The Most Important Pizza Ingredient

The square cut vs. pie cut pizza slice post from last month raised a ruckus. Regular slices took down squares by a 2:1 margin, and the ability to hold the slice without getting fingers cheesy or saucy appear to be contributing factors.

But then Mike N. jumped into the comments with this nugget after abstaining from voting on this important issue:

Actually, I think the type of cut in a pizza is one of many variables. The cheese to sauce to topping ratio, flavor of the sauce, speed of delivery, size of each topping (i.e. Parkway’s tomato slices are discs–not diced), and crust flavor are all more important.

Debating slice shape is like debating which President would make the best fishing buddy.

Point taken, Mike N. So, let’s see if we can determine which ingredient that goes into making a pizza has the largest impact on your perceived outcome. Is it a perfect crust? A delicious sauce? Just the right amount of cheese? Or does it really come down to what’s on top?

Take your time with this one. There is a lot to thing about here.



12 thoughts on “The Most Important Pizza Ingredient”

  1. It’s hard for me to label a single ingredient that’s most important because it’s all about balance. All it takes is a single ingredient to throw that balance out of wack, they’re all equally important in my opinion.

  2. Because I’m not a pizza lover in the same way that Aaron is, I generally fixate on only three things in a pizza:

    1. Crust — I prefer it to be soft and almost doughy but definitely not undercooked. I am not a thin crust pizza person.

    2. Sauce — This obviously depends on the type of pizza (chicken/ranch pizza won’t have tomato sauce, etc) but I expect tomato sauce to be somewhat spicy and have flavor but not enough to overpower everything else.

    3. Cheese — It’s gotta be greasy; so greasy that when you fold it in half (because you’re not eating it in squares, right?) it drips off and onto the plate in puddles.


  3. I would argue that without crust, it’s not a pizza. Therefore crust is the most important ingredient. But that might be a cop out.

    As Bill said it really depends on the type of pizza. Like with most all foods, it’s about the overall quality of the ingredients and the way they are combined and prepared. I think any ingredient could make or break a pizza.

    Did you know that a Neapolitan Pizza place has to certified by some committee in Naples in order to call themselves a Neapolitan Pizza place? It’s all about the quality of the ingredients and method of preparation.

    On the other hand there is greasy late night munchy pizza, which I would say is basically all about the cheese.

  4. Wow this is a tough one… If I had to nail down one ingredient…Im gonna go outside of the box on this one and say…Olive Oil.

    Its the one ingredient that is found most commonly on my pizzas of choice. In the crust, on the crust, in the sauce, underneath.

    Obviously cheese, sauce and crust are important but when I try to boil down common ingredients in all the pies that I prefer I think Olive oil is the linchpin.

    Maybe sea/kosher salt in the dough also?

  5. To extend ryanol’s argument to an absurd conclusion, I’d have to go with water.

    Without water, the box might be tastier than the dust it contains.

    I do think it depends on the type of pizza. Punch, for example, is all about the crust. The toppings are just garnish for a great crust. Red Savoy is about sauce and cheese (and sauerkraut, if you swing that way). The crust is an afterthought. It’s just a vehicle to get the magma-hot toppings to the most blisterable regions of your mouth.

  6. For me it is fresh ingredients and a thin, cracker crust.

    But I’m not much of a snob when it comes to pizza. Many nights I’m perfectly happy eating a Tombstone pizza.

  7. Of course all ingredients are important. It is a tough task to step and answer this question and say X IS THE MOST IMPORTANT INGREDIENT> END OF STORY.

    That being said, The Deets’ liberal readership is shining through again. All yall be making like John Kerry and nuancing the shit out of this question.

    How about if the question was posed this way: Assuming that all elements of a pizza are above-average, which variable do you value the most, and cost is no object?

    If that is the question Los Deets is asking, I gotta go with the sauce.

    Open comment to Los Deets: Thanks for the love and letting some bullshit comment I left become a topic of your esteemed blog. As an aside, this is the second time a comment I have left on this blog has come back to bite me in the butt. And I mean like a playful friendly bite, like the kind a puppy might give you…

  8. Great Pizzas— I’ve had a great pizza that had no cheese. I’ve had a great pizza without sauce (can you really call olive oil a sauce?). I’ve never had a great pizza without a great crust. Punch has a great crust. Others (like Pizza Luce) do not.

    Good Pizzas—For good pizzas, the sauce is the most important ingrediant. It has to be spicy and flavorful (Red Savoys is my local favorite red sauce)

    Drunk/stoned/hungover Pizza—Cheese and grease is good. I’m not sure why, but cardboard and Hunt’s catsup my suffice as long as it was greasy enough.

    And for the record—I voted for the square pizza because it tasted better, not because it was cut in squares. The triangle pizza was the infamous Pizza Luce’s, but great top ingredients couldn’t make up for the Pizza Hut (think hand tossed) like crust.

  9. Oregano is the most important.

    You got to have basil, garlic, and decent cheese too.

    Crust? Well, you have to have the sauce/toppings on something. But it doesn’t have to be a traditional crust. You can have pizzas on Italian bread, pita bread, or even a bagel. The details on crust matter, but aren’t the most important determinant of pizza success.

  10. I prefer thin crust above all others but … the sauce is my most important consideration regardless of crust thickness. I like a red sauce that has a little kick, a little bite to it, and can definitely tell the difference between bland, generic varieties vs. a sauce that has had some extra attention paid to it whether it’s from a pizza shop or the frozen food aisle. (For non-restaurant, non-delivery pizzas I prefer Jack’s and Papa Murphy’s pepperoni ‘zas. Domino’s/Pizza Hut/Papa John’s qualify as bland, sauce-wise.)

    The next ingredient I factor into the “pi” equation is cheese. I prefer a blending of cheeses, and love the gooey-ness of mozzarella on a pizza fresh from the oven.

    I will, however, never turn down a slice of pizza even if its qualities fall short of my criteria. I am not a pizza snob.

  11. I must concur with D: Without Oregano, Pizza does not have a true Italian Flavor. So I will have to say Oregano as the winner! I also can say that in New York, I never remember a Pizza without it since it came on it automatically.

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