This Meat Lover's Pizza has a perfectly chewy crust, tons of melty cheese, and is topped with plenty of juicy sausage crumbles, crispy bacon, and spicy pepperoni! YUM!
This post is sponsored by Fleischmann’s® Yeast. All opinions are 100% my own. Thanks for continuing to support the brands that help make ‘Mike Bakes NYC’ possible!
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Meat Lover's Pizza
Few things are better than a slice of freshly baked homemade pizza; with all of its melted cheese and glorious toppings. Sure, premade pies and delivery options are delicious and convenient, but being in control of your own flavors and textures is such a great experience. And once you’ve done it a few times, pizza making is honestly a breeze!
I'm excited to share this recipe with you all because it's one of my favorite pizza varieties: Meat Lovers. Seasoned Italian sausage crumbles, smoky bacon bits, and spicy pepperoni spread out onto a fluffy crust and topped with shredded mozzarella; what's not to love?!
The only part of pizza making that might scare some people off is making the crust. But I promise you have absolutely nothing to worry about with this recipe because it's perfect for yeast beginners!
I developed and made this base pizza dough using Fleischmann’s® RapidRise® Instant Yeast, which I actually use in most of my yeasted baked goods. It's reliable and it makes the rising time much, much faster without sacrificing any quality. Talk about a serious win-win! If you’ve ever been intimidated about recipes that use yeast, using Fleischmann’s® RapidRise® Instant Yeast is definitely the move! You simply add the yeast to the dry ingredients (instead of blooming it in warm liquid like active dry yeast), which not only saves time but also makes it super easy to use. If the idea of working with yeast is a little scary, I highly recommend checking out Fleischmann’s®Yeast's Baking Basics for a ton of helpful tips!
What's On a Meat Lover's Pizza?
A meat lover’s pizza is just what it sounds like: a pizza topped with a bunch of hearty meat. The type of meat toppings can vary honestly, but typically, this pizza is served up with crumbled Italian sausage, bacon, and pepperoni.
Like any pizza, this meat lover's pizza comes down to three main components – dough, sauce, and toppings. Here's what you'll need:
- All-purpose flour: I’ve experimented with different flours and find that all-purpose consistently leads to the best results; plus, that’s what most people have on hand!
- Fleischmann’s® RapidRise® Instant Yeast: It's fast-acting and super reliable which helps us go from zero to pizza in no time at all!
- Fine sea salt: Salt is a flavor enhancer and helps control the yeast.
- Granulated sugar: Adding just 1/2 tablespoon of sugar provides easy food for the yeast, allowing it to produce carbon dioxide faster and therefore leading to even faster rising times!
- Water: To make our high-hydration dough!
- Oil: To add a supple fat to the crust. I've tested both olive oil and corn oil and both yielded delicious results, so use whatever you prefer!
- Italian sausage: The type of sausage you use is completely up to you! You can opt for a mild or sweet Italian sausage, which usually contains spices such as fennel, garlic, parsley, oregano, and red wine vinegar. Or you can opt for a hot Italian sausage (my favorite) which is commonly made with paprika, anise seed, ground black pepper, fennel seed, red pepper flakes, and garlic salt. You could also replace the sausage completely with an equal amount of ground beef!
- Bacon: You'll only need 2-3 slices of cooked bacon. You can also opt to use bacon bits instead, just make sure they're bacon bits made with *real* bacon.
- Pepperoni: Use your favorite pepperoni, whether that's cup & char pepperoni (what I used) or cubed pepperoni.
- Cheese: Use a cheese that’s flavorful and melts well, but that won’t waterlog the dough. I use either a block of whole milk, low moisture mozzarella (which you can usually find in the refrigerated cheese section of your grocery store) or the pre-shredded mozzarella. I also grated some fresh parmesan cheese on top after baking the pizza!
- Pizza sauce: Feel free to make your own pizza sauce from scratch, if that's your thing! Your favorite jarred sauce will work just fine too.
- Cornmeal: This is an optional ingredient. Just a small sprinkle of cornmeal on the bottom of your pizza pan will make for a crisper crust with a little extra flavor.
- Italian seasoning: Another optional ingredient. Italian seasoning is usually a mix of dried oregano, basil, thyme, and rosemary. Sprinkling a little on top of the pizza before baking just adds more flavor.
- Red pepper flakes: Similar to the Italian seasoning, this is just for extra flavor! If you're not a fan of added spice, feel free to leave it off!
How to Make the Best Homemade Meat Lover's Pizza
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, sugar, and Fleischmann’s® RapidRise® Instant Yeast.
- Pour in the warm water and oil and mix it all together until combined. Knead for 3-4 minutes.
- Shape the dough into a ball and place it back into the mixing bowl. Cover the dough with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
- At the 10-minute mark, return back to the dough, and stretch and shape it into a disc about 12-inches in diameter.
- Top with tomato sauce, cheese, Italian sausage, bacon, and pepperoni. Sprinkle on Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes, if using.
- Transfer to a preheated oven and bake for 10-12 minutes.
- Remove from the oven. Allow to cool for 5 minutes on the pan and then slide it onto a large cutting board to slice and enjoy!
Recipe Troubleshooting & FAQ
Can I use active dry yeast instead?
Technically, yes! But you’ll need to add the yeast to the warm water and let sit for 5 minutes before proceeding with the recipe. Also, your pizza dough will require two longer rises instead of just one; one rise will need to be done after kneading the dough (for about 60-90 minutes) and one after stretching and flattening the dough out into your pizza disc (for about 20 minutes)!
Can I use bread flour instead of all-purpose flour for the dough?
Sure! Just note that using bread flour will yield a slightly chewier pizza crust due to the higher protein content! I occasionally like to replace about half of the called for all-purpose flour with bread flour, but feel free to replace all of it if you’d like!
Can I make the pizza dough ahead of time?
Absolutely. There are two different routes you could take!
1) Prepare the dough through step 2 below, but allow the dough to rise overnight in the refrigerator. When ready, continue with the assembly instructions in the recipe below (the shaping step).
2) Prepare the dough through step 2, then lightly coat all sides of the dough ball with nonstick cooking spray or oil. Place the dough ball into a ziplock bag and seal tightly, squeezing out all the air. Freeze for up to 3 months. To thaw, place the frozen pizza dough in the refrigerator for about 8 hours or overnight. When ready to make the pizza, remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow it to rest for 30 minutes on the counter, then proceed with the assembly instructions below.
Help! My dough isn't rising! What's wrong?
Yeast has a "use by" date. As it moves beyond that time, it loses its oomph. Check the date printed on the package to make sure it's within its usable life.
If your yeast hasn't expired, then you likely accidentally killed it by adding liquids that were too hot. The ideal temperature of the water is between 120°F (48°C) and 130°F (54°C); I recommend getting an instant-read thermometer to ensure you don't waste your ingredients!
Help! My pizza tastes doughy and underdone! What did I do wrong?
If your toppings are cooked but your dough is still raw, that indicates that there has been enough heat coming from the top but not from the bottom. To remedy this, you can lower the oven rack to the bottom third of the oven, which will allow you to cook longer without burning the top. Cooking your pizza on a pre-heated pizza stone or steel can also ensure a good base temperature.
If you’re halfway through cooking and need a fix for right now. Reduce your oven temperature by 70ºF (20ºC) and lower your oven shelf by one rack. Cook your pizza for 3 more minutes and then check on it again.
Meat Lover's Pizza
For the Pizza Dough:
- 250 g all-purpose flour
- 7 g Fleischmann’s® RapidRise® Instant Yeast
- 6 g granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 160 g water warm
- 15 g oil (olive oil or corn oil)
- cornmeal (optional), for bottom of pizza crust
For the Toppings:
- 130 g pizza sauce
- 198 g shredded mozzarella
- 70 g Italian sausage
- 2-3 slices cooked bacon finely chopped (or bacon bits)
- 30 g pepperoni
- Italian seasoning (optional)
- crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- grated parmesan (optional)
For the Pizza Dough:
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, Fleischmann’s® RapidRise® Instant Yeast, sugar, and salt. Add the water and oil, and mix with a spatula until a shaggy dough forms and there are no dry parts. The dough will be sticky; this is normal!
- Knead on a lightly floured surface until elastic, about 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer the dough back to the mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest for 10 minutes.
To Assemble the Pizza:
- Preheat the oven to 500°F (260°C).
- Sprinkle the base of a pizza stone or baking sheet with a little cornmeal, if using. Stretch out the dough into a 12-inch round and place on the pizza stone or baking sheet. The center should be thinner than the edges. If the dough is bouncing back and difficult to shape, let it rest for a few minutes then return to shaping.
- Evenly spread the pizza sauce on top, leaving about an inch of plain crust all the way around. Top with the cheese, Italian sausage, bacon, and pepperoni.
- Sprinkle some Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes on top, if using, and transfer the pizza to the preheated oven. Bake for 10-13 minutes, until the edges are golden brown and the cheese is melted and bubbling on top.
- Sprinkle chopped parsley and grated parmesan on top and allow the pizza to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then carefully remove the pizza to a cutting board.
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