Italian Pizza vs American Pizza: 11 Key Differences!

Italy is the birthplace of pizza but America should be credited for making pizza one of the most popular food items in the world. Italians might have originally come up with the pizza recipe but Americans improved upon it in their unique ways.

Both Italian and American pizza consist of similar ingredients such as a doughy crust, sauce, cheese, and toppings but there are also key differences between them. These differences range from dough formation to taste and texture. Italian pizza and American pizza are both delicious in their own right and the slight differences bring the variations.

In this article, I will describe all the major differences between American pizza and Italian pizza based on the ingredients, cooking methods, flavor, texture, etc. So read along to familiarize yourself with these two biggest variations of pizza so that you can tell them apart and understand their authenticity better.

Italian Pizza vs American Pizza

Italian pizza and American pizza have numerous differences between them and we can base them on dough, sauce, crust, toppings, cheese, taste, texture, etc. These differences are described in detail below.


Italian pizza dough is usually made with 00 flour which is a finely ground Italian flour, best for making pizza or pasta. Italian pizza dough is only kneaded as much as necessary.

The dough is also rested for a long time, 16-24 hours to give it a nice and light airy texture. The long resting time ensures that the crust burns a bit during cooking and provides an amazing burnt flavor. Italian pizza dough is flattened out thinly to form a thin crust.

American pizza dough is made with all-purpose flour or bread flour which are high in gluten. Resting time for the dough is typically a few hours. The dough is kneaded for a longer time than Italian pizza to give it a more bready texture. American pizza dough has a less airy and more bread-like taste and texture to it. The dough is not flattened out as much as it is in Italian pizza and it forms a thick crust.


There are some differences between the sauces used in Italian pizza and American pizza as well. Italians use only fresh crushed tomatoes to make the sauce for their pizza. They only add salt, garlic, and olive oil to the sauce and do not cook the sauce at all. There are hardly any other spices added to the sauce. Italians like their pizza sauce to be as pure as possible to bring authentic flavor.

Americans on the other hand, cook their pizza sauce with spices and sometimes even sugar. The pizza sauce is cooked for hours to not only thicken it but also to give it a distinctive flavor. American pizza sauce contains more flavor than Italian pizza sauce because of this cooking process.


Thin crust is a signature of authentic Italian pizza. The dough is stretched thinly to form a thin crust as it gets baked in the oven. The thin crust gives the distinctive flavor of the Italian pizza as it finely combines with the sweet and tangy tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella cheese.

American pizza usually has a much thicker crust than Italian pizza. There are some American restaurants that serve thin crust pizza but in most places, they prefer a thicker crust. The thicker crust provides the chewy and bready texture of the pizza that the Americans know and love.  


Italian pizza usually does not have that much topping on it. They try to keep the taste of the pizza as simple and elegant as possible. The most popular Italian pizzas only have tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, basil leaves, and one more topping ingredient. Italians do not like putting too many ingredients in their pizzas.

On the contrary, most American pizzas contain a lot of ingredients such as cheese, mushrooms, capsicum, sausage, bologna, meat, pineapple, etc. Americans love to try new combinations on their pizzas to create new flavors. Where Italians make their pizzas to have authentic taste and simplicity, Americans bake their pies to have complex and rich flavors. 


Italians mostly use Mozzarella cheese for making their pizza. Italians never use pre-shredded cheese on their pizza. They often shred the mozzarella cheese very roughly with their hands and spread it all around the pizza. This uneven distribution of cheese browns unevenly and gives a nice pattern on the pizza.

Americans sometimes use pre-shredded mozzarella cheese on their pizza. But mostly they shred the cheese with a cheese grater and spread it evenly on the pizza. Americans also put other cheeses such as Ricotta, Gorgonzola, Parmesan, Parmigiano Reggiano, Pecorino, etc. on their pizza.


Italian pizza has more crunch to it because of the thin crust and has a less airy and bready texture. American pizza on the other hand has a more chewy texture to it because of the thicker crust.


Authentic Italian pizza is cooked on a woodfire oven as tradition demands but American pizza is cooked on a grill, gas-powered oven, or electric oven.


Italians always try to use fresh ingredients on their pizza. The mozzarella cheese used on Italian pizza is never pre-shredded and is mostly very freshly prepared. The tomato sauce they use on the pizza is made from pureeing fresh tomatoes with some salt, garlic, and olive oil.

Americans use a lot of canned products to make their pizza. The tomatoes are often canned and the cheese is pre-shredded. The toppings such as mushrooms, sausages, bacon, and other ingredients are also oftentimes canned products. Italians use more fresh ingredients to make their pizza relative to the Americans.


Italian pizzas taste more simple yet elegant where you can taste the freshness of the cheese and the tomato sauce whereas American pizzas have rich taste and more variations of flavor in them as they cook the sauce and use various toppings on the pizza.


American pizzas usually contain a lot more ingredients which makes them more calorie-dense than Italian pizza. 


Authentic Italian pizzas cost a lot but there are cheaper options as well. American pizza is a very popular fast food item which means that there are a lot of cheap American pizza places. So generally, Italian pizza is costlier than American pizza. 

Italian Pizza vs American Pizza: Which Is Better?

Taste is highly subjective so I cannot just chalk it up to deciding which type of pizza is the better one but I think that both types of pizzas have their specialities and lackings. Italian pizza has a more natural taste because of the fresh ingredients such as the tomato sauce and the cheese.

However, the thin crust can be a little dry to some people. American pizza has a variety of toppings on it that make it very rich in flavor. But at the same time, the usage of packaged products makes the pizza unhealthier.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Which Pizza Typically Cooks Faster, Italian or American?

American pizzas are larger and include more ingredients, which is why it takes more time to cook. So, we can say that Italian pizza cooks faster.

Q. Is Italian Pizza Generally More Expensive Than American Pizza?

The cost depends on the availability of the ingredients and their prices. American pizza usually requires cheaper and more available ingredients while Italian pizza needs authentic fresh ingredients. So Italian pizza is more expensive than American pizza.

Q. What Is Milan-Style Pizza?

Milan-style pizza is covered with melted mozzarella cheese over tomato sauce and it is baked like a souffle.

Q. What Is Napoli-Style Pizza?

Napoli-style pizza takes its name from the place where it originated, Naples, Italy. Napoli-style pizza is cooked with a simple yeast dough, crushed tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and basil leaves.

Q. What Is a Roman-Style Pizza Called?

Roman-style pizza is a rectangular or square-shaped pizza consisting of pizza dough, sauce, cheese, and various toppings. It is called a Roman-style pizza because it originated in Rome, Italy.

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