Last Updated: October 7, 2022
Pizza is loved by many worldwide, and those in the UK are no exception. Brits love to eat pizza in various shapes and sizes, with many toppings. But what is their favourite pizza? Our guide addresses this question while listing the top 10 types of pizza most commonly enjoyed by Brits.
A Brief History of Pizza
We all associate pizza with Italy, but the first types of pizza date back to the predecessors of pizza, the Ancient Greeks, who made flatbread seasoned with herbs.
Pizza as we know it today was developed in 19th-century Italy. It was, however, considered food for the poor until Raffaele Esposito was called to prepare different types of pizza for King Umberto and Queen Margherita’s visit to Naples. The queen was honoured with three pizza topping options: tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. Hence the name of one of the most popular pizzas today: Margherita.
The Global Expansion
While pizza was enjoyed across Italy, the rest of the world was unfamiliar with this dish until Italians immigrated to America in the early 1900s and brought the pizza recipe. But pizza gained more popularity in America after World War II.
Pizza in the UK
Brits love different pizzas—much like many in other nations. But when did pizza come to the island, and how did it develop? Records have revealed Italian restaurants in London in the early 1800s, but it’s unknown if pizza was on the menu.
The first restaurant that offered pizza Margherita was Olivelli, which opened in 1934. But the Pizza Express chain, established in 1965, was the first venue to offer various pizza types in the UK.
During the 1970s and 80s, Pizza Hut and Domino’s set up shop in the UK. And ever since, many other chains and privately-owned pizza shops have sprung up around the UK, spreading pizza varieties far and wide.
|DID YOU KNOW? Some 49% of the UK population eats pizza at least once a week, with Oxford (surprisingly) being the city with the highest pizza consumption.
Top 10 Types of Pizza in the UK
Now that you know a bit about the history of pizza, consider the most popular pizzas enjoyed in the UK, starting with the #1 preference.
In the UK, the pizza throne belongs to the pepperoni pizza, beating all other toppings. Surprisingly, however, this pizza did not originate in Italy. Americans began using an American variety of spicy salami (pepperoni) as a pizza topping. From there, it spread globally as the go-to topping for millions.
Besides pepperoni, the only other ingredients on this pizza include sauce and pizza cheese, which varies from one pizza shop to another. Although there are different pizza styles, pepperoni pizzas are typically complemented by a thin, crispy crust.
Brits are meat lovers, so meat pizza holds second place for the most popular pizza in the UK. This pizza is topped with ground beef and sausage, in addition to its cheese base. Meat pizza requires more cooking than other pizzas due to the meat texture, but those made with cured meats cook quicker. Even though the origin of this pizza is unknown, similar varieties are found in Italy and the US.
Surprisingly, the Margherita pizza isn’t ranked higher. It is, after all, one of the most well-known types of pizza. Not a lot has changed since the classic Margherita was created in the 19th century. The ingredients of this simple pizza are the same: a tomato base, mozzarella, and basil. And it doesn’t take long to bake.
Some love pineapple on pizza; others hate it. The UK population loves it. Hawaiian pizza sits in fourth place on our list of the most loved pizza in the UK. It also has one of the most unusual types of pizza names—considering that it originates from Canada, not Hawaii. The first such pizza saw its debut in 1962 when Canadian restauranter Sam Panopoulos presented it at his Satellite Restaurant in Chatham, Ontario. The Hawaiian pizza—consisting of a tomato base, cheese, ham, and pineapple—had managed to create a divide among pizza lovers: Should pineapple go on pizza?
BBQ Chicken Pizza
Chicken and pizza in one meal—why not? That same idea occurred to chef LaDou in 1985, when he created the first BBQ chicken pizza in his California Pizza Kitchen in Los Angeles. LeDou was famous for experimenting with various types of pizza toppings, but out of all the topping ideas he had, BBQ chicken remains his best-known creation. The original recipe for this pizza included fontina cheese, shredded chicken, homemade BBQ sauce, cilantro, and onions. This pizza has become a contemporary classic, enjoyed by many in the UK.
Although Brits are generally meat lovers, they also indulge in vegetarian pizza from time to time. This pizza has been around for years, but no one can pinpoint its origin. Since antiquity, people have used vegetables as a topping for pizza. It can be made from various types of pizza dough, topped with mushrooms, olives, peppers, onions, aubergines, spinach, etc.
Almost any vegetable can go on a pizza—ideal for those who want a meatless pizza. Cheese is optional, but we recommend it. Remember, however, that this pizza needs to be baked longer to avoid soggy vegetables. And if you’re reheating the pizza, keep in mind that the vegetables may burn the second time around.
Quattro Formaggi Pizza
What’s more Italian than cheese? The Italian delicacy of the (four-cheese) Quattro Formaggi pizza. This pizza is said to have originated from the Lazio region of Italy at the beginning of the 18th century. Different pizza bases can be used on this pizza, and the selection of cheeses depends on regions and individual preferences. But one cheese that’s a staple on this pizza is mozzarella.
If you’re a cheese lover, Quattro Formaggi is the perfect pizza for you. All Quattro Formaggi pizzas are made with mozzarella combined with a blue or mature blue cheese, soft cheese (e.g., Emmental or Gruyere), and hard cheese (e.g., Parmesan or Pecorino). This pizza should be baked until all the cheeses have melted evenly across the top.
Calzones (outside-in pizzas or pizza pockets) are made from different pizza dough types, but the traditional Italian recipe called for leavened dough. Originating from 18th-century Naples, calzones were made of dough with cheese, meats, sauce, and vegetables as toppings, then folded into a half-moon shape and baked in an oven
In Naples, calzones were sold as street food, perfect for eating on the go. The stuffing inside the calzone can vary—if you’re making them at home, you can build your own creation. And if you wish to achieve the original feel and taste of a calzone in your kitchen oven, you should use a pizza stone.
When it comes to pizza varieties, one of the most basic and well-loved is the classic ham pizza, which garnishes a tomato base, cheese, and slices of ham. Even though the origin of this pizza is unknown, it’s been around for years. And because the main ingredients are quite basic, there have been many varieties of this pizza, including a thin or thick crust, mushrooms, etc., and plenty of new types of pizza bases. But if you like playing it safe, choosing a standard ham pizza is the right choice.
And last but not least is the hot and spicy Diavolo pizza. This pizza is strikingly similar to our #1 pepperoni pizza. The Diavolo originates from Italy, where it was made with spicy salami, mozzarella, and hot chilli peppers spread over a tomato base.
The chilli peppers set this pizza apart from the rest, hence the name Diavolo (devil)—a devilishly hot pizza. The Diavolo has inspired different pizza styles over the years, some with olives and jalapenos instead of chillies. So if you like your food hot and spicy, the Diavolo pizza is the one for you.
|DID YOU KNOW? Thanks to the TV sitcom series Seinfeld, calzones enjoy widespread popularity in the US. This eponymous show first featured calzones in 1996, and from that moment, restaurants began offering calzones on their menus.
There are more types of pizza in the world than one could ever hope to taste. So we compiled this list of the 10 best, most popular types of pizzas in the UK. Try one that you think would be the tastiest—or if you have an adventurous spirit, sample all 10 and pick your favourite.
The most popular type of pizza in the UK is the pepperoni pizza, followed by the meat pizza and the Margherita.
Choosing the best pizza flavour might be challenging, as everyone has different preferences. But polls on the top 10 types of pizza show that the pepperoni pizza is the top pick in the UK and the US for the best flavour.
Italy—the birthplace of pizza—is the country where pizza is the most consumed and loved.