How to Layer a Pizza and What Goes On First for Toppings?

If you thought that making a pizza involved simply throwing the toppings on in any old order, then think again. Instead, there is somewhat of an art to how to layer a pizza and what goes on first to then get a wonderful finished result.

Now, we know that we may have just stopped you in your tracks, but don’t worry as we have your back. What we plan on doing is to go through the different steps to correctly layer a pizza even if you have never done this before.

Once you know what you are doing, then making a pizza at home will end up being a whole lot easier than you expected.

We just feel that if you plan on making your own pizza at home that it’s always best to do it right. So, we have some simple guidelines that anybody can follow to ultimately get a wonderful pizza at home.

First Layer – The Pizza Sauce

It’s not a surprise to learn that the first layer is the pizza sauce. You do have several different pizza sauces out there on the market, so play around with a variety of flavors.

We do recommend making sure you put a thick enough layer of pizza sauce on the base. It acts as a real foundation for the rest of the pizza. However, we have a bit of a tip.

Look at the main flavor of the sauce. If it’s spicy, then it works best with something such as minced beef or pepperoni. Alternatively, if you opt for a blender sauce, then you need toppings that can burst through and deliver a punch.

People do worry about putting on too much sauce, but you need to look at the crust to give you some guidance on this. A thicker crust clearly has the ability to cope with more sauce, so feel free to add a lot of sauce. At the same time, a thinner base means you need to go easy on the sauce but do still cover the entire base.

How to Layer a Pizza and What Goes On First for Toppings?

Second Layer – The Cheese

This second layer is where people often make a mistake when creating a pizza at home. They often think that cheese should be the final layer, but that’s not true. 

Instead, add some cheddar on top of the sauce. It’s still going to have the opportunity to bubble and brown, but it also helps to add some extra crispiness to the actual toppings.  

It’s best to really add a lot of cheese. The cheese then acts as a sort of safety barrier for everything else that goes on top. It stops other toppings from becoming too involved with the crust and sauce base, and that’s a good thing.

If you wonder which cheese you should use here, then almost anything can work. Cheddar and Mozzarella remain the most popular and most widely used, so we do recommend adding both of them just to provide your pizza with that extra cheesy taste.

Third Layer – The Pizza Toppings

Once you have laid down some of the cheese, then it’s time to add the toppings. Of course, you can add anything you like here, and go bizarre if you want, but the one thing you need to do is make sure you have ample toppings covering the entire pizza.

But even here there can be some sense of how to layer the toppings in the correct way.

For example, if you are adding pepperoni to your pizza, then it’s always best to have that placed on the absolute top of your pizza. You don’t want it hidden away under other toppings.

This is to make sure the pepperoni is nice and crispy, while the fat from the pepperoni is not then able to drip down to the crust. If you have a thin crust, then the fat could easily make things soggy, and you don’t want that to happen.

But not all toppings are like that.

Take peppers as an example. You want to place them lower down in the order of toppings. They work best when they are closer to the tomato base and surrounded by the cheese. You want them to cook, but not burn to a crisp in the oven, so they sort of need some protection.

However, you need to use the cheese as a sort of safety net for them. We will talk more about this later.

Other softer toppings need to be handled in pretty much the same way. Mushrooms need to go lower down, although it’s best to cook them first before you place them on the pizza, and it’s all about protecting them.

How to Layer a Pizza and What Goes On First for Toppings?

Fourth Layer – Extra Cheese

In the United States, if you want extra cheese on your pizza, then that’s the cheese that goes on top. Apart from that, most of the cheese goes on earlier, as we described.

If you do ask for extra cheese, then you can expect the top to be completely covered, but it’s also something you can do at home with your own pizza. 

This is often the best place to throw on Mozzarella, but any old cheese will pretty much do depending on what you have at home. Remember and add as much as you want and make sure you let that cheese brown and bubble to get the best possible outcome.

But then, we do still feel that the idea of having the ability to see the toppings remains valid. So, while we do love all that cheese, perhaps focus more on spreading it over the entire crust rather than covering the pizza in a thick layer.

Why Layering is So Important

But let’s quickly look at the reason why layering the toppings plays such an important role. 

One key is the crust. How you layer the toppings will have a profound impact on how it affects the toppings. Yes, the way you put things on will either make or break the entire pizza.

Think about this prospect for just a second

You have the tomato base and then place all these soft vegetable toppings into the tomato base. The chances of the toppings simply becoming soft and unpalatable is high.

You want the toppings to retain some of their natural bite and texture. There’s a high chance that your peppers or arugula would simply become a mess if effectively dipped in tomato sauce. Nobody wants that to happen to their pizza as the entire thing just won’t taste the same.

Also, there’s the visual aspect. For some reason, pizza has always looked better when the toppings end up placed on top of the cheese. It somehow comes across as looking tastier than if we flipped the order around.

Remember that food and the visuals it gives play a huge role in how we perceive its taste. It seems that pizza makers have sort of perfected this entire thing with the toppings going on top of the cheese.

How to Layer a Pizza and What Goes On First for Toppings?

The Last Pizza Toppings Are Seen

This is also a very valid point, but with the toppings going on last it does mean you can then see them. Considering some pizzas have numerous toppings all on the one pizza, it does let you know what you may bite into with the next slice. 

Also, it lets you see that the toppings have been liberally spread over the entire pizza and that one person does not have all the chicken. How can you see that if you have so much cheese covering everything that you just cannot see it?

Are There Any Exceptions?

Of course, making your own pizza means you can do anything you want with it. This all comes down to personal taste, so you can change things around if that’s what you want.

But we actually wouldn’t recommend it. 

Pizzerias do things in a certain order because it works for the pizza. It’s not something they do just because they want to.

So, if it’s good enough for all those pizzerias around the world, then why would you go ahead and change things around for your own sake? You do run the real risk of destroying your pizza and not ending up too happy with the end result.

So while you certainly can change things around, it’s not a good idea.

Overall Summary

So that is how you go ahead and layer a pizza correctly to get that depth of taste and flavor you have always been searching for. As you can see, there’s an art and reasoning behind the way in which you add the toppings to a pizza. It cannot come across as a mushy mess.

You have to think about the way in which different toppings basically interact with one another. The point we made regarding peppers surrounded by tomato sauce does make sense when you think about how it will then come out.

You want to taste the different toppings, and layering them correctly helps with that. It helps you to get the authentic pizza taste and enjoy the outcome in the way you should.