Pizza of the Month: California Veggie Pizza

This California veggie pizza is topped with black beans, corn, red onion, two kinds of peppers, avocado, and cilantro for fun, fresh flavor.
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We’ll be honest – we struggled a little coming up with this month’s new pizza recipe. After some brainstorming sessions, Alex and I knew we wanted to do a fresh, summer pizza with some Southwest inspiration and healthy vegetable toppings. But we couldn’t quite put our finger on what ingredients to use, until a surprisingly simple thought hit me: a California Veggie Pizza.

If you could have seen Alex’s face when I suggested we make a veggie pizza, you’d understand how much we both despise traditional veggie pizzas. That’s why the thought hadn’t occurred to us earlier. But I realized something that seems so obvious now – if we were going to make our own pizza at home, we could make a veggie pizza with veggies we actually like. Shocking, I know!

A thin crust veggie pizza served on a wooden pizza peel

So if you’ve ever wondered how to make veggie pizza taste better, it’s easier than you might think. All you have to do is make it yourself! With this recipe, we’ll teach you how to make a delicious veggie pizza at home – and give you tips for customizing the vegetable toppings to suit your preferred tastes. That’s the real beauty of making food at home; you don’t have to use the classic toppings or ingredients you think you’re “supposed” to use. 

You can customize this veggie pizza to your heart’s content, as long as you have a little creativity – and a basic understanding of how to pair different flavors and textures. But don’t worry, that’s the part we’re here to help with! Keep reading for our best tips and tricks on how to make your perfect veggie pizza at home.

Vegetarian Pizza Recipe Toppings

Typical veggie pizzas are topped with ingredients like mushroom, green bell pepper, and black olives. We’re not really about those flavors, though – so we took it upon ourselves to find the perfect balance of tasty meatless pizza toppings for us. We ultimately decided to use fresh, local produce for a California-style, Southwestern take on a veggie pizza, sticking with a summery flavor profile we know and love.

A veggie pizza with avocado slices and cilantro
Here are the healthy toppings on our California Veggie Pizza:
  • Pasilla pepper – Also known as Poblano peppers, these locally grown mild green chiles are similar to jalapenos in flavor and texture, but have much less heat.
  • Fresno pepper – Fresno chile peppers are also similar to jalapenos, but with more heat. We also love the pop of color they add to this pizza!
  • Red onion – Red onion packs more of a punch than other types of onion, so the flavor doesn’t get lost among the spicy peppers on this pizza.
  • Black bean corn salsa – We’ve been obsessed with this black bean corn salsa recipe lately and put it on everything, so we figured why not put some on our Southwestern style veggie pizza? It’s zesty, a little sweet, and slightly soft which contrasts the peppers and onions nicely. 
  • Avocado – If it doesn’t have avocado, it’s not a California style pizza 🙂 Thin slices added after baking give this pizza a deliciously creamy finishing touch.
  • Cilantro – Brighten up this pizza with a handful of chopped cilantro for fresh, citrusy notes.

To complement these Southwest-style flavors, we topped our veggie pizza with a blend of mozzarella and Monterey jack cheeses. In addition, a thin layer of our easy pizza sauce makes the perfect neutral base for all these powerful toppings. If you’re interested in customizing the vegetable toppings to suit your tastes, we recommend sticking with a classic pizza sauce like ours.

How To Make A Better Veggie Pizza

There are a few ways you can approach making our vegetarian pizza recipe, starting with the crust. Here are your options:

  1. Make your own thin-crust pizza dough from scratch, like we did (our adaptation of this recipe by Amanda-Rae is outlined in the recipe below).
  2. Use your favorite store-bought pizza dough (we love Whole Foods dough for easy pizza nights).

We felt that a light and airy New York style thin crust pizza dough would be perfect for a “healthy” pizza, but it’s totally okay to use store-bought dough if that’s your preference! It certainly makes pizza night easier and cuts down on prep time. Note that if you choose to make pizza dough from scratch following the steps in our recipe, you’ll need to prepare it at least 24 hours in advance.

As for the vegetable toppings, you can either:

  1. Use the same toppings we did to replicate our veggie pizza recipe exactly, or
  2. Pick and choose your favorite vegetable toppings to customize this pizza recipe for your own tastes, sticking to a few important guidelines.
Veggie pizza with peppers, black beans, corn, and avocado
If you decide to customize your veggie pizza, here are a few tips for picking the best toppings:
  • Peppers and onions add great flavor and crunch to a pizza. You really can’t go wrong with any kind of pepper or onion, so shake it up however you want to! We used two types of peppers (one mild, one spicy) for some variation in flavor and an extra pop of color.
  • Contrast the peppers and onions with a sweeter, softer topping – think beans, corn, mushrooms, olives, tomatoes, etc. This will provide a nice balance of flavors and textures.
  • Cold toppings – Cold toppings add an extra layer of complexity to veggie pizza. Although not necessary, you could try drizzling your favorite condiment (ranch, crema, even pesto) over the pizza after baking – or top with fresh avocado slices like we did for extra creaminess! 
  • Garnishes – Garnish your pizza with fresh herbs, crushed red pepper flakes, or grated parmesan cheese for a finishing touch. This extra step after cooking the pizza is what really makes homemade pizza rival any restaurant style pie.
Helpful Kitchen Tools For Pizza Night

Whatever ingredients you choose for your veggie pizza, there are a few standard tools that will help you craft the best homemade pizza without issue! Here are some of our favorite pizza night necessities:

  • Stand mixer – If you like to make pizza dough from scratch, we highly recommend investing in a quality stand mixer! We love how sturdy and powerful our Cuisinart mixer is. It handles large batches of pizza dough with no problem and saves us from having to knead everything by hand.
  • Round pizza pan – We use this 14-inch Wilton pizza pan for baking pizzas that use store-bought or homemade thin crust dough. It’s the perfect size and doesn’t warp in the oven.
  • Wooden pizza peel – A relatively recent purchase, this wooden pizza peel has already come in handy so many times! It’s great for stretching dough on since its tapered edge helps you slide the stretched dough right onto the pan (just make sure to lightly flour it first).
  • Chef’s knife – These days, we use a large chef’s knife to cut pizza more often than a pizza wheel. This high-quality, razor sharp knife cuts through pizza crust better than any pizza wheel we’ve owned. Plus, it gives you more precise control so you can make sure you’re cutting the pizza into equally-sized slices!
A California style veggie pizza topped with avocado slices
Why You Should Try This California Veggie Pizza

Now that we’ve covered how to make the best veggie pizza at home, we’ll circle back to why you should try our California Veggie Pizza recipe! It’s the perfect meatless pizza for warm summer nights, bursting with fresh Southwestern flavors and tons of healthy veggies. We promise every bite of this pizza will give you California vibes, so you can pretend you’re eating it while sitting at a trendy bistro by the ocean (instead of in your messy kitchen).

Try the recipe below and let us know what you think in the comments! We’d love to hear how it turns out and see what customizations you make to create your perfect veggie pizza. And if you like this recipe, don’t forget to leave a rating and share on Pinterest!

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4 from 3 votes

California Veggie Pizza

This California veggie pizza is topped with black beans, corn, red onion, two kinds of peppers, avocado, and cilantro for fun, fresh flavor.
Servings 8 slices
Prep Time 12 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


New York Style Thin Crust Pizza Dough (adapted)

  • ½ cup warm water
  • cups bread flour divided
  • .125 oz active dry yeast
  • ¾ tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil plus 1/2 tsp for coating
  • ¾ tsp salt

Pizza Toppings

  • ¾ cup Monterey jack cheese shredded
  • ¾ cup mozzarella cheese shredded
  • ½ cup pizza sauce
  • ½ cup black bean corn salsa
  • ½ medium poblano (pasilla) pepper thinly sliced into 1.5-inch long pieces
  • 1 medium fresno pepper thinly sliced into 1.5-inch long pieces
  • ¼ small red onion thinly sliced
  • 1 pinch sea salt for finishing
  • ½ medium avocado thinly sliced
  • ¼ bunch fresh cilantro chopped


New York Style Thin Crust Pizza Dough (adapted)

  • Add water, ¼ cup bread flour, yeast, and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir well to combine and let sit until foamy and bubbling, about 20 minutes.
  • Then add remaining 1 cup bread flour, 1 tbsp olive oil, and salt to the mixture. Stir to combine until a loose dough ball forms, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Using the dough hook attachment, knead the dough on low speed until soft and resilient, about 10 minutes.
  • Lightly coat the dough ball in about 1/2 tsp olive oil and transfer to a clean bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24-48 hours.
  • Remove the dough from the fridge and let rest at room temperature for about 1 hour before making the pizza.

California Veggie Pizza

  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F and and lightly grease a 14-inch pizza pan with cooking spray.
  • Lightly dust your hands with flour and carefully stretch the pizza dough into a 14-inch circle. Pick up the dough and work around the edges, gently pulling and letting gravity help you, then lay the stretched dough flat onto the pan.
  • Prebake the dough for 4 minutes. While it's in the oven, add Monterey jack cheese and mozzarella cheese to a large bowl and toss to combine.
  • Remove pizza dough from the oven. Quickly top with a thin layer of pizza sauce, leaving about a half-inch of space around the edges for the crust. Evenly sprinkle with the blended cheeses, then top with black bean corn salsa, pasilla pepper slices, fresno pepper slices, and red onion slices. Then sprinkle with a pinch of finishing salt.
  • Bake until cheese is bubbly and crust is golden-brown, about 14 minutes.
  • Transfer pizza to a cutting board. Let cool for 2 to 3 minutes before topping with avocado slices and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro, then slice into 8 triangles and serve immediately.


New York Style Thin Crust Pizza Dough: We made this recipe by Amanda-Rae, with a few modifications based on the reviews (using some of Brian B’s tips) and learnings from our Mastering Pizza cookbook. If you want to try making this dough from scratch, make sure you prepare it 1 to 2 days ahead of time so it has time to rise. Alternatively, you can use store-bought dough for this pizza and it will still taste delicious!
Pizza sauce: We make our own classic pizza sauce with this easy recipe! It’s delicious, and the best part is you can prep a big batch at once and freeze into half-cup portions for easy pizza nights.
Cheese: Freshly shredded cheese melts the best on a pizza. If you can, buy the two cheeses in block form and shred ahead of time with a cheese grater.
Toppings: We top this pizza with our homemade black bean corn salsa (get the recipe here), Pasilla pepper, Fresno pepper, red onion, avocado, and cilantro for fresh California-style flavors. If you can’t find these peppers at your local grocery store, substitute with your favorite kind! Jalapeno and bell pepper taste great on this pizza, too.
Baking pizza: Pizza can be finicky and cooks at different rates depending on the hydration level of your dough, your oven’s actual temperature, and other factors. We recommend keeping an eye on your pizza as it cooks and using visual cues to tell when it’s done – use our time estimates as a rough guide.
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Author: Nicole
Calories: 209kcal
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Avocado, black bean corn salsa, california style, cilantro, fresno peppers, monterey jack cheese, mozzarella, new york style, pasilla pepper, pizza, pizza dough, pizza sauce, red onion, summer, thin crust


Calories: 209kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 18mg | Sodium: 462mg | Potassium: 242mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 421IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 150mg | Iron: 1mg

If you have any questions regarding the information presented in this post, please refer to our Nutrition Disclaimer here.

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