Hawaiian pizza is the best option for those of you who like that sweet and salty thing, and if you are looking for the best homemade pizza recipe, then you might want to give this prosciutto pizza a try.
The History of Hawaiian Pizza
Hawaiian pizza didn’t originate in Hawaii. It actually made it’s debut in Ontario, Canada. It was born from the idea that if sweet and savory flavors can work so well in Chinese cuisine, that they could probably work well on a pizza, too. Hawaiian pizza is neither Hawaiian nor is it Italian. In fact, the chef who first invented it was of Greek descent, and the term ‘Hawaiian’ came from the particular brand of canned pineapple he used when he first baked pineapple on pizza in 1962.
Why the controversy over Hawaiian Pizza?
We all know that ham and pineapple go great together. Salty ham with sweet and tangy pineapple atop a red sauce slathered in melted mozzarella just works… for most people. Both Mark and I can take or leave a typical Hawaiian pizza, and that is mostly because neither one of us is a straight-up red sauce fanatic, nor do we care for a big gob of wet fruit on top of what should be a savory slice of pizza.
Now some chefs will claim that pizza – at least the Italian version of it – was never meant to include fruit. (Just for the record, tomatoes are a fruit – and most Italian pizzas have tomato sauce on them – just sayin!)
Which is all fine and good if you like tradition.
But I am a non-traditionalist and I suppose many others are too when it comes to food, otherwise Hawaiian pizza wouldn’t have taken off the way it has. You will either love it or you will hate it.
I am hoping that this pizza will find the middle ground between the lovers and the haters, and maybe even convert a few pineapple-on-pizza haters into converts.
What Makes This Hawaiian Pizza Different:
Red sauce is an important ingredient in most Hawaiian pizzas, but I substituted regular marinara/pizza sauce with my Awesome Sauce instead, which is a slightly sweet, slightly spicy sugar-free option that – although a red sauce – it boasts a little more smoke and a little less acid when it comes to classic red sauce flavor.
The perfect compliment to sweet pineapple and salty ham, if I do say so myself.
Now you know I can never keep anything basic (even though this recipe has only 7 ingredients). I love to elevate almost any meal up to gourmet status, but what I love even more is when I can really fancy-up a dish without having to spend a lot of money or time searching out the fancy ingredients.
Prosciutto works so well on this Hawaiian pizza for this very reason. It is pretty easy to get nowadays, and it adds such a nice gourmet-level touch to anything that would normally use regular ham. (To learn more about what prosciutto is and how I came to love it so much, you can go to my Creamy Herb and Prosciutto Stuffed Mushrooms recipe page where I dive more into detail about where prosciutto comes from, it’s flavor profile, and how to use it effectively in recipes.)
So this is the second twist on a classic Hawaiian pizza that I incorporated here… the use of prosciutto instead of Canadian bacon, or chucks of regular ham. My homemade red sauce (a.k.a Awesome Sauce) isn’t as salty as pizza sauce, so the use of prosciutto with it’s salt-cured flavor jives quite nicely with Awesome Sauce. They each balance each other out, and the smokiness of Awesome Sauce in the base amps up the tart flavor of the pineapple as well. (Take that, all you chef-y types who think something sweet doesn’t belong on a pizza!)
My third tweak on classic Hawaiian pizza is the use of crushed pineapple in leu of using pineapple chunks.
Why crushed pineapple?
I know your first thought may be that using crushed pineapple may mean that the pineapple will get lost in amongst all those other flavors and textures going on. I can assure you that is won’t. Prosciutto is so thinly sliced, and when crisped up in a frying pan it takes on a very delicate texture. Once baked on the pizza, it becomes more like shaved bacon, so the smaller pineapple pieces sort of meld nicely with it. Each bite packs evenly distributed flavor.
Translation = no more bites of Hawaiian pizza that surprise you with big slimy chunks of warm pineapple. (Unless you like that sort of thing… but quite honestly, I am not a fan.)
Let’s be honest here. Crushed pineapple is very juicy, which is never a good thing for a pizza. Soggy pizza crusts are never going to go over well with anyone, no matter how adventurous they may be. The key step in this recipe when it comes to the pineapple is to drain it, drain it, drain it, and then drain it some more. Use a wire mesh strainer and press the pineapple into it – a few times – then wrap it in paper towels and squeeze as if your life depends on it. Then, and only then, will your crushed pineapple be pizza-ready.
Part of gourmet cooking is presenting a fine texture when serving up your food, and I find that using prosciutto and crushed pineapple not only gives a perfect balance of complete flavor evenly in every bite, but it also provides this wonderful texture. You don’t want this pizza – or any pizza for that matter – to bake for more than 10 or 12 minutes in a standard oven. The smaller pieces brown more quickly, so you’ll get nicely crisped pieces of ham and pineapple on each piece without over-baking the pie.
Ok, now for the cheese.
I use a blend of low moisture mozzarella and fresh mozzarella on this pizza. I love how low moisture mozzarella can be shredded and scattered evenly over the pie, because this is what gives each bite that ooey-gooey cheesiness that makes pizza so pizza-like. So it goes without saying… there has to be some low moisture mozzarella on this pizza.
Mark and I both prefer white pizzas over the ones with red sauce, and ricotta is a big proponent of any white pizza. It pretty much makes up for the lack of red sauce on a typical white pizza, and as a base with a mild flavor, ricotta can stand up to pretty much any topping. For this Hawaiian pizza, I was thinking of how much I love those dollops of creamy ricotta on white pizza and wanted to re-create that sort of feel.
Ricotta, however… well, no offense to ricotta because I do love ricotta… but for this pizza it is just a bit too lame as far as texture is concerned. Fresh mozzarella makes up for ricotta in texture here, and with all that beautiful crispiness going on with the prosciutto paired with juicy pineapple on top of a crunchy thin crust, I get the creamy bursts of cheese that can stand up to all the competition.
Because, you know, I can never be satisfied with basic, normal, let’s-just-get-by-because-it-s-a-busy-weeknight homemade pizza.
Because there is no reason why you shouldn’t have a gourmet pizza on a busy weeknight that you can make yourself right at home.
If you don’t want to make your own pizza crust, you can most certainly use store-bought. I like to make my own, though, because I find that I have a little more control over how I want it to turn out. If you don’t care for thin crust, go ahead and use a pillowy thick crust. I don’t recommend it, though, because you really want the toppings on this pizza to be the star.
On Using a Pizza Stone:
If you don’t have one, you may want to consider getting a pizza stone. My pizza stone is one of the best kitchen investments I’ve made. If you take care of them, they will last forever and give you pizza-oven worthy results every time. Here is a brief summary on how to properly use and care for your pizza stone:
- Allow it to heat up gradually by putting it in the oven, then turning the oven on to 500F.
- Once the oven reaches temperature, allow the stone to bake for at least 20 minutes.
- Allow your stone to cool down gradually. Never run cold water on a hot pizza stone!
- Never wash a pizza stone with soap, use clear water and a dish rag once it has cooled off.
- Never wash a pizza stone while it is still hot.
When using a pizza stone, there are a few things I want to emphasize if you don’t know them already. First, never wash your pizza stone with soap. Soap won’t wash away any seasoning like it would for cast iron, but your pizza stone will take on the soapy flavor because the stone is extremely porous. Last time I checked, nobody likes a soap flavored pizza crust.
Always heat your pizza stone through before you put your pizza on it. Place it in a cool oven, then turn your oven to 450-500F. Let it come to temperature, then allow it to bake in there all by itself for 20-30 minutes. Carefully place your pre-made pizza or pizza crust on the stone, adjust the oven temp and continue on with the baking instructions on the pizza packaging or in your recipe.
Cooling the pizza stone is a lot like heating it up. Gradual, gradual, gradual! Never try to cool your stone quickly, you’ll just crack it. After you’ve removed your pizza, let the stone come to room temperature naturally.
Never wash your pizza stone while it is still hot because it will crack. You can usually scrape away any melted cheese once it has cooled off and solidified.
How to Make Hawaiian Pizza:
I like to fry up the prosciutto before adding it to the pizza. Granted it will cook when the pizza bakes, but I love the extra crispiness prosciutto gets when fried first. Chop or tear the prosciutto into small bite-sized pieces, adding to the pan as you go, then fry for about 5 minutes, tossing occasionally. This will give you differing degrees of crispiness. Allow the prosciutto to rest on a plate lined with paper towels to drain off any excess grease. (Greasy prosciutto may make your pizza crust soggy.)
Drain the *%^& out of the crushed pineapple. I will press mine into a wire strainer 3 or 4 times first, then I follow by wrapping the pineapple in paper towels and squeezing as much moisture out of it as I possibly can. This will give you all that pineapple flavor without the mushiness, and your pizza crust – particularly the thin kind – will love you for it.
Shredded low moisture mozzarella is a must… trust me. Fresh mozzarella torn into bite-sized pieces is another must… trust me again.
I am a big cheer-leader for homemade pizza dough. I just love how much easier it is to control. That is just me, though. If you’d rather use store-bought, have at it. Just be careful because I find that store-bought pizza dough tears more easily and you can’t exactly press it back together on a searing hot pizza stone. (Hence, my case for homemade.)
If you are using a pizza stone and you’ve gotten it up to 500 degrees, you will want to roll the dough out first and slap it on the hot stone. It will begin to bake immediately, so work quickly but carefully when brushing it with olive oil. Bake the dough for a minute or two, then take it out again. The crust should easily slide off the stone, but keep it on there as now you will add the toppings.
Working quickly, spread Awesome Sauce over the crust out to about 1/2 inch from the edges, followed by the shredded mozzarella, prosciutto, pineapple, and fresh mozzarella.
Turn the oven to 450F and bake the pizza for 8-10 minutes, or until the cheeses begin to bubble and the crust becomes slightly brown along the edges. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with red pepper flakes.
Enjoy the best Hawaiian pizza you’ve ever had, and tell all your pineapple-pizza hating friends that they won’t have to be haters any longer.
Yumminess for all!
Gourmet Hawaiian Pizza
- Pizza Stone
- 1 prepared thin pizza crust room temperature
- 4 oz prosciutto
- ½ cup canned crushed pineapple
- 2 cups shredded low moisture mozzarella cheese
- 6 oz fresh mozzarella torn into ¾ inch pieces
- ½ cup Awesome Sauce
- ¼ tsp red pepper flakes for garnish
- Heat a pizza stone in a 500°F oven for 20 minutes. Prepare the pizza crust that has been allowed to come to room temperature by rolling it into a circle as thin as you can get it without tearing it. Cover with a tea towel until ready to use.
- While the pizza stone is heating, you can prep all of the other ingredients. Begin by chopping or tearing the prosciutto into bite-sized pieces. Toss them a little at a time over a span of a couple of minutes into a small skillet heated over medium high. Once all of the prosciutto is added to the skillet, continue to heat the prosciutto, tossing occasionally with kitchen tongs to prevent burning, for a few more minutes. Remove fried prosciutto to a plate lined with paper towels and set aside.
- Empty the crushed pineapple into a fine mesh strainer set over a small, deep bowl or a wide-mouthed jar. Use a spoon to press the pineapple into the mesh to push out the juices, then scrape the pineapple back to the center of the mesh. Do this three or four times to drain off as much liquid as you can. Transfer the pineapple to a plate lined with several sheets of paper towel. Gather the pineapple in the paper towels and squeeze any remaining juice out. Transfer drained pineapple to a plate and set aside.
- Carefully remove the pizza stone from the oven and lay your prepared pizza crust on it. Turn the oven down to 450°F. Quickly brush a tablespoon of olive oil over the crust, then return the stone with the crust to the oven for a minute or two before removing it again. The crust should slide easily over the stone.
- Using a large spoon or an offset spatula, spread the Awesome Sauce on the pizza crust to come to within 1/4 inch of the edge of the dough. Working quickly, evenly sprinkle the pizza with the shredded mozzarella, followed by the prosciutto, and drained pineapple. Dot with the fresh mozzarella, being careful to stay away from the edges.
- Return the pizza to the oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the cheeses melt and are slightly bubbly and the crust is beginning to brown along the edges. Carefully remove from the oven and slide the pizza off of the stone onto a large serving platter. Sprinkle the pizza with red pepper flakes, slice, and serve hot.