you get massive slices of meatballs (instead of sad little pieces of ground beef) is so fucking good. (Nick’s in Forest Hills, Queens being the best version.)

Leave a Reply