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Sicilian Pizza: What is it?

Let us answer all your questions about this classic style of pizza.

Pizza is a food that many of us enjoy indulging in and there are many varieties available. Not only is there an endless selection of toppings to choose from but there are different styles of pizza too. These styles vary from Neopolitan to New York Style, Greek, and of course Sicilian. 

fresh sicilian pizza in a pan

Sicilian Pizza is popular amongst many food enthusiasts. If you are yet to try it, you may be wondering what all of the fuss is about. We have provided you with everything that you need to know about this delicious style of pizza in our article below. 


Everything You Need to Know About Sicilian Pizza

Where Does Sicilian Pizza Come From?

As implied by its name, this type of pizza originates from the Italian region of Sicily. It is served in square-shaped slices and is known for its thick crust. Sicilian pizza is also referred to as focaccia or sfincione, the latter meaning ‘’thick sponge’’. 

an alleyway in sicily

The base is usually covered with a meatless sauce and topped with herbs, onions, anchovies, and tomatoes. It is then finished with breadcrumbs and cheese is added to enhance the flavors. 

Traditional Sicilian Pizza is not usually topped with mozzarella because their milk comes from sheep and goats rather than cows, instead, the cheese of choice tends to be a grated, hard cheese. 

Now, Sicilian Pizza is enjoyed in many other countries and regions and has undergone a few adaptations to reflect the local cuisine. The New York-style variety provides a prime example of how it has evolved. 


How is Sicilian Pizza Different From Other Types of Pizza?

Sicilian Pizza is different from other types of pizza for multiple reasons. It is a food that is very much recognized in Italian Cuisine. Perhaps the most noticeable difference between Sicilian Pizza and other types of pizza can be identified in the texture and thickness of the base and crust.

It is fairly similar to pan-styled pizza with the exception that it does not have a bordered crust, instead, the toppings and sauce reach the border. The shape of this pizza is achieved by cooking it in a unique shaped rectangular tray. 

person cutting thick crust sicilian pizza with scissors

Whilst this type of pizza may be topped with similar ingredients to Neopolitan Pizza, in regions like Palermo, it is topped with a generous amount of strong cheese and sauce and the base is much doughier.  

As we have touched upon, there are now different takes on this style of pizza, some of which have a different appearance from others. The American Variation of Sicilian Pizza is also square-shaped, however, in certain areas, the base is topped with mozzarella cheese and the sauce is then added to the top of this. The flavor of this sauce is a little more prominent. 

There are many Italian regions that still make this pizza in the traditional way.


Why is Sicilian-Style Pizza Popular?

This is a style of pizza that is favored by many. This unique pizza combines a variety of great-tasting ingredients. Although it may have high sodium and fat content, it’s a great source of calcium and it also contains some protein and carbohydrates. Besides the taste, there are many other reasons why Sicilian pizza is so commonly sought after. 

Ingredients of Sicilian Pizza

You will find that the majority of recipes for Sicilian pizza do not call for an extensive list of ingredients. Of course, you can add as many ingredients as you desire but most traditional recipes call for the use of herbs, a tomato sauce and onions, and cheese to top it.

As such, you needn’t worry about stocking up on a huge number of ingredients to create this pizza. Moreover, it is not that high in calories either.

The Crust

sicilian pizza with spongey crust

Whilst the crust of the Sicilian pizza is thicker than most types, it’s made so that it is light and spongy. Because of this, it is going to be easy to chew and digest and you aren’t going to feel too full after taking a bite. Also, most recipes use an equal amount of sauce and toppings so you can enjoy a combination of delicious flavors in each bite. 

You Can Top It With Any Kind of Cheese

In the region of Sicily, this pizza tends to be made using a hard grated cheese as there never used to be a lot of cows that they could get their milk from. The most commonly used cheese is Pecorino Romano Cheese.

Now, the regions of Italy are home to many more cows which means that there are a lot more varieties of cheese available, mozzarella is one of them. For this reason, you can be as adventurous as you like and add the cheese that you feel is going to taste the best on your pizza.

For a more distinguished taste why not add a more unique type of cheese that has a more powerful taste. 

This Pizza is Made Using Authentic Ingredients and Traditional Cooking Practices

Italy isn’t the most receptive to fast food. Whilst you will see many fast-food establishments spread throughout the region when possible they like to encourage the consumption of the food that reflects their culture and this is part of their slow food movement.

person cooking sicilian pizza in an oven

The aim of this movement is to preserve the cuisine of Italy, whilst also encouraging individuals to use local produce. Sicilian pizza is a prime example of a dish that uses authentic cooking practices and ingredients.

In most instances, the sauce is made fresh too. Due to the simplicity of the ingredients, when possible they should be fairly easy to get hold of from local suppliers and farms. 

It is Topped With a Generous Serving of Sauce

After spending time making and waiting for your pizza to cook, you don’t want to take a bite only to discover that it is dry and lacking in flavor. A great thing about Sicilian pizza is that it is topped with a generous serving of sauce, especially when compared to other types of pizza.

The sauce adds an intense and noticeable flavor. Depending on the recipe that you follow, the sauce will often be added after the cheese. Furthermore, as the pizza cooks the rich flavor of the sauce will often run through to the lower layers of the base.

It Is Not Too Crusty

The unique shape of this pizza is created by the type of pan that it is cooked in. It’s also served in square slices rather than triangles. Unlike the majority of other pizza types, Sicilian Pizza does not have an outer crust. Instead, the sauce and toppings reach the edge of the pizza so you are not left with the difficult to eat, overly crunchy edges. 

The Golden, Crispy Crust and Toppings

cheese sicilian pizza

Typically, the pan that is used to make this type of pizza is coated with some olive oil. Not only does this add some crunchiness to the texture of the pizza but it also makes it look golden-brown once it has been cooked. Moreover, the breadcrumbs that are used to top this pizza are also going to look nice and golden following exposure to the heat. 


Try Sicilian-Style Pizza yourself

If you consider yourself to be a pizza connoisseur but you haven’t tried Sicilian pizza you are certainly missing out. It is an enjoyable but healthier alternative to other types of pizza that are overloaded with more unhealthy ingredients.

As we have touched upon, there are two different, well-known varieties of this pizza. Of course, there is the traditional type that originates from Sicily in Italy and the American style Sicilian pizza which is particularly popular in New York.

Again, as previously mentioned, Sicilian pizza provides a few health benefits. It doesn’t contain too many calories, but it does contain a few antioxidants along with folic acid and fibers.

sicilian pizza in a pan

If you haven’t made traditional Sicilian pizza from the comfort of your own home before, you will be pleased to know that there are many great recipes available that you can follow. There are some recipes that are pretty simple and others that are a little more advanced requiring you to make the dough and the sauce from scratch.

For those who do not fancy making one themselves, why not order one from your local pizzeria and indulge in the mouth-watering and delicious flavors.

Final Thoughts

Sicilian pizza is an absolute classic and it’s definitely one of the best types of pizza that everyone should try at some point in their life. The thick, rectangular crust is unmistakable and never fails to delight with its spongey texture and the gold-brown crispiness of the crust from the hot pan.

What are your favorite toppings for a Sicilian pizza? Let us know in the comments down below!

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Written by Rocco Smith

Rocco is from Sanibel Island, Florida, and a recent graduate of Florida State University with a Bachelor’s in Editing, Writing, and Media. With seven years’ experience in the restaurant industry as a cook, server, bartender, and more, he is deeply passionate about intertwining his fondness for food with his love of language.