New Pizza toppings to add right now
So, what are the big pizza topping trends you will see this year? If you know me, you know I love analyzing and talking trends and industry change and evolution. For the past decade, it has been my mission to be able to look for what’s next. It keeps me on the pulse of the pizza industry, as well as pizza enthusiasts.
Pizza toppings are a tough predictor as what’s hot can change quickly. That is why I, first, want to share with you some of the insights from our 2024 Pizza Industry Trends Report. The toppings represented here are not from me. Instead, they are responses from 750 pizzeria operators from across the U.S., who participated in our annual industry survey. While we’re looking at pizza topping trends here, you can go to the 2024 Pizza Industry Trends Report to get a deeper dive into toppings including the Top 20 Pizza Toppings. You can even find a list of toppings that operators are removing from menus. Now let’s get into the fun stuff.
Hot Pizza Toppings to Watch
We asked operators what pizza toppings they have introduced in the past 12 months to get a gauge on what’s hot with pizza toppings.
We found toppings that are new to pizzeria menus include:
- Going with a different pepperoni style like cup and char or old world
- Vegan meat and cheese alternatives
- Sweet and hot pepper varieties, including jalapeños, cherry peppers, and pasilla peppers
- Mexican-inspired meats like Birria, chorizo and carne asada, BBQ pork, chicken and brisket
Cheeses were all over the fill-in responses for topping additions. The biggest take away from cheeses is the trend towards blending cheeses. A few cheeses to add to your R&D are ricotta and goat cheese. Play with the whipped versions, too.
Also, it’s time to nail down the right vegan cheese for your pizza. There are a ton on the market, or you can try to make your own. Addtionally, Scamorza and fresh mozzarella are finding their way into more pizzerias around the country.
Pizza Toppings on the Horizon
In our survey, we wanted to know what toppings are in research and development. This year, the creativity in pizza kitchens is high. Here are some common themes among operators who are experimenting with pizza toppings at their shops:
• Find the right plant-based toppings. Pizzerias are looking for the best plant-based products that work for their vegan and meat- and dairy-free customers.
• Play with unique and creative toppings. While some may be seasonal, unique pizza toppings are finding their way onto menus, from more exotic mushrooms like shiitake to persimmons, waffles and even octopus. Others include smoked Kalamata olives, sweet drop peppers, curry sauce, lemons and pecans.
• Look to International flavors. Mexican, Cuban, Indian and other Asian specialties inspired pizzas are wowing culinary explorers at pizzerias.
These are just a few of the inspirations behind new topping choices. More ideas are in the report.
Denise’s Picks — 2024 Hot Pizza Topping Trend
This wouldn’t be a trends feature without me sharing what I see coming as hot pizza topping trends. Some of these toppings appear in our report. But others are toppings I’ve been tracking and noticing spikes as they are featured on more menus. In no particular order, they are:
Many have never heard of this version of cup-and-char meat, but a major industry player rolled out its product last year. Will it get as much love as its cousin, the roni cup? That will be determined by pizza lovers. I’m excited to see how this one develops.
You can thank TikTok for the rise of this braised Mexican beef. Creators have had viewers drooling over Birria slo-mo shorts. While goat and lamb are traditionally used, many versions use tender beef, various dried chili peppers, tomatoes, garlic, onion, spices and apple cider vinegar to create a broth that you are going to want to offer as a dipping sauce.
The basil-based sauce has been rejuvenated by a new generation and they are not sticking to tradition. Instead, they are gravitating towards a new field of ingredients — nuts like pistachio and oils like avocado and grapeseed, even changing up the classic basil with other herbs. Don’t know where to start? Check out Audrey Kelly’s pesto story.
We alluded to it over the summer that corn is having a moment and it’s not finished. With Southwest and Mexican style pizza popularity rising, this ingredient will find its uses across the menu. Give an elote corn pizza a try!
Now hear me out, this cured fish has its place on pizza. Creative culinary minds are proving that. Last year, cream cheese hit the mainstream on pizza and here is its perfect pairing. Use the fully cooked salmon as a finishing ingredient and pair it with arugula, cream cheese, chives and lemon. Go crazy and add avocado. That’s another ingredient I am watching closely.
This classic Italian cured meat is going through a resurgence and we’re here for it. Try mortadella post-baked with arugula, stracciatella cheese and pistachios.
Maybe you’ll find your next hot pizza topping after reading this. Maybe it will inspire you to find another ingredient that your customers will love. Either way, introducing new toppings will create excitement with your customers and your team. Let us know what you come up with.
DENISE GREER is Executive Editor of Pizza Today.