Hurry, Give Your Pizza a Cheesy Bottom

Hurry, Give Your Pizza a Cheesy Bottom

At this point in history, one would assume we have already explored the map of the world of pizza to its edges (which are probably stuffed with cheese). You can grill it, shave truffles on it, use cauliflower instead of dough, and jam the crust full of all kinds of weird crap. But a recent discovery revealed to me another way to elevate your pizza to absurdly cheesy levels. There’s a surface we’ve yet to cover in extra cheese, and it’s been right in front of us the whole time. It’s the bottom.

Yes, it’s time to add a giant frico crisp to the underside of your pizza.

Frico is a simple, ingenious snack made from cheese. Just cheese, heaped in a pile and baked in the oven or fried in a pan, where it melts and browns. When it cools, it hardens into a crisp. Cheese is perfect paired with nearly anything, and frico is too — especially when you desire a textural contrast.

We’ve recently shown you how to wrap fries in frico, fry an egg on it, or use it in a crispy, cheesy pickle. Cooking a crunchy layer of frico onto the chewy bottom of pizza is a natural progression.

Dough with cheese pressed into both sides, but extra-heavy on the bottom. (Photo: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann)
Dough with cheese pressed into both sides, but extra-heavy on the bottom. (Photo: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann)

Attaching a layer of crisp cheese to a pizza should be much harder than it is. Where normally you’d dust the surface of your pizza dough with flour, this time you’ll use shredded cheese. That’s it. I used shredded parmesan and a smattering of low-moisture shredded mozzerella, but any semi-firm to firm cheese will work.

Set a large cast iron skillet coated with a tablespoon of olive oil into a 400°F oven to preheat. Meanwhile, get your toppings ready and stretch your dough. Put a handful or two of shredded cheese onto your work surface and drop the pizza dough onto it. Flip to coat both sides. (Don’t dust the dough with flour, as that will take the stickiness away, and the idea is to get as much cheese stuck to the bottom as possible.)

Stretch the dough to the appropriate size, adding more cheese as sticky spots appear. A lot of the cheese will stay on the work surface, and that’s fine; we’ll use it in the next step.

Parmesan sprinkled into the bottom of the skillet. (Photo: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann)
Parmesan sprinkled into the bottom of the skillet. (Photo: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann)

Carefully take the hot skillet out of the oven. That thing is about 200°C, a fact that it will remind you of pretty quickly (and painfully) if you forget. Pick up a handful of cheese, either from the work surface or from the bag, and sprinkle it around the bottom of the pan. Coat the entire bottom with an even layer. You may need two or three handfuls — expect to use about a cup of cheese.

The shredded cheese will begin to sizzle and melt right away. Once you’re happy with the layer, pick up the dough and place it in the pan, the cheesiest side face-down. Delicately adjust the dough to fit and ensure it makes as much contact as possible with the cheese on the bottom. The dough will start to cook as soon as it hits the pan, so don’t walk away — add your toppings quickly, then pop the whole thing into the oven to bake for about 20 minutes.

Cheesed, and ready for the oven. (Photo: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann)
Cheesed, and ready for the oven. (Photo: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann)

Once cooked, the pizza will have nicely browned edges and should easily detach from the pan. Transfer it to a cutting board, stopping yourself from admiring the crisp raft of cheese on the bottom long enough to actually slice it.

The resulting flavour and texture is about what you’d expect, which is to say, goddam delicious. My choice of shredded parmesan and a little mozz became delicate and crisp, adding a subtle chew. The extra saltiness and nutty notes made each slice a meditative moment in my mouth.

Photo: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann
Photo: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

The cheese toasts and takes on a golden brown hue, so you might think, “That’s just dough.” It’s actually a full layer of cheese.

Frico-bottom at its finest. (Photo: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann)
Frico-bottom at its finest. (Photo: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann)

Sideways, you can see the distinct layer of cheese along the edge of the slice. I respect pizza establishments, but this might be the best pizza I’ve ever eaten.

I have a pizza stone and a baking steel, and I love them both, but in this use case, I recommend the cast iron skillet, which performed perfectly. The pan holds the cheese in place, and pizza stones are more porous and I didn’t want to risk the cheese burning onto it. If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, the baking steel is worth a shot, and you can try a dark baking sheet if you have no other options.

Frico-bottomed Pizza


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (for cast iron skillet)
  • 1-1½ cups shredded cheese (I used parmesan)
  • 230 g pizza dough, thawed
  • 2 tablespoons sauce
  • 1-2 cups toppings of choice, chopped and ready (I used cooked sausage chunks and olives)

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Add the oil to a 10-inch cast iron skillet, and coat the entire inside of the pan. Put the skillet in the oven to preheat for at least 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the pizza toppings, and stretch the pizza dough. Add a cup of cheese to your work surface and coat all sides of the dough in shredded cheese. Stretch the dough out into a disc, picking up cheese as needed to coat newly exposed areas of the dough. Once it’s stretched to the appropriate size, lay it down on the work surface with leftover cheese. Press the crust into the extra cheese to coat the bottom-side more heavily.

Carefully remove the skillet from the oven. Add enough shredded cheese to thinly, but evenly coat the bottom of the skillet, about a cup. Transfer the dough from the work surface to the cast iron, carefully adjusting the dough so it fits into the pan and makes good contact with the cheese layer. Quickly, sauce and top your pizza. Bake in a 200°C oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the edges are dark brown and crisp. Allow to cool for five minutes. Release from the pan and slice.

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