Vegan Pizza Guide: From Base to Sauce, from Cheese to Toppings!Erin Lecky
When I first went vegan, I was afraid that I was going to have to leave my great love for pizza behind. Let’s face it, pizza was very much an integral part of my early adulthood years – during college, as a student burning the midnight oil, or in my early twenties, coming out of a club at night .
When I went vegan, my perception was that pizza just wasn’t pizza without the cheese. And 7 years ago, when I became vegan, vegan cheese was practically non-existent, or if it did exist, it tasted like feet. Fortunately, a lot has changed since then, and now a vegan pizza still holds a place in my heart, just in a different way. Aside from eating pizza at more reasonable hours these days (yes, I’m adulting well), I enjoy it in a variety of forms: from the healthy, vegetable-loaded pie without any cheese, to the not-so-healthy, decadent, cheesy, greasy, over-the-top pizza. These days, no matter what your preference or dietary restrictions are, there’s a vegan pizza out there just waiting for you.
If you are looking for some vegan pizza inspiration, this guide to vegan pizzas and toppings will help you turn your kitchen into your very own pizzeria:
Vegan Pizza Base
Every good pizza needs a solid foundation. If you’re a pizza novice, just wanting to get your toes wet, you could start out with store-bought, pre-made, frozen dough and just add your own sauce and toppings (see ideas for sauces and toppings below). Most brands are naturally vegan, just read the label and make sure there isn’t any dairy or egg hidden amongst the ingredients.
There are also a lot of vegan and gluten-free pizza doughs available for purchase, or you could try making your own. There’s a plethora of recipes available online, gluten-free or not. You can experiment with different thick and thin bases made with quinoa flour, red lentil flour, chickpea flour, or even cauliflower crust, which I highly recommend.
Raw vegan pizza crust is also a thing, usually made from nuts and seeds. There are lots of online recipes available, including this beautiful red pepper and flax crust one.
Vegan Pizza Sauce
If you like your pizza traditional and saucy, you’ll be happy to learn that most traditional store-bought tomato sauces are vegan. Some will be plain tomato sauce, others will combine the likes of basil and garlic – check the ingredient list to make sure there are no hidden animal-based ingredients – but those types of sauces are usually a sure shot.
You could also get fancy and make your own sauce, which will really open up your options. You won’t be at a loss looking for vegan tomato pizza sauce recipes on the internet. They run the gamut from simple to rich and complex, some combining mushrooms, delicious herbs and other delectable options.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you could try making a white sauce from cashews, or even use vegan pesto instead of tomato sauce. Additional sauce ideas include olive oil and garlic, hummus, or for the non-conventional, a savory beet-pumpkin puree sauce.
Melty Vegan Cheese
You could always embrace your inner minimalist and go cheeseless. I’ve made many an excellent pizza sans cheese with just a little nutritional yeast sprinkled on. Yum.
Need the cheese? There are many excellent vegan brands available at your local supermarket and online – from Miyoko’s to Daiya, to Violife, Follow Your Heart and numerous others. You’re bound to find a brand you like. Some are made with soy, others with nuts or coconut oil. Some come grated, others you grate yourself. Just be sure it’s a pizza cheese, as some of them don’t melt well under a broiler. And of course, you could always experiment and make your own cheese from cashews – it’s even possible to make it meltable!
Grated vegan cheese and nutritional yeast
Vegan Pizza Toppings
Here’s where you can keep it simple or go all out. There’s really an endless supply of vegan topping variations out there. From your classic vegetable toppings to surprising combos, and from low-fat to decadent.
Most of us are pizza lovers at heart, so I’m sure you have your own favorite veggie combo – but experimenting is also fun. I just discovered my love for an artichoke, caper, sun-dried tomato and pineapple combo, for example. I’ve also been experimenting with seitan, which makes a wonderful vegan pepperoni.
If you like a “meaty” pizza but you’re not into making your own vegan meats, scour your supermarket for some of these delicious toppings. These can include vegan sausages and vegan “bacon”, which can actually make for delicious vegan pizza toppings.
Must-Try Vegan Pizza Combos
Classic vegan pizza combos
A simple and timeless combination is sometimes best: bell peppers, mushrooms, onions, olives, fresh basil and tomatoes with a good vegan cheese can be all you need. To amp it up, add some pineapples, artichokes, spinach and vegan pepperoni. Any combination of the above works well.
Also try: pesto with roasted tomatoes or other roasted veggies, such as broccoli, zucchini, mushrooms, etc.
Surprising vegan pizza combos
Falafel pizza – A hummus sauce on regular dough topped with crushed falafel, olives, tomatoes, onions, drizzled with a tahini “cheese”.
Sweet potato pizza with olives and onions – This combo goes best with a white sauce. It seems odd, but once you try it, you’ll be hooked.
Beet and kale pizza – A pizza on a health mission. Try this with a hummus sauce.
BBQ chickpea pizza – So delicious with a ranch dressing, cilantro and some hot peppers, with or without vegan mozzarella.
Mexican-style pizza – Add some black beans, tomatoes, onions and greens and even avocado to this one.
Sweet vegan pizza
Yes, you just heard that. This idea might be out of the box, but why not excite your guests with a vegan pizza dessert made up of a sweet base, chocolate spread “sauce” and strawberries or vegan candy toppings? There are some wild and glorious vegan sweet pizza recipes out there – feel free to give them a go!
With a little imagination, there’s no limit to where you can take your vegan pizza. I hope you’ve found this guide helpful and are now inspired to pop some pies in the oven, and maybe even indulge in a little midnight snacking… for old time’s sake.
Whatever you decide to try, I would probably suggest to steer clear of JP’s raw vegan pizza (see video below), but other than that – you should be fine!
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