Loaded with lots of smoky-savory flavor, my BBQ chicken pizza is a zesty alternative when you're craving pizza with a bit of a zippy kick. Prepared with a thick, soft, deep dish-style crust, this BBQ chicken pizza recipe uses tender, seasoned chicken, smoky BBQ sauce, caramelized and fresh red onions, plus a mouthwatering combo of smoked gouda and mozzarella cheeses!
A Deep Dish-Style Pizza with a Smoky Kick
Friends, weekends were made for pizza, and lately, my hubs and I have been enjoying prepping and baking up our very own homemade pies with our favorite toppings for these “pizza nights” of ours.
While it may seem a bit daunting to prepare a pizza from scratch, the process can be quite fun and almost zen-like, from the kneading of the homemade pizza dough, to the patience required while the dough proofs, to topping and baking it to gooey perfection, and finally enjoying!
Our latest favorite pizza to whip up is this BBQ chicken pizza with a soft, deep dish-style crust.
It offers a nice, thick bite that deliciously stands up to all those yummy, smoky and savory toppings of juicy chunks of chicken, BBQ sauce, a combination of both smoked gouda and mozzarella cheeses, plus both fresh and caramelized red onions.
With that fresh, finishing sprinkle of cilantro added just before slicing into hot, ooey-gooey squares and enjoying, this homemade BBQ chicken pizza recipe is a bolder and zestier alternative to a traditional pizza pie, with a crust you can really sink your teeth into!
My BBQ Chicken Pizza Recipe
When it comes to preparing pizza from scratch, one of my personal favorite components is preparing the pizza dough...
I love the hands-on aspect of it, from the mixing together of the ingredients to the kneading of it, I love feeling it come together into a smooth, elastic form that'll become the soft, tender base that houses all those mouthwatering toppings.
For this BBQ chicken pizza recipe, I've opted to go the route of a thicker crust, one prepared in a rectangular 9 by 13 inch pan, for a bit of departure from the more traditional thinner, circular pizza crust.
I like this deep dish-style crust because it offers a bit of extra “bite” to this pizza with its plentiful ingredients.
Because cast iron makes for a crispier crust, I'm opting to use a cast iron baking dish that's well-oiled for that golden and crispier outer crust. A more traditional 9 by 13 inch aluminum pan works really well too, just know that the exterior of the crust will not be quite as crispy.
Here's a peek at my bbq chicken pizza recipe: (or just jump to the full recipe...)
- To get started, I prep my dough and allow it to double in size, or “proof”, for an initial time of 1 ½ hours.
- While the dough proofs, I prep and sear my chicken breast tenderloins and caramelize a portion of my sliced, red onions, and prep my other topping ingredients.
- Once the dough has doubled, I punch it down and place it into my prepared 9 by 13 inch cast iron casserole dish, then gently stretch the dough to fit the bottom of the pan.
- I allow the dough to proof again, for 1 hour more.
- After the second proofing, I top my pizza with my sauce and toppings, then bake for 25 minutes in a nice, hot 425° oven until golden-brown and ooey-gooey.
- To finish, I sprinkle over top fresh cilantro, cut into thick squares, and enjoy!
BBQ Chicken Pizza
by Ingrid Beer
This deep dish-style BBQ chicken pizza is topped with smoky chicken, red onion, and a combo of smoked gouda and mozzarella cheeses!
Yield: Serves 4
Nutrition Info: 1072 calories (per 2 squares)
Prep Time: 25 minutes (does not include dough “proof” time)
Cook time: 25 minutes
Total time: 50 minutes
Pizza Dough Ingredients:
- 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons warm water
- 1 ½ tablespoons honey
- 1 ¾ teaspoons active dry yeast
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- ¼ cup olive oil, plus more for the baking pan
Pizza Topping Ingredients:
- ¾ pound chicken breast tenderloins (or substitute about 1 cup cooked chicken such as rotisserie)
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon granulated garlic
- ¼ teaspoon granulated onion
- Black pepper
- Olive oil
- 1 medium red onion, quartered and thinly sliced, divided use
- ¾ cup smoky BBQ sauce
- 2 cups grated whole milk mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup grated smoked gouda cheese
- ¼ cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves
- Begin by gathering and prepping all of your pizza dough ingredients according to the ingredient list above to have ready and organized for use.
- To make the dough, add the water to a medium size bowl and heat in the microwave until warm, about 110° to 115°. Once warm, stir in the honey to dissolve, then sprinkle over top the yeast and use a fork to combine and dissolve. Allow the mixture to become activate and become foamy, about 8-10 minutes.
- While the yeast activates, add the flour to a large bowl, along with the salt. Once the yeast mixture is foamy, pour this into the flour, along with olive oil, and using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, mix together until a shaggy dough forms.
- Turn this shaggy dough out onto a work surface and knead the dough (sprinkling small amounts of additional flour as needed if dough is sticky) for 6 to 7 minutes, until it is smooth, elastic, and springs back when gently pressed.
- Add a generous drizzle of olive oil to a large bowl and smear it around to coat the bowl. Add the dough into the bowl, turning it to coat it in the oil, then cover loosely with plastic wrap or a clean tea towel, and place the dough into a draft-free, warm area for 1 ½ hours to double in size.
- While the pizza dough proofs, gather and prep all of your topping ingredients according to the ingredient list above to have ready and organized for use.
- If using/cooking the chicken breast tenderloins, sprinkle them with the cumin, smoked paprika, granulated garlic and onion, plus salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil, and toss to coat. (And if using pre-cooked chicken, do the same, only skip the next step of cooking/searing the chicken.)
- To cook the tenderloins, place a large non-stick skillet over high heat, and once hot, and the chicken tenderloins in and allow them to sear on that first side until golden-brown, about 3 minutes. Then, flip and sear for an additional 3 minutes, or until cooked through. Allow the chicken to slightly cool and then chop/slice it into small pieces, and set it aside.
- Next, wipe out the same skillet and add in about 2 tablespoons of oil. Once hot, add in roughly ¾ of your sliced red onion (set aside the other ¼ to keep fresh), plus a pinch of salt and pepper, and caramelize that for about 10 to 12 minutes, or until jammy and soft. Set that aside to slightly cool.
- Prepare your baking pan (either a 9 by 13 inch rectangular cast iron pan, or a 9 by 13 inch aluminum baking pan) by drizzling in about 3 to 4 tablespoons of the olive oil, and spread to coat the pan.
- Once the pizza dough has doubled, punch it down and place it into your prepared pan. Using your fingers, gently stretch and spread the dough to cover the bottom of the pan, from edge to edge. There will be a small amount of resistance, but you should be able to stretch it to fill the pan. (If the dough springs back too much, allow it to rest for about 5 minutes between stretches until you can fill the pan.)
- Cover the pan in plastic wrap or a clean tea towel, and place it back into a draft-free, warm area to once again proof, this time for 1 hour.
- During the last 20 minutes of this proof time, preheat your oven to 425°.
- Combine the mozzarella and smoked gouda cheeses in a bowl, and set aside.
- Once the dough has proofed, gently spread on ¼ cup of the BBQ sauce (I use a silicone pastry brush for this), then sprinkle over that about half of the cheese mixture. Next, sprinkle over the chopped chicken, the caramelized red onion, and the remaining fresh red onion. Dollop over that the rest of the BBQ sauce.
- Then, sprinkle over most of the rest of the cheese (reserve about a heaping ¼ cup of it to sprinkle over during the remaining 5 minutes of baking for gooey texture), and bake the pizza for 25 minutes on the lower rack of the oven.
- During the last 5 minutes of baking, sprinkle on the reserved cheese and continue to bake until done.
- Remove the BBQ chicken pizza from the oven and allow it to cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Then, using a large spatula, carefully and gently (yet with conviction) remove the pizza from the pan and slide it onto large cutting board/surface. (This may be a little tricky as the pizza is hot and soft, but just try to lift it while simultaneously sliding it out of the pan.)
- Sprinkle on the cilantro leaves, then cut the BBQ chicken pizza into 8 rectangular or square pieces, and enjoy.
Tips & Tidbits for my BBQ Chicken Pizza recipe:
- 9 by 13 inch rectangular cast iron pan for crispier crust: Nothing quite works like heavy cast iron when you're looking for a crispier crust for your homemade pizza. So in my opinion, it's worth the small investment if you're planning on making pizza at home more often. But you can also use a regular aluminum 9 by 13 inch baking pan with great results. I've used both, and while the cast iron does yield a crispier and more golden crust, the aluminum pan yields tasty results as well, just not quite as crispy.
- Swapping out rotisserie chicken as a time saver: If you're looking to simplify things a bit, feel free to use any pre-cooked chicken you may have on hand, or even rotisserie. Season it with the spices called for in the recipe for added flavor, and skip the step of searing the tenderloins.
- Use your favorite BBQ sauce: I love a BBQ sauce that has lots of smoky-savory flavor for this pizza, and a nice rich consistency. You could also use a sweeter style sauce, if that's what you like, or even a spicy-smoky one for added kick.
- Sprinkle on some reserved cheese at the end for gooeyness: While you could add all of the cheese to the pizza before baking it, I like to reserve a generous ¼ cup to sprinkle over the pizza during the final 5 minutes of baking for added ooey-gooey, freshly-melted cheese.