I love pizza. Having to go dairy and soy free is really tough when it comes to pizza, since pizza just isn’t the same without the cheese. Foregoing cheese meant losing one of our favorite foods, but also our family lost the convenience of an easy dinner, which sometimes feels worse. There is no more “Oh dear, we are short on time! Let’s just order a pizza.” That line of thought in our house is now “Let’s have pancakes because Mom is out of ideas.”
But really I couldn’t live entirely without pizza so I had a few options:
Order a cheese free pizza from a store and take our chances –
We rarely do this due to cross contamination fears. A few times we have ordered a cheese free pizza from Papa Johns, but didn’t feed it to Colin. It was just okay. Unless I order a ton of toppings, it doesn’t feel worth the money. Papa John’s allergy information is here and some FAQ here but we couldn’t be 100% sure everything was free of soybean oil (soy category is unclear). I have heard good things about Mellow Mushroom (thanks Karyna), which I saw in Florida but didn’t get a chance to try They have a really helpful and easy to use allergy friendly meal planner. If anyone else has info on pizza from big chain stores to share, please comment below!
Making my own pizza with fake cheeses
There are several fake cheeses in the vegan section of our grocery store and at Whole Foods. The only one I found that does not contain casein, a milk protein, is the brand Daiya. We tried Daiya with an open mind, hoping it could at least be a melty standby I would get used to, but I could never get over the flavor. Both the yellow and white versions were awful, in my opinion. If I’d never tasted cheese before maybe I could have eaten it. Somebody must like it since they keep selling it, but no one in our house was willing to eat it a second time.
Make my own pizza without cheese
Is this really pizza if it has no cheese? At our house it is called “Colin Pizza.” Simply- any pizza made without cheese is Colin Pizza. In the last two years I have made a lot of “Colin Pizza” for myself and for Colin. We have a “Make Your Own Pizza Night” once a week at our house. I make a large batch of dough and let the kids help shape and top their own portion with a little help. It is actually pretty fast, a good use of any leftovers and I can cater to everyone’s dietary wants and needs. The key to cheeseless pizza is the toppings. You have consider moisture and flavor. Cheese brings a lot of moisture, fat and salt to the pizza party so you need to add ingredients that will help fill in those voids. I think moisture is the most important one. Once I figured this out, I was much happier with my cheese free pizzas. I add fresh tomatoes, extra sauce, a hearty drizzle of olive oil or flavored oil or dashes of a nice balsamic vinegar after cooking. But flavor is really important too. I’ve found that if I add a lot of toppings, like sausage, musroom, onion, green pepper, extra tomato sauce, fresh tomato and italian seasoning, I don’t usually miss the cheese much since there is a lot to keep my taste buds busy. If I use some leftover roasted chicken (which is bland), I add sundried tomatoes and marinated artichoke hearts to punch up the flavor. Experimenting is great so think outside the pizza box (bad pun I know).
Here are my tips for homemade pizza.
- Dough – My #1 is definitely Fleischmann’s Pizza Crust Yeast. This yeast has directions on the back for an easy dough with no rest time. You mix it up and it is ready to go. The yeast is formulated so the dough won’t spring back while rolling or shaping it. It has good flavor and makes weeknight pizza night a cinch so I keep 3-4 sleeves of this stuff around. The Fleischmann website has lots of good info on making pizza dough, materials and FAQ if you are new to the dough making process. If you prefer using regular yeast, my favorite recipe is from the website Lauren’s Latest. The “Fail Proof Pizza Dough” recipe does need rest time, so you have to plan ahead, but the end result has great flavor and gets nice and crispy. The pictures are great and walk you through the process with ease. For any dough you use though, roll it out a bit thinner than you think you need to the first time you try it. Remember, it will puff up as it bakes.
- Sauce – Any good spaghetti or marinara sauce makes a decent pizza sauce at our house. I always have jars of Prego Traditional (made with canola oil) on hand.
- Materials – I use a pizza stone for my pizza when I can, letting it heat up in the oven during the preheating cycle. For the kids’ pizzas I put the dough on a Silpat and onto a cookie sheet. No silpat? Grease up a cookie sheet really well with olive oil.
- Procedure– Unless you own a pizza peel, make sure to have your dough where you want it before you add toppings. I learned the hard way- making it all on the counter and then having to try to move a floppy mess to a pan. Avoid that mistake! While my pizza stone is heating up in the oven I am shaping my dough on a slightly floured board and prepping ALL toppings. When the pizza stone is hot I take it from the oven, put it on the stove top, lay the dough on the pizza stone carefully and then VERY quickly add all the toppings. For my kids I skip the dangerous pizza stone. I put their dough on the silpat/pan and let them top the dough before I put it in the oven.
- Cooking Time – At 425 degrees F our pizzas take 8-10 minutes.
- Toppings – For me I try to use leftovers or plan to have a little of this and that leftover from chopping ingredients to make pizza night easier. Here are my favorites
-Olive oil and garlic powder base, top with leftover steak, fresh spinach, mushrooms, olive oil, garlic and finish with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar
-BBQ Chicken Pizza – BBQ sauce base, chicken, onion, corn and black beans
-Tomato sauce or olive oil base, top with lots of fresh tomato, garlic basil and finish with olive oil and a sprinkle of kosher salt. Balsamic is good on this too.
– Tomato sauce base, top with Sausage or turkey pepperoni, mushroom, onion, green pepper, italian seasoning
-Olive oil and garlic powder base, leftover chicken, sundried tomato, marinated artichoke, minced leeks/shallots, a little salt
- Topping for kids – For kids like mine who have lots of food sensitivities, try topping their pizza with whatever veggies they can eat, regardless of how odd it may sound to you . Colin used to have steamed carrots and corn on his. For a long time it was just pizza dough and tomato sauce. It didn’t sound great to me but he thought it was heaven since it was something new. Colin’s current favorite is a heavy tomato sauce base (for moisture) with chopped up turkey or chicken meat/lunchmeat, and minced mushroom, peppers and onions. Note- he wouldn’t eat any of those veggies if they were bigger sizes, but when I mince them he will eat them on pizza. He hates fresh tomato but will eat tomato sauce. Crazy kid. So don’t be afraid to experiment and cut veggies very small so they will cook and soften.
If you have a dairy free pizza idea or topping combination you like, I would love to hear from you!