Pizza Topping Order: How to Layer a Pizza

Who doesn’t love pizza? If you’re thinking about making homemade pizza rather than ordering out for the next Friday night pizza bonanza, you need to know the correct order for layering. Otherwise, you’ll be left with a soggy, lifeless pizza. Ew.

The correct way to layer a pizza is to start with the sauce, add the cheese(s), and finish with the toppings. The toppings will begin with thin slices of meat, then larger ones. Add the vegetables last, starting with low-moisture veggies and ending with high-moisture ones.

Hello! My name’s Michelle; nice to meet you! I’m a self-taught baker with over ten years of experience. My family and I love making pizzas on pizza nights. We’ve discovered the best way to layer a pizza so everything is cooked beautifully and the crust is strong and delicious.

Order up! Let’s talk about pizza layering!

How to Layer a Pizza (6 Steps)

There’s a method to the madness when it comes to handcrafting your own pizza, and an incorrect order of operations can leave you with a soggy and disgusting mess. Put these fears behind you by following my simple step-by-step procedure for layering:

Step 1: Start With the Sauce

After you’ve made your dough (or cheated and purchased store-bought pizza crust), it’s time to add the first layer: sauce!

Whether you’re using typical red pizza sauce or going with something more exotic, like alfredo or pesto, always begin by slathering the sauce onto the crust. Be as generous or skimpy as you’d like – it’s your pizza!

Step 2: Add the Cheese(s)

I don’t know about you, but when it comes to my pizzas, the more cheese, the better.

Well, layer number two is none other than cheese.

Add as many cheese flavors as you’d like (I like mozzarella, cheddar, romano, and parmesan). Cover the sauce until you’re satisfied with the amount of cheese decorating your crust.

Step 3: Place Thin Slices of Meat

Now, it’s time to place the thin slices of meat on top of your cheese.

Thin slices of meat include, well, thinner meats like pepperoni, prosciutto, and bacon.

Step 4: Place Thick Slices of Meat

Are you using thicker slices of meat, too? Then you’ll want to add them after the thin slices of meat. That’s because they’ll take longer to cook/heat up, and you don’t want to risk chomping into improperly cooked meat. Yuck.

Thicker slices of meat can include meatballs, chicken, and other thicker options.

Step 5: Add Low-Moisture Vegetables

For some, vegetables are a must on pizza slices.

Sound like you?

Then go ahead and bust out your low-moisture vegetables and place them on top of the meat.

Some examples of low-moisture veggies that are common on pizza include bell peppers, broccoli, and onions.

Step 6: Finally, Add High-Moisture Vegetables

Your final step is to add high-moisture vegetables. These are added to the pizza last because they contain a higher moisture level, and you want to ensure moisture evaporates during cooking. Otherwise, it can lead to a soggy pizza.

High-moisture veggies include tomato, zucchini, and cucumber.

Step 7: (Optional) Garnishes After Baking

OK, so there’s technically one more layer we need to talk about: garnishes that are added after a pizza is done baking.

Some garnishes simply shouldn’t be baked. It can ruin the flavor and texture. Some of these choices include basil, salad, fresh garlic, and arugula.

3 Tips for Layering a Pizza

See? Layering your pizza isn’t challenging, and once you do it once, you’ll be able to remember it for a lifetime. I wanted to share a few more tips about layering pizza before you get to work. 

1. Don’t Overdo It With Toppings

Making a sky-high pizza with toppings sounds fun, but towering toppings will take longer to bake, and you may end up with a lifeless crust that’s crushed due to the weight of the toppings.

That said, it’s a-okay to add a lot of toppings. It’s not OK to go crazy with the toppings, so much so that you can’t even see any of the cheese hiding underneath.

My suggestion? When layering toppings, try not to stack them at all. Fill up empty spaces, but don’t place them on top of each other. They won’t be able to cook as nicely.

2. Don’t Add Too Much Fatty or Watery Ingredients

You must also be careful with what type of toppings you’re using.

If you add too many fatty meats, you may end up with an overly greasy pizza.

If you add too many high-moisture vegetables, you can end up with an overly wet pizza on the soggy side.

3. Pre-Cook Some of Your Toppings

Some toppings must be cooked for health and safety purposes. For instance, you’ll want to bake/cook chicken, beef, and pork products before placing them on your pizza.

However, consider cooking high-moisture vegetables before layering them on your pizza. This will ensure that the high moisture content doesn’t disturb the crispiness of your crust.


Layering a pizza isn’t rocket science; it’s actually quite simple! As long as you remember the steps, your pizza should come out amazing. (And if not, I have tons of articles on making pizzas – check it out!). Also, take a look at these FAQs to learn more.

What goes in pizza first?

The first topping that goes in pizza is the sauce. It doesn’t matter what type of sauce you use, either, whether it’s red pizza sauce, alfredo, pesto, or another delicious concoction. 

What pizza toppings need to be cooked first?

Many ingredients need to be cooked before being layered on your pizza. Most meats, especially thicker meats, must be cooked before being added to your pizza. Some vegetables, including root veggies and those with a high-moisture content, should also be pre-cooked.

Do you let the pizza cool before slicing?

Your pizza does not need to be completely cooled before slicing. However, you should wait a few minutes (five to ten) before slicing it. This will allow the pizza toppings to “set,” ensuring you don’t end up with the infamous sliding cheese that leaves you with a “naked” pizza slice.

Pizza Layering is Important – And Easy!

Good layering is the gateway to a perfect pizza that tastes as if it came from a five-star pizza joint. While you can layer however you’d like, the best way to do this is to add the sauce, cheese, thin meats, thick meats, low-moisture veggies, then high-moisture veggies.

How do you prefer to layer your pizza? Do you use this layering method, or do you step outside of the box? Share how you layer with us below so we can try, too!

About Michelle
I have been a lover of sweets since day one. This led me on a self-taught baking journey starting at the age of 13. It's been over 10 years since the start of my baking adventures, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. Now, people rave about my delectable treats, whether it’s a chocolate cake or a strawberry crepe.

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