If you love homemade pizza but wouldn't mind a short cut when it comes to the crust, then this recipe for French bread pizza is the answer—it's simple, and tastes completely gourmet!
French Bread Pizza Goes Gourmet
French bread pizza is one of the first foods that I remember preparing for myself when I was a little kid—one of my favorite things to eat!
It was so easy and delicious, and I felt like a “big girl”, a real pro-cook when I would split open a loaf of crusty French bread (or even a larger French roll), spoon on some jarred pizza sauce, and sprinkle on whatever shredded cheese we had in the fridge to my heart's content.
I loved that French bread pizza only needed to go into the toaster oven for mere minutes, just long enough for the sauce to be warmed through and the cheese to melt before I could experience hot, delicious pizza bliss created by my very own hands. How tasty!
Funny enough, I still love the thought of French bread pizza even though (in complete transparency) I haven't made it for years. But why not? I need to get back on that, pronto!
It's so convenient and cozy-comforting; and in all honesty, it has the potential to be better than most pizzas we get delivered or that we pick up!
The lovely and scrumptious little secret about easy, homemade French bread pizza is that you can actually make it quite gourmet.
Here's a spoiler: it's all in the sauce and choice of toppings.
A French Bread Pizza Recipe with a Homemade Sauce and Tasty Toppings
Sure, using a good quality sauce from a jar is a very quick and convenient way to go when making French bread pizza, and I am definitely not one to turn my nose up at that.
But what if I were to tell you that in ten short minutes, you could have a zippy, garlic-y, homemade pizza sauce that'll knock the socks off the store bought?
Whipping up a simple sauce made with crushed tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, and herbs (and don't forget the red pepper flakes for spice!) will give your French bread pizza some homemade flair, lots of flavor, and take it up a notch.
And my favorite toppings these days when it comes to pizza in general are the slightly spicy and savory ones, like spicy Italian sausage, artichoke, and black olives—so delicious and rich!
When you spoon over a delicious homemade sauce, and top your French bread pizza with a small handful of flavorful and earthy ingredients, the only area in which any “cheating” is going on is with the crust, and I'm perfectly A-OK with that!
How to Make French Bread Pizza…Gourmet
- Begin by prepping your homemade pizza sauce (if you're going that route): place a small sauce pan over medium heat, add in your olive oil, garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes (if ya like it spicy), and saute until aromatic. Then, add in your crushed tomatoes, along with some salt and pepper, and simmer for ten minutes.
- Toast your French bread to give it a little color and “toasty-ness” before topping. Split the French loaf lengthwise, brush with a touch of olive oil, and toast in the oven for a few minutes, just until golden. And leave the oven on.
- Top the French bread with the sauce, the toppings and the cheese, and bake for a few minutes, or just until the cheese is melted. Sprinkle with fresh herbs and enjoy!
Tips & Tidbits for French Bread Pizza:
- Use a good quality, large loaf of French bread: While a French baguette could actually work quite nicely for a recipe like this, it works best when using the large, crusty, and soft loaf of French bread. (I used La Brea Bakery's French Loaf.)
- Homemade sauce: Because French bread pizza is already so quick and easy, taking the few minutes to prep a homemade pizza sauce will take the flavor of the recipe over the top—it makes it more gourmet and offers some homemade flair. And if you're anything like me, you like to dip your pizza in extra sauce; so double the sauce recipe in that case!
- Choice of toppings: Honestly, the toppings are completely up to you. I myself love a bit of spice, so I love the flavor of spicy Italian sausage paired with Kalamata olives, artichokes, and fresh basil. Feel free to get creative!
- Get the stringy cheese: For a nice, meltable cheese, choose whole milk mozzarella. I would avoid fresh mozzarella, because it will add moisture (if you choose to use it make sure to thoroughly pat it dry!), but a full-fat mozzarella cheese is perfect.
- How to reheat leftovers: Simply reheat leftover slices at 400° in your toaster oven for about 15 minutes (give or take, depending on your oven), and it'll taste just like fresh!
Feast your eyes on these, or just jump to the recipe:
French Bread Pizza
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves 4 (two slices each)
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• ½ teaspoon dried oregano
• Pinch to a ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (depending on how spicy you like it)
• 1 (15 ounce) can crushed tomatoes (San Marzano are great)
• ½ teaspoon salt
• ¼ teaspoon black pepper
• 2 links spicy Italian sausage, casing removed and crumbled
• 1 French bread loaf, cut in half length-wise (I use La Brea Bakery brand French Loaf)
• Olive oil (about 2 tablespoons)
• ½ cup marinated artichoke hearts, drained and patted dry with paper towel, and quartered
• 3 cups of shredded whole-milk mozzarella cheese
• ¼ cup pitted Kalamata olives, sliced
• ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, torn or whole
-If making the homemade sauce, begin by preparing that: place a small sauce pan over medium-high heat, and add the tablespoon of olive oil; add the garlic, the dried oregano, and the red pepper flakes as well (if using), and stir just until aromatic; add the can of crushed tomatoes, plus the salt and pepper, and allow the sauce to very gently simmer for about 10 minutes, uncovered.
-Meanwhile, cook your spicy Italian sausage by placing a skillet over medium-high heat; once hot, add in the crumbled sausage and cook for a few minutes until completely cooked through; spoon onto a plate to hold.
-To prepare your pizzas, preheat your oven to 400°, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil; brush each half of the French loaf with some olive oil, and place into the oven to pre-toast for a few minutes, just until slightly golden.
-To assemble, spoon some of the homemade sauce (or jarred sauce, if using) over each half of the bread loaf, sprinkle about half the cheese (about a total of 1 ½ cups worth) equally over both halves, then add the toppings; then, sprinkle the remaining 1 ½ cups of cheese over the toppings, and bake for about 8-10 minutes, or until the cheese is gooey.
-Cut each half-loaf into 4 wedges or thick slices, and finish with the basil leaves, and serve!
Cook's Note: This post has been updated with even more love! And new photos!