This easy Barbecue Chicken Pizza is topped with your favorite BBQ sauce and plenty of fresh cilantro, with a deep, smoky flavor from some smoked mozzarella cheese!
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This easy BBQ chicken pizza has very quickly become one of my favorite pizza recipes. It gets a deep, rich pop of flavor from one special ingredient: smoked mozzarella cheese!
Make this pizza from scratch with homemade pizza dough, or grab a store bought pizza crust to keep things simple. Just layer the cheese onto some rolled-out pizza dough with a bit of cooked chicken, bake it up, and top with plenty of cilantro and barbecue sauce for an easy, hearty weeknight dinner.
All you need for this pizza:
- You favorite pizza dough (in these photos, we used our favorite whole wheat pizza crust!)
- A bit of olive oil, to coat the dough once it's stretched out
- Smoked mozzarella cheese - We love this mozzarella from BelGioioso, but we've also used a few generic grocery-store brands of smoked mozzarella, and you can often find it at specialty cheese shops!
- Cooked, shredded chicken - This is a perfect place to use your slow cooker meal prep chicken or any leftover chicken you have on hand! You can also grab a rotisserie chicken at the store.
- Your favorite barbecue sauce, to drizzle over the pizza once it's baked
- A few handfuls of fresh cilantro - Give it a rough chop, then scatter the herbs all over the pizza for a pop of color and a beautiful, bright flavor (if you hate cilantro, you can use fresh arugula instead!)
What is smoked mozzarella?
When fresh mozzarella is smoked, it develops a thin, lightly browned exterior skin, and the cheese picks up plenty of rich, smokey flavor.
Most commercially smoked mozzarella is fairly mellow: You'll get a hint of smoke (especially if you take a bite of the cheese on its own) but it isn't too in-your-face. On this pizza, the smoked mozzarella adds just a touch of smoke and depth to make this pizza recipe feel a bit more elegant. If you can't find smoked mozzarella, just use regular fresh or shredded mozzarella!
Where to buy smoked mozzarella
I typically find smoked mozzarella right next to the fresh mozzarella at our cheese counter. It's not always in stock: I tend to have the best luck finding it in the fall or around the holidays. It's usually about a dollar more than the regular fresh mozzarella at the store. You can also order smoked mozzarella online from various cheese makers and small businesses!
Riffs and Substitutions
This barbecue chicken pizza is SO forgiving: mix it up with whatever you have on hand! Some of our favorite swaps:
- Mix up the protein. Use leftover Thanksgiving turkey, grilled chicken breast, or a store bought rotisserie chicken for the protein here if you don't have prepped shredded chicken on hand. This pizza is also great with pulled pork or crispy bacon!
- Swap the cilantro for fresh arugula, fresh spinach, or chopped green onions.
- Use buffalo sauce instead of barbecue sauce for a fun twist.
- Add extra toppings! Sliced red onion (or caramelized onions!), roasted garlic, pineapple, and grilled corn are all great on this pizza.
- If you don't have time to make pizza crust (and if you don't have any store-bought pizza dough on hand), fold these toppings up inside a tortilla for an amazing quesadilla! You can also use naan or pita bread as the base for your pizza if you don't have fresh dough on hand. (If you're short on time but still want a true pizza, just whip up our fan-favorite 15 minute pizza dough!)
- Grill this pizza for a fun twist! Learn more: How to grill pizza.
- Add extra sauce. Instead of olive oil, coat your pizza dough with a bit of barbecue sauce or ranch dressing (the same way you'd spread traditional pizza sauce over the dough!) before you add the cheese and chicken. (We did find that adding an extra layer of sauce under the cheese here can overpower the delicate flavor of the smoked mozzarella, so we recommend skipping any extra sauce unless you're using plain mozzarella cheese).
Homemade Pizza FAQs
We like using a baking steel or pizza stone for best results! Preheat your oven and baking steel for 30-60 minutes before baking, then use a pizza peel (or a cutting board or flat baking sheet) to carefully transfer your prepared pizza to the hot stone (we like using a piece of parchment paper to make it easier to slide the pizza around). When pizza is ready, use tongs to carefully pull it out of the oven and onto a cooling rack or cutting board.
Yes! If you want to mimic the crispy crust you get with a pizza stone, you can put a sturdy sheet pan - one that doesn't warp in high heat - into the oven (if it has edges, turn it upside-down it so it's easier to slide the pizza on) to preheat for 30 minutes or so, then slide your pizza onto the hot baking sheet. You can also make this recipe into a pan pizza: just press the dough into shape right on a baking sheet or pizza pan, top, and bake! This recipe is also great pressed into a cast iron skillet deep dish pizza.
No worries! Just use regular fresh or pre-shredded mozzarella instead. This pizza is also good with white cheddar cheese, havarti, or smoked gouda cheese in place of the mozzarella.
This easy BBQ chicken pizza gets a pop of extra flavor from smoked mozzarella cheese!
- Heat oven to 500° Fahrenheit with a baking stone or pizza steel inside. For best results, let the oven heat 30-60 minutes to get the baking steel nice and hot.
- Lay a piece of parchment paper over a large cutting board. Roll or stretch the pizza dough into shape and place it on top of the parchment (this will make it easier to slide in and out of the oven!)
- Drizzle a thin layer of olive oil over the dough, then top with torn mozzarella and shredded chicken. Finish with a pinch of salt and a few turns of fresh cracked black pepper.
- Slide pizza onto the hot baking steel and bake for 10-15 minutes, until crust is browned and cheese is bubbling. Note: The exact bake time here will depend on your oven, equipment, and pizza dough: Check the pizza every few minutes and pull it out as soon as it looks done!
- Use a pair of tongs to carefully pull the cooked pizza out of your oven and back onto the large cutting board. Transfer pizza to a wire cooling rack for 5-10 minutes (this helps the crust stay crispy instead of getting soggy while the pizza cools) then return pizza to the cutting board and slice.
- Drizzle barbecue sauce over the top of the pizza, then top with fresh cilantro. Slice and serve immediately.
Additions and Substitutions. Add sliced red onions, pineapple, sliced jalapeño, green onions, or any other toppings you like to this pizza. Swap the barbecue sauce for buffalo sauce if you prefer. Use rotisserie chicken, meal prepped shredded chicken, or leftover grilled chicken here (it's also great with pulled pork or crispy bacon!) Add an extra layer of barbecue sauce or ranch dressing to the base of the pizza (under the cheese) if you like.
What smoked mozzarella should I use? We like the BelGioioso Smoked Mozzarella cheese; it's typically available right next to the fresh mozzarella in grocery stores, especially in fall/winter. If you can't find smoked mozzarella, use plain fresh or shredded mozzarella, white cheddar cheese, havarti, or smoked gouda cheese.
If your barbecue sauce is especially thick, mix it with a Tablespoon or two of water to make it easier to drizzle across the pizza.
Can I bake this pizza without a baking stone or pizza steel? Yes! If you have a sturdy sheet pan - one that doesn't warp in high heat - you can use that in place of a pizza stone (if your sheet pan has edges, turn it upside down in the oven to make it easier to slide the pizza on and off). Pop the sheet pan in the oven while it heats, but you don't need to heat it for longer than 10-15 minutes (like you would for a baking steel). You can also make this recipe as a pan pizza - just press the dough into a pan, top, and bake!
Do I have to heat my oven to 500° F? Nope - you can absolutely use a lower oven temperature if you prefer! We find that the high temperature yields the best crust, but we've also baked this pizza at 450°F and 475°F with great results: just make sure you give your baking steel or pizza stone plenty of time to heat up (ideally 30 minutes to an hour) and extend the cooking time if you need to.
- Serving Size: 2 slices
- Calories: 684
- Sugar: 9 g
- Sodium: 1383 mg
- Fat: 21.4 g
- Carbohydrates: 69.4 g
- Protein: 52.2 g
- Cholesterol: 92.9 mg
Keywords: chicken, pizza, barbecue