Pizzas are one of the most versatile meals, which also makes them almost universally beloved. Whether it’s people who like indulging in junk food or ones with a more sophisticated palate — pizza always has takers.
When we think of a crispy and tasty grilled pizza, it’s the cheese, meat, sauce, and dough that strikes us first. But trust us when we tell you that your pizza won’t be half as good if it didn’t have specific spices and herbs.
Keep reading as we discuss the best spices and herbs for making a pizza that can help you create something totally original, or retain the traditional Italian flavor.
A well-renowned member of the mint family, oregano is a staple in almost every cook’s spice cabinet. It has a distinct savory and pungent camphor-like flavor that is surprisingly earthy and minty at the same time.
It’s also one of the most used herbs in Italian cooking, and considering pizza is a part of Italian cuisine, it’s understandable that oregano is a must-have pizza topping. This herb works best with pepperoni and spinach, so if these two are your toppings of choice, don’t forget to add a generous amount of oregano for that extra burst of flavor.
Basil and oregano are basically cousins, being a part of the mint family. Both are also quite similar, so much so that you can use basil in almost every recipe that uses oregano. The herbs are complementary to each other and work best with savory ingredients commonly used for pizza-making.
But there’s a big difference as well.
Basil has a sweeter note than oregano due to licorice notes, along with a minty and herbaceous flavor. Think of it being similar to other herbs like dried mint and thyme.
You can use it when preparing the tomato sauce for the pizza or simply as a topping. In the case of the latter, make sure you use fresh leaves for better taste and appearance.
According to us, garlic is one of the best spices that you could use as a topping for pizza – more so if it’s roasted. Traditionally though, this spice is used to make the pizza sauce more flavorful.
As some of you might already be aware, garlic has an intense aromatic smell that not only adds a savory and earthy sulfurous hint to the pizza but can also mesh excellently with vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian toppings.
Rosemary should be your go-to pizza spice if you want some serious flavor. With its pointy leaves and woody stems, rosemary has a strong pine flavor and a tangy, woodsy smell.
Heads up: The strong flavor of this herb can overpower your pizza’s ingredients, which is why you should use it carefully.
Rosemary isn’t one of the more common spices associated with pizza, but you can still use it when preparing the sauce. You should use rosemary, particularly if you plan on adding Italian sausage or meat chunks as a topping on your pizza – just don’t use this herb as a fresh topping as you would with basil.
Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
Adding crushed red pepper flakes is a must for pizza lovers who don’t mind a little heat to the traditional pizza. Interestingly, pizza is supposed to be a very mild dish, which can also make it a little bland for those who like their meals spicy.
Red pepper flakes can also be the perfect complement to the usual ingredients of the pizza, such as grated cheese, vegetables, and meat. Plus, the fats from the pepperoni or sausage topping, as well as the dairy component of the cheese, accelerate the breakdown of capsaicin that ensure your pizza doesn’t become too hot to handle.
Black pepper is hands down one of the most widely used spices in the world. Describing the flavor profile of this spice is a bit tricky since its sharp, piney, and woody – all at the same time!
It has an undeniable earthiness that also lends it a unique pungent taste, making it a little hot and biting. This is exactly why black pepper can be an excellent ingredient to add to your pizza dough.
Remember, black pepper isn’t salt. In other words, you cannot use spice for enhancing flavor. So only use it when you want to add a bit of heat to your meal.