This Chicken-Crust Pizza Is Better Than It Has Any Right to Be

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With all the decent pizza dough substitutes out there, I did not expect to enjoy this one nearly as much as I did. I knew it would be pretty good—it’s like a big chicken nugget after all—but I thought that much chicken would quickly become overwhelming. Nope. Chicken crust pizza is simply stupendous. So go on and grab a pound of ground chicken: It’s pizza night. 

One thing I’d like to get out of the way is that this is not chicken parm. While it has the components of chicken parmesan—breaded chicken, tomato sauce, and cheese—it’s made differently (using baked ground chicken instead of fried cutlets) and it’s eaten differently (like a pizza). Chicken parmesan is a dish with a history, and generations of Italian-American parents passing on very specific family recipes. While chicken crust pizza is damn good, it’s not exactly worthy of the same title. Would you dub a chicken nugget dipped in ketchup next to a string cheese “chicken parmesan”? I rest my case.

How to make chicken crust pizza

Now then, back to our chicken nugget—I mean, our high-protein, super satisfying pizza crust replacement. Essentially, you need to bread both sides of a very large chicken patty. I use the help of two sheet trays to do so. They also come in handy during baking.

۱. Make the chicken mixture

I seasoned a pound of ground chicken with salt, garlic powder, black pepper, and added an egg. Mix everything together thoroughly. It’s a mixture akin to a chicken meatball, but without any bread crumbs inside to tenderize the structure. There’s no need to over-mix, but at the same time, you also don’t have to worry about keeping it tender. It’s a pizza crust, so you want the meat to slice and hold up when it’s time to eat.

۲. Shape the patty

On an upside down sheet pan, place a silicone baking mat, or a piece of parchment paper. Spray it lightly with oil (I used canola, but any cooking oil will do), or daub it on with a pastry brush. Dump the chicken mixture into the center and, using your fingers or a rubber spatula, press and shape the meat into a circle about a half-inch thick. My crust ended up about nine inches in diameter. 

Fingers patting breading onto crust

Credit: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

۳. Bread the chicken

While you could leave the bread entirely out of this recipe, I think it’s much more attractive and texturally pleasing with a crunchy, knobbly panko breading. There are a lot of accessible wheat-free options these days, so if you have gluten sensitivities, maybe opt for a gluten-free panko instead of forgoing the breading entirely. 

Make a 1:1 mixture of fine bread crumbs and panko in a bowl. Sprinkle half of the mixture over the chicken patty and use your hand to spread it out and gently press the crumbs so they adhere to the meat. Don’t forget the edges. Spray a light layer of oil onto the crumbed-side. It’s time to flip it. 

Two sheet trays sandwiching a breaded chicken patty.

Credit: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

Put another silicone mat or piece of parchment on top of the chicken. Put another sheet tray, bottom-side down, on top of the mat. Grab both sheet pans firmly with both hands and flip them at the same time so you can bread the other side of the crust. Carefully peel the baking mat off (a spatula can help you if the meat is sticking a bit). Bread the other side and oil it. Replace the mat on top of the chicken and the sheet tray, bottom-side down. 

۴. Bake the crust

Put the crust, sandwiched by the two baking mats and the two sheet trays, in the oven. Place a weight on top. (This can be another sheet pan or a heavy skillet.) This weight will force good contact with the metal tray to conduct heat to the crust, and keep it from shrinking or bubbling up. Bake the crust at 400°F for 25 minutes. Remove the weight, top tray, and top liner, and bake the crust for another 10 minutes.

Spoon spreading tomato sauce on a chicken crust.

Credit: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

۵. Add toppings

Remove the pizza but keep the oven on. Leave the chicken crust on the pan and add a few spoonfuls of pizza sauce (it doesn’t have to be tomato), shredded cheese, and any pizza toppings your heart desires. Return the pizza to the oven and broil the pizza for three to five minutes. My oven has a “lo broil” option, and it took four minutes for the cheese to bubble. Cool the chicken crust pizza on a wire rack (there’s a lot of steam trapped under there) for five minutes before slicing and serving. 

Chicken crust pizza on a cutting board.

Credit: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

The crust slices beautifully, and stands up to being held in-hand, as a pizza should. The breading crisps up nicely in the oven and, surprisingly, the chicken crust never feels too heavy despite that it’s, well, mostly a plank of chicken. If you’re trying to increase your protein intake, or just add some pizzazz to your pizza routine, this crust is a must-try. 

Chicken Crust Pizza Recipe


  • ۱ pound raw ground chicken

  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • A few cracks of black pepper

  • ۱ egg

  • ½ cup panko

  • ½ cup bread crumbs

  • Pinch of salt

  • A few spritzes of a neutral cooking oil

  • ۳ tablespoons of tomato sauce

  • ½ – ۱ cup of shredded mozzarella

  • Pizza toppings (*optional)

۱. Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a small bowl, combine the panko, bread crumbs, and a pinch of salt. Set aside.

۲. In a mixing bowl, thoroughly combine the first five ingredients.

۳. Place a sheet pan upside-down and lay a silicone mat on it. Spray it with some neutral oil, or if you don’t have any spray oil, rub a teaspoon-ish of oil on the mat. Pile the chicken mixture into the center of the mat and pat it into a circle, about 9 inches across and a half-inch thick.

۴. Pour half of the bread crumb mixture onto the chicken patty. Spread it around the surface, pressing gently, until it evenly covers the chicken top and sides. 

۵. Spritz more oil onto the breaded chicken and onto a second silicone mat. Place that mat, oil-side down, on top of the chicken patty. Place a second sheet tray, bottom-side down, on the mat. Holding both sheet trays, flip the chicken crust over. Take the tray and mat off so you can bread the other side. Spritz more oil onto the newly breaded side and replace the mat and sheet tray.

۶. Place the double tray-ed, double matt-ed chicken into the oven and place a heavy skillet or a third sheet pan on top to weigh down the crust as it bakes. Bake for 35 minutes, taking the top pan and top mat off for the last 10 minutes to brown the crust.

۷. Take the crust out of the oven and add the pizza sauce, cheese, and toppings (if using). Broil the pizza to brown the cheese and toppings lightly, about 3-5 minutes. Cool the pizza on a wire rack for about 5 minutes before slicing and serving. 

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