Colorado-Style Pizza: A Unique Pie from the Centennial State

Colorado-style pizza

When you think of Colorado, you probably think of the majestic Rocky Mountains, skiing, hiking, and outdoor adventures. Pizza may not be the first thing that comes to mind. However, the Centennial State has a unique culinary creation: Colorado-style pizza.


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What Is Colorado-Style Pizza?

Also known as Colorado mountain pie, this style of pizza is a departure from the traditional New York or Chicago styles that many Americans are familiar with. Instead, Colorado-style pizza is a hearty, braided thick-crust pizza (sweetened with honey) loaded with toppings. The braided crust helps give the slices loaded with ingredients more stability when lifting it to the mouth. The braided crust also resembles the foothill mountains.


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The History of Colorado-Style Pizza

Beau Jo’s pizzeria in Idaho Springs is given credit for the invention of the Colorado-style pizza. The popularity of their approach has led to the business expanding into several different communities around the state.


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The first Colorado mountain pie began being delivered to customers in 1973. More than 50,000 pounds of honey are used each year when making the dough for this culinary delight, and customers can drizzle their whole pizza with it if they choose.

This pizza’s story goes back to when Charles Shields constructed a small building in the late 19th century. Over the decades, it would hold a few tenants on Miner Street in the small mountain town, but the culinary scene would change when Beau Jo’s first owner bought the building.

It was a challenging first few years for the business and its new pizza creation. The owner often brought a sleeping bag to his pizzeria to sleep on the restaurant floor. He was eating pizza for almost every meal to save on costs.

The Colorado-style pizza became a word-of-mouth hit when nearby skiers discovered his new establishment in the Rocky Mountains. Although some of the company’s new locations have had to shut down over the years, there are a half-dozen places in the state where you can try this pie.

The outdoor experience surrounding the Colorado-style pizza is part of the attraction. After a long day of enjoying the Rocky Mountains, you can stop by your favorite pizzeria for warm food and cold beer. Then you can go on your next adventure feeling refreshed and happy because of your dining experience.

Reasons Colorado-Style Pizza Is So Unique

Here are some other ways customers appreciate the uniqueness of Colorado-style pizza.

1. The typical serving is an eight-inch pizza.

The standard Colorado-style pizza is only eight inches in diameter. You’ll still receive a lot of toppings on that pie since it weighs an entire pound. Most restaurants will serve variations of this approach to offer two-pound, five-pound, or ten-pound versions to enjoy.

2. Honey replaces the sugar in the pizza dough.

A Colorado-style pizza doesn’t put sugar in the dough to create the chemical reactions needed for rising. Honey infusions occur instead, giving the pie a distinctive flavor. Then customers can add more of it as a topping or use the sweet, sticky substance as a dunking sauce for their braided crust.

3. It still offers a crispy crust to enjoy.

The wood-fired oven that bakes the Colorado mountain pie helps it to have a crispy crust underneath the toppings. Then the braiding along the outside of each slice stays soft and chewy on the inside.


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4. You can choose from several different topping arrangements.

You can make your own pizza with a Colorado mountain pie. There is the option to try the local specialties if you prefer. One of the popular choices at Beau Jo’s is called the “Hipster.” It features roasted garlic and olive oil with fire-roasted peppers, mozzarella, ricotta, and spinach.

5. Gluten-free options are available.

You can still enjoy a Colorado mountain pie at many establishments if you have specific eating needs because of sensitivities or allergies. Beau Jo’s has an entire gluten-free menu for you to enjoy, allowing you to experience the massive selection of ingredients that can go into your meal. Vegetarian pizzas are also available.

6. You can still eat slices with your hands.

The thickness of the crust and the massive load of ingredients causes many people to approach their pie with a fork and knife. Because of the braiding action and wood-fired baking, you can eat with your hands.

7. The bigger pizzas are very affordable.

Most people can order a one-pound or two-pound pizza to feel satisfied. Those menu options are priced around $25 at most locations. Even if you step up to a three-pound Margherita pie in this unique style, it can be under $30.

8. It’s served by the pound.

Another unique aspect of Colorado-style pizza is the way it’s served. Because the pizzas are so loaded with toppings, they are typically sold by weight rather than the slice. The standard pizza is eight inches in diameter at Beau Jo’s but weighs a full pound. For those who want to take on a challenge, Beau Jo’s also offers a 14-pound pizza challenge – if you and a friend can finish it, the pizza is free.


Colorado-style pizza may not be as well-known as other types of pizza, but it’s worth trying if you find yourself in the Centennial State. This hearty, flavorful pizza with a unique braided crust and abundant toppings differs from many other pizza styles. We highly recommend checking out Beau Jo’s or any other establishments serving this type of pizza to experience this unique pie.


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