The recipe for the best pepperoni pizza uses a grandma style pizza topped with tomatoes, mozzarella, spicy Calabrian chili paste, oregano, and Pecorino Romano, but the real star is the cupping pepperoni! Full of flavor and texture, this is definitely a favorite in our home and we know you'll love it too!
Pepperoni is a topping that comes to mind when envisioning a New York style pizza.
And while we love a New York round pizza topped with pepperoni, we think the grandma pizza (or sheet pan pizza) lends itself as the perfect base for the BEST pepperoni pizza!
For this recipe, we use cupping pepperoni since it holds up better to the longer cooking time that's required for the grandma pie (more on that later), and a little Calabrian chili paste to add some heat.
Serve your sheet pan pepperoni pizza with some pizzeria-style garlic knots, and a green salad, and you're all set!
How to make the best pepperoni pizza
First, make the dough
- Start by weighing your dry ingredients to ensure you have exact measurements. In a large bowl mix 406 grams (or 3 ½ cups) of bread flour, 2 grams (or half teaspoon) of instant yeast, 8 grams (or 1 ½ teaspoons) of fine sea salt, and 4 grams (or 1 teaspoon) of sugar.
- Place 260 grams (or 9 ounces) of cold water in a bowl large enough to hold both the water and the dry ingredients (plus room to spare). Add the dry ingredients a little at a time and mix thoroughly to form a rough dry mass. Pour 14 grams (or 1 tablespoon) of olive oil over the dough and mix again to remove any residue stuck to the side of the bowl and move the rough shaggy dough to a work surface.
- Knead the dough for 5-7 minutes. If the dough becomes too sticky, place an inverted clean bowl over the dough and wait 30 minutes before resuming. Return to kneading and be sure to knead for at least a total of 5-7 minutes. Place the bowl over the dough again and let it sit for 30-40 minutes to warm up before forming the dough ball.
- After the 40 minutes is up, pull the dough toward its end repeatedly to form a smooth ball. Pinch the seam side to close the ball up and place the ball seam-side down into a bowl that's been lightly oiled with olive oil. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 12 hours before using. Note: The dough will taste even better if you let it ferment in the fridge for 24-48 hours.
Next, make the pepperoni pizza
Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.
- 2 hours prior to use, remove the dough from the fridge and do not uncover the bowl. Oil the bottom of a 12 by 16 Grandma pizza sheet pan (or a standard half sheet pan) with ⅜'s cup of olive oil. Note: You need a lot of oil!
- Remove the dough from the bowl and place it into the pan. Using your fingertips, begin pressing the dough into the corners of the pan. You will not be able to do this in one attempt. Place plastic wrap over the pan and allow the dough to warm up a while longer.
- After 45 minutes, remove the plastic wrap and try to stretch it again to the size of the pan. You will probably need to cover with plastic wrap again and repeat the process one more time until the dough has completely filled the pan. Cover the dough and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 450f and set one rack to the lowest level of the oven, and one rack to the highest level. Strain a 28-ounce can of crushed plum tomatoes through a sieve. You can save the juice for another use if you'd like. Season the crushed tomatoes with a ½ teaspoon of kosher salt.
- Slice 10 ounces of cupping pepperoni and set aside. Mince 3 cloves of garlic and add to a bowl with 3 tablespoons of olive oil to create the garlic oil. Mix 2 teaspoons of Calabrian chili paste with 2 tablespoons of olive oil to create the chili oil.
- Remove the plastic from the pan and if required, press the dough into the edges.
- Starting with a corner, layer 12-16 ounces of sliced mozzarella cheese in an overlapping shingle pattern leaving the outside about a ½-inch uncovered. Make sure the dough is layered completely with the mozzarella slices. Note: In these pictures, we used block mozzarella which we sliced ourselves because that was what we had on hand, however, we recommend using deli sliced mozzarella as with our other grandma pizzas.
- Add the drained plum tomatoes to the pizza. You can use 45-degree lines for a pattern, or spoon the sauce all over but be sure to leave some open areas.
- Add the pepperoni to the pizza. Note: It may look overloaded with the pepperoni, but when cooking the pepperoni will shrink.
- Drizzle 3 tablespoons of garlic oil over the pizza.
- Place the pepperoni pizza on the lowest rack and cook for 12 minutes, rotating the pan 180 degrees after 6 minutes. After 12 minutes, remove the pizza from the oven and check the bottom for browning. If the pizza is well-browned, bake on the top rack for 6 more minutes. Otherwise, leave the pizza on the bottom rack for 6 more minutes.
- After 18 minutes of baking, remove the pizza and sprinkle with 3 tablespoons of grated Pecorino Romano cheese and 2 teaspoons of Sicilian oregano.
- Drizzle on 1-2 teaspoons of Calabrian chili oil. Note: It's best to mix the paste with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil to allow for easier drizzling. Some brands, like the Cento Calabrian chili paste pictured below, are more oily and can be drizzled straight out of the jar. Others, like Bomba sauce from Trader Joe's, are more of a paste and should be mixed with a touch of olive oil.
- If the pepperoni pizza is not crisp enough on top, you can broil it for 30-60 seconds but be sure to watch carefully to prevent burning.
- Pictured here is a good-looking bottom of a grandma pizza as an example.
- Remove the pizza from the pan and allow it to cool for a few minutes on a wire rack before slicing. Enjoy!
Top tips for the best spicy pepperoni pizza
- The dough. We recommend using our pizza dough recipe outlined above for this pepperoni pizza. Grandma pizza lends itself to being cooked in a sheet pan, or a pan made just for Grandma pizza. Alternately, you can use storebought pizza dough. If using our recipe, we recommend allowing enough time to ferment the dough in the refrigerator for 24 hours. The minimum time is 12 hours but we think it tastes so much better after 24-48!
- The oil. This pizza needs a lot of oil to achieve its crispy bottom. It may seem like you're over-oiling, but trust the process. We've tested this recipe many times to make sure it's perfect.
- The cheese. In our pictures above you'll notice we used block mozzarella that we sliced ourselves. While this is fine to use, we recommend using deli sliced mozzarella to achieve even better results.
- The pepperoni. Cupping pepperoni should be used for this pepperoni pizza recipe. Brands such as Boar's Head, Margherita, and Hormel will all work. Save the thinly sliced pepperoni for a New York round pizza that requires less cooking time.
- Cooking time. Not all ovens are the same and what works for our oven may be different from yours. That being said, the cooking time may vary a bit so be sure to check on the pizza. We recommend checking on the bottom of the pizza after the first 10-12 minutes. If the bottom is crisp and brown, move it to the top rack. If it's still blond, leave it on the lowest rack for the remainder of the cooking time.
- The chili oil. Depending on the Calabrian chili paste you're using, you may or may not need to mix it with more oil to form a chili oil. Some brands, like the Cento one pictured above, tend to be more oily and you may be able to spoon directly from the jar. Others that are more of a paste should be mixed with oil.
More great recipes using our pizza dough
If you love pizza as much as we do, you'll want to check out these other recipes.
- NY white pizza - Mozzarella, ricotta, and garlic.
- Cast iron pan pizza - pizza dough topped with mozzarella, tomato, and garlic oil and baked in a cast iron pan until crisp.
- Vodka sauce pizza - Grandma pizza topped with a pink vodka sauce and fresh basil.
- Pepperoni pinwheels - Pizzeria-style pinwheels with mozzarella and pepperoni with dipping sauce.
- Stromboli - Pepperoni, ham, and provolone rolled up with marinara and pizza dough and baked until golden.
- New York Sicilian pizza - The classic square-shaped, springy crust pizza you'll find in any New York pizzeria.
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For the dough
- 406 grams bread flour or 3 ¼ cups
- 2 grams instant yeast or half teaspoon
- 8 grams fine sea salt or 1 ½ teaspoons
- 4 grams sugar or 1 teaspoon
- 260 grams cold water 9 ounces
- 14 grams olive oil or 1 tablespoon
For the pepperoni pizza
- 1 ~24 ounce dough ball from recipe above
- 10 ounces cupping pepperoni sliced, see notes below
- 1 28-ounce can plum tomatoes hand crushed and drained
- 12-16 ounces mozzarella cheese weight will vary, but use enough to cover the pizza completely
- ¾ cup olive oil divided
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 3 tablespoons Pecorino Romano grated
- 2 teaspoons Sicilian oregano or Italian oregano
- 1-2 teaspoons Calabrian chili paste
For the dough
- Place water in a bowl large enough to hold both the water and all the dry ingredients and still have room to spare. Mix together dry ingredients in another bowl.
- Add dry ingredients to water a bit at a time and mix thoroughly to form a dry rough mass.
- Pour the oil over the dough, mix again to scrape off any dough residue stuck to side of the bowl, and place the rough shaggy dough onto a work surface.
- Knead the dough for 5-7 minutes. If the dough is too sticky, place a clean bowl inverted over the dough and wait 30 minutes before resuming. Return to kneading (just make sure to knead for at least a total of 5 minutes).
- Place the bowl over the dough once more and let sit for 30-40 minutes to warm up before forming the dough ball.
- After 40 minutes pull the dough towards its end repeatedly to form a smooth ball. Pinch the seam side and place the dough ball seam side down into an oiled bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 12 but ideally 24 hours before using.
For the pepperoni pizza
- Take the dough out of the fridge 2 hours prior to using. Do not uncover the bowl. Oil the bottom of a 12 by 16 Grandma pizza sheet pan (or standard half sheet pan) with ⅜'s cup of olive oil. You need to use a lot of oil!
- Drain the crushed plum tomatoes and season with a ½ teaspoon of kosher salt. Save the juice for another use.
- Remove the dough from the bowl and place it into the pan. With your fingertips begin pressing the dough into the corners of the pan. You will not be able to do this in one attempt. Place plastic over the pan and let the dough warm up.
- After 45 minutes remove the plastic and try to stretch it again to the size of the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and repeat process one more time until the dough has completely filled the pan. Cover the dough and set aside. Preheat oven to 450f and set one rack to the lowest level of the oven and one to the highest.
- Mince the garlic and add to a bowl with 3 tablespoons of olive oil to create the garlic oil. Mix 2 teaspoons of Calabrian chili paste with 2 tablespoons of olive oil to make the chili oil.
- Remove the plastic from the pan and if required press the dough into the edges. Starting with a corner, layer the mozzarella cheese in an overlapping shingle pattern, leaving the outside ¼ to ½ inch uncovered. Make sure the dough is layered completely with the mozzarella slices.
- Next, add the drained plum tomatoes to the pizza. You can use 45-degree lines or spoon the sauce all over. Leave some open areas. Don’t coat it all. Add the pepperoni to the pizza. It may look crowded but the pepperoni will shrink when baking. Take the garlic oil and drizzle 3 tablespoons of the oil and garlic pieces all over the pizza.
- Place the pizza onto the lowest rack and cook for 12 minutes rotating the pan 180 degrees after 6 minutes.
- After 12 minutes remove the pizza from oven and check the bottom for browning. If the pizza is well-browned, bake on the top rack for 6 more minutes. Otherwise, leave the pizza on the bottom rack for 6 more minutes.
- After 18 minutes of baking remove the pizza. Drizzle the Calabrian chili oil according to taste (it's spicy!), and sprinkle the oregano and Pecorino Romano all over the pizza. Bake for 2 minutes more on the top oven rack.
- If the pepperoni pizza is not crisp enough on top you can broil it for 30-60 seconds. Watch very carefully though!
- The total cooking time will be approximately 20-22 minutes. Remove the pizza from the pan and let cool for a couple of minutes on a wire rack before slicing. Enjoy!
- Use our Grandma pizza dough recipe or storebought dough.
- Cupping pepperoni brands such as Boar's Head, Margherita, and Hormel all work well.
- Cooking time will vary depending on the exact oven temp. After 12 minutes of cooking on the lowest rack, the pizza should be very brown and crisp. If it's completely blond the pizza should be cooked for the remaining 8-10 minutes on the lowest rack.
- Sheet pan pizzas need a lot of oil. More than you think! The oil helps develop the amazing crispy bottom, so please use enough of it.
- Leftovers can be saved for up to 3 days and the pizza can be reheated at 350f on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet until hot. About 10 minutes.
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