Spicy Sausage and Pepper Pizza (Pizza of the Month, August 2022)

Last updated: June 5th, 2024

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This spicy sausage and pepper pizza is a fiery twist on a classic Italian pie, packed with umami flavors and tons of heat in every bite.

Spicy sausage and pepper pizza with Italian sausage and cherry peppers

We’re turning up the heat for this Pizza of the Month! Introducing our Spicy Sausage and Pepper Pizza, a fiery twist on a classic Italian pie. Inspired by our love of hot chili peppers and savory, comforting dishes made with fresh ingredients, this unique pizza is one of our favorite spicy recipes yet.

Topped with spicy pizza sauce, a three-cheese blend, hot Italian sausage, two kinds of hot peppers, plus hot chili oil, there’s no running away from the heat when it comes to this spicy pizza. But even though it’s knock-your-socks-off hot, it’s got a balanced flavor that tastes truly incredible. Depending on what bite you take, you’ll either get a punch of spice, a slow growing heat, or just a small kick. But no matter what, by the time you’re done eating your mouth – and your stomach – will be burning hot. It’s the kind of spicy that sits with you all night.

If you’re not a fan of spicy food, this pizza may not be for you. But if you love the burn of a hot chili pepper and the lingering glow in your mouth after eating fiery foods, you’ll fall in love with this spicy sausage and pepper pizza! Trust us, these hot summer days aren’t the only thing that’ll have you sweating once you taste a bite of this pizza 🙂

A spicy sausage and pepper pizza on a serving tray

Spicy Sausage & Pepper Pizza Toppings

When we think of sausage pizza, the best toppings that come to mind are peppers. And what better combination of toppings for a spicy pizza than hot Italian sausage and blazing hot peppers? Oh, and why not kick it up a notch with a spicy red sauce and some chili oil while you’re at it?

Here’s a full breakdown of the best spicy pizza toppings and what ingredients to select at the grocery store:

  • Spicy pizza sauce – We crafted a spicy red sauce from scratch for this pizza using a tomato base and some of our favorite chili peppers, including chipotles in adobo for a hint of smoke that tells you this pizza is gonna be fire.
  • Three cheese blend – A blend of mozzarella, Monterey jack, and sharp cheddar cheese gives this pizza a tasty depth of flavor and a fiery marbled look. The bright yellow cheddar really makes this pizza pop!
  • Hot Italian ground sausage – You can typically find this prepackaged at the grocery store. Look for a “hot” or “spicy” version of Italian sausage. If you use regular Italian sausage, you won’t get the same spicy flavor in this pizza – but if it’s all you have, experiment with spicing it up on your own! Crushed red pepper flakes and chili oil are great ingredients for getting a ton of kick.
  • Fresno peppers – Fresno peppers are so spicy and flavorful, we love using them on pizza! If you can’t find them at the store, look for your local variety of hot red chili peppers.
  • Hot cherry peppers – In contrast to the fresno peppers, we recommend using jarred slices of hot cherry peppers for extra spice and that nice bite of vinegar you get from the brine. This will give your spicy pizza two kinds of hot peppers with very different textures and flavors.
  • Chili oil – A light drizzle of chili oil after cooking turns the heat up a notch on this spicy pizza. It’s the secret ingredient that truly takes this pizza to the next level! 
A slice of pizza topped with spicy pizza sauce, Italian hot sausage, and hot peppers

Tips For Making This Spicy Sausage Pizza Recipe

There are a few components to this spicy sausage and pepper pizza, so we’ve outlined a few tips to help you succeed at making this recipe:

  1. Prepare ahead. If you’re using our New York style thin crust pizza dough recipe, make it 24 to 48 hours ahead of pizza night! It needs time to rise in the fridge before baking. (Alternatively, you can use store-bought pizza dough). In either case, remember to let the dough rest on the counter for about an hour before stretching so it warms up to room temperature. This will make it much easier to stretch.
  2. Time your ingredients. You can make the spicy pizza sauce and cook the Italian sausage in advance and store them in the fridge until pizza-making time. Or, simply start preparing these ingredients when you put the pizza dough on the counter to warm up.
  3. Prebake the dough. For thin crust pizza, prebaking helps keep the crust stiff enough to support the toppings. This spicy pizza is loaded with sausage and peppers, so you’ll want to make sure the crust can withstand all that weight.
  4. Shred your own cheese. Shred your own cheese from the block – it melts way better this way. The pre-shredded cheese you buy in bags at the store typically has a powdery coating on it to keep the shreds from sticking together, which means it doesn’t melt quite as well.
  5. Keep it spicy! This is a spicy pizza after all, so don’t be afraid of the hot peppers! We simply slice the Fresno peppers into discs with the core and seeds remaining – this is where all the heat comes from.

Recipe Modifications & Additional Notes

To simplify this recipe, you can use store-bought pizza dough. You’ll still want to let it warm up to room temperature before stretching. If you want a thin crust, depending on the size of the dough ball you may need to stretch it larger than 14 inches in diameter – as long as you have a large enough pan!

A slice of spicy sausage and pepper pizza on a plate

We’ve included the recipe for a full batch of pizza sauce (using one 28-oz can of tomatoes), but you’ll only need about a half cup for the pizza. We recommend making the full batch and freezing half-cup portions for easy pizza nights in the future! We love using our Souper Cubes for pizza sauce.

Finally, if you really aren’t big on spice, you can tweak this recipe to be more of a classic Italian sausage and pepper pizza. Sub out the hot Italian sausage for a regular Italian sausage, and use bell peppers in place of the fresno and hot cherry peppers. If you’re feeling ambitious, keep the spicy red sauce (it’s mildly spicy with a good amount of smokiness from the chipotle pepper) – otherwise, try our standard pizza sauce recipe here! And most definitely skip the drizzle of chili oil if you can’t handle the heat.

Why Should I Make Spicy Pizza With Sausage And Peppers?

Sausage and peppers are the best toppings for spicy pizza because they provide a ton of heat with balanced flavor! The Italian sausage is so salty and juicy. The fresno peppers taste super fresh and brighten up this heavy pizza. In contrast, hot cherry peppers from the jar are slightly more tart and have a hint of vinegar, which gives an acidic bite to this pizza to balance out the saltiness. 

Our hot sausage and pepper pizza is salty, savory, spicy, and comforting – the kind of meal that warms your insides and makes you say “mmm” with every bite. It even smells incredible, from the moment it starts cooking until the very last slice is gone. Eating pizza is all about the experience, and this pizza surely packs a punch with all the flavors, textures, and smells from the sausage and hot peppers.

A spicy sausage and pepper pizza with a slice removed

Try the recipe below and let us know if you can handle the heat! Don’t forget to rate, comment, and share if you like it. We’d love to know what you think 🙂


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Spicy sausage and pepper pizza with Italian sausage and cherry peppers

Spicy Sausage and Pepper Pizza

Nicole & Alex
This spicy sausage and pepper pizza is a fiery twist on a classic Italian pie, packed with umami flavors and tons of heat in every bite.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 28 minutes
Total Time 43 minutes
Course Dinner, Main, Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 8 slices
Calories 274 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

New York Style Thin Crust Pizza Dough (adapted)

  • ½ cup warm water
  • cups bread flour divided
  • 0.125 ounce active dry yeast
  • ¾ teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil plus 1/2 tsp for coating
  • ¾ teaspoon salt

Spicy Pizza Sauce

  • 28 ounces canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo
  • teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • teaspoons minced garlic
  • teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground red cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt

Spicy Pizza Toppings

  • 3 ounces mozzarella cheese shredded
  • ounces Monterey jack cheese shredded
  • ounces sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 small fresno peppers sliced into thin discs
  • 12 slices jarred hot cherry peppers
  • pound hot Italian ground sausage cooked
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili oil for drizzling
  • Chives minced (optional garnish)

Instructions
 

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 tablespoon 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 teaspoon olive oil and transfer to a clean bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours.
  • Remove the dough from the fridge and let rest at room temperature for about 1 hour before making the pizza.

Spicy Pizza Sauce

  • Next, prepare the Spicy Pizza Sauce. Add crushed tomatoes, chipotle in adobo, olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, chili powder, cayenne, paprika, oregano, and salt to a saucepan. Stir to combine and cook over medium heat for about 5 to 10 minutes, or until fragrant.
  • Carefully transfer the sauce to a blender. Cover and blend on medium speed until smooth, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Set aside.

Assembling The 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 shredded cheeses to a bowl and toss gently with your hands to combine.
  • Remove pizza dough from the oven. Top with a half cup of the Spicy Pizza Sauce, leaving about a quarter-inch of space around the edges for the crust. Evenly sprinkle with the blended cheeses, then top with sliced fresno peppers and hot cherry peppers. Finally, top with hot Italian ground sausage and a pinch of salt.
  • Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, or until crust is crispy and cheese is bubbly and golden-brown.
  • Let the pizza cool for about 1 to 2 minutes, then top with a drizzle of chili oil and a sprinkle of chives. Slice and serve immediately.

Notes

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 included a full recipe here for our spicy pizza sauce since it uses one 28-oz can of crushed tomatoes. It’s more than enough sauce for one pizza (it will make about 3-1/2 cups total), but you can easily freeze the rest for easy pizza nights. We love using our half-cup Souper Cubes tray for this!
Cheese: We recommend buying blocks of cheese and shredding it fresh for this recipe. Freshly shredded cheese melts the best and makes the best pizza!
Fresno peppers: Slice the fresno peppers into very thin discs, but leave all the seeds in. They’ll be spicy but they give this pizza delicious flavor!
Blending the sauce: Blending the sauce gives it a nice smooth consistency for spreading on the pizza, plus it incorporates the chipotle pepper for delicious smoky flavor and spice. Be careful when blending a hot sauce – you might want to grab an old kitchen towel and hold it over the lid while you blend, since the heat can make the pressure build up inside the blender.
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.

Nutrition

Calories: 274kcalCarbohydrates: 24gProtein: 12gFat: 15gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0.04gCholesterol: 32mgSodium: 732mgPotassium: 410mgFiber: 3gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 801IUVitamin C: 15mgCalcium: 178mgIron: 2mg
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Keyword cheddar cheese, chili oil, fresno peppers, hot cherry peppers, hot Italian sausage, Italian ground sausage, monterey jack cheese, mozzarella, new york style, pizza, pizza dough, pizza sauce, spicy, thin crust
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