Did Pizza Originate in China

When people think about where pizza originated, one place they may look to is China – and that’s all thanks to the explorer Marco Polo. He brought a Chinese dish known as Cong You Bing to Naples, Italy, where pizza was born. But history has more to say about this.

Hey, there! My name is Michelle and I have been a home baker for the past ten years. I often wonder how certain dishes came about, including my favorite (and plenty of other people’s favorite), pizza. That’s why I researched to see if China may have been the origin.

There’s no other way to put it: this article is a crash course on whether or not pizza originated in China. It will also share some other interesting facts that may sway you from believing it originated in China or not.

Let’s dive into the world of history.

Did Pizza Originate in China?

If you asked a hundred people if pizza originated in China, you’d likely have a few “yesses” but mostly “nos”. Why? It is common knowledge that pizza originated in Naples in the 1700s. Does that mean it came out of nowhere, though? Not exactly. 

And that’s where China comes into the scope of things.

The Legend of Pizza Originating in China

Marco Polo was an explorer that found himself in China at one point. He came across a dish known as Cong you Bing, which is a flatbread that’s filled with cheese and toppings. It is also referred to as a scallion pancake due to the presence of scallions.

Needless to say, he fell in love with the dish and searched high and low for a replacement. However, chefs were either disinterested in trying to make the dish or couldn’t figure out how to make it. That is – until Marco Polo traveled to visit some friends in another area of the world. 

Marco Polo was enjoying a dinner party with friends. One of these friends just so happened to be a chef from Naples, Italy that was ready and willing to give the flatbread recipe a try. However, he was unsuccessful. He simply could not figure out how to keep the toppings inside.

That’s when Marco Polo came up with the brilliant idea to place the toppings on top rather than inside. The recipe was successful and Italian citizens fell in love with it. Thus, the “pizza” was born. 

Other Origins of Pizza

It could be true that China had an impact on what we know today as “pizza”. However, history suggests that the term was actually used 250 years before Marco Polo was even born. That said, it wouldn’t be a far stretch to think that pizza started elsewhere. But where?

Pizza, or at least recipes that are similar to pizza, has been around for centuries. These recipes are found all over the world. Whether or not they had an impact on the pizza we know today is still unknown.

Here are some of the “pizzas” through history:

  • Persia – During the 6th Century BC, Persian soldiers would bake pizzas on their battle shields using flatbreads slathered with cheese and dates.
  • Greece – An Ancient Greece dish known as plakous was made using flatbread, cheese, and other various toppings.
  • Passover – Pizza may have also come from the Passover cookies known as Pizzarelli
  • Rome – A poet from the 1st Century BC describes Pinsa, circular bread baked on hot ashes. The description resembles modern-day pizza.

Where Did Modern-Day Pizza Really Originate?

Historians truly don’t know where pizza actually got its start. There are so many different theories and possibilities. However, the modern-day pizza we know and love has a clear birthplace: Naples, Italy.

Modern pizza was created in Naples, Italy in the 18th century. This pizza involved flatbread, cheese, and tomato, creating the popular focaccia pizza. It’s a quick and cheap recipe, which made it a great (and tasty) option for poorer workers of Naples.

Since then, these delicious flatbreads have increasingly become more and more popular, which is why we now have modern-day pizzas found all around the world.


China may have had some influence on pizza due to their recipe known as Cong you Bing. However, the origins are entirely unknown. If you want to learn more about where pizza originated, and if China was involved, read through these commonly asked questions.

Where did the original pizza originate?

As of right now, the original or modern-day pizza originated in Naples, Italy. 

Does pizza exist in China?

Yes, pizza exists in China. There are many pizza restaurant chains found throughout the country. There are also pizza-like recipes, such as Cong you Bing. Here are some great Chinese pizza recipes to try this weekend.

Who originally invented pizza?

While the origins are entirely unknown, most would say that the original invention of pizza took place in Italy. Some will also credit the baker known as Rafaelle Esposito from Naples. However, flatbreads similar to pizza were sold on Naples city sidewalks years before his appearance.

When did Pizza Hut enter China?

The popular pizza chain known as Pizza Hut entered China in 1990. While chains are now found in China, the original Chinese Pizza Hut was founded in Beijing.

Final Words

Pizza truly does have a fascinating history, and we still don’t know exactly where it came from. We can say that China may have had an influence, but it’s unknown whether or not pizza truly originated there.

What do you think about this legend?

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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