How to Make Healthy, Satisfying Pizza

Variety of pizzas

Claudia Totir / Getty Images

Table of Contents
View All
Table of Contents

Pizza is a proven winner when it comes to favorite meals. From childhood pizza parties to late-night pizza as adults, pizza is always there when you need it most. A slice from a local pizza shop, fancy pizza from a restaurant, frozen pizza, or even homemade pizza is fairly accessible for many individuals.

All this pizza talk begs the question—can pizza be nutritious as well as delicious? A registered dietitian breaks down the building blocks of pizza to show you how to make your pizza satisfying while incorporating key nutrients.

Choose Whole Wheat Or Sourdough Crust

While there is certainly nothing wrong with a traditional white pizza crust, whole wheat or sourdough crust is one way to increase nutrients in your pizza. Whole wheat crust contains more fiber, which can keep you fuller and more satisfied for longer. This important nutrient helps regulate the gut microbiota, impacting your gastrointestinal health. But it's not just the added fiber that makes a whole wheat crust a great option—it also has a hearty, nutty flavor, making it extra satisfying.

Another great crust option is sourdough. A sourdough crust goes through a lengthy fermentation process; this process causes lactic acid production, making the bread low glycemic, meaning it converts to glucose more slowly. The lactic acid also gives the bread its characteristic sour flavor. The sourdough fermentation process makes the dough easier to digest and has a prebiotic effect, promoting the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut.

Load up on Veggies

If you like toppings on your pizza, adding extra veggies is a great place to start. Veggies add bulk and filling fiber to your pizza slices. There are so many ways to add veggies to your pizza, anywhere from grilled or roasted or even raw. You can also do a combination of preparations for the veggies you're putting on top of your pizza—maybe you bake some veggies on top of the pizza and then add fresh greens once the pizza is complete.

Veggie Toppings for Pizza

  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Zucchini
  • Peppers
  • Greens
  • Tomato

Pick a Protein

Plain pizza is mostly made up of carbohydrates, which sometimes leave you wanting a more filling option. Pairing (or topping) a pizza with a protein increases its nutritional profile, as well as its ability to leave you satisfied. While pepperoni or Italian sausage may seem like the most obvious protein addition to a pizza, there are many more options to use if you're looking for variety. Try switching up your meats, cheeses, or even seafood for a tasty protein boost.

Protein Toppings for Pizza

  • Cheese
  • Pepperoni
  • Chicken
  • Steak
  • Sausage
  • Shrimp

Add Healthy Fat

Healthy fats are a great way to add flavor, satisfaction, and extra nutrition to your pizza. Healthy fats are monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and omega-3 fatty acids that are associated with heart health and brain function.

Fat sources in food also help increase the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. You will gain more nutritional benefits from the vegetables you add to your pizza with a fat source present.

Filling Toppings for Pizza

  • Olives
  • Pesto
  • Avocado
  • Olive oil

Choose Lean Meats

If you are cholesterol conscious, you can still have delicious and satisfying pizza by taking a look at your protein choices. Try leaner meat options like chicken, shrimp, eggs, or even tofu.

A Word From Verywell

Pizza can be a part of any balanced diet. If you are not sure about how to adapt pizza for your nutrition goals or need help understanding allergies or dietary restrictions, be sure to speak to a healthcare professional, such as a registered dietitian. They can provide any advice you need, recipe ideas, and answer your questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How can I add protein to my pizza?

    There are a number of delicious ways to add protein to your pizza. Try the traditional pepperoni, sausage, or buffalo chicken. You can also try barbecue chicken, shrimp, tofu, or flavored tofu crumbles.

  • Do you put raw vegetables on pizza?

    Yes! Raw veggies are great on pizza. You can mix up a Caesar or Greek salad to top your pizza or add fresh cut-up bell peppers, carrots, or tomatoes for a fresh and crunchy bite.

  • What veggies are good on pizza?

    There are so many veggies that go great on pizza. Choose your favorites or get creative with different combinations. Some popular ones are onions, mushrooms, peppers, spinach, and tomatoes. You can also try eggplant, zucchini, broccoli, and tomatoes. It is also a good idea to use whatever vegetables are in season.

8 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Kranz S, Brauchla M, Campbell WW, Mattes RD, Schwichtenberg AJ. High-Protein and High-Dietary Fiber Breakfasts Result in Equal Feelings of Fullness and Better Diet Quality in Low-Income Preschoolers Compared with Their Usual BreakfastJ Nutr. 2017;147(3):445-452. doi:10.3945/jn.116.234153

  2. Guan ZW, Yu EZ, Feng Q. Soluble Dietary Fiber, One of the Most Important Nutrients for the Gut MicrobiotaMolecules. 2021;26(22):6802. Published 2021 Nov 11. doi:10.3390/molecules26226802

  3. De Vuyst L, Comasio A, Kerrebroeck SV. Sourdough production: fermentation strategies, microbial ecology, and use of non-flour ingredients. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2021;1-33. doi:10.1080/10408398.2021.1976100

  4. Dimidi E, Cox SR, Rossi M, Whelan K. Fermented Foods: Definitions and Characteristics, Impact on the Gut Microbiota and Effects on Gastrointestinal Health and DiseaseNutrients. 2019;11(8):1806. Published 2019 Aug 5. doi:10.3390/nu11081806

  5. Dahl WJ, Stewart ML. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Health Implications of Dietary FiberJ Acad Nutr Diet. 2015;115(11):1861-1870. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2015.09.003

  6. Du K, Markus E, Fecych M, Rhodes JS, Beverly JL. Satiety and memory enhancing effects of a high-protein meal depend on the source of proteinNutr Neurosci. 2018;21(4):257-267. doi:10.1080/1028415X.2016.1277055

  7. Liu AG, Ford NA, Hu FB, Zelman KM, Mozaffarian D, Kris-Etherton PM. A healthy approach to dietary fats: understanding the science and taking action to reduce consumer confusionNutr J. 2017;16(1):53. Published 2017 Aug 30. doi:10.1186/s12937-017-0271-4

  8. Stevens SL. Fat-Soluble VitaminsNurs Clin North Am. 2021;56(1):33-45. doi:10.1016/j.cnur.2020.10.003