How To Cheese A White Pizza

August  4, 2017

Homemade white pies can be hard to pull off. Without the refreshing acid of crushed tomato sauce, creamy mozzarella and ricotta can become too heavy to handle. Sprinkle on more cheese for flavor, and you’re looking at a white pie coma.

Arizona pizza king Chris Bianco describes exactly how to balance white pies’ richness in his first cookbook, Bianco. When making his signature white pie, the Pizza Biancoverde, Bianco combines pliant mozzarella, sharp Parmigiano-Reggiano, and creamy ricotta with peppery arugula to create a light, fresh pie. “This pie is all about the subtle textural differences among the cheeses, which underscores the differences in their flavors,” he says.

The cut of each cheese is extremely important because heat transforms its texture. Tearing mozzarella into cubes causes it to melt into chewy shreds, and using the large holes of a box grater for Parmesan (as opposed to finely grating it) keeps it from toughening up. You can’t cut ricotta, but plopping too much onto the dough can not only overwhelm it but also make it sag. Bianco uses a teaspoon to create substantial but not overly creamy bites.

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Bianco combines a pretty traditional cheese trio, but his attention to shape and placement can transfer to any number of white pies. We've gathered 12 of our very best for you to try:

What are your favorite toppings for white pies? Do you think they're too rich?

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • PHIL
  • AntoniaJames
Katie is a food writer and editor who loves cheesy puns and cheesy cheese.


PHIL August 5, 2017
Ricotta, parm, some mutz but not too much. It's about the ricotta. Also, lots of fresh garlic and olive oil, finish with some fresh basil. Sometimes I like to add bacon. BTW, nothing wrong with a cheese coma. As a side note, white clam pizza is also great and still fall into the "white" pizza category right?.
PHIL August 7, 2017
I haven't made that recipe but Frank Pepe's is famous for it. I have made my own version. Actually Whole Foods makes a decent clam pie with calabrian chiles on it.
AntoniaJames August 4, 2017
I almost never put tomatoes on my pies, unless they are sun-dried and soaked in the oil from an herb-scented garlic or shallot confit. I usually put a layer of pesto or salsa verde, one to which I've added lots of finely chopped capers and/or olives with some of their brine, a touch of lemon zest and a splash of red wine or sherry vinegar (if this sounds like an Ottolenghi salsa verde, well, it is. I also don't put a ton of cheese on, and always include a fair bit of briny feta relative to the other cheeses (asiago, parmesan, romano - only occasionally mozza), which also helps. ;o)