Confident home cooking
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Economical, Vegetarian

Mastering the White Pizza

by Nick

There is a great little pizza place down the street from us here in Denver. All their pies are excellent, but in my opinion their white pizza is their best. They do it right by keeping the toppings limited and the sauce in the right proportions.

If you’ve never had a white pizza before, it has a cream base instead of a tomato base which creates some interesting flavors, but comes with some serious hazards. For starters, one of the nice things of a tomato base is that the acid in the tomato sauce cuts through the richness of the cheese and other pizza toppings. With a cream base, you’re adding to that richness instead of cutting through it.

Also, cream has a tendency to burn in the oven and make a big smoky mess so you have to be careful when you’re making a cream sauce pizza.

BUT, all of those hazards are easily avoidable and it’s definitely worth the risk.

If you are a fan of homemade pizza, spend some time making this sauce the next time you are in pizza mode and try it out. I think you’ll love it.

Yield
1 1/2 cups sauce
Prep Time
Total Time

Just a moment please...

Print Recipe White Pizza Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 large shallots, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups heavy cream, warm
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

1) Mince shallots and garlic very fine. In a large skillet or saucepan, add butter and shallot and cook over low heat until shallots are transparent, about 5 minutes. Season with a pinch of salt.

2) Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Then add flour and stir to distribute flour. Turn heat up to medium-low and cook for a minute or two just to cook out flour taste.

3) Slowly stir in warmed cream in a slow drizzle. Stir or whisk constantly so lumps don't form.

4) Bring cream mixture to a very slight simmer and cook until it thickens slightly. If you move a spatula through the sauce it should leave a nice streak.

5) When sauce is the consistency of a gravy, season with fresh thyme and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Let sauce cool to room temperature before using or you can make in advance and chill. Don't worry if the sauce solidifies if you chill it. You can still spread it on the pizza and it will turn back into a sauce in the oven as the pizza cooks.

Sauce Basics

There isn’t anything particularly difficult about this sauce, but it’s really important to make sure you have a good balance of flavors in it. Because the pizza is on the rich side, I like to make sure the sauce has a lot of shallot and garlic which help balance that richness.

The basics.

The basics.

You can make this sauce in a large skillet or a saucepan. Whatever you have will work. Start by cooking the minced shallots and butter in the pan over low heat. You don’t want to brown the shallots really, but just soften them a bit. Also, if you get your pan too hot the butter will brown which we don’t want for this recipe.

Starting white pizza sauce

Low and slow on these.

Have patience and let the shallots cook low and slow until they are translucent.

Then add in the garlic and cook for a few more seconds. Then add about a tablespoon of flour that will help thicken the sauce. You don’t need a bunch. Be careful not to over-do the flour or your sauce won’t thicken correctly.

A little flour.

A little flour.

Now for the fun part. Once the flour has cooked into the shallot and butter for a minute or two start slowly stirring in the cream. It’s easiest to do this if the cream is warm or at least room temperature, but I’ve done it with cold cream in a pinch as well.

Drizzle slowly and stir or whisk constantly so lumps don’t form!

Cream business.

Cream business.

Once all the cream in stirred in, let the sauce simmer for a few minutes until it thickens. It should be the consistency of a light gravy and if you drag your spatula through it you should be able to make a smiley face.

Thickening white pizza sauce

Smile!

When your sauce is happy, season it with a pinch of salt, pepper, and fresh thyme!

Seasoned.

Seasoned.

Making a pizza

Before you sauce your pizza, let the sauce cool to at least room temperature. You could also make it in advance and it will keep fine for a few days in the fridge. If it solidifies, don’t freak out. It’ll turn back into a sauce in the oven.

You can use any pizza dough under the sun for a white pizza. I made a quick batch of my standard pizza dough to try out with this sauce.

Any pizza works!

Any pizza works!

My pizza stone bit the dust so I just used my cast iron skillet to bake these guys. It works great.

Roll out the dough you are using and then spread a thin sauce layer onto the dough.

This is very important. If you use too much sauce, it’ll be too rich and also will bubble over the pizza and burn. I would guess you’ll need about 1/4-1/3 cup of sauce per pie.

Restraint is a virtue.

Restraint is a virtue.

Top the pizza with anything you like! Cheese is a must and I like fresh tomatoes (even winter ones work decently). The acidity in the tomatoes helps out with the richness.

Season the pie with salt and pepper.

Toppings!

Toppings!

Depending on your dough and cooking device, your cooking time may vary, but your pie will probably need to bake for 12-ish minutes at 450-500 degrees F.

Finished pie.

Finished pie.

As soon as mine came out I added a big handful of fresh chopped basil.

Finished White pizza sauce

Boom.

This is such a different flavor profile from the pizza you are used to. I actually think it’s the perfect pizza for winter since it’s a bit more hearty and creamy. Betsy and I are in love with this guy.

One thing I did notice though is that cold white pizza tends to be not as good as leftover red sauce pizza. The cream sauce just kind of congeals and it isn’t excellent. You can reheat a piece in the oven for a few minutes though and it comes back to life in no time.

Any white pizza fans out there? Leave a comment!

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41 comments on “Mastering the White Pizza

  1. My ex taught me to make “white sauce” by mixing ranch dressing with ricotta! Works very well for a lazy and delicious homemade pizza!

    I am looking forward to trying this “real” cream based white sauce. I think the best topping for a white sauce is BROCCOLI!!!!

  2. Awesome, can’t wait to try this out. I love white pizza, but mainly because tomatoes just don’t love me and therefore tomato sauce will do me in so white pizza is the alternative.

  3. Add artichokes and some feta to that an you have one of my favorite pizzas! (The salty and briny components cut the richness of the sauce and cheese, IMO)

  4. This has just been added to my too-try list and I mean once I get to the store to buy the ingredients I will be making this. This reminds me of a brick oven pizza restaurant we had here many years ago that was so good but went out of business for some strange reason.

      1. I was finally able to make this and it was a huge hit and of course a keeper in my household. We ate the entire pizza in one sitting when we normally don’t. Thanks! I am going to make this again in two days with he extra sauce! Yum!

  5. Nick do you think nonfat Greek yogurt could be subbed for the heavy cream for a ‘healthy’ version? Or is it too watery as compared to the cream? You’re awesome, btw. Loving the blog now as ever! :-)

    1. You can use lowfat milk as a sub. to make a healthier version. The thickening comes from the flour and butter, the cream, while giving it a richer flavor, doesn’t have to be used. The shallots and garlic will add all of the flavor to this.

  6. It doesn’t look like you preheated the cast iron skillet before putting your dough in. Have you ever done that? Does the bottom of your pizza come out crispy at all? I have such a hard time getting that good brown on the bottom without burning the toppings.

    1. I live in Chicago, which means pizza is sometimes expected to be thick as a lasagna. (Not one of Chicago’s best ideas, but it somehow just won’t die.) I’m a huge fan of cast iron, so this one is in my sweet spot. One of the tricks I’ve learned is to cover the pan loosely with foil for the first half (or so) of the baking time if I fear my toppings might burn. I don’t usually preheat the pan if it’s going into the oven, but I usually do preheat it if I’m rewarming leftover pizza on the stove top.

  7. I made this sauce and the flavor was fantastic. I wanted to eat the sauce by the spoonful. However I had a hard time getting the sauce to thicken and then when it did it seemed that the butter separated out of it. It still tasted great but made an oily mess when I cooked it with cheese on top. Has this happened to anyone else? Any thoughts on where I went wrong? I’d love to make it again without messing it up :)

    1. Hey Leah, sorry to hear it didn’t work great for ya. It’s a weird balance to get it the right thickness. It sounds like you needed to add a bit more flour to your roux before the cream. It shouldn’t take more than a minute or two to thicken. If you cook if for a long time you can break the sauce which might cause it to separate later.

      Also, it’s pretty important to make sure the sauce cools before adding it to the pizza. That way it will reheat and be the perfect temp as the pizza cooks.

      I hope that helps and you give it another shot. Good luck!!

  8. Yum, I love white pizza! I have to admit, though, I often cheat and use (unsweetened) whipped cream instead of making a cream sauce – it is so much easier, and I think still really delicious as long as you season the rest of the pizza well. Learned that trick from Mozza. :)

  9. Hey I am making this now and was wondering if after the shallots and garlic cook, should I turn up the heat? Thanks!

    1. Hey Chelsea, I tend to keep it on a medium-low to medium heat so the cream doesn’t burn or scald. Hope that helps! Good luck!

  10. I did and love it, thanks so much. My husband told me this turn better than the last I made with my own recipe, :-) God bless you

  11. A local pizza place does white sauce pizza with artichokes and spinach. Yum. I’ll try that with your sauce.

  12. Nick, I live in the Arvada area of town. I’m an x-New Yorker so my fav is Anthony’s. I always prefer a thin, slightly crisp crust, their sauce seems nicely seasoned and a good quality cheese and toppings. With that said I’m looking to spread my culinary taste buds to more artisan ‘za’. What is the name of your white pie pizza joint and in what area of Denver? I’d love to find a place that does shrimp or clam pies. Other recommendations….?

    1. Hey Jack, the place we had it at is called Atomic Cowboy on Colfax near City Park (also known as the Denver Biscuit Company). They make great pizza. I haven’t really seen any clam pies outside of New England although I do miss those also…

  13. hi Nick,
    i’ve tried your white pizza and it taste great! thank you for sharing your recipe. do you have more recipe than this and tomato based sauce. I hope you could share it to us. thanks and more power.
    !

      1. hi nick,
        i have a question on the basic marinara sauce, can i used dried basil and what is the measurement of this? Regards to Chipotle marina sauce, what is the substitution for the chipotle? i’ve searched on the internet and they gave me an answer which is tabasco..is this correct? do you have any suggestion that i can source here in philippines. And also in the adobo sauce do you recipe for this? here, we have a recipe for that but i’m not sure we have the same thought, please clarify on this for i want to cook and used this in my pizza recipe. Hope you can help me again on this. thanks in advance!

        1. Hi Lyn,
          Let’s see if we can iron this out…
          on the basil: 1 teaspoon of dried should be a good start and you can adjust from there.
          I don’t know a great substitute for chipotle. It’s a very distinct flavor unfortunately, BUT I imagine you could use any hot sauce in that sauce. You just want something really spicy. If you’re in the Philippines, I would use a local hot sauce… not Tabasco and make it your own. :)
          The Adobo sauce that the chipotles come in is VERY different from the Philippine adobo sauce you are thinking of. Here’s a link on Amazon for the chipotle peppers in Adobo sauce. It’s like a super spicy red sauce. I have no idea if you can find something like that in the Philippines, but I would just use a local spicy hot sauce.
          Feel free to email me using the contact form if you want to talk it through more! Good luck!

          1. hi nick,
            ok, i’ll do that as basic for the dried basil. The ingredients that you have used in your marinara recipe is mostly like my recipe except for the lemon juice. On the adobo sauce I think you’re right is far different from what we have here. I think i’ll do your suggestion on the hot sauce. And i’ll give you feedback once i cook it. thanks a lot on the link for the pizza sauce. i have to tried them too. thanks a lot for sharing.. :)

  14. This reminds me a lot of the white sauce my mother-in-law taught me to make for her scalloped potatoes. Trying this out for pizza tonight.

  15. Just made my pizza with your white sauce and topped it with cheese, shredded chicken, tomatoes and yellow bell pepper. And more cheese. Husband said it was the best pizza he ever ate lol thank you for this great recipe:)

  16. Anyone try this with 1 cup 2% milk and 1 cup half and half instead of the heavy cream? I don’t have heavy whip on hand and it’s expensive to buy in my small town.

  17. We just made this with half and half. Couldn’t get it to thicken. Mixed another tablespoon of flour with a little bit of half and half and stirred it in. That did it. Our sauce wad finally happy. Now waiting for it to come out of the oven!

  18. I will be making this tonight, for my daughter who is allergic to citric acid. Cant wait too make it!

  19. Hey Jessica, should work just fine. Might just have to simmer it an extra minute or two to thicken it a bit more, but I would think it would work fine. Good luck!

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