Anything can be vegan when you know how! Use the tips below to build your perfect vegan pizza, whether it’s a close copy of your favorite take-out option, a hand-crafted Italian masterpiece, or a super healthy treat.
1. The Base
Made the traditional Italian way, pizza dough is automatically vegan as it’s baked using fine bread flour, yeast, salt and water, and maybe olive oil. However, be wary of pizza chains that add milk products to their recipe. For example, Domino’s uses whey powder in all its dough – always check before ordering.
You can also buy ready-made pizza bases in most supermarkets which is convenient and allows you to spend more time having fun with toppings! But again, make sure you check for the ubiquitous whey powder before buying.
The best option is to make your own. It’s easy, fun, cheap, delicious, and healthy. It ticks all the boxes! If you have time, mix and knead your dough with fresh or dried yeast and let it prove for at least an hour. If you’re pushed for time (or just really hungry), you can skip the waiting and use baking soda instead. To do this, combine 2 cups flour with 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp salt, and 1 tbsp olive oil. Slowly incorporate warm water until you have a soft dough-like consistency, shape into a circle on a baking tray, and add toppings. It will rise a lot as it cooks and give you a base that is more substantial and ‘cakey’ than the traditional stretchy crust.
For really healthy pizza, try a sensational pizza base recipe that’s gluten-free and super low in calories.
2. The Topping
One important rule here: make sure you use plenty of tomato sauce! Without enough of this key ingredient, your pizza might end up resembling bread with some vegetables on top. Which can be tasty, but it’s pizza you want right now, not bruschetta.
Make your own simple sauce by mixing equal parts of tomato purée and sieved tomatoes, and adding some dried herbs and olive oil. You can also experiment with smoky barbecue sauce in place of tomato, for a gorgeous Southern flavor.
Toppings that work fabulously on vegan pizza include artichokes, cooked spinach, grilled peppers, sweetcorn, smoked tofu, aubergine, and fresh garlic.
3. The ‘Cheese’
You don’t have to have cheese on a pizza, but it helps…especially if you’re trying to impress friends with how easy it is to make everything vegan. There are three ways to top a vegan pizza with something cheesey:
- Use a soy-based cheese alternative. Just grate it over the top and cook as normal. Dairy-free cheese burns more easily than animal-based cheese, so make sure it’s firmly pushed onto the moist toppings below and take regular peeks through the oven door.
- Make cheese sauce. You can buy a dry powder mix which combines with water or soy milk to make a sauce. Create a thicker sauce by doubling the quantity of powder recommended on the side of the tin (i.e. if it says 4tsp, use 8tsp to the same volume of liquid). Cook as normal then spread it (carefully!) over your toppings, before the pizza goes in the oven.
- Make a dry ‘grated cheese’ mixture. After the pizza has finished baking, sprinkle nutritional yeast or finely chopped roasted cashew nuts all over it and eat immediately. Or try blending both of these into a breadcrumb consistency and using as you would grated cheese. Mmmmm! Nutritional yeast is a powerhouse of protein and B vitamins, making this the most wholesome and delicious option of the three.