A savory and spicy favorite
This Sausage, Fennel, and Calabrian Chili Pizza should be the headline act of your next pizza night. It combines generous morsels of savory ground Italian sausage, aromatic and lightly anisey shaved fennel, and spicy chopped Calabrian chili peppers in oil over a classic Parmesan, mozzarella, and red sauce-topped pizza base. It's savory + spicy pizza night magic!
Let's talk about the chilis for a moment
I prefer to use chopped Calabrian chili peppers in oil on this pizza. Calabrian chilis originate from the Calabrian region of Italy, sometimes referred to as "the toe of the Italian boot" as it is located in the southern part of Italy. The blood-red chili pepper offers a smoky and mildly fruity flavor with a moderate hot dose of heat, ranging between 25,000-40,000 Scoville Heat Units. Their spiciness compliments the flavor of the Italian sausage and fennel without overpowering the pizza as the dominant flavor.
I generally find Calabrian chilis packed in oil among the other oil-packed peppers and pickles in my grocery store. If you are unable to find them, these pickled goat horn peppers in oil make a great alternative and are one of my favorite ingredients for this White Pizza with Hot Pickled Peppers and Honey.
WHAT ABOUT THE PIZZA CRUST?
I prefer to use this Easy Same-Day Pizza Dough recipe to make this Sausage, Fennel, and Calabrian Chili Pizza, but if you have a preferred pizza crust recipe of your own or want to grab some pre-made dough from the store, feel free to use those as well.
WHAT TEMPERATURE IS BEST TO BAKE PIZZA AT?
Your aim is a perfectly golden crust and nicely caramelized toppings, so the hotter the better. Many professional pizzerias keep their ovens heated to 800 degrees F or higher, but most home ovens only reach temperatures between 500-550 degrees F so this recipe is created with those constraints in mind. I bake my pizzas at 500 degrees F / 260 degrees C and get wonderful results. If your oven tops out at 450 degrees F / 232 degrees C, I have tested that temp many times over as well and it works well, though you’ll want to plan on a few extra minutes in the oven, especially if your pie is piled high with toppings.
REHEATING PIZZA LEFTOVERS
It would be cliche if I made a joke about leftovers and pizza right now, so we’ll just skip that and assume you didn’t eat the entire pie for a moment. My two favorite methods for reheating pizza so it retains its crisp crust while remelting the cheese is in the oven or in a cast-iron pan on top of the stove.
Oven method: Bake on a sheet pan at 350 F / 175 C for 10 minutes or until pizza has reached your desired level of warmth and crispness.
Stovetop method: Set pizza in a cast-iron pan over medium-low heat. Allow to cook until the crust has reached your desired level of crispness. If the cheese isn’t melted enough for your taste you can add a few drops of water to the pan (away from the pizza) and cover the pan for a minute or two to allow the steam to melt the cheese further.
WHAT TOOLS DO I NEED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE?
- A cutting board
- A chef’s knife
- A baking sheet
- Parchment paper
- A kitchen scale or measuring cups (for less precise measurements)
- Measuring spoons
- A rolling pin (only if you prefer an evenly thick pie) otherwise your hands are your best tool
- A spoon or spatula (to spread the sauce)
- A medium skillet
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This Sausage, Fennel, and Calabrian Chili Pizza is a savory and spicy combination perfect for your next pizza night!
- ½ recipe Easy Same-Day Pizza Dough
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 8 oz tomato sauce
- ¼ tsp garlic powder (can omit in favor of using garlic-infused olive oil for the olive oil portion above, if preferred)
- ¼ tsp Kosher salt
- 4 oz (about 1 cup) mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 0.7 oz (about ¼ cup) parmesan cheese, shredded
- 8 oz (½ lb) ground Italian sausage
- 100 g fennel bulb, thinly sliced (slightly over 1 cup)
- 85 g (about ⅓ cup) chopped Calabrian chilis in oil
- 2-3 tablespoon fennel fronds
- Preheat your oven to 500 degrees F / 260 degrees C and set a baker’s half sheet to the side.
- While the oven is preheating, brown the ground Italian sausage in a medium skillet over medium-high heat, breaking it apart into chunks as it cooks, until cooked through. Drain any residual grease, if needed, and reserve to the side.
- Shape your dough. If you prefer a classic pie-shape with a thicker crust compared to the center of your dough, I suggest hand-stretching your dough. If you prefer your pizza to be an even thickness, I suggest rolling your dough out with a rolling pin.
- If you are hand-stretching your dough:
- I like to rub a small amount of olive oil into my hands first; this allows me to shape the dough easier without it ripping accidentally from friction.
- Press the dough down with the palm of your hand into a disk shape, then use your fingertips to gently press down on the dough disk, further flattening it.
- To further extend the dough, I prefer to press one palm on top of one side of the dough and with the other hand lift the alternative side of the dough and gently work the dough outward, pulling very gently with the tips of my oiled fingers (like a very discrete “come hither” motion) to slowly stretch the dough out. Rotate slightly and repeat until the dough is shaped and stretched to your liking. If you find that the dough starts to snap back or is beginning to tear, allow the dough to relax for a minute or two before proceeding again. Transfer your stretched dough to a sheet of parchment paper.
- If you are using a rolling pin:
- I prefer to place my dough between two sheets of parchment paper to avoid the dough sticking to my rolling pin, but if you prefer you can also sprinkle a bit of flour over the dough ball as well as wiping some over your rolling pin by hand to prevent sticking instead. Once the dough has been rolled to your preferred size and shape, peel the top layer of parchment paper off (if using). The bottom layer that the dough is resting on can be utilized for your baking sheet. If you find that the dough starts to snap back or is beginning to tear, allow the dough to relax for a minute or two before proceeding again.
- If you are hand-stretching your dough:
- Transfer your shaped dough to the reserved baking sheet.
- Brush olive oil onto the pizza dough lightly and evenly. This can be done with a pastry brush or the back of a spoon
- In a small bowl combine tomato sauce, salt, and garlic powder, if using (see notes below). Pour over the top of the pizza dough and using the back of a spoon spread the sauce out evenly over the dough.
- Top the pizza with mozzarella, then parmesan, sprinkling evenly across the top. Then top evenly with the shaved fennel, the cooked ground Italian sausage, and small dollops of Calabrian chilis. Finish with a sprinkle of fennel fronds on top.
- Bake for 16-22 minutes or until the crust has reached your preferred level of crispness, the cheese is fully melted and starting to blister, and the fennel is lightly caramelized. I find that pizzas that have a thinner topping layer take less time to bake and heavier-topped pizzas generally take a bit longer to bake so watch your pizza closely after the 16-minute mark and adjust as desired.
Nutritional information on Whip & Wander is provided as a courtesy and is approximate only. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of the nutritional information given for any recipe on this site.
- Serving Size: ¼th of the pizza
- Calories: 624
- Sugar: 6 g
- Sodium: 1898 mg
- Fat: 31 g
- Saturated Fat: 10 g
- Carbohydrates: 57 g
- Fiber: 3 g
- Protein: 30 g
- Cholesterol: 64 mg
Keywords: pizza, fennel, sausage, Calabrian chilis