Pizza is the world’s favorite food. There’s no food more widespread and beloved than this magical combination of cheese, sauce, and crust.
Every culture has its set of cherished toppings that reflect the local cuisine. While taste is undeniably subjective, certain pizza toppings generate strong controversies for pizza eaters. Some toppings stray so far from the cultural and flavorful norms that their presence is an abomination. Other toppings are controversial as standalone foods, to say nothing of their status as pizza toppings. Nevertheless, you’ll see these toppings as common fixtures on pizza menus worldwide and even as traditional toppings in Italy. Read on to check out my list of the worst pizza toppings.
These pizza toppings are controversial – you might love them, or you might hate them.
I had high hopes for broccoli, considering how much I love a bowl of broccoli and cheese soup. Unfortunately, broccoli falls short of the mark both texturally and as a flavoring agent. It either doesn’t cook enough in the oven, delivering an off-putting raw crunch, or it is overcooked and mushy.
Spinach may be healthy and neutral tasting, but it does pizza no favors. Even if you wanted to put it on a pizza fresh out of the oven, it’ll still wilt and create a slimy film that gets stuck in your teeth. Stick to arugula if you must put a leafy green on your pizza.
Raw Sliced Tomatoes
Tomato sauce is all the tomato a pizza needs in my opinion. Putting raw sliced tomatoes on pizza is the worst kind of redundancy. The sweetness that tomato sauce brings out completely overshadows the more subtle flavors of raw tomatoes, so they just end up being a mushy, mealy nuisance.
Canned tuna has such a strong, fishy flavor that it needs either a neutral cracker or a mixture of mayo and pickles to complement it. I also think it needs a crunchy pairing to complement its soft, mushy texture. Its flavor and texture clash with pizza so fantastically that it might take the cake for the worst pizza topping ever!
Shrimp is a tasty and refined crustacean that deserves to be the star of the show. While many might order it on pizza as an upgrade, they’d be doing both shrimp and pizza an injustice. I would rather enjoy it in a lovely sauce with rice or even over pasta but smothering it with cheese and tomato sauce and baking it doesn’t highlight its flavor or texture.
Pineapple is one of the most controversial pizza toppings in pizza’s long history. Still, Hawaiian pizza is one of the most popular specialty pies in America. I agree with the Italians that pineapple on pizza is an abomination. Juicy, acidic fruit over salty and savory pizza is like nails on a chalkboard!
Raw onions are hard to handle on any dish from salads to tacos, so why should pizza be any different? Spoiler alert, it’s not! It doesn’t matter if it’s white, purple, or yellow; raw onions are stinky and spicy. The smell alone overpowers anything it accompanies. If you want to put onions on pizza, they better be cooked to caramelized perfection.
Some say that anchovies are an acquired taste. I, for one, have yet to acquire a taste for them. There’s also the gross-out factor of eating whole fish, eyes, and all! Anchovies may be high in protein and good fats, but they are incredibly salty, fishy, and slimy. No amount of cheese or crust could neutralize their flavor enough for me to consider them edible. While I’m not a fan, these are still a popular pizza topping.
The first time I saw a friend dipping their pizza slice in ranch dressing, I was highly offended. Now, it’s a common drizzle for unconventional pizza menus in the U.S. You might as well drench your pizza in mayonnaise if you ask me. While I’m not a fan, a lot of people like ranch as a dipping sauce for their pizza or right on top. You either love it or hate it.
Another juicy and sweet topping, corn has a very distinctive flavor that doesn’t fuse well with Italian flavors. It makes my pizza taste like an enchilada. I love enchiladas, but if I order a pizza, I want it to taste like one. I’m all for fusion cuisine, but in the case of corn and pizza, I object!
One of the trendiest foods on the market, avocados make everything taste better! Well, not everything. Avocado on pizza doesn’t work well texturally. It may be creamy, like cheese, but it doesn’t melt. I want a creamy topping to melt and even distribute itself over more pungent toppings. I’ll save my avocadoes for toast the next morning instead.
At Neapolitan pizzerias, there’s always at least one pizza with a fried egg on top. Cracking a fresh egg on top of pasta makes the dish creamy, as seen in the classic carbonara. On pizza, however, many people don’t like a runny egg. Personally, I don’t mind an egg on pizza if it goes with the other ingredients, but it’s not even close to my top pick for toppings.
Olives are a controversial food that you either love or hate. Their distinctive umami flavor will stand out no matter what you pair them with. I applaud their unapologetic presence, but their strong flavor gets two thumbs down. The worst is when pizzerias put whole olives on pizza, so you not only have to eat large chunks of umami, but you have to spit the pits out with every bite.
Mushrooms are one of the most popular pizza toppings on earth. Still, many consider them one of the worst pizza toppings because they’re averse to mushrooms in general. Mushrooms are earthy and savory, but they often get slimy or burnt on pizzas. If they’re cooked right, I still enjoy mushrooms on pizza even if others don’t!
Another popular fusion topping, barbecue sauce, is often the base of barbecue-inspired pies with grilled chicken, cheddar cheese, and red onions. I’m a purist when it comes to pizza. I want Italian flavors, herbs, and preparations. While tomatoes are a key ingredient in barbecue sauce, the smokiness and tang are best left as a glaze for smoked meats.
There’s a reason our parents had to bribe us with dessert to get us to eat our peas! My hatred for them has not diminished since childhood. I don’t know what I dislike more, their mushy texture or an unsettling sweetness that no vegetable should possess. Suffice it to say, they would only serve to destroy a pizza.
I love grilled artichokes with remoulade, and the heart is always the meaty prize at the end. Artichoke hearts on pizza are typically the canned or jarred kind that has been soaking in water or brine. This completely changes their flavor and texture in the worst way for me. I’ll order some grilled artichoke as an appetizer before devouring a pizza devoid of them.
I tried really hard to imagine how kale could possibly work on a pizza, and nothing came to mind. Raw kale is entirely too thick and fibrous. Sauteed kale is too dense and watery. Baked kale is too bitter and dry. Kale is best as a side dish or a salad, anyway.