Are Anchovies on Pizza Good?

Pizzerias are increasingly becoming innovative with their choices of toppings these days. Whether you go to Domino’s, Pizza Hut, or Papa John’s, you’ll find the anchovies replacing the humble pepperoni. But wait, is anchovy pizza good?

Are Anchovies on Pizza Good pin

Anchovy pizza is damn good, but it can only be so if you find the ideal anchovies and figure out how to use them. Much like prosciutto, anchovies undergo a detailed curing process, resulting in a classic blend of briny, fruity, and savory flavor. Far from whether they taste good or not, anchovies are a rich source of Omega 3.

If you know little about anchovy pizza, rest easy. I’ll have a comprehensive discussion about it today. By the end of this discussion, you’ll learn what anchovy pizza is, what you need to make it, which pizza toppings pair with it, and so much more.

What Is Anchovy Pizza?

What is Anchovy Pizza

You first need to know what an anchovy is for a better understanding. An anchovy is a saltwater forage fish that mostly thrives in the Mediterranean Sea. It measures about 6 inches (15.24 cm) long and occupies the lowest rank on the seafood chain.

Being way below the food chain means anchovies require little energy to survive. With it said, they tend to be more sustainable than their larger relatives. So, who introduced anchovy pizza?

History denotes that around the 16th century, middle-class people from Naples, Italy, used anchovies as a traditional topping on their pizza. It’s speculated that the people of Naples may have chosen to use anchovies due to their abundance and low impact on the environment.

Because anchovies thrive in salty water, it’s obvious they’re salty. To prevent their sharp, salty taste—Italians combined the anchovies with cheese and tomatoes to create a Neapolitan pizza. That’s the original anchovy pizza, which also got the moniker of Italian pizza.

Anchovies have become a common choice for sauces, rubs, and dressings. They’re more common in Caesar dressing. But if they’re filleted and rinsed correctly—anchovies can make great pizza toppings. They add a distinctive, rich, savory flavor to your pizza.

What Do I Need To Make Anchovy Pizza?

What Do I Need to Make Anchovy Pizza

You’ll need to use fresh anchovies to make the best anchovy pizza. However, it’s not easy to find fresh anchovies. You can only find fresh ones in some parts of Europe, especially around the Mediterranean Sea or the English Channel.

But the good news is you can cure anchovies in salt and use them as an alternative to fresh anchovies. Usually, salt curing has no impact on the taste of fish. It would also be best if you chose the right ingredients to accentuate the flavor of the fish.

Try not to use a rich sauce, such as béchamel sauce, to prepare the anchovy pizza. It is because the anchovies have a rich flavor, and using an equally rich sauce could make the dish overly rich. I recommend using a mild tomato-based sauce since it goes well with the anchovies.

You might also want to use onions sautéed with garlic as a substitute for pizza sauce. It will serve as the base for the pizza to complement the fish. Furthermore, flavored varieties of cheese, like ricotta or mozzarella, are the recommended cheese topping for anchovy pizza.

Be careful not to use Parmesan cheese or other salty types of cheese. Using salty cheese with anchovies may result in an overly rich salty flavor. Ideally, you want to use something that’ll balance out the salinity of the fish.

Which Toppings Pair Well With Anchovies?

Many toppings go well with anchovies on pizza. However, only a few are good enough to change the hearts of the most ardent anchovy haters. So here are the favorites:

Calabrian Chiles

Calabrian Chiles 

These are prominent in Italian cuisines, especially in Southern Italy. They’re peppers used as a pizza topping. The Calabrian Chiles have a slightly salty, juicy, and fruity flavor.

These versatile ingredients are not only perfect companions for anchovies on pizza but also for other dishes. The Calabrian Chiles form a unique flavor combination with the anchovies and enhance the overall taste of the pizza. When you pair Calabrian Chiles with anchovies, they bring out the taste of crushed red pepper flakes.



Garlic and anchovies usually go well together. But if you roast your garlic and use them on top of your anchovy pizza, you get a nuttier and sweeter flavor.

You can also crush the garlic and add them to your pizza toward the end of the cooking process. This way, you get the intense flavor. The anchovies’ saltiness combines with the tartness of garlic, producing a more potent punch.



Tomatoes are the best fit for those seeking flavor balance. Pairing tomatoes with anchovies brings out an even-keeled flavor with balanced acidity.

You’ll want to add sliced tomatoes atop the anchovy pizza to get that fresh and juicy flavor. The sweetness of fresh tomatoes can supply a soft texture to the anchovy pizza, creating an excellent combo.



These are native to Mediterranean cuisines. But you can still find them in many pizzerias worldwide. Most pizza restaurants use the small, non-pareil caper, while some use large types like capotes to cover even more surface on the pizza.

Capers are primarily ideal for salt lovers. But if you don’t seem to get enough of the saline punch of anchovies, add capers to the mix. When used on an anchovy pizza, capers add tanginess and smooth texture to your pie. And you’ll experience a pronounced salty flavor, which might be appreciated by those who prefer a stronger salty note in their food.



When it comes to anchovy pizza toppings, the possibilities are endless. If you’re a meat lover, why not scatter ground sausage on your anchovy pizza?

Sausage can also come in handy when you don’t feel like eating veggies. Ground sausage usually has silky fat. When combined with these oiled-packed fish, the result is a genuinely luxurious pie with a delightful flavor.

How To Make The Best Anchovy Pizza?

You’ll need good Italian pizza dough to make an anchovy pizza with a unique umami flavor. You can use store-bought dough like TIP 00 flour or try my easy-peasy, no-knead dough recipe below.


  • 1 ½ cups (190 grams) of all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon fine salt
  • ½ teaspoon instant yeast
  • ¾ (180 ml) lukewarm water

How To Make Anchovy Pizza Dough

Recipe Instructions:

  1. In a large bowl: mix flour, instant yeast, and salt.
  2. Gently shake until they blend.
  3. Add water and olive oil.
  4. Stir the mixture in the bowl until thoroughly combined.
  5. Cover the bowl and place it in a warm place. (High-hydration pizza dough doesn’t need any kneading. If placed in an area that’s warm enough, it’ll double in size after about 1 hour).
  6. After approximately one hour, transfer the dough onto a flat surface.
  7. Dust the pizza dough with flour and stretch it using your fingers.
  8. Pleat the four sides of the dough and shape it. This OXO dough scraper is best for cutting, folding, and shaping the dough.
  9. Shape the dough into a ball and allow it 20-30 minutes to rest.
  10. Come back and stretch the dough gently to form a 12-inch circle.
  11. The dough is finally ready. Add the topping and toss it in the oven!

Anchovy Pizza: A Look Through Its Nutritional Value

If you ask me if anchovies are good on pie, I’ll say a triple YES! Why? It is one of the most healthy and nutritious fish on earth! Take a look at the table below to give you a clearer view of what I’m talking about:

Serving Size: 1 Large Slice (140g)

Nutrition Facts Value
Calories 274
Total Fat 10g
– Saturated Fat 4.6g
– Trans Fat 0.2g
– Polyunsaturated Fat 1.8g
– Monounsaturated Fat 2.8g
Cholesterol 20mg
Sodium 745mg
Total Carbohydrates 33g
Protein 13g
Potassium 194mg

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do anchovies make the pizza taste fishy?

There are two tasting notes to expect from a Napoli pizza: salty and fruity. And no, you won’t find any fishiness in your pie. Anchovies undergo a curing process before being cooked. You might smell the fishiness on the packaging, but the pungent smell disappears once it bakes.

2. Are anchovies on pizza raw?

You can bake it with the pizza to help meld the flavors with the sauce. Or you can use a canned filleted anchovy in oil. Yup! No need to cook it. These fish are like prosciutto in the sense that they follow a comprehensive curing process.

After your pizza comes out of the oven, immediately top the anchovies to allow it to melt a little.

3. Do Italians add anchovies to their pizza sauce?

Before you judge anchovies as toppings, know that Italians use these bad guys as a base for their tomato sauce. So yes, they help add aromatics and umami without you detecting the fishiness.

Final Thoughts

There are no middle grounds about the anchovy pizza. You can either love or hate it, but those who love it know its unique flavor. These little yet potent fish add brininess and umami qualities to the pie. Better yet, they’re chock full of Omega 3’s and proteins.

Are Anchovies on Pizza Good pin 2


1 thought on “Are Anchovies on Pizza Good?”

  1. I have never met/meat a Pizza I did not like.

    Sounds familiar?
    well it is, Pizza lovers all over say the same thing and best of all STICK TO IT!


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