Pizza and Dessert! How To Pair Pizza With The Right Dessert
There’s no denying pizza is the perfect meal on its own; just ask anyone what their favorite food is and chances are, they’ll say it’s pizza. And what’s not to love? With stretchy cheese, warm crusts, flavorful sauce, and all your favorite toppings, nothing beats sitting in with your favorite people and a six pack of beer and eating a whole pie.
But things get a little more complicated when dessert enters the fold. How do you know what dessert pairs with pizza? Something fruity? Something cheesy or chocolatey?
Yes, some people eat cheese for dessert or are satisfied with a glass of wine to wind down the night. Others say the only foods that go with pizza are wings, breadsticks or (even better) more pizza. But if you’re already indulging in thin crust paradise, why not lean into deliciousness and finish off the meal with a bang?
Next time you’re hosting a pizza night, impress your guests with a dessert spread that hits all the sweet spots. Here are some of our favorite pizza and dessert pairings.
Choosing the Best Dessert to Pair with Pizza
When it comes to desserts, your choice generally comes down to cravings…not so much you’re missing from a nutritional point of view. Here’s a little more about the why (yes, there’s a “why” that extends beyond taste) of dessert.
Everyone has a different opinion on what the best desserts are, as well as whether to eat them after indulging in pizza. The idea of “dessert” is actually to help you digest a meal, especially if you’ve ingested something heavy, think multi-course meals or a giant helping of pasta.
Seasonality might also come into play in the summer. People tend to favor fruit flavors and lighter offerings like gelato, sorbet, or frozen yogurt in the warmer months. On the flip side, fall and winter months bring in the desire to get a little more decadent, savoring comforting flavors like pumpkin, apple, chocolate, and cinnamon.
And sometimes it all depends on what kind of toppings you choose for your pizza. Fresher ingredients like seasonal veggies work best with lighter fare such as fruit tarts, sorbet, or even a bowl of balsamic glazed berries. Meaty pies will better complement desserts like cannoli, chocolate, or cheesecake, all of which have a creamy quality.
So what desserts go with pizza? Read on.
Our Fruity Favorites
Fruit-based desserts are the perfect balance of post-pizza indulgence and a light refreshing taste. Plus, you’ll have no problem finding a tasty treat to celebrate the end of your meal with so many different desserts to choose from.
Here are some of our favorite fruits to pair with pizza for the ultimate sweet-savory combination.
Pineapple: Does pineapple belong on a pizza? No matter what camp you fall into on that question, one thing we can all agree on is that pineapple is right at home in a dessert. Compared to other fruits, pineapple is more acidic, making it the perfect choice for those who want to cut through the sugary sweetness of traditional desserts.
Bananas: In desserts, bananas have a strong presence, yet a lightness that allows them to complement ingredients like rum or chocolate as well as a melange of tropical flavors.
Berries: Strawberries, blackberries, raspberries – no matter your favorite, they are juicy, sweet and delicious. They are also incredibly versatile and easily adaptable to your favorite recipes. Plus berries naturally pair with cheese.
On top of all that, some fruits, including those listed above, even have high levels of enzymes that can aid in digestion and help you feel your best.
Here are some other fruity dessert options:
Sorbet: Sorbet is both a refreshing post-pizza dessert and a killer palate cleanser. After a hefty helping of pepperoni and all that extra cheese, nothing beats sorbet as the ultimate clean slate. Lemon boosts salivation and clears out the taste buds. If lemon isn’t your preferred flavor, try one of your favorite berries or pineapple whatever hits the spot.
Fruity Tarts: Individual fruit tarts are delicious and a lot of fun because although they look like little pies, you can top them however you want – just like pizza. The fundamentals of a fruit tart include a flaky, crusty, decadent pastry, cream filling, and a colorful array of fruit to top it off. As long as you have those three things, you are free to be as creative as you like. You also don’t have to stick to a single fruit topping, choose as many or as few fruit tarts as you like.
Trifle: Trifle is an English dessert consisting of several stacked layers of fruit, soaked sponge cake or ladyfingers, and some type of cream or custard. You’ll want to serve a trifle in a clear glass bowl so everyone can enjoy the visual contrast of each ingredient. They are one of the best desserts to go with pizza because you can easily adapt a trifle to fit any occasion, group, or season.
Plain Fruit: Unpopular opinion? Maybe. But sometimes, all you need for dessert is the exact opposite of what you ate for dinner. A little cheesed out? Hit the fruit bowl. Too much meat? Get some berries on the case.
Classic Italian Desserts – A Winning Pizza Pairing Every Time
Honestly, when guests think of pizza, they’re probably thinking Italian which is never a mistake. If you’re serving pizza, the Italian bakery is an excellent place to start thinking about dessert. Classic Italian desserts include tiramisu, cannoli, zeppoles, and gelato – perennial choices that provide the perfect ending to a delightful meal.
Without further ado, here are some of our favorite options when it comes to Italian desserts.
Tiramisu: Tiramisu is a creamy dessert made from espresso-soaked lady fingers, topped with whipped cream and mascarpone cheese. We think it is an ideal way to wrap up a pizza dinner. You can serve it with a glass of dessert wine or a shot of espresso.
Cannoli: Sometimes similarities attract. Why not finish off the evening with a nod toward pizza? Cannoli is a simple-seeming dessert with a tube shaped construction of fried dough filled with ricotta cheese, plus chocolate and nuts. It’s a dessert take on pizza, and of course since cheese is the star of the show with the dessert, it’s a safe bet that it makes an excellent pizza pairing.
Zeppoles: Zeppoles are an Italian take on traditional doughnuts. While doughnuts typically consist of either a yeast-based or cake batter dough, zeppoles come from a light and air fried dough. You can eat your zeppole plain or stuffed with cream, custard, or fruit. For a traditional zeppole, serve with a dusting of powdered sugar on top.
Gelato: If you want a pizza pairing that always hits the mark, gelato is a pie’s best friend. Rather than scooping up plain old ice cream, go all-in on the Italian cuisine and serve the good stuff.
Gelato is thicker and denser than ice cream due to the higher milk content and the lower proportion of fatty eggs and cream. That way more of the flavor (whether espresso, raspberry, mint chocolate chip, or other) comes through.
It’s a Piece of Cake (Or Pie)
After a cheese-laden serving of pizza, it’s time for something different. Having your cake and eating it too after a round of cheesy, meaty, vegetable goodness can’t be wrong.
Chocolate Cake: While chocolate may feel a little rich after such a big meal, we say go for it. A flourless chocolate cake drizzled with fudge or topped with berries is always a welcome choice. An option like this provides some contrast with just about any pizza and the richness of the chocolate means a small slice will take care of those chocolate cravings.
Cheesecake: Cheesecake is another delicious option for those times when you want that unique cheese-meets-sweets combination. It’s super-decadent, but this dessert can hold its own in a sea of intense flavors, from beers and Buffalo wings to the main event.
Pie: Pizza and dessert pie make an ideal companion. In warmer months, the perfect pies are those made with lemon, lime, rhubarb, peach, strawberries, or blueberries. Cooler months call for traditional flavors like apple, pumpkin, pecan, and cranberry.
Looking for an adults-only pizza and dessert pairing? Dessert cocktails combine the pleasure of a post-dinner drink with the sweet indulgence of a dessert. Some of our favorite dessert cocktails include:
- Martinis flavored with chocolate, caramel, or pumpkin spice
- Dessert shots that combine alcohol with pudding, whipped cream, and sweet drizzles
- Ice cream floats with fizzy prosecco, fruit, and a scoop of fresh vanilla ice cream
- Traditional cocktails made with flavored liquors like hazelnut, almond, or orange
Digestifs are a little bit different from dessert cocktails as their primary purpose is to aid in digestion. Think fortified wines such as port or sherry as well as things like brandy, Kahlua, and a whole lot more.
The key to picking your digestifs lies in the flavor combination of your desserts. If you’re serving cheesy desserts like cannoli or tiramisu, go for contrast with a citrusy limoncello. You might also try complementing nut and caramel flavors with a tawny port.
While we know you’ll be pretty darn stuffed after wolfing down a few slices of our delicious pizza offerings, we also know there’s always room for dessert. Buona Mangiata (Good Eating)!