Canned Ingredients That Will Completely Upgrade Your Frozen Pizza

If you plan to put together a pizza yourself at home, keep in mind that pairing canned ingredients with frozen pizza can cost less money than a fancy, gourmet-level pizza, while yielding similar results. We've also discovered a few canned toppings you can add after your pizza is done baking to give it a fresher flavor.

One nice thing about canned ingredients is that they're usually already chopped for you, so all you have to do is drain them to avoid making a wet mess on your pizza. You may want to go a step further and blot them with a paper towel to avoid excess moisture.

So, next time you want to upgrade your frozen pizza, look in your cupboard and see what you have that could take the flavor to the next level. You might even add a few of these items to your grocery list so that you have them available on the next frozen pizza night.


We would argue that canned mushrooms are often superior to fresh mushrooms on frozen pizza, especially if the frozen pizza has a short cooking time. Some experts suggest always cooking mushrooms before consuming them to get rid of a possibly carcinogenic toxin called agaritine. Luckily, canned mushrooms come pre-cooked. Plus, pre-sliced mushrooms cut down considerably on prep time to allow you to get to your pizza even faster. Button mushrooms are common in cans, but you may also find other mushroom varieties that are good on pizza like porcini, shiitake, portabella, cremini, and truffles. Marinated mushrooms can also be an interesting choice on frozen pizza because they can add extra layers of flavor, depending on what they're marinated in.

Mushrooms taste good on a variety of frozen pizzas, whether it's a cheese pizza, veggie pizza, or meat pizza. Mushrooms are extra recommended on frozen pizzas with chicken, spinach, or artichokes, or all three, for that matter.


Adding artichokes to your frozen pizza can elevate it from ordinary to gourmet without much effort. However, you will want to pay attention to the ingredient list to determine if you're getting artichokes that are canned with salt brine or olive oil, as opposed to artichokes that have been marinated in olive oil, vinegar, and spices. Sometimes, the vinegar and spices in marinated artichokes can overwhelm the overall flavor of a comparatively delicate pizza.

Artichokes work well with frozen pizzas with standard toppings like fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, chicken, and mushrooms. They're also nice with frozen pizzas that come with basil. Definitely avoid pairing salty artichokes with too many other salty ingredients like bacon or olives. Of course, you can always rinse your artichokes to remove some of the saltiness if you're worried about overwhelming saltiness.


Pizza and olives both have Mediterranean roots, so it's no wonder they work so well on pizza. Black olives are the most common olives on pizzas; however, if you have some green or Kalamata olives, they have their place on pizzas, too. You just have to consider the flavor profile you want for your frozen pizza. Black olives tend to be mellow, green ones have a sharp tartness, and Kalamatas have a richer flavor. Stuffed olives can be interesting on pizzas, too. So, if you bought a package of bleu-cheese-stuffed olives and discovered you don't like them in your martinis, you might still be able to find a use for them on your pizza.

Black olives have proven themselves to work with nearly any type of pizza you might have in your freezer. We suggest trying green olives with pizzas that have chicken, mushrooms, onions, pineapple, or garlic. Meanwhile, Kalamatas will taste nice on Mediterranean-style frozen pizzas that have strong flavors like feta, red onions, garlic, and basil.


You can find a variety of canned peppers throughout your grocery store, including pimientos, roasted red peppers, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, whole green chilis, poblanos, and more. To give yourself a sense for how hot your peppers are, do yourself a favor and consult a Scoville heat scale before adding a random can to your pizza. Canned bell peppers, sweet peppers, and poblanos will add more flavor than heat to your pizza. Chipotles or serranos will provide a mild spiciness, while habaneros get into the very hot range.

We've never encountered a pizza that wouldn't taste better with peppers — they go with practically everything. Keep in mind that pickled peppers that come soaked in vinegar are going to have a stronger flavor, but they're perfect as the star on a frozen cheese pizza. Meanwhile, chipotle peppers pair best with something that fits with their smoky flavor profile, like chicken.

Pickled red onions

We've seen pickled red onions show up on menus a lot lately, topping everything from hamburgers and tacos to pizzas. They're ridiculously easy to make yourself, so if you whip up a batch and need to use some of them up, you can throw them on top of a frozen pizza. Of course, since they're soaked in vinegar, they have a strong flavor and don't work for every pizza.

We suggest trying pickled onions on pizzas with a white sauce. So, frozen chicken pizzas or soppressata pizzas with white sauce are fair game. Pickled onions are also good on simple frozen pizzas that come with olive oil rather than a white or red sauce. Pickled onions also shine on barbecue chicken pizzas, especially if you find that the sauce is too sweet and could use a vinegar kick. After all, red onions are a common topping on barbecue chicken pizzas.


If you have some capers in the cupboard, you don't have to wait for the next time you're in the mood for chicken piccata to open them since they also go well with pizza. Capers can make a pizza taste completely different. Since they come salted or pickled and already have a strong mustard-like flavor, you'll want to think about how they can affect the pizza's overall taste profile. You may also want to experiment with whether to add them before or after you bake the pizza. Some people add them after baking as a final embellishment. However, you might find yourself liking the texture of roasted capers on pizza.

You can combine capers with anchovies on a frozen cheese pizza and make a pizza Napoli. Capers also go well with mushrooms, caramelized onions, olives, chicken, and even sausage. So, capers may do the trick for several types of freezer pizzas.

Sun-dried tomatoes

Sun-dried tomatoes have a sharp flavor not necessarily similar to the tomato sauce that's already on the pizza in your freezer. While they work fine with a red sauce, the sun-dried tomato zing really stands out on a pizza that comes with a white sauce or olive oil base. If your sun-dried tomatoes come dried, you'll need to rehydrate them for 20 minutes or so before adding them to your pizza. However, if they come in olive oil, you will want to check the back of the can or jar to see if they have other ingredients like rosemary or basil that could impact the flavor of your pizza.

Sun-dried tomatoes can provide the central flavor of your pizza if you pair them with just a handful of other ingredients like mushrooms, chicken, or arugula. However, don't sleep on the idea of adding them to a pepperoni pizza. It's not an ordinary pairing, but it works.


Pesto combines a couple of flavors you often find on pizzas — basil and Parmesan — in a more potent form. It can add life to a boring pizza and maybe even elevate the flavor of a pizza that would otherwise taste like cardboard. While pesto makes a good pizza sauce by itself, there's no rule that says that you can't add it to a pizza that already has red sauce or white sauce to give it a more robust flavor. You can cook pesto on the pizza, but it tastes fresher if it's added after cooking instead.

We especially like pesto on pizzas with ingredients like chicken, olives, mushrooms, and fresh tomatoes. It can bring new life to a cheese pizza. However, you can certainly add it to a pepperoni pizza if you're so inclined. If you have some sun-dried tomatoes to add with your pesto, you can liven up your pizza even more.


If you like a little heat with your pizza, you can put jalapeños on nearly any type. However, you'll want to keep in mind that pickled jalapeños have a completely different taste than jalapeños that come in brine, so be sure to read the ingredient list. The vinegar-pickled jalapeños can change a pizza's flavor beyond just adding a layer of heat. If you're concerned that the flavor or heat will overwhelm the pizza, you can just add jalapeños to a small part of the pizza — not the whole thing — to see what you think before you go all-in.

We especially like jalapeños on frozen pizzas with meat like ham, bacon, or salami. Adding jalapeños to pepperoni pizzas is extremely popular. It's also common to add them to pineapple pizzas. Jalapeños give barbecue chicken pizza an added kick. They're even tasty with anchovies.


There are a lot of canned meats out there that don't belong on pizza — we're looking at you, canned sausage. However, a good use for Spam is to repurpose it as a pizza topping, and it pairs especially well with pineapple. Spam even has a recipe for a Spam Hawaiian pizza on its website. You could easily make one by adding canned Spam and canned pineapple to a frozen cheese or frozen veggie pizza. You can slice the Spam thin so that the edges curl and it crisps like pepperoni during the baking process.

Yes, adding Spam makes for a salty pizza, which is part of what makes it contrast so well with the sweetness of pineapple. You'll want to be careful what other ingredients you add with Spam. For example, adding salty canned olives or salty bacon might be a bit overwhelming, not to mention unhealthy. Salt, like most things, is better in moderation. 


Some of the earliest Italian pizzas included anchovies, so this topping is nothing new. If you like anchovies or are remotely curious about the flavor, try adding them to a frozen pizza. Canned anchovies add salty, fruity, and umami flavor to the pizza that's difficult to replicate with other ingredients. They're also not as fishy as you might think, as evidenced by the lack of fishy flavor in Cesar salad dressing. Honestly, we probably all should be eating more anchovies on pizzas because of their high omega-3 content.

Because anchovies have a strong flavor, it's best to pair them with simple ingredients so you don't end up with too many strong flavors competing with each other. You may also want to avoid adding, or simply be sparse with other salty ingredients since anchovies have plenty on their own. Some toppings that work well with anchovies include garlic, tomatoes, pineapple, and sausage.


One of our very favorite pizzas came from a pizza parlor that no longer exists, and it was laden with what seemed like handfuls of jarred garlic. Jarred garlic is one of those ingredients that you either love or hate — for instance, Anthony Bourdain was not a fan. It tends to taste different than fresh garlic because its preservatives sometimes give it a slightly acidic flavor. It can give your pizza an added bite. If you have a plain frozen cheese pizza, you could put a layer of garlic down on top of the cheese and then build your pizza masterpiece from there, adding whatever toppings suit your fancy.

So, what types of pizza and what toppings pair with garlic? We think the real question is which pizzas and toppings don't pair with garlic. As far as we're concerned, everything tastes better with garlic ... and more of it.


Canned spinach is, admittedly, not necessarily the best spinach option out there. Sitting in a can for a while does something to the flavor. However, it's possible to make it pizza-worthy with a little extra work. Decan the spinach, rinse it, squeeze all the water out of it, and then dry it with a paper towel. To further improve the flavor, you can add a teaspoon of garlic powder and a teaspoon of Italian seasoning to the spinach before putting it on your pizza. You'll want to experiment with how much to add to avoid overwhelming the rest of the pizza.

There are a lot of frozen pizzas that can go with spinach. It tastes especially nice with meats like bacon and chicken. We've found that pizzas with mushrooms, fresh tomatoes, garlic, artichokes, or onions pair nicely with spinach. Also, consider adding it to a margarita pizza or a Mediterranean pizza.


Almost no pizza topping divides pizza lovers like pineapple, but with 11% of Mashed readers calling it their favorite topping, it clearly has some fans. If you're a pineapple pizza lover, it's far easier to add pineapple from a can than it is to cut open a fresh one. You will likely want to pay attention to the shape of pineapple cuts in the can, though. Pineapple tidbits are easier to distribute across the pizza. However, we've had fun adding full rings and placing other ingredients inside them so that the pizza becomes a work of art.

It's easy to start with a blank slate frozen cheese pizza and add other canned toppings that pair well with pineapple like olives and jalapeños. Pineapple is good with pretty much any meat pizza you pull out of your fridge, whether it's bacon, sausage, chicken, pepperoni, or even barbecue chicken.

Fried onions

Fried onions aren't an ingredient you see on top of pizza very often, but they have their place. Just think about how delicious they are on Western-style barbecue hamburgers because of the extra crunch factor, and you'll understand how they might work on a pizza. If you've ever put fried onions on top of a green bean casserole, you know they're fine for baking with your pizza. You can even add them after you're done baking if you don't want them to absorb any sauce.

We like the idea of adding fried onions as a topping for a frozen barbecue chicken or pork pizza since fried onions taste so good with barbecue on hamburgers. French's has a recipe on its website for adding fried onions to the top of a pizza with Italian sausage, bell peppers, and onions. So, it also looks like they also work well on a combination pizza.


Bruschetta doesn't just belong on toast; it's just as terrific as a topping for your lackluster frozen pizza. If you ever find yourself regretting your decision to make a frozen pizza because it's not tasting so great, or you just want to freshen it up, canned bruschetta can come to your rescue. Even though opening up a jar of bruschetta isn't as fresh as making your own bruschetta from scratch, it's still pretty close. Simply bake your pizza as usual and top it with bruschetta after you're done. Your mouth with thank you. If you have some balsamic glaze or olive oil in the cupboard, you can make it even fancier by drizzling some over the top.

Adding bruschetta to simple pizzas like ones with just one ingredient like cheese or sausage pizza can really awaken them into something far tastier than what you had in the beginning. Bruschetta is especially good on frozen chicken pizzas as well.


Adding tapenade to a frozen pizza that already includes Italian meats is a great way to give it muffuletta sandwich vibes. If you think about the ingredients that go into a good muffuletta sandwich, you'll realize with its Italian meats, cheese, and a spread filled with olives, olive oil, garlic, and Italian herbs, it's practically a pizza already. Of course, you can add the tapenade to the pizza before baking. However, if you want to keep the fresh and oily texture of your tapenade intact, wait to add it after you bake the pizza as a garnish.

Tapenade pairs well with Italian meat pizzas like pepperoni, salami, and prosciutto. However, it can make just as much of an impression on a simple cheese pizza, even with a few other extra canned ingredients like pickled red onions. A drizzling of fresh olive oil wouldn't hurt, either.


You may not think that pickles belong on pizza, but once you've tried them, you very well might change your mind. The most obvious frozen pizza for pickles is a hamburger pizza, however, we've found that warm, baked pickles still have a crunch and add a little bit of magic to an ordinary frozen pizza.

You can also turn an Italian meat pizza into a Cuban sandwich pizza by adding pickles. Restaurants tend to add mustard and ketchup drizzle to hamburger pizzas and a mustard and mayo drizzle to Cuban sandwich pizzas to make them taste a little closer to the sandwich version. There's also something to be said for just adding pickles to your plain frozen cheese pizza and enjoying them alone without other toppings. Next time your frozen cheese pizza isn't quite cutting it, embrace a potentially thrilling new experience and toss some pickles on that pizza.