How to Make a Low-Carb Pizza

Ideas and Recipes for Low-Carb Pizza

low carb pizza
Low-Carb Pizza with Flax Meal Crust. Photo © Laura Dolson

Pizza is one of the most popular foods, but how can you enjoy it while watching your carbohydrates and calories? It's not what's on top that is the problem, as most pizza toppings aren't high in carbohydrates. Instead, it's the crust that you need to think about in order to make a low-carb pizza. But you might also reduce carbs in the sauce and cheese. Here are ideas for making a pizza that will fit into your low-carb lifestyle, and many are also gluten-free.

The Sauce

Most commercially-prepared pizza sauce has sugar in it, as you can see by reading the label. This is true of most red pasta sauce as well. Read the labels to find sugar-free pasta sauce that has 6 to 7 grams of effective carbohydrate per 1/4 cup serving. Another simple and inexpensive alternative is to buy tomato paste and add your own seasonings such as garlic, oregano, and other Italian herbs and spices.

The Cheese

Whole milk mozzarella cheese has about 2.5 grams of carbohydrate per cup, and partial skim has slightly more. Most other mild cheeses have similar carb counts. Parmesan cheese has about a gram of carbohydrate per ounce (which is 5 tablespoons of grated cheese).

Other Pizza Toppings

Most meats only have scant amounts of carbs, although some sausages have some added carb. Most vegetables typically used on pizza are low in carbs, including mushrooms (1.5 grams per cup, sliced), green peppers (2 grams per 1/2 cup, chopped), olives (1 gram per 4 large olives), or other low-carb vegetables.

Non-Crust Alternatives

If you don't want to take the time to make your own pizza crust, try these ideas for having that combination of flavors we all know and love:

  • Just Eat the Toppings: It's the most flexible, although messy, way to go. When your friends or family are ordering pizza, eat only the toppings and leave the crust behind. Get a salad to enjoy on the side.
  • Low-Carb Tortillas: If you like thin-crust pizza, a low-carb tortilla is a good substitute. The only trouble with this method is that you can't spread much on the tortilla, or it will tear. But you can smear a little sauce, cheese, and toppings, and then heat in the oven or microwave. As an alternative, try a "pizza burrito" by wrapping pizza sauce and toppings in the tortilla
  • Portobello Mushroom: Scrape the gills out of a large Portobello mushroom and bake or grill it to get some of the moisture out. Fill with toppings, then broil or bake.
  • Pepperoni Pizza Bites: Use pepperoni as the crust and cook mini-pizzas in a muffin cup.
  • Pizza Omelet or Pizza Frittata: Make an omelet or frittata, mixing in your favorite pizza toppings, and use the sauce as a condiment.

Low-Carb Pizza Crust Recipes

Here are some of the basic approaches to make a low-carb pizza crust:

  • Deep Dish Pizza With Egg and Cheese Crust (Gluten-free): You wouldn't think an egg-based crust could be so good, but there it is. It makes a deep-dish type pizza that is really good, even the next day.
  • Meatza Pizza (Gluten-free): This is a traditional low-carb approach. You make a base of hamburger and spices and put the pizza toppings on top.
  • Flax Meal Pizza Crust (Gluten-free): This is a hearty whole-grain approach. It's a version of flax meal focaccia bread made into a pizza crust. It's fairly thick, but you can make it thinner if you want. You'll have to wait a bit longer for it to cool after baking before you can handle it, as it stays hot longer.
  • Soy Flour Pizza Crust (Gluten-free): Soy flour is much lower in carbs than regular wheat flour, but it isn't very low; one cup of soy flour has 20 to 25 grams of effective carbohydrate. This recipe modifies George Stella's recipe, which starts out with a consistency similar to pancake batter and makes a thin crust. Adding protein powder to lower the carb count also thickens the batter enough to be picked up. It does have a little soy taste, though the spices help cover that.​

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