Pizza is unofficially, and undoubtedly, America’s favorite food. Americans eat roughly 100 acres of pizza EACH DAY, which means we eat 350 slices of pizza PER SECOND. That’s a whole lotta dough.
While we may consume pizza in masses, there are countless types of pizza you can order. There are regional styles from the New York slice to Chicago deep-dish, crust varieties like thin crust and stuffed crust, plus a whole menu of toppings from supreme and meat lovers to classic cheese pizza.
According to the USDA, 93% of Americans have a least one slice of pizza per month, so we’ve compiled a master list of every pizza type and style you can order. Read on to find out more about your favorite pie and discover new styles, toppings and preparations to try.
Regional Styles of Pizzas
It’s no secret that there are some big-time rivalries when it comes to pizza. Most defer their loyalty to their regional pizza style, whether it’s a New York style slice, New Haven bar pie, or square-cut Detroit style pizza.
But with the overgrowing pizzeria population around the country, typical regional styles are spreading their wings and becoming transplants in other cities. New York alone is home to pizza restaurants that serve just about every style, including those from St. Louis, Colorado, California, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
New York style.
Having a New York style slice of pizza is like playing the classics. It’s the kind of pizza you see around the world, depicted in film and television and at your local slice joint. The circular pie is typically baked in an oven at a high temperature for a short period of time until the cheese is bubbling, and contains a foldable, thin crust that is cut into traditional triangle slices.
This “default” pizza style is the most commonly delivered pizza throughout the country and it’s pizza chain stores. Highly regarded as the most popular style, the New York style pizza is often served as a classic hand-tossed cheese pie or with simple, accessible toppings like pepperoni.
The secret to an authentic NYC style pie is using locally sourced mineral water as an ingredient to form the dough, which is then slow-fermented for up to 48 hours.
One can think of a Neapolitan pizza as the granddaddy for nearly all popular pizza styles in the US. This can certainly be said for New York style pizzas, who owe their existence to the Neapolitan pizza and its Italian pizza makers who immigrated from Italy to Ellis Island.
A Neapolitan is similar to a NYC pie but much more elegant and delicate, sporting a significantly thinner and softer crust. An authentic Italian-style Neapolitan pizza is in fact so structurally delicate that many prefer to eat it with a knife and fork.
There are a number of different rules in the pizza making process to determine what makes an “authentic” Neapolitan style pizza. The tomatoes used in the sauce must be from San Marzano, the cheese made from the milk of a water buffalo, and the dough formed using authentic high-protein Italian wheat flour. The pizza must be cooked no longer than 90 seconds in a real-deal wood-fire oven.
Chicago has been battling NYC for the title of best pizza city in the US for decades. Battling might be a harsh word, as it’s hard to imagine a pizza competition harboring any ill-will or animosity between its competitors. Though there are prideful New Yorkers like John Stewart and the late Anthony Bourdain who relish(ed) at taking Chicago style pizza down.
When you take in the Chicago deep-dish style pizza and its massive volumes of sauce and cheese it’s easy to see what winds New York City pizza purists up. Where a New York style pie is light and elegant in its simplicity, a deep-dish pizza pie, is a monument to decadence and reckless abandonment (two very good qualities when it comes to pizza).
A Chicago deep-dish actually has an ingenuous design when you break it down. It starts with the dough, spread in a deep, round pan. The crust is then topped with cheese, delicious pizza toppings, and then topped with sauce. The tomato sauce on top shields the cheese from burning as it bakes for 45-60 minutes as is required for a pizza of this size, allowing for a crispy, flaky, golden-brown crust thanks to the cheese’s fats and oils.
New Haven style.
New Haven-style pizza, also referred to as “apizza,” eschews centuries of pizza tradition by boldly omitting cheese. Other than pecorino romano sprinkled liberally on top of the pizza, a standard apizza does not have any melty cheese to speak of, so there’s no glorious, steamy cheese pull to capture and upload to Instagram. However, this is not to say that a New Haven pizza is anything other than a sight to behold.
Like a New York or Neapolitan style pizza, a New Haven apizza has a chewy thin crust but the crust is notably darker and crispier due to being baked in a coal-fired oven. Probably the most unusual and famous pizza that is considered to be of the New Haven apizza style is the White Clam pizza, which – as it sounds – is a pizza featuring littleneck clams on a garlic and olive oil crust.
A Detroit-style pizza is modeled after the Sicilian – thick, spongey crust, and rectangular shape. What Detroit decided to do differently was reconstruct the traditional Sicilian to their liking by putting the cheese on first, spreading it evenly across the entire crust edge-to-edge, and then pouring the sauce over top.
Interestingly, the first Detroit style pizza was baked in a blue-steel pan used for retaining spare nuts and bolts in an auto factory, making this pizza thematically tied to its city’s former status as an automotive juggernaut.
It’s also worth mentioning that regionally sourced Wisconsin brick cheese is employed instead of mozzarella, which is sharper and tangier while offering a higher fat content. This fat is important as it helps to crisp the outer edges of the crust, which allows for the signature golden-brown to black color spectrum along the sides of the pie.
A Sicilian style pizza’s origin goes back farther than any other style of pizza on this list. It is the definitive and archetypal rectangular pan pizza. As you may have guessed, the pizza was created in Sicily, and it was originally referred to as sfincione, which literally translates to “thick sponge.” The crust of the pizza is essentially a reconstituted recipe for focaccia bread, whose indelibly soft, fluffy chew is the reason this style of pizza so aptly references a sponge.
A Sicilian pizza crust also tends to soak in a lot of the olive oil that is used to coat the pan it’s baked in, which is another demonstration of its sponginess and retains its light, chewy texture instead of crisping up in the oven. The Sicilian is a direct descendant of the Detroit-Style pizza, which is slowly sweeping across the US as a dominant pizza trend.
A Greek style pizza is distinguished primarily by its crust and its sauce, which while making use of traditional ingredients, are prepared in unique and interesting ways. The crust is baked in a shallow dish or pan instead of a round pizza stone, and it is positively floating on top of the generous amount of olive oil that is spread across the pan (this is the Greek-iest part of the preparation). This results in an unsurprisingly oily but nonetheless puffy and crackling crust that also has a soft, bready interior.
What sets the sauce apart is the way it is slow-cooked over a stovetop unattended. It’s important for the sauce not to be stirred to allow for caramelization (and a hint of burning) along the sides of the pot. The fond that forms surrounding the sauce provides depth to the sauce as it is scraped off and mixed in. While many pizzas are the result of diligent hands-on execution, sometimes a hands off approach works wonders as well.
An authentic Greek-style pizza is going to combine the flavors of oregano, olives, feta, tomatoes, and sometimes peppers. You might see a splash of vinegar added to the mix as well. This combination of ingredients leaves you with a tangy bite that can leave your tongue feeling a little tingly afterward. It is an experience that touches all of your senses at the same time, which is why those who love this recipe keep coming back for more.
California style pizza is known for its eccentricity. The eponymous California Pizza Kitchen gave birth to such strangely beautiful concoctions such as the buffalo chicken pizza and the jerk chicken pizza. They’re the connoisseurs of chicken on pizza.
California pizza, like many styles before it, is framed from the NYC mold. Where it gets interesting is the application of different ingredients and various Californian culinary trends.
Consequently, you can look to California for leading all things vegan and health-conscious when it comes to pizza. If you’re health conscious with pizza, when planning your meals, eat smaller portions less often. Instead of eating 4 slices at once, eat 1-2 over time. If you’ve ever experimented with goat cheese, artichoke hearts, or fancy fresh herbs other than basil, you can thank California as well.
St. Louis pizza
A St. Louis pie also eschews pizza tradition by using unleavened ingredients to form their crust. This means that you are unlikely to want to fold your pizza in half before you eat it less you happen to love breaking your pizza in two (hey, to each their own). This crust is the antithesis of floppiness and is often referred to as cracker-like. A St. Louis-style pizza will exclusively be thin and cut square for structural integrity.
What also sets St. Louis-style apart is the cheese they employ on top of their signature crust. They use Provel cheese, which is a processed blend of swiss, cheddar, and provolone. One of the best things about processed cheeses as it pertains to pizza is their low melting point – a Provel loaded St. Louis pie will likely be one of the gooiest (in a good way) sites you’ll lay your eyes on. In terms of taste, the notes of swiss adds a layer of nuttiness that creates a wholly original flavor experience.
Colorado style pizza.
A Colorado style pizza is one for Colorado mountain appetites. After skiing, snowboarding, hiking or swimming, this massive pizza is the cure-all to your hunger pains, typically sold by the pound rather than by the pie. The extra doughy crust is kissed with honey and then loaded with so many toppings, you can barely pick it up with your hands. Each pizzeria typically offers a signature Colorado mountain pie that is unique to their establishment like the Firecracker pizza at the original Beau Jo’s in Idaho Springs, CO. This spicy pie features fresh jalapenos, spicy chicken, ranch dressing and hot sauce. It also uses Monterey jack cheese instead of the classic mozzarella.
Trenton tomato pie.
Also known as New Jersey style pizza, the Trenton tomato pie is circular, thin and has an extra crispy texture. The biggest difference, which directly affects the crispness, is the cheese and the sauce. The cheese is actually added to the pizza FIRST, and then the tomato sauce followed thereafter. This New Jersey style pizza approach is popular in places like Utica, Providence, and Philadelphia, though you’ll rarely find it outside the Northeast.
Ohio Valley pizza.
It may seem counterintuitive, but Ohio Valley style pizza earns its stripes by adding their toppings AFTER the pizza comes out of the oven. While it’s hot and fresh, stewed tomatoes are added as the base rather than a standard sauce, followed by the cheese and toppings. The idea is that the fresh pizza cooks the toppings as they’re added, especially when left to steam inside a pizza box. Signature toppings here include provolone cheese, pepperoni and banana peppers.
Quad City pizza.
Quad City pizza originated in eastern Iowa and western Illinois, a group of cities that use malt in the crust as their secret ingredient. The malt gives this type of pizza a toasty, nutty flavor which pairs perfectly with Quad City tomato sauce, a marinara blend containing chili flakes and ground cayenne pepper for an extra special kick. The signature Quad City style pizza purists out there order this pie with signature sausage, a lean mix that’s cooked with fennel.
Old Forge style pizza.
Considered the pizza capital of the world, Old Forge style pizza in Northeastern Pennsylvania is a square-cut pizza that is served in a rectangular metal pan, known as a tray. You order this type of pizza by the “cut” rather than the “slice,” and it comes in red or white. A red pizza contains a fluffy crust with a crispy bottom and is topped with sweet tomato sauce and a highly-coveted blend of cheese (read: American??). The white pizza is double-crusted, sauceless, stuffed with a mountain of oozing cheese and topped with herbs like rosemary. Think calzone meets grilled cheese.
Common Crust Variations
It’s been documented elsewhere that crusts are what matters most to people when it comes to evaluating their pizza. Crusts form the literal base of a pizza – they are what give the cheese, sauce, and toppings form, structure, and purpose.
Crusts are also the most finicky element to get just right – thin crusts can be perilous for beginners if they’re working with the scorching hot heat of a coal or wood fired oven. Not to mention, there are so many variables to consider when you’re working with the dough – low-hydration vs. high-hydration, less vs. more gluten development, protein enrichment, fermentation time, etc. It can be a run of the mill dough formed from a simple knead job or it can be a staggering 48-hour labor! Regardless of the type of pizza you’re working with, the dough/crust takes highest priority from the get-go.
Pizzas that are made with a thin crust are slimmer than a traditional pizza, leading to a crunching yet doughy edge. The center of a standard thin crust pizza is usually thinner than the rest so the sauce, cheese and toppings are baked more quickly. New York and Neapolitan style pizza have thin crusts and use ingredients sparingly so the crust can handle the weight, especially when folded.
Thick crust pizza can support the wait of multiple toppings and a healthy amount of sauce. Crust thickness ranges from ⅛ an inch to ¼ inch. Categorically thick crust pizzas are seen on Chicago style and Sicilian pizzas where the edges are filled with ingredients and toppings, leaving the pizza to be shaped inside a pan to both bake and serve.
Gluten-free pizza does not contain gluten, meaning the dough is not made from wheat flour and contains less than 20 ppm of gluten. Pizza made without gluten often utilizes potato starch or rice flour to bind the ingredients together to make the pizza dough. Aside from wheat, other items that contain gluten are rye, barley and spelt. Those who suffer from a gluten intolerance or celiac disease can only eat this type of pizza.
Shout out to Stouffer’s for the famous french bread frozen pizza, a staple for college students and latchkey kids alike. The split baguette is topped with simple ingredients like sauce, cheese and pepperoni and the both halves are tossed in the oven until bubbly and extra crisp. It’s like garlic bread, but way, way better.
A stuffed crust pizza is as easy as it sounds, a pizza that’s filled with a cheese-stuffed crust, usually chewy, stretchy mozzarella cheese. The cheese stick is enveloped in the dough before cooking so you have a 100% chance of a cheesy breadstick every time. Now a staple at pizza chains, Pizza Hut debuted this publicity stunt back in 1995 and it’s stuck ever since.
Popular Types of Pizza Orders
All great pizzas bring a little something extra to the table. Sometimes this extra something is nothing more than extraordinary preparation and quality ingredients, even if everything else is conventional. But then there are also times where lavishness and excess is the factor that floats the most boats. With pizza, there is beauty to find in both simplicity and multiplicity. These key toppings and pizza types are the “pepperoni on top” of a perfect pie. See what we did there?
The second most popular topping in the US behind pepperoni is extra cheese. Yes, cheese is its own topping – it is in fact the most important layer of toppings on a pizza! How much cheese you wish to use is going to depend not only on your preference for cheesiness, but also the type of cheese you enjoy. While you might be used to mozzarella, as you may have read previously some styles omit it entirely, or blend it with different cheeses to create the best melting experience.
The perfect amount of cheese for some pizzas, like the New Haven style pizza for instance, is just a sprinkling of pecorino. While the most photogenic slices out there feature long, stringy cheese pulls, that needn’t always be the amount of cheese you require or want on a pizza. The converse is also true, where the perfect amount of cheese could be a mountain of mozzarella.
Some may say that pepperoni pizza is the GOAT, the greatest of all time. This is certainly true here in the States, where 251,770,000 pounds of pepperoni are consumed every year and 36% of all pizza orders want their pie topped with pepperoni. There’s something irreplaceable about this spicy, oily and crisp cured meat that perfectly marries gooey cheese and pizza sauce.
Where are our carnivores at? Meat lovers will, indeed, relish in the meat lovers pizza, topped with pepperoni, sausage, bacon, salami and whatever other meat toppings the kitchen has readily available. Be sure to ask your local pizzeria what’s on their meat lovers pizza. You may be in store for some fun surprises like fried chicken, ground beef or BBQ pork if you ask nicely.
A supreme pizza is what you order when you can’t decide what type of pizza you want. The supreme has a little bit of everything, from pepperoni and crumbled sausage to classic veggies like red onions, peppers and olives. There are no surprises here, just fresh, traditional ingredients all atop one perfectly cooked cheese pie.
Vegan pizza is a go-to for plant-based diets these days, focusing on one specific category to rule them all: vegetables. With plant-based and vegan products hot on the market these days, a typical vegan pizza can be topped with vegan cheese in addition to roasted vegetables like eggplant and zucchini or classic ingredients like green peppers, red onions and olives. The most important thing is that the pizza is made without any animal products, including dairy, honey or eggs.
Give your classic cheese pie some color, texture and elegance by adding some veggies. It’s not only “good for your health” but also adds different flavor profiles and depth to your pizza. Jazz it up with green peppers, roasted red peppers, mushrooms, eggplant, onions, olives, tomato slices and more for an extra tasty veggie pizza.
Margherita pizza, it can be argued, is the reason so many Italian immigrants who traveled to the US in the early 20th century had such extensive pizza knowledge. The pizza Margherita is named after Queen Margherita of Savoy, who was served the pizza in 1889 in celebration of the reunification of Italy. The pizza was designed to represent the colors of the Italian flag – red (sauce), white (fresh mozzarella cheese), and green (fresh torn basil leaves). This moment kicked off a ravenous demand for pizza that has lasted for centuries.
For all your BBQ lovers out there, combine your favorite Southern barbecue flavors with cheesy good pizza on a BBQ chicken pizza. This cult-favorite can be found at your local sports bar or college slice joint as an addictive, hearty meal. Rather than using marinara sauce, the pizza is slathered with BBQ sauce and sprinkled with a cheese blend before being topped with grilled or pulled chicken. You’ll love the sweet, tangy flavor.
The buffalo chicken pie has all the flavors of your wing-and-sauce combos but on easily accessible pizza dough. Chicken breast cutlets are the star here, either grilled or fried, followed by a blend of monterey jack and mozzarella cheeses, hot sauce and ranch dressing. More refined versions may include blue cheese crumbles, blue cheese sauce, spring onions and even a proprietary blend of local spicy sauces.
“The works” is the pizza equivalent of the phrase, “everything but the kitchen sink.” A pizza that contains the works features meat, cheese and vegetables abound and largely depends on the pizza place that’s serving it. In a traditional sense, the suite of toppings more specifically include mozzarella, sausage, pepperoni, green peppers, onion, mushrooms and olives. Oftentimes, additional cheese is added like a pecorino or parmesan, and the kitchen can put other fun add-ons too like anchovies, bacon, ricotta, roasted garlic or cherry tomatoes.
It may be hotly debated as to whether pineapple belongs on a pizza, but there’s no out-running this topping at your local pizza restaurant. Diced, salty ham joins forces with sweet, tart pineapple for an unexpectedly delicious flavor combination.
In Conclusion, All Pizza is Delicious
There aren’t really any wrong choices when it comes to pizza (yes, that even includes oreo pizza). While arguments over which style of pizza is superior are unfortunately all too common throughout the US, it’s ultimately never a good use of one’s time to denigrate one less favored type of pizza over another.
One (wo)man’s idea of pizza heaven could be another (wo)man’s idea of pizza hell, or pizza purgatory (which is probably still good pizza, to be honest).The point is, we should all appreciate the immense diversity, history, and creativity involved with producing our favorite pizzas.
You may have strong convictions about what true pizza is, and are inclined to dismiss other styles not fitting into your mold, but the truth is pizza making has always been about breaking the mold.