Grandma Pizza Is the New York Classic You Need to Try

Meet the ultimate Italian-American comfort food, straight from Nonna's kitchen.

Grandma pizza originated in Long Island, New York. It's crispy, square, and made without a pizza oven. Its history dates back to the early 20th century, when Italian families were immigrating to America and couldn't take their traditional coal pizza ovens with them. They had to make do with a sheet pan and a conventional oven. Thus, Grandma pizza was born: the delicious brainchild of first-generation Italian immigrants looking for a new way to make an old-world favorite. Learn more about this creative pie and make one for yourself with the best tips and Grandma pizza recipes from our Test Kitchen.

a slice of pizza being lifted from the pan with tendrils of cheese trailing

Carson Downing

What Is Grandma Pizza?

There are a few unique characteristics that make Grandma pizza unique from thin crust, deep-dish, Sicilian, and other pizza varieties.

  • Square-shaped crust. True to its simple sheet-pan origins, Grandma pizza is rectangular in shape.
  • Less rising. Unlike most Sicilian pizza doughs which call for a second rise, once Grandma pizza dough is stretched over the pan it goes straight into the oven. This gives it a signature thin and crispy texture.
  • Bring on the olive oil. Slathering a nice coating of olive oil on the sheet pan before adding your dough helps it develop a satisfying crunch.

Grandma Pizza vs. Sicilian Pizza

At first glance, Grandma pizza and Sicilian pizza look very similar. However, there's one key difference between the two pizzas: the thickness of the crust.

Grandma pizza has a thin, dense, and crisp crust. The olive oil coating on the bottom of the pan gives it extra flavor and crunch. Sicilian pizza has a much thicker crust thanks to a longer rise time, resulting in a soft, doughy crust similar to focaccia bread. They're both delicious in their own ways, but are two distinct pizza styles.

a slice of grandma pizza with beads of grease on the pan

Brie Goldman

How To Make Grandma Pizza

This simple homestyle pizza recipe doesn't call for any special ingredients—odds are good you already have everything you need on-hand. True to its humble origins, the only kitchen tools you need are a 15x10-inch sheet pan, a bowl to mix dough in, and measuring cups.

The exact ingredients for Grandma pizza are going to vary depending on the recipe, but for a basic Grandma pizza, you can expect to use yeast, flour, a few cups of cheese, pizza sauce, olive oil, and an array of herbs and spices.

Grandma pizza is versatile when it comes to toppings. The dough is the lynchpin for a classic Grandma-style dish, so you can sprinkle everything from fresh basil to ricotta to anchovies on top. Traditionally, the sauce for Grandma pizza is layered over the cheese rather than under it.

When it comes to the actual cooking, the process is straightforward. After making the dough, let it proof for about an hour and a half. Drizzle plenty of olive oil on the bottom of a sheet pan. Now comes the key step—once you spread the dough into the pan, you'll want to move fast. Don't give it too much time to rise, otherwise your dough will come out thicker thank you want. The secret to Grandma pizza is the signature thin and crispy crust. Without it, you've just made a Sicilian pizza!

a tasty square pizza with a slice being lifted out

Brie Goldman

Grandma Pizza Recipes

Our Grandma pizza recipes will help you master making a sheet pan pie right at home.

Try your hand at making Grandma pizza with our Capocolla and Fennel Grandma Pizza. The spice of capocolla and sweetness of fennel complement each other well. Dry red wine mixed in with the sauce helps bring out the rich flavors of the tomatoes, fennel seeds, and garlic powder.

Feel like catering to your inner fromager? Give Grandma's White Pizza a try and delight in the fusion of mozzarella and ricotta. Meanwhile, olive oil and a healthy heaping of herbs like oregano and parsley give this pizza plenty of fresh flavor.

If you're craving pizza but want to get your greens in at the same time, try our Eggplant-Parmesan Grandma Pizza. The tender and mild flavor of the eggplant complements the sharp richness of the Parmesan, and provolone cheese and marinara sauce help bridge the gap between the two flavors.

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