This Zucchini Crust Pizza Loaded is probably one of my top-five favorite recipes that I’ve ever made. Rocking with big flavor, crispy texture, and a fraction of the carbs of traditional grain pizza crusts, now I can have my pizza and eat it too, with this palatable creation! Another plus? It’s gluten free.
As I mentioned in recent posts, I’ve changed to a ketogenic, low carb lifestyle, so I’ve been eagerly hunting down recipes that satisfy certain cravings, like for pizza! I was fortunate enough to find this recipe from My Humble Kitchen which was linked from this breakfast pizza recipe at A Saucy Kitchen. I gave it a go, and all I can say is “wow!” This was such a success on the very first try, and I’ve made it twice more since. Each time, I remain impressed by the excellent flavor and texture of this Zucchini Crust Pizza Loaded. So that you can impress yourself and your family with this low carb homemade pizza, let’s get right to the details on how to make it:
There are a few critical elements to remember when making this low carb zucchini crust, mainly to assure that you’ll get a gorgeous, golden, and crispy texture that will hold up with all those toppings:
Preheat Your Oven with Plenty of Heat.
Crank the temperature up as high as it will go. My oven maxes out at 500 F degrees, but go even hotter if you can. I start preheating one hour before I know that the prepared crust will go into the oven.
Use a Pizza Stone.
Please, please believe me–you won’t get a crispy texture if you use a pizza pan. You definitely need to use a pizza stone for this recipe, and the pizza stone should be in the oven when you turn it on and crank up the heat. That’s why I leave the oven on for an hour before baking the pizza crust–it takes a good while for the stone to be thoroughly heated through. I have had the Dough Joe Pizza Stone for several years, and love it. Honestly, though, any pizza stone will do the job.
Really Squeeze the Water from the Zucchini.
I can’t stress this step enough. So that the zucchini crust for this low carb pizza will be crispy, squeezing as much water as possible out of the grated zucchini is critical. If the zucchini isn’t prepped, with as much water squeezed out as possible, then the baked crust is likely to be soft, soggy, and a disappointment.
To start, grate the zucchini, either on a hand grater or by using your food processor attachment. Then sprinkle a teaspoon of salt over the grated zucchini in a bowl and let it sit for about 20 minutes. Then it’s time to drain and squeeze out the water. At this point, try using a recycled plastic mesh bag to squeeze the water from the zucchini. If you don’t have a plastic mesh bag, then cheesecloth will work, or you can just use several lint-free kitchen towels to squeeze out and absorb the moisture.
Scoop the zucchini into the mesh bag (or cheesecloth or towels), and wring and squeeze the water out like there’s no tomorrow. When you think that you’ve squeezed out all the moisture, then squeeze and wring some more. Then, wrap that mesh bag or cheesecloth with its ball of squeezed-out zucchini in a towel, and yes, squeeze some more. If you’re using just towels, then you’ll soak several of them.
Carefully Measure the Ingredients.
Once the zucchini is squeezed of all its moisture (don’t your biceps feel bigger?), then it’s time to mix in the rest of the ingredients. Here, you want to avoid adding back too much moisture, because, again, you want that baked crust to come out crispy. To the zucchini, add the almond flour, mozzarella cheese, egg, basil (or pesto), garlic, and the oregano. I don’t add any more salt, because the zucchini has already been salted, and the mozzarella is also rather salty. But the recipes that I read suggest adding 1/4th to 1/2 teaspoon of salt at this point, so use your discretion.
Spread the Crust Mixture Thin Enough.
With your hands, mix up the zucchini crust mixture and then press it out onto a piece of parchment paper set atop a pizza paddle (or a movable large cutting board), to 10 or even 11 inches in diameter. The thinner, the better, since a thinner crust will crisp up better when baked in that hot oven. I estimate that the crust is between 1/4th and 1/2 inches thick. You can push up the outer edges just a bit to better contain the toppings that will go on later.
Use Parchment Paper.
As mentioned above, you’ll press out the zucchini crust mixture on top of parchment paper, which lays on top of a pizza paddle or large movable cutting board. Unlike traditional grain crusts, this Zucchini Crust Pizza by itself would stick to the pizza stone. Therefore, parchment paper is always in between the crust and the stone at all stages of cooking, so as to allow for easy movement on and off the stone.
Yes, the parchment gets brown and burnt-looking, but thus far, I haven’t had any issues with the paper actually burning. Again, the parchment allows for super easy movement of the crust in and out of the oven, especially when I use the pizza paddle.
Add Toppings After the Crust has Pre-Baked.
The zucchini crust can only bake to a crisp all by its lonely self, without sauce and without toppings. But that’s only for 8 to 10 minutes, at which time you’ll slide the parchment and now-baked crust back out of the oven. Then it’s finally time to add the sauce and toppings.
The Sauce and Toppings.
For the toppings, use whatever you wish! This post for Zucchini Crust Pizza Loaded involves a beautiful and classic combination: roasted grape tomatoes, basil pesto, shredded mozzarella cheese, sauteed baby bella mushrooms, and thin-sliced pepperoni.
Precook the Toppings.
Because the toppings go on a pizza crust that is already baked, those toppings will go into the oven for a very short time–3 to 4 minutes at the most. Therefore, you need to precook those toppings. This is where is pays to be efficient. For instance, while the oven and stone are heating to 500 F degrees, I go ahead and roast the grape tomatoes drizzled with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle of salt in that same oven.
At the same time, I also saute some baby bella mushrooms on the stove top, also with a bit of olive oil and dash of salt.
Choose Your Sauce.
Try a basil pesto, homemade or store-bought, for this Zucchini Crust Pizza Loaded. I’m partial to my homemade basil pesto, but a marinara sauce or even white cheese sauce would be delicious, depending on what toppings you choose.
Just three tablespoons of basil pesto seems plenty to sauce this Zucchini Crust Pizza Loaded, but use your discretion as to the type of sauce and the amount.
Have Everything Ready to Load.
Once that prebaked zucchini crust comes out of the oven, it’s time to quickly lay on the sauce, and load up the crust with the toppings. After the sauce, I sprinkle on the shredded mozzarella cheese, then the sauteed mushrooms, then the roasted grape tomatoes, and then finally the thin-sliced pepperoni. By the way, I didn’t precook the pepperoni, because it’s so thin. If using thicker-cut meats, then you’ll definitely want to precook them. Then slide the parchment and pizza back onto the stone in the oven and let it bake 3 to 4 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the toppings warmed through.
Flavor and Texture Without Carb Concerns.
When it comes out of the oven, this Zucchini Crust Pizza Loaded is a gorgeous sight to behold. The garlicky, herby, and cheesy crust, combined with the pesto sauce and precooked toppings makes this one special pizza. The fact that it’s low carb and gluten free is a huge and almost unbelievable bonus.
Okay, let’s be real–despite the low carbs, there are still calories to consider. By my estimates, this entire Zucchini Crust Pizza Loaded, with the toppings, has 1,000 calories. After I eat half of this Zucchini Crust Pizza Loaded, I am full and satisfied for hours. Therefore, I consider half of this pizza as one serving, or 500 calories per serving. If you budget your calories, then I hope you’ll allow for enough calories to eat a few slices of this amazing and low carb Zucchini Crust Pizza Loaded.
Here’s the printable recipe:
- 1 and ½ lb. of zucchini, unpeeled
- 1 teaspoon salt (for sprinkling on grated zucchini)
- ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- ⅓ cup almond flour
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon basil (or basil pesto)
- 1 egg, beaten
- ¼ teaspoon salt (optional)
- 3 tablespoons basil pesto (see the recipe for the pesto here)
- 8 to 10 ounces grape tomatoes
- 8 ounces baby bella mushrooms (or white button variety)
- ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 11 or 12 thin slices of pepperoni
- Olive oil and salt for roasting and sauteing
- Preheat oven to 550 F, or as hot as it will go, with a pizza stone preheating in the oven.
- Shred or grate the zucchini with a hand grater or with the appropriate food processor blade.
- In a large bowl, toss the grated zucchini with 1 teaspoon salt and set aside for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, start pre-cooking the toppings you will later use (see below)
- After 20 minutes, squeeze the excess moisture out of the zucchini by wrapping it up in a plastic mesh bag, a piece of cheesecloth, or clean kitchen towels, wringing it out thoroughly, discarding the water. This step is important--really try to get as much moisture out of the zucchini as possible!
- Once all of the excess moisture has been wrung out and discarded, place the shredded zucchini back into the bowl and add the mozzarella cheese, almond flour, garlic, oregano, basil or pesto, egg, and optional salt.
- With your hands, incorporate all of the ingredients together.
- Place the zucchini mixture onto a piece of parchment paper at least 15” in diameter, set on something solid that will make it easy to transfer into the oven, such as a pizza paddle or large cutting board.
- Using your fingers, spread the zucchini crust mixture to form a circle about 11 inches in diameter, and ⅓rd inch thick. Pinch the edges up so that it forms a nice crust.
- Once the pizza crust has been shaped, transfer the crust with the parchment paper onto the heated pizza stone in the oven. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the crust starts to brown.
- Once the zucchini crust has baked for 8 to 10 minutes, then transfer the pizza with the parchment paper out of the oven, onto the solid surface you used before.
- Top the pizza with the sauce and any additional toppings that you'd like.
- Once the toppings are on, transfer the pizza with the parchment paper back onto the heated pizza stone in the oven and bake for an additional 3 to 4 minutes.
- Split the grape tomatoes in half, place them on a foil-lined baking pan, drizzle with a bit of olive oil, sprinkle with a dash of salt, and place the pan on top of the stone in oven that is preheating. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring once. Remove from oven and set aside.
- Saute the mushrooms over medium heat, with a dash of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt, until soft and reduced to half their original size. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Precook any other thick-cut meats or other vegetables you want to use as toppings.
Please note that I received no samples, payments, or financial incentives from Dough Joe’s, Amazon, their affiliates or any other person or entity for comments or links in this article.