23 Unconventional Pizza Toppings From Around The World

Flatbread with toppings has been enjoyed for thousands of years, going back to the ancient Egyptians. Trade and the discovery of new lands brought new ingredients into cultural cuisines, like the introduction of tomatoes from the Americas into Europe. Flatbread with toppings had humble beginnings but has since evolved into one of the most famous comfort foods  — pizza. Although pizza was created in Italy, it has taken the world by storm.

The classic combination of bread, sauce, and cheese is perfect for culinary fusion and flavor experimentation. Around the world, people have taken their own spin on creating unique pizzas, veering from the classic toppings of pepperoni or mushrooms into the more obscure, like kangaroo meat or grasshoppers. From coast to coast and city to city, chefs have taken a stab at developing unique slices for pizza lovers to enjoy.

Elote from Mexico

When people think of elote, they may think of corn on the cob, but it's so much more than that. Rolled in mayonnaise and cotija cheese, dusted with spices, and finished with a squeeze of lime juice, each bite of elote is jam-packed with flavor. Also known as Mexican street corn, elote has been a sought-after street-side snack for decades. 

The combination of toppings provides a kick of heat, a splash of acidity, and a creamy finish that pairs well with the simple sweetness of the corn. Rather than enjoying this dish straight from the cob, many chefs have opted for a spin on the classic with elote pizza. Elote works well in pizza form. Using white cheese provides a subtle mild flavor, enhanced with charred corn, sauce, and spices.

Smoked salmon from USA

You can't go wrong with a classic lox bagel. Salty capers, cured soft salmon, dill, and cream cheese are a combination like no other. A bagel with lox and schmear was popularized by the Jewish community in New York City during the 1930s and has been a staple ever since. Another staple that is quintessential to the New York City food scene is none other than pizza. 

So why not marry the two? That's exactly what Wolfgang Puck did at his Los Angeles restaurant Spago. Opting for dill creme fraiche instead of cream cheese, fish roe instead of capers, and a lovely applewood smoked salmon on crispy pizza dough, Spago's savory pizza is a perfect brunch option or light bar appetizer when grabbing drinks with friends.

Chicken and waffles from USA

A popular Southern classic, fried chicken and waffles is a warming breakfast dish, the perfect merger of savory and sweet. The fluffy waffles act as a base for juicy chicken, which is often topped with a drizzle of maple syrup or a dash of hot sauce. At Cuts and Slices in New York City, a pizza shop that focuses on imaginative toppings from oxtail to chopped cheese, there is a unique slice inspired by the southern dish. 

Classic pizza dough is blanketed in mild cheese and topped with crunchy and soft waffle bits, crisped fried chicken chunks, and a drizzle of sweet maple syrup. The bits are allocated throughout the slice, so you'll get the perfect balance of flavor in every bite.

Shrimp and lobster Alfredo from USA

Fettuccine Alfredo is a rich, creamy Italian-American staple that most Americans are familiar with. While the original relies on a rich butter and Parmigiano-Reggiano sauce, the American version opts for heavy cream and has evolved to include a variety of proteins from chicken to shrimp and even lobster. 

At Cuts and Slices, their shrimp and lobster Alfredo slice has an alfredo base topped with pieces of meaty lobster and small shrimp. Subtle black truffle notes enhance the creamy Alfredo flavors in every bite. The shrimp and lobster are meaty, but not too heavy, which balances out the richness of the sauce. 

Alligator from USA

In the American South, alligator meat is a familiar protein. A common addition to gumbo, or served on its own in blackened or fried styles, alligator is a firm but mild white meat that serves as a great vessel for additional flavorings. Protein additions to pizza are always a great choice, just look at meat lover's pizza, which is always a classic. So what makes alligator meat any different? 

Comparable to chicken, it's mild and has shredability, making it a fun topping choice. Some restaurants have opted to use alligator and Creole or Cajun seasonings to top their pizzas. Creole seasoning has herbal notes like oregano while Cajun seasoning has a kick from peppers like black and cayenne. Both seasonings are packed with flavor, elevating the alligator, and the pizza, to a whole new level.

Kangaroo and emu from Australia

Unless you're from Australia, you may not be familiar with kangaroo or emu meat, but don't be discouraged! When prepared well, each can be quite tasty. Both are packed with nutrients, high in protein, and lower in fat and cholesterol than other more common protein options like beef or chicken. Kangaroo meat is quite lean and a bit gamey but tends to be more tender than venison. Kangaroo is sometimes served with a black pepper-infused sauce or cooked with a pepper crust. 

Emu meat presents itself similar to beef due to the presence of myoglobin and tastes comparable as well. Both kangaroo and emu are best served medium rare, making them a tender and juicy pizza topping. At Sydney's Australian Heritage Hotel, their kangaroo and emu pizza is paired with roasted tomatoes, charred peppers, and a mayo made from the native plant lemon myrtle.

Reindeer from Finland

The Sami people, an indigenous group from Northern Scandinavia, have been enjoying reindeer meat for thousands of years. Reindeer meat is still a major aspect of traditional Finnish cuisine, and in some Finnish restaurants, it even ends up on their pizza. Although most Americans haven't had the privilege of trying reindeer, it is quite delicious. 

Reindeer meat has a complex, slightly sweet, and incredibly rich flavor profile and can be served roasted, smoked, or cured. It is unique in taste, and can't truly be compared to anything else, so for the adventurous eaters out there, add this to the list. Sliced, smoked reindeer meat would be a great addition to any meat lover's pizza.

Chocolate chunks from USA

If you thought dessert pizza couldn't be done, you're in for a surprise. Dessert pizza has origins rooted in Italy, where the first Neopolitan pizzas posed similarities to an almond-based custard pie. Nowadays, dessert pizzas have evolved into something more visually comparable to a classic pizza pie. Imagine this: Rich and creamy melted chocolate chunks layered under roasted marshmallows, hazelnuts, banana, or peanut butter sauce all coating a thin flatbread crust. 

At Max Brenner, an Israeli multinational chocolate restaurant, they serve a chocolate chunk pizza at their New York locations that has become a favorite among visitors. The best thing about dessert pizzas is that there are endless topping possibilities. From hot honey to fresh fruit, a dessert pizza will impress any dinner guests.

Ramen from Japan

Ramen noodles are an affordable tasty snack that is always reliable in a pinch. The thin wavy noodles are typically served in a flavorful chicken or pork broth and adorned with toppings like scallions, nori, or sliced meat. In Japan, Pizza Hut took a new spin on the classic, serving up a specialty pizza called the Kotteri-fuu Ramen Pizza. 

The thin-crust pizza is topped with chewy ramen noodles, with crisped-up bits peaking through. Cheese and scallions are layered on and sliced pork belly adorns each slice. The final touch is a thick broth-inspired sauce that comes in a packet to be drizzled on top.

Sheep's head from Iceland

If there's one thing most wouldn't expect when ordering a pizza to the table, it's a full sheep head. Sheep head is traditionally eaten at Thorrablot, which is an Icelandic midwinter festival honoring the old gods. During this festival, sheep heads are typically served with other meat dishes like fermented shark or whale blubber. 

At the Olverk Pizza and Brewery in Hveragerdi, Iceland, the owner opted to serve the traditional dish on a pizza rather than a platter. Only served for a temporary period, the owner prepared the sheep head by boiling it in stout beer before serving it on a pizza topped with arugula and sliced carrots. Those lucky enough to try it were provided gloves to shred the sheep meat.

Scallops and miso from Vietnam

Hokkaido scallops are a sought-after scallop variety due to their pristine living conditions and delicate flavor. They are commonly used in sashimi due to their high quality. From the waters north of the Japanese island of Hokkaido, these scallops are mild and buttery, pairing well with sweet, salty miso. White miso is a sweet miso paste that is milder in flavor than other types of miso. 

At Pizza 4P's in Vietnam, they offer a Hokkaido Scallops Sweet Miso Gratin pizza. The scallops are marinated in sweet white miso and served over a creamy bechamel sauce with baked broccolini. This pizza can be found at Pizza 4P's locations in Vietnam and Cambodia.

Seaweed and clams from Japan

Seaweed salad is a bright and refreshing dish, but seaweed on pizza? At Pizza 4P's in Japan, they did just that. Edible seaweed is a vitamin- and mineral-rich ingredient that is incredibly nutritious. Seaweed has high levels of iodine, which supports thyroid function. 

Different types of edible seaweed have different flavor notes, but all of them impart an umami flavor. Clams pair well with seaweed, as clams tend to be both salty and sweet, which is enhanced by that additional seaweed umami. Pizza 4P's offers a blue striped seaweed and clam pizza pie, that is simple but healthy and delicious.

Mac and cheese from USA

If there's one combination you can't go wrong with, it's carbs and cheese. Putting pasta on pizza has become increasingly prevalent on pizza shop menus internationally, and mac and cheese is no exception. A gooey emulsion of cheeses coating springy macaroni noodles is a match made in heaven. Put in on pizza and you've hit the pinnacle of carb heaven. 

Cheeses like cheddar or gouda are commonly used, providing a rich, nutty flavor profile that the pizza's traditional mozzarella cheese lacks. The addition of herbs like basil or oregano provides a layer of brightness. A sprinkle of toasted breadcrumbs will add that extra crunch to contrast the softness of the pasta and dough.

Caviar and foie gras from USA

Caviar and foie gras are two of the most decadent ingredients at a chef's disposal, and when eaten together they make the most luxurious of marriages. Foie gras — fattened duck or goose liver — is a delicacy unlike any other. It is creamy in texture and mild in flavor. Caviar, on the other hand, provides a bright burst of salty flavor. Caviar is a salt-cured fish roe, most commonly from wild sturgeon in the Caspian and Black Seas, and while the eggs are small, they are one of the most expensive ingredients on the market. 

At Industry Kitchen in Manhattan, their "24K pizza" broke a Guinness World record for being the most expensive pizza commercially available. Made with squid ink-infused pizza dough, stilton cheese, foie gras, Osetra caviar, truffle, and 24-carat gold flakes, it is one of the most luxurious pizzas on the market and costs a minimum of 2000 dollars.

Insects from Mexico

Insects have been a popular street food, and even a delicacy, worldwide for centuries. Whether it's fried tarantula in Cambodia or crunchy grasshoppers in Mexico, people have been eating, and loving, insects for generations. That's why it shouldn't be surprising that some pizzerias serve specialty insect pizzas.

At Pizza del Perro Negro in Mexico City, the menu once featured a specialty chapulines pie, with crispy blue corn and wheat dough and a generous heaping of chapulines, or toasted grasshoppers. The grasshoppers were marinated in salt and lime and roasted, giving each and every bite a tangy crunch.

Peanut butter and jelly from USA

A peanut butter and jelly sandwich is one of the simplest and most beloved meals in American cultural history. With only three ingredients — sliced bread, jelly, and peanut butter — it is a quick and easily accessible meal. Enjoyed since the early 1900s, the classic "PB&J" has become a flavor profile in itself,  inspiring a variety of breakfasts and desserts including one at Disneyland deemed the "Goofy's famous peanut butter pizza".

 Served at Goofy's Kitchen, the peanut butter pizza is a popular breakfast item. In place of sandwich bread, a thin white pizza crust is used. Creamy peanut butter drapes the crust in place of tomato sauce. The final touch is swirls of bright purple grape jelly, ensuring a bit of sweetness in each bite.

Banana curry from Sweden

We've all taken part in the controversial pineapple-on-pizza debate, but what about bananas? Surprisingly bananas are a common topping option in most of Sweden. Whether it's Hawaiian-style pizza with bananas or the famous "banana curry" pizza that shocks the internet every few years, bananas have become a standard Swedish pizza topping, almost as ubiquitous as pepperoni is to Americans. 

A typical banana curry pizza in Sweden starts with a thin and crispy crust topped with either a tomato-based sauce or cream-based sauce. Mild cheese follows along with curry powder and sliced bananas. A variety of this is coined "the Afrikana" and includes the additions of mushrooms and peanuts. Although it may be an acquired taste for some, if you're ever in Sweden and want to be adventurous, keep your eyes peeled for banana curry pizza.

Pickles and ranch from USA

Ranch dressing is about as American in cuisine as Hollywood is to culture. The creamy buttermilk-based sauce was created in Alaska and soon became a staple in the Midwest. The classic dressing has buttermilk, salt, garlic, onion, and mild spices. 

Briny, tangy pickles cut through the creaminess of the dressing, making this pair a tasty topping for your next pizza slice. In 2023, Pizza Hut launched a temporary ranch-style menu item called "The Pickle Pizza". The pizza, topped with ranch dressing, pickles, crispy chicken, and Nashville Hot Seasoning is reminiscent of a southern fried chicken sandwich with all of the best bits on display.

Wild boar from USA and Europe

If you haven't tried wild boar yet, you're missing out. Wild boar may sound intimidating if you aren't familiar with game meat, but it is similar to pork. Its flavor varies slightly because wild boars feed on the natural flora and fauna of the wilderness. Their diet differs from farm-raised pigs. With grass and nuts as a diet staple, wild boar meat imparts a sweet, nutty, and complex flavor profile. 

It makes excellent sausages, which when crumbled or sliced work well as a pizza topping. Wild boar salami is a popular variety. Pizzas that feature wild boar can be found at specialty pizza shops throughout the U.S. and Europe.

Philly cheesesteak from USA

One of America's most iconic sandwiches, the Philly cheesesteak is a mouthwatering blend of thin-sliced tender steak, sauteed onions and peppers, and a generous amount of melty cheese. Whether it's Provolone or Cheez Whiz, the meat, cheese, onion combo on a roll is unstoppable. The pizza chain Papa John's decided to take this Philly staple and put their own spin on it. 

Papa John's serves up what they call the Philly Cheesesteak Pizza. It has all of the best bits of a Philly cheesesteak, with the steak coming from the Original Philly Cheesesteak Company. To finish it off, Papa John's uses a creamy garlic sauce for an extra boost of flavor.

Bacon, egg, and cheese from USA

If there are two things New Yorkers love, it's pizza and bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches. The bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich, also called the B.E.C., is the go-to breakfast across the five boroughs. Wrapped in wax paper and tinfoil, the sandwich is the perfect combination of textures. It's gooey from the cheese, crunchy from the bacon, and soft from the eggs and roll. 

This sandwich is phenomenal on its own, but put it on pizza and it's a masterpiece. The B.E.C. has all of the components to create a perfect pizza. The meat and cheese pair well with the dough, and runny sunny-side-up eggs give the sauciness that a typical pizza sauce would provide. Adding a squirt or two of ketchup brings that extra pop of tanginess to pull it all together.

Boba from Taiwan

Tapioca pearls, or boba, are semi-translucent spheres made from tapioca starch extracted from cassava roots. Colloquially known as the "bubbles" in bubble tea, boba can vary from chewy to juicy depending on the variety. These flavorful pearls are made from starch, water, and occasionally brown sugar and then simmered. They are a popular addition to sweet treats like popsicles or milk tea. 

At Pizza Hut and Dominos in Taiwan, boba was the star of a temporary specialty pizza. At Dominos, they top a regular pizza with delicious boba pearls, honey, and even mochi bites. The combination of bready pizza dough, savory and creamy cheese, with a sprinkle of sweet boba, is surprisingly delicious.

Bulgogi from South Korea

Meat on pizza isn't a new concept, but bulgogi on pizza, now that's exciting. Bulgogi is a classic South Korean dish enjoyed in most households with rice or wrapped in lettuce. The meat tends to be thinly sliced beef marinated for hours in a sauce typically consisting of soy sauce, pear, sesame oil, and garlic. The marinated beef is then grilled or stir-fried with onions, preserving the tenderness while adding a slightly smoky finish.

Bulgogi is often enjoyed with the standard South Korean accompaniments or "banchan", like kimchi, pickled radishes, or spicy cucumber salad. Bulgogi, along with a combination of sides are toppings chefs have experimented with when making Korean fusion pizza.