Calabrian Chile Spicy Flatbread Recipe

If you've ever made pizza, you know that getting a good crust can be a lengthy process. You have to activate the yeast, knead the dough, and finally let it rest and rise, which means that pizzas aren't exactly a dinner you can whip up in minutes. Flatbreads are the perfect answer to your last-minute pizza cravings. Crispy dough with cheesy baked toppings, flatbreads are like pizzas but require much less work. While you might miss out on the puffy, chewy crust of a Neapolitan, flatbreads offer a deliciously crispy alternative that can be piled high with meat and cheese or any other toppings you can dream of. In fact, there are fewer rules and expectations for flatbread toppings, which gives you extra room to experiment.

In this recipe developed with Michelle McGlinn, an easy flatbread crust is topped with mozzarella, red onion, crumbly chorizo, and spicy Calabrian chiles. Not for the faint of heart, this flatbread is full of both flavor and an intense heat that lingers long after the last bite. The heat is mostly thanks to the Calabrian chiles which are both faintly sweet and pleasantly spicy. If you don't already, have a jar on hand so that the next time you're craving pizza with a spicy kick and don't have the time to rise a crust, you can skip the delivery and make this spicy Calabrian chile flatbread, instead.

The ingredients needed for Calabrian chile spicy flatbread

To make the crust, you'll just need flour, salt, warm water, and olive oil. From there, you'll also need mozzarella, tomato sauce, and red onion. Don't overthink these too much: Keep it simple and get fresh mozzarella (not shredded), a can of plain tomato sauce, and a small red onion. You'll also want Mexican chorizo, which differs from Spanish chorizo in that it is not cured and can be cooked and crumbled in a frying pan. Finally, grab a jar of chopped Calabrian chiles to take the heat up a notch.

Step 1: Preheat the oven

Preheat the oven to 475 F.

Step 2: Combine the dry ingredients

Add 3 cups flour and salt to a food processor and pulse to combine.

Step 3: Form the dough

Add the water and 3 tablespoons of oil and pulse until the dough forms into a ball.

Step 4: Knead until smooth

Remove the dough from the food processor onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes, until soft and pliable.

Step 5: Roll out the flatbread

Roll the dough into an oval about ¼-inch thick.

Step 6: Place the dough on a baking sheet

Transfer the flatbread to a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Step 7: Brush the dough with oil

Lightly poke holes in the flatbread with a fork, then brush with olive oil.

Step 8: Par-bake the crust

Par-bake for 10-12 minutes, or until just barely golden, then remove from the oven and set aside.

Step 9: Brown the chorizo

In the meantime, brown the chorizo in a small skillet, crumbling it as it cooks, about 5 minutes.

Step 10: Spread the tomato sauce

Spread the tomato sauce onto the flatbread.

Step 11: Add the chiles, onion, and cheese

Top the sauce with the Calabrian chiles, onion, and mozzarella.

Step 12: Add the chorizo

Add the crumbled chorizo.

Step 13: Bake until melty

Return to the oven and bake until the crust is crispy and the cheese is melted, about 10 more minutes.

Step 14: Slice and serve the Calabrian chile flatbread

Serve the Calabrian chile flatbread immediately.

Calabrian Chile Spicy Flatbread Recipe
No Ratings
Calabrian chiles give this quick and easy flatbread a sweet heat, chorizo gives it a spicy meaty kick, and mozzarella adds its signature cheesy goodness.
Prep Time
15
minutes
Cook Time
20
minutes
Servings
4
Servings
slice of flatbread on table
Total time: 35 minutes
Ingredients
  • 3 cups flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • 6 ounces Mexican chorizo
  • ½ cup tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup chopped calabrian chiles
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1 cup mozzarella, torn into pieces
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 475 F.
  2. Add 3 cups flour and salt to a food processor and pulse to combine.
  3. Add the water and 3 tablespoons of oil and pulse until the dough forms into a ball.
  4. Remove the dough from the food processor onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes, until soft and pliable.
  5. Roll the dough into an oval about ¼-inch thick.
  6. Transfer the flatbread to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  7. Lightly poke holes in the flatbread with a fork, then brush with olive oil.
  8. Par-bake for 10-12 minutes, or until just barely golden, then remove from the oven and set aside.
  9. In the meantime, brown the chorizo in a small skillet, crumbling it as it cooks, about 5 minutes.
  10. Spread the tomato sauce onto the flatbread.
  11. Top the sauce with the Calabrian chiles, onion, and mozzarella.
  12. Add the crumbled chorizo.
  13. Return to the oven and bake until the crust is crispy and the cheese is melted, about 10 more minutes.
  14. Serve the Calabrian chile flatbread immediately.
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What is the difference between pizza and flatbread?

All pizza crust is made with yeast, a leavening agent known for adding rise to the dough. Even ultra-thin New York-style pizza has an airy, chewy crust that can only be made by kneading, resting, and stretching yeasted dough. Flatbread, which in this case refers to the crusty pizza alternative (not the side dish used for sopping up stews and curries in different versions around the world), is crispy throughout, with a dense chewiness that stretches from end to end with no separate discernible crust. 

This denser crust is the result of yeastless dough, which does not need to rest, stretch, or rise and can simply be mixed, shaped into a crust, and baked. When baked, the crust stays flat — hence the name flatbread. Without the yeast, the prep time is significantly shorter and you can avoid the mistakes people make in using yeast that lead to flat crusts despite all the hard work. The key to making sure this crust is more than a sheet of dough, though, is the par-bake: A flatbread should be very crispy, so par-bake the bread until golden brown (no less). The toppings only need 10 minutes at most in the oven, so the crust should be nearly done before you add the finishing touches.

What are Calabrian chiles?

Calabrian chiles are named after the Italian province of Calabria, where they are harvested and celebrated in the local cuisine. The peppers score from 25,000 to 40,000 on the Scoville scale, coming in well above jalapeños, which are rated at 10,000. Though not nearly as hot as the 100,000 to 350,000 Scoville habanero, Calabrian chiles are still hotter than many peppers like Serrano, Anaheim, and pepperoncini. Because Italians don't typically eat spicy foods, this outlier is used solely for dishes such as fra diavolo (brother devil), a sauce that is known for being extremely hot. 

If it's your first time using them, add a small amount first and adjust if you need more heat — the peppers don't need to be cooked, so you can always add another spoonful or two after baking. Calabrian chiles are typically chopped and pickled and sold in jars, and the vinegar gives them an additional sweet, tangy flavor. You can find them near the jarred and pickled items in the grocery store — think roasted red peppers, pimientos, and pepperoncini. If you can't find them there, try Italian-specific groceries, where Calabrian chiles should be readily available. You can also order them online. In a pinch, you can swap the peppers for fresh Fresno chiles, which are similar in heat and flavor. And if all else fails, just sprinkle on some red pepper flakes.