Cheesy Calabrese Pizza

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There’s nothing quite like biting into a warm, perfectly crispy pizza loaded with spicy, flavor-packed toppings, and our Calabrese pizza recipe takes this experience to a whole new level! This mouthwatering masterpiece can trace its roots back to the sunny southern region of Italy, where the Calabrese people have mastered the art of creating a pizza that offers just the right amount of heat and zest. The secret? It’s all about the ‘nduja – a spicy, spreadable pork sausage that, when combined with the smoky scamorza cheese and fiery Calabrian chilies, creates a heavenly harmony of flavors that will have you dreaming of Italian landscapes in no time!

But don’t just take our word for it – this recipe is the perfect opportunity to dive into the world of authentic Italian pizza-making and impress your friends and family with your newfound culinary prowess. With a few simple steps and some expert tips along the way, you’ll be well on your way to creating a pizzeria-worthy Calabrese pizza right in your own kitchen. So, grab your apron and let’s get started on this tantalizing adventure that’s sure to become a new favorite in your pizza repertoire!

Yield & Servings:

1 large pizza (8 slices)


1 lb pizza dough (store-bought or homemade)
½ cup tomato sauce
1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese
¼ cup grated pecorino romano cheese
¼ lb sliced calabrese salami
¼ cup sliced red onion
¼ cup sliced roasted red peppers
¼ cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
¼ cup fresh basil leaves
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Notable Equipment & Tools:

Pizza stone or baking sheet
Parchment paper
Rolling pin
Pizza cutter

Step-by-Step Instructions:

Step 1: Roll Out Pizza Dough on Parchment Paper

Preheat your oven to 475°F (245°C). If using a pizza stone, place it in the oven while preheating. If using a baking sheet, set it aside. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pizza dough into a 12-inch circle using a rolling pin. Transfer the dough to a piece of parchment paper.

Step 2: Spread Tomato Sauce on Pizza Dough

Spread the tomato sauce evenly over the pizza dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edges.

Step 3: Add Mozzarella and Pecorino Romano Cheese

Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella cheese and grated pecorino romano cheese evenly over the sauce.

Step 4: Arrange Toppings on Pizza

Arrange the sliced calabrese salami, red onion, roasted red peppers, and kalamata olives on top of the cheese.

Step 5: Drizzle Olive Oil and Season with Salt and Pepper

Drizzle the olive oil over the toppings and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Step 6: Transfer Pizza to Preheated Stone or Baking Sheet

Carefully slide the parchment paper with the pizza onto the preheated pizza stone or onto the baking sheet.

Step 7: Bake Pizza Until Golden then Add Fresh Basil

Bake the pizza for 12-15 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbly and slightly browned. Remove the pizza from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes. Then, scatter the fresh basil leaves on top.

Step 8: Slice and Serve Calabrese Pizza

Use a pizza cutter to slice the pizza into 8 equal pieces and serve immediately. Enjoy your delicious calabrese pizza!

Substitutions & Alternatives:

Ah, the beauty of pizza – it’s customizable, versatile, and oh-so-delicious! Fear not if you don’t have all the ingredients in the original recipe; let’s explore some delicious substitutions and alternatives for this calabrese pizza, shall we?

1. Dough: Can’t find pizza dough at your local grocery store? No problemo! You can make your own (flour, water, yeast, salt, and olive oil) or use a whole wheat dough for a healthier twist. Feeling extra adventurous? Give cauliflower or gluten-free crusts a try!

2. Tomato Sauce: Swap out the classic tomato sauce for a creamy garlic sauce, pesto, or even a spicy arrabbiata sauce. You can also go sauce-less and opt for a drizzle of olive oil and crushed garlic for a minimalist approach.

3. Mozzarella Cheese: Embrace your inner cheese connoisseur! Substitute mozzarella with provolone, fontina, or even smoked gouda. For a dairy-free alternative, use your favorite vegan cheese.

4. Pecorino Romano Cheese: No pecorino romano? No worries! Substitute with Parmesan, Asiago, or Grana Padano for a similar sharp and salty kick.

5. Calabrese Salami: If you can’t find Calabrese salami, try other Italian cured meats like spicy soppressata, capocollo, or even prosciutto. You can also go meatless with vegan pepperoni or simply load up on more veggies.

6. Red Onion: Not a fan of red onions? Sweet Vidalia onions, shallots, or green onions will work just fine. You can also skip the onion altogether if it’s not your thing.

7. Roasted Red Peppers: Fresh bell peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, or even marinated artichoke hearts can step in for the roasted red peppers. Or, roast your own peppers at home – it’s easy and adds a delicious smoky flavor.

8. Kalamata Olives: Swap kalamata olives for black or green olives, or venture into the world of stuffed olives (garlic, blue cheese, or jalapeño, anyone?). Olive haters can leave them out or replace them with capers for a similar briny kick.

9. Fresh Basil: No fresh basil on hand? Dried basil, oregano, or a sprinkle of Italian seasoning will do in a pinch. Or, swap basil for fresh arugula or spinach for a leafy green twist.

10. Olive Oil: If you’re out of olive oil, use avocado oil, grapeseed oil, or a small pat of melted butter for a rich, flavorful finish.

Remember, when it comes to pizza, the world is your topping-filled oyster! Mix and match ingredients to suit your taste buds, dietary needs, and pantry availability – and most importantly, have fun while doing it! Buon appetito!

Storage & Reheating

So, you’ve successfully created a mouthwatering calabrese pizza that could rival any pizzeria, but alas, your eyes were bigger than your stomach, and you have leftovers. Fear not, pizza connoisseur! We’ve got your back with some top-notch storage and reheating tips to make sure every last slice is just as scrumptious as the first.

To store your leftover pizza, let the slices cool to room temperature (but don’t leave them out for more than 2 hours, or you’ll risk the wrath of the bacteria brigade). Once cooled, wrap each slice individually in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. This creates a protective barrier against the cruel, dry world of the refrigerator, helping to preserve that luscious cheesy goodness. Now, place those snugly wrapped slices in an airtight container or large resealable plastic bag and stash them in the fridge for up to 4 days.

When you’re ready to reheat and devour your refrigerated treasure, you’ve got options. If you’re feeling lazy (no judgment here), simply pop a slice in the microwave for 30-45 seconds. But, for an even better reheating experience, we recommend using an oven or toaster oven. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C), place your slice directly on the oven rack, and heat for 5-8 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the crust is crispy.

For a world-traveling twist, you can even use a stovetop method inspired by the Spanish dish pisto, which involves reheating pizza in a skillet with a little bit of oil. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat, add a small drizzle of oil, and place the pizza slice in the pan. Cover with a lid and let it heat for 2-4 minutes, until the cheese is melty and the crust is crispy.

No matter how you choose to store and reheat your calabrese pizza, just remember that you, dear reader, are a culinary mastermind who has harnessed the power of global flavors and cooking techniques to create an irresistible meal. So go forth, enjoy those leftovers, and know that you’ve got the skills (and the tips) to make every slice count. Bon appétit!

Serving Ideas

1. Pizza Party: Throw an Italian-themed pizza party and impress your guests with this scrumptious calabrese pizza! Assemble a variety of toppings and let them create their own personalized pizzas alongside your masterpiece. Don’t forget to set the mood with some Italian tunes and decorations. Buon appetito!

2. Wine Pairing: Elevate your calabrese pizza experience by pairing it with a lovely glass of wine. A medium-bodied red wine, such as a Chianti or a Nero d’Avola, would complement the flavors of the salami and roasted red peppers beautifully.

3. Salad Sidekick: Balance out the richness of the pizza with a light and refreshing salad. A simple arugula salad dressed with lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper is a classic Italian choice that complements the pizza’s flavors. Feel free to add some cherry tomatoes and shaved Parmesan for extra pizzazz!

4. Slice and Share: Turn your calabrese pizza into a fun appetizer at your next gathering by slicing it into smaller pieces. Serve it alongside other finger foods, like bruschetta, caprese skewers, and prosciutto-wrapped melon for a delicious Italian-inspired spread.

5. Pizza Panini: If you’re lucky enough to have leftovers, try making a calabrese pizza panini! Layer a slice of pizza with some extra mozzarella or provolone cheese and grill it in a panini press or a skillet until the cheese is melted and the crust is crispy. It’s a mouth-watering twist on the classic pizza experience.

So put on your apron, channel your inner Italian nonna, and get ready to serve up some unforgettable calabrese pizza! With these serving ideas, you’ll be the talk of the town, and your taste buds will thank you. Buon appetito!

Variations & Customization

One of the most beautiful aspects of pizza is its versatility! You can make a delightful pizza that caters to various dietary restrictions and preferences without sacrificing taste or quality. Let’s explore some common modifications to accommodate different diets:

1. Vegan: Vegans, rejoice! To create a delicious vegan version of this calabrese pizza, swap out the mozzarella and pecorino romano cheese for your favorite vegan cheese (or even try making a homemade cashew cheese). Replace the calabrese salami with vegan sausage or pepperoni, or simply omit it if you prefer. You could also add more veggies to boost the nutrition and flavor!

2. Gluten-free: For those who need to avoid gluten, try using a gluten-free pizza dough. Many grocery stores carry pre-made gluten-free options, or you can easily make your own at home with a blend of gluten-free flours. Check the labels of the other ingredients to ensure they are gluten-free as well, particularly the tomato sauce and salami.

3. GAPS/AIP: The Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) and Autoimmune Paleo (AIP) diets focus on healing the gut by avoiding foods that may cause inflammation. To make this pizza compliant, use a grain-free pizza crust made from almond or coconut flour. Swap the tomato sauce for a GAPS/AIP-friendly sauce like pesto or olive tapenade, and use a dairy-free cheese alternative, such as nutritional yeast or cashew cheese. Replace the salami with a GAPS/AIP-approved protein like shredded chicken or homemade sausage, and load up on gut-friendly veggies.

4. Keto: To make this pizza keto-friendly, you’ll need to start with a low-carb crust. Consider options like a cauliflower crust, almond flour crust, or even a meat-based crust made from ground chicken or sausage. Keep the tomato sauce to a minimum and opt for a higher-fat cheese like mozzarella or gouda. Replace the calabrese salami with a lower-carb option such as pepperoni, and be mindful of the carb content of your chosen veggies.

5. Other popular variations: If none of these restrictions apply to you, feel free to get creative with your toppings! Add some fresh arugula or spinach for a burst of green, or try incorporating other cheeses like feta or goat cheese. For a meat-lover’s version, toss on some crumbled bacon or sausage. The pizza world is your oyster—or, in this case, your calabrese!

No matter your dietary preferences or restrictions, you can still enjoy a scrumptious slice of calabrese pizza. With a bit of creativity and customization, everyone will be able to savor their perfect pizza pie. Buon appetito!

Notes & Tips

  • Dough Know-How: If using store-bought pizza dough, make sure to let it come to room temperature before rolling it out. This will make it easier to work with and prevent it from shrinking back as you roll. For homemade pizza dough enthusiasts, try using a combination of all-purpose and bread flour for a chewy and crispy crust that’s full of flavor.
  • Slicing Salami: To achieve those delectably thin slices of calabrese salami, you can either ask your friendly deli attendant to slice it for you or use a sharp knife and your best ninja skills at home. Remember, practice makes perfect — and your taste buds will thank you!
  • Customize Your Toppings: The world is your pizza, my friends! Feel free to explore your culinary creativity by swapping out or adding different toppings to your calabrese pizza. Some tasty suggestions include fresh arugula, crumbled feta cheese, or even a drizzle of balsamic glaze for a sweet and tangy twist.
  • Pizza Stone vs. Baking Sheet: Using a pizza stone will give you a crispier crust, as it absorbs moisture and distributes heat more evenly. However, if you don’t have one, a baking sheet will still yield a delicious pizza. Just make sure to preheat the sheet in the oven for a few minutes before placing your pizza on it.
  • Parchment Paper Perks: Transferring your pizza to and from the oven is a breeze when using parchment paper. It also makes for easy clean-up, as any melted cheese or sauce will land on the paper instead of your precious pizza stone or baking sheet.
  • Timing is Everything: Keep an eye on your pizza during the last few minutes of baking, as ovens can vary in temperature. Nobody wants a burnt offering to the pizza gods!
  • Fresh Basil Finale: Adding the fresh basil leaves after baking not only provides eye-catching color contrast but also imparts a burst of freshness to each bite. Remember, it’s all about that final flourish!
  • Now, go forth and conquer the kitchen with your newfound calabrese pizza prowess! Buon appetito!

Common Mistakes

The journey to calabrese pizza perfection is paved with good intentions, but sometimes even the most well-meaning chefs can fall into some classic pizza-making blunders. Fear not, fellow pizza enthusiasts! We’re here to help you dodge these culinary potholes and get you on the road to pizza nirvana.

1. Going Dough-verboard: When rolling out your pizza dough, there’s a temptation to create a colossal crust. Resist the urge! Keep your dough to a 12-inch circle for an ideal thickness that crisps up beautifully in the oven. Anything larger may yield a doughy disaster.

2. Sauce Sabotage: Remember the old adage, less is more? This applies to your pizza sauce as well. Swirling on a generous 1/2 cup of tomato sauce will give you that tangy, saucy goodness without drowning your precious crust. Over-saucing is a soggy culprit that no pizza should endure.

3. Toppings Turmoil: The global culinary heritage of calabrese pizza is undoubtedly rich, and its toppings are a delicious testament to that. However, don’t go wild with the add-ons. Stick to the suggested 1/4 cup measurements for each topping to ensure a balanced flavor profile and avoid overwhelming your crust.

4. Preheating Procrastination: When it comes to preheating your oven, patience is a virtue. Waiting for your oven to reach 475°F (245°C) is vital for a crispy crust that’ll have you singing That’s Amore! Don’t be tempted to slide your pizza in early, as this can result in a sad, undercooked pie.

5. Basil Blunder: Fresh basil is the pièce de résistance of your calabrese pizza, but don’t rush to adorn your pie with these fragrant leaves. Adding the basil after your pizza has cooked and cooled for a few minutes ensures the leaves stay vibrant and fresh, adding a burst of herby goodness to each bite.

With these pitfalls in mind, you’re now equipped to conquer the calabrese pizza world like a seasoned pro. So roll up your sleeves, toss that dough, and let the pizza party commence! Bon appétit!

Health Risks & Benefits

Now, let’s talk about the health risks and benefits of this delectable Calabrese pizza! Don’t worry; we won’t scare you away from enjoying a slice or two. In fact, we’re here to empower you with the facts so you can make informed choices (and defend your pizza-eating habits to any naysayers).

First, the all-star cast of ingredients brings an array of nutritional benefits. The tomato sauce is rich in lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that helps protect your cells and may even reduce the risk of heart disease. Olives and olive oil contribute healthy monounsaturated fats that are good for your heart and can help lower bad cholesterol levels. Plus, who can forget the calcium boost from the mozzarella and pecorino romano cheese? Your bones are practically cheering for this pizza!

As for the not-so-healthy aspects of our beloved Calabrese pizza, moderation is key. Salami, while undeniably delicious, is high in sodium and saturated fat. Consuming too much sodium can increase blood pressure, leading to potential heart problems. So, try not to go overboard with the salami, and balance it out with an abundance of colorful veggies like red onion and roasted red peppers. They not only add a pop of flavor and texture but also supply your body with essential vitamins and minerals.

In summary, our Calabrese pizza is a delightful mix of indulgence and nourishment. Enjoy it with a side of self-awareness, and perhaps pair it with a leafy green salad to make a meal that’s both satisfying and health-conscious. Remember, a little bit of culinary wisdom goes a long way in making the most of your pizza experience. So, go ahead and dig in!

Recipe History & Context

Pizza has a long and storied history, dating back to ancient civilizations. The modern pizza we know and love, however, is credited to the culinary ingenuity of the Italians. Specifically, the city of Naples is hailed as the birthplace of pizza, where it was a popular meal for the city’s working class in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

This Calabrese pizza recipe takes its name from the Calabria region in southern Italy, known for its spicy and flavorful cuisine. Calabrese salami, the star ingredient of this pizza, is a testament to the region’s penchant for heat, as it is traditionally made with spicy red pepper flakes. With its combination of pizza dough, tomato sauce, cheese, and toppings, this Calabrese pizza recipe bridges the gap between the classic Margherita pizza of Naples and the robust flavors of Calabria.

Adding to the rich cultural background of this dish is the use of kalamata olives, a delightfully briny ingredient hailing from Greece. These olives lend a salty, tangy touch that perfectly complements the spice from the Calabrese salami. Roasted red peppers, red onion, and fresh basil round out the symphony of flavors, creating a pizza that is as vibrant and diverse as its Mediterranean roots.

What’s fascinating about pizza, including this Calabrese version, is the scientific magic that happens in the oven. As the pizza bakes, the heat causes the dough to release gases, resulting in a satisfyingly crispy crust. The Maillard reaction, a chemical reaction between amino acids and sugars, is responsible for the delightful browning and enticing aroma of the cheese and toppings.

So there you have it! This Calabrese pizza recipe not only tantalizes your taste buds but also serves as a celebration of global culinary heritage and a testament to the delicious chemistry that happens in your very own kitchen. Now, roll up your sleeves, grab that rolling pin, and get ready to make pizza history!

Common Questions

Can I use a different type of salami instead of calabrese salami?

Absolutely! While calabrese salami brings a spicy kick to this pizza, feel free to substitute it with another type of salami that you love. You could try using genoa, soppressata or even pepperoni. The possibilities are endless, and the beauty of pizza is that you can customize it to your taste buds.

What if I don’t have a pizza stone, can I still make this recipe?

No worries, you can still achieve a delicious pizza without a pizza stone. Simply use a baking sheet instead. Just make sure to preheat your oven to the required temperature and place your pizza directly on the sheet. Your crust may not be as crispy as with a pizza stone, but it will still be scrumptious!

My pizza dough keeps shrinking when I try to roll it out, what am I doing wrong?

Firstly, don’t panic! Pizza dough can be a little stubborn sometimes. When your dough keeps shrinking, it’s usually because the gluten is too tight. To fix this, let your dough rest for about 10-15 minutes after you’ve tried rolling it out. This will allow the gluten to relax, making it much easier to roll out your dough to the desired size.

Can I add or change the toppings?

Of course! This recipe celebrates the delicious flavors of calabrese pizza, but feel free to get creative with your toppings. You could add some artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, or even swap out the red onion for some thinly sliced shallots. As they say, variety is the spice of life – and pizza!

I have some leftover pizza, how should I store and reheat it?

Leftover pizza – a true gift from the culinary gods! To store your leftover pizza, wrap each slice individually in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, and place them in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. When you’re ready to enjoy your pizza again, reheat it in a preheated oven at 350°F (175°C) for about 5-7 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the crust is crispy. Alternatively, you can also reheat it in a skillet over low heat for a few minutes on each side for that perfect crispy crust. Enjoy your pizza encore!

Calabrese Pizza

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 8 slices
Calories: 300kcal


  • 1 lb pizza dough
  • ½ cup tomato sauce
  • 1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ cup grated pecorino romano cheese
  • ¼ lb sliced calabrese salami
  • ¼ cup sliced red onion
  • ¼ cup sliced roasted red peppers
  • ¼ cup halved pitted kalamata olives
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Preheat oven to 475°F (245°C). Place pizza stone in the oven or set aside baking sheet.
  • Roll out pizza dough into a 12-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Transfer to parchment paper.
  • Spread tomato sauce evenly on dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border.
  • Sprinkle mozzarella and pecorino romano cheese over sauce.
  • Arrange salami, red onion, red peppers, and olives on top of cheese.
  • Drizzle olive oil over toppings and season with salt and pepper.
  • Slide parchment paper with pizza onto preheated pizza stone or baking sheet.
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes, until crust is golden and cheese is bubbly and slightly browned.
  • Remove from oven, let cool, and scatter fresh basil leaves on top.
  • Slice into 8 pieces and serve immediately.



Calories: 300kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 31mg | Sodium: 1103mg | Potassium: 135mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 300IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 150mg | Iron: 2mg

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