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Gluten-free Pizza Crust Throw-down

Gluten-free Pizza Crust Throw-down

Pizza is part of the American food culture (check out why pizza tastes so good here!). According to statistics 93% of Americans eat at least one pizza per month, which equates to an average of 100 acres of pizza daily or 350 slices per second!  At the same time, the preference (or need in the case of celiac disease) to eat gluten-free is also increasing. Inspired by this, dietetic intern Melissa Owens tested 3 popular gluten-free pizza crusts on a quest to identify the best option for the gluten-free pizza lover.

Following a strict gluten-free diet can be a challenge, especially when eating away from home, so it’s important to find ways to replace a favorite food at home with gluten-free alternatives. Additionally, home cooking allows people on a gluten free diet to better balance their nutrient intake and create healthier alternatives for themselves.

Having experimented with gluten-free recipe tweaking in my food science lab, I know the key to successful gluten-free baking is finding the right balance of ingredients by using a mixture of flours. Rather than reinvent the wheel, we opted to try two packaged mixes on the market, selecting pizza crust blends from Bob’s Red Mill and Cup 4 Cup (note there are many others out there and we aren't endorsing these brands specifically...these were chosen because they were easily available and represented two typical brands). Then, for the low-carb crowd, we included a cauliflower crust to see how this grain-free vegetable-based alternative stacks up.

Both Bob’s Red Mill and Cup 4 Cup’s mixes include a packet of yeast and step-by-step instructions for adding olive oil, eggs and water. To keep the saturated fat down, we topped these crusts with caramelized red onion, arugula, cherry tomatoes and a bit of goat cheese.

The cauliflower crust recipe we choose was from ifoodreal and called for a head of cauliflower, egg, fresh basil and 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese. For the toppings we used more fresh basil, cherry tomatoes and sprinkled with a tad more mozzarella cheese. This one does have quite a bit of cheese in the actual crust, so keeping the cheese added as a topping to a minimum helps keep the saturated fat down. 

OK, now that we’ve made you hungry, are you ready for the results?

Bob’s Red Mill

Texture: Soft and chewy throughout
Flavor: Robust, whole grain flavor
Dough: This mix calls for 2 eggs and 1 1/2 cups of water which made the dough quite sticky and wetter to work with. 
Cost and yield: The cost for this mix runs about $5.00 (excluding toppings and additional ingredients) and yields two 12” pizza crusts.

Cup 4 Cup

Texture:  Crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside
Flavor: Neutral, light flavor
Dough:  This mix calls for 1 egg and 1 cup of water and the dough was a bit drier to work with
Cost and yield: The cost for this mix (excluding toppings and additional ingredients) runs about $15.00 and also yields two 12” pizza crusts.


Texture: This one yielded a much thinner, but still workable crust that was soft with a little chew
Flavor: Cheesy and the cauliflower was not too overbearing
Dough: Removing all the water from the cauliflower allows the crust to became paste-like, not too wet and easily spreadable.
Cost and yield: The cost for this crust (excluding toppings and additional ingredients) was about $5.00 (the cost for the cauliflower) but only yielded one 12” pizza crust, so for comparison to the others, $10.


From a nutritional standpoint, Bob’s and Cup 4 Cup are quite similar, although with it's whole grains, Bob's has more fiber. Cup 4 Cup also has more sodium than the Bob's. Without the carbs, the cauliflower crust comes in with the fewest calories, is a bit higher in protein and packed with vitamin C.  See below for the complete nutrition facts information for the crust.


We’re not sure any of these held up to the chew and crispiness we expect from a traditional wheat flour pizza crust, however they were tasty in their own right. If our testers had to pick, Cup 4 Cup was the closest to a traditional pizza but also the priciest, while Bob's was more like a focaccia. And everyone liked the cauliflower crust for its flavor and unique texture, Not to mention the cauliflower crust is a great way to sneak more vegetables into your kid's meals!

We are excited to continue exploring all the different varieties of gluten-free pizza crusts, so if you have a favorite you’d like to share, please let us know!

recipe testing, food trends

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