5 Paleo Pizzas Duke It Out In The Great Paleo Pizza Smackdown!

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Can you believe it? In nearly three years of being paleo, I have never tried my hand at a paleo pizza!

This could be due to the fact I’m not a huge fan of pizza myself, a sentiment not shared by the rest of my family, I hasten to add. Or it could be down to the fact that I have found making paleo substitutes for former favorites not to be an entirely successful strategy.

Or it could be that having quietened my family’s longing for stringy cheese, atop squishy tomato sauce, lain upon a fluffy mattress of dough, I didn’t want to remind them of anything, lest the longing return.

But all that changed on Memorial Day when I made six pizza crusts (one paleo pizza, paleo diet, paleoended up “repurposed”), topped them with identical toppings and offered them up to expert tasters: three teenagers and a man.

Is it all about the toppings?

I topped each pizza with the same ingredients: slices of roma tomatoes, caramelized onions, arugula, prosciutto, goats cheese.

Pizza crust is often bland so that the texture is all you notice and I wanted the testers to compare the crusts to see if they affected the taste and overall “feel” of the pizza, hence the identical toppings.

We held a blind tasting, and with index cards and pencils in hand, my testers wrote their notes and nominated their individual favorite.

pizzanotecardsNot any old pizza

I think it’s important to note here that paleo pizza crusts aren’t like regular wheat-based crusts. They are substitutes, they allow pizza toppings to be placed on top, and depending on the recipe, are soft or crunchy, but it isn’t like you wouldn’t notice they were any different from the ones you buy at Domino’s or Round Table. And so for that reason, in addition to our critics I mention above, I added my notes below.

An exception

One crust did come close to the “real thing” though, and if you have family or friends who are dying for paleo pizza, please share our results.  Those who have done the work to come up with these recipes deserve the recognition and your friends deserve the opportunity to try out the fruits of their labors.

paleo pizza, paleo diet, paleoPaleo Pizza #1. The Lucky Penny

This is a cauliflower crust, made with cheese to bind it. Works best thin and cooked to golden. You have to squeeze out the water after the cauliflower is cooked, and doing this until it runs dry is very important or it will take forever to cook. Or it will burn on the edges and still be not quite ready in the middle (talking from experience, here). Comments on this one were, “fits the toppings”,  “not flavorful but doesn’t take away from the taste of the toppings”, “crunchy and a bit cheesy”.

paleo pizza, paleo diet, paleo, eggplant crust, make it paleoPaleo Pizza #2. Food Lovers Primal Palate

This was my first attempt at using a vegetable to make a crust. How ingenious! They used eggplant to provide the main substance of the base. It was thin and crispy (baked on both sides if necessary, but make sure not to burn it). Like with the cauliflower crust, you need to squeeze out the water, and I found it easier to get all the water out of the eggplant compared with the cauliflower. I did not remove the seeds and everyone commented on that – the kids weren’t so keen. Other comments included, “very good crust, has good flavor”,  “slightly bitter, goes well with toppings”. From the cookbook Make It Paleo.

paleo pizza, paleo diet, paleoPaleo Pizza #3. Paleo Diet Lifestyle

This one was made from a combination of almond and coconut flour. A thicker, flakier crust, it cooked well without being too “doughy”. Coconut flour has a strong taste and again this one was described as “sweet”, as well as “chewy” (in a good way).

Paleo Pizza #4. Foodie Cyclespaleo pizza, paleo diet, paleo

This is an almond flour crust. Its’ texture was that of bread, it was soft and held its own consistency so that you could make it as thick or thin as you liked, although I think it would break if it was made too thin. A couple of the testers described it as “sweet” and it does have it’s own taste; this one had its’ own nutty distinct flavor.

paleo pizza, paleo diet, paleo, primal cravings, primal blueprintPaleo Pizza #5. Primal Cravings**

This is from the new paleo/Primal recipe book, Primal Cravings (out today!) Primal Cravings describes itself as a recipe book where you will find “your favorite foods made paleo” and of all the recipes, this was the one that most closely resembled a traditional wheat-based pizza base. Everyone described it as “chewy” (but that was a good thing, apparently), two described as “sweet” while two more said it was “plain” – which perhaps is how you want your crust. It was made with potato flour so wouldn’t be suitable for those with issues around potatoes.

A non-pizza lover’s perspective

Our young testers were looking for something that was as near-identical to a traditionpaleo pizza, paleo diet, paleoal pizza as possible, but the oldens took a different perspective. I wanted something that was tasty.

As someone who doesn’t love pizza, who could, even back in the day when I was eating wheat, take or leave pizza, it wasn’t important to me to have a pizza base that was indistinguishable from the original.

I wanted something that allowed me to eat the toppings and which added to the overall experience of eating them.

And so for me the winner was the recipe from Make It Paleo, which was crispy, very thin and, I felt, because of the inclusion of eggplant, unusual and highly nutritious. My husband’s favorite was the cauliflower crust.

paleo pizza, paleo diet, paleoBut the overall winner was….

Primal Cravings! It was unanimously voted by the kids as their favorite and I guess as such is living up to its billing as the closest substitute for the “real thing”.

So there you have it!

I came to the conclusion that personal preference over pizza crusts is a very individual thing. What I like may be different from your favorite. As with everything, experimentation is key. I do think the unanimous vote of three kids for the Primal Cravings recipe is significant though. :-)

*Photo credit: The Food Lovers Primal Palate

** Unfortunately I wasn’t given permission to post the recipe but you can get ahold of it in Primal Cravings available from Amazon.com

What sort of pizza crust do you like? Do you even make paleo pizza? Or do you simply feel that it isn’t quite the same (it isn’t) and steer clear? Tell us in comments!

And for more paleo goodness, please like the Paleo/NonPaleo Facebook page. Thank you!



amazon, modern no nonsense guide to paleoAre you struggling to sustain a paleo lifestyle change? Or not sure how to start? Or perhaps those around you are resistant and you're feeling undermined and unsure. The Modern, No-Nonsense Guide to Paleo provides practical tools to ease the transition to a full-on paleo life. Each chapter includes strategies, tips and checklists to identify the actions to power you on your paleo journey and create sustainable change. Buy it at Amazon.com.

Written by 

Alison Golden writes on the topic of paleo over at Paleo/NonPaleo. She aims to share ideas, inspire and motivate readers by teaching them how to live paleo in a non-paleo world. She is also the author of the bestselling book, The Modern, No-Nonsense Guide to Paleo, a unique tool that gives the reader hundreds of strategies to navigate the learning process to successful paleo living.

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Patrick William Callaghan June 4, 2013 at 8:36 am

I haven’t tried all of these but I would urge you to also check out The Domestic Man and you check out his cast iron pizza:

http://thedomesticman.com/2012/12/13/cast-iron-skillet-grain-and-gluten-free-pizza/

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Alison Golden June 4, 2013 at 1:17 pm

Hey, I’ll check out anything a domesticated man makes. Thanks, Patrick!
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Kathryn Austin June 4, 2013 at 9:20 am

They all sound interesting. I no longer do dairy so the one with cheese is out for me but I will be trying the others…as I do love pizza! By the way…It was so good to meet you and chat. I will start working on my questions right away!

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Alison Golden June 4, 2013 at 1:20 pm

Good to meet you too, Kathryn! :-)
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ellen June 4, 2013 at 9:38 am

I’ve had a lot of luck with coconut flour, though it does lend a sweetness that’s not always what you want. I’m wondering how it would be to use coconut flour with the cauliflower (it would dry it out, presumably) and a little soy free egg to bind it and a bit of dried garlic and onion and sea salt to flavor it. sprinkle the top with broccoli, onions, peppers, sun dried tomatoes (if you eat tomatoes) and spiked with fresh oregano and goat cheese with a bit of chopped fresh basil on the top ought to do it. I’m a retired health food chef and I often make things in my head long before I actually “make” them. I’m finding paleo interesting and fun as a cook. I’ll try this eventually, but someone may want to go ahead and try this first. I hope, if you do, that you’ll post the results. I’m pretty sure it would work.

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Alison Golden June 4, 2013 at 1:20 pm

Thanks for the idea, Ellen. :-)
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Bon June 4, 2013 at 9:53 am

Oh my goodness! Just the post I have been waiting for! I DO crave pizza… love the sauce and meat toppings the most. Always trying to figure out how to make a base I can tolerate (meaning don’t need a nap 20 minutes after eating it!). Thanks for these ideas. I am a bit sad (yes, I unfortunately get emotional about food) that the recipes seem so cumbersome. I can’t see myself pressing the water out of cauliflower or eggplant. If it’s too much trouble, I tend to skip it. Honestly, I do not enjoy being in the kitchen at all… which is not such a good revelation for someone who NEEDS to be Paleo! Thanks for your commitment to trying these out. Maybe I can make it a project with my kids.

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Alison Golden June 4, 2013 at 1:21 pm

Yes, make it a project with the kids – great idea!
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mike June 4, 2013 at 10:17 am

One of the best Paleo Pizza’s I have ever tried is from The White Lion Baking Company
http://www.whitelionbakingco.com/products/white-lion-baking-mixes
Liz Miles, the owner ships the dry mixes anywhere…

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Alison Golden June 4, 2013 at 1:24 pm

Contains cashew flour – interesting.
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robin June 4, 2013 at 10:22 am

Chebe crust is based on manioc flour, and tastes and feels like the real thing. http://Www.chebe.com and its boxed so very easy. No i dont work for them.

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Alison Golden June 4, 2013 at 1:25 pm

I have actually made my own version of chebe and it works great for pizza and sandwiches.
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Susan June 4, 2013 at 10:39 am

I use an eggplant based crust I found on MDS during one of the competitions. They had you bake the crust and then flip it during the cooking process because of the excess water in the eggplant. I just shredded the eggplant into a colander, put a bit of salt on it and let it drain. Took the excess moisture right out of it. I have “Primal Cravings” but haven’t tried the recipes yet.
Thanks for sharing.

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Alison Golden June 4, 2013 at 1:28 pm

Good idea! The MIP version had you do the flipping thing too, although I found it unnecessary if you got the crust very thin.
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Elizabeth June 5, 2013 at 7:09 am

This is a great idea! Thanks for doing all this leg work. I’ve tried a few pizza crusts, but our preferred method of “pizza” is to throw all the topping flavors that we want in the skillet (onions, Italian sausage, peppers, artichoke hearts, whatever) and add tomato sauce with some garlic, oregano, and basil. Top it with mozzarella or parmesan cheese in a bowl, and yum! Poof, done: pizza skillet!

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D$ June 6, 2013 at 3:37 pm
Kimberly Robinson June 13, 2013 at 2:53 pm

When I first gave up wheat I went through a number of pizza crusts looking for one to scratch that itch because I was a full on pizza fiend. Over time I find I’d rather make something with roasted vegetables than the nut flours. Thanks for more options!

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becky moize June 13, 2013 at 3:14 pm

This one neeeeeeeds to be included in the mix. Hands down best pizza recipe!!!
http://www.grassfedgirl.com/perfect-grain-free-primal-pizza-recipe-and-video/

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Suzanne June 13, 2013 at 5:03 pm

What about the bacon crust pizza from FreeRange Human?! http://freerange-human.com/recipes/ketogenic-pizza/

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JL Smith June 13, 2013 at 5:13 pm

I use either version of my “I Like Big BUNS and I Cannot Lie” recipe for pizza crust–one is arrowroot and almond flour, but my “go-to” pizza crust is the flax meal version. I’ve completely switched to the golden organic flax meal for a nuttier flavor.

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Meredith @ DareYouTo July 3, 2013 at 2:15 pm

Ohh I did love the Food Lover’s eggplant crust , a LOT. I’m definitely going to have to check out the Primal Cravings recipe, now. Mm mm
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Pancake Girl July 29, 2013 at 4:22 am

Yum! I love the ideas of paleo pizzas! I recently made one with only coconut flour, and it turned out really good…although I really want to try the eggplant pizza that was suggested :) Thanks for the great ideas, will be adding to my paleo pizza adventures! :D
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Deana Tritch August 11, 2013 at 5:42 pm

I just made our first pizza tonight using the recipe in Jamie Lawrence’s Coconut Flour Cookbook. The crust was a bit more work due to needing to be cooked on both sides but it was a hit with my family. It’s not a traditional pizza crust, though, so I am anxious to try some of the recipes you tested.

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Steve November 14, 2013 at 9:50 am

Julian Bakery’s Paleo Pizza Crust Mix is BY FAR the best gluten-free pizza crust mix I’ve ever had. It’s flaky, crispy, and has a wonderful taste. In fact, this is the first time I’ve actually enjoyed a gluten-free pizza crust (I’d given up pizza altogether). The only problem is that it’s about $10 and makes one 14″ pie. Kind of expensive for something made at home. But check it out if you want something tasty (or let me know how to reverse engineer it, if you can): http://www.julianbakery.com/paleo-product/paleo-pizza-crust-mix-gluten-free-12-oz/

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Tony@The Home Pizza Chef March 28, 2014 at 2:33 pm

Yummy! That looks so good. I like to cook my pizzas on a stone to get the crust evenly baked and crispy. That’s what makes the perfect pizza.
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