Sourdough Focaccia Pizza

by Erin

A fluffy sourdough focaccia pizza crust is topped with pizza sauce, melty cheese, cup and char pepperoni, fresh basil, and a drizzle of hot honey.

Focaccia Crust Pepperoni Pizza

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Up until the last couple of years, I never liked thick crust pizza. Mostly because my exposure was limited to Pizza Hut’s deep dish pan crust which I found to be oily and stale tasting – granted that was in the early 90s so I cannot report how it compares to the current times. I stuck to hand tossed or thin crust for the majority of the first 30 years of my life.

What is Columbus-style pizza?

My love of thin crust came in handy when I first moved to Columbus in 2003 and met their crunchy, thin, pepperoni-loaded, square-cut (aka party-cut or tavern-cut) pizza slices. But despite all the flak Columbus-style pizza gets nationally for it’s cracker-like crust, according to a book about Columbus pizza history one of the best nationally recognized pepperoni brands (and family-owned), Ezzo Sausage, is also made here! Even Alton Brown gives it his stamp of approval.

Focaccia Pepperoni Pizza

Of course Columbus pizzerias do not exclusively sell thin crust pizzas, there are plenty of other styles to go around including the more American-traditional hand-tossed triangle-cut slices. In fact, the first pizza served in Columbus was a thicker crust, and recently more varieties have come on the scene including those inspired by Chicago, Detroit, and even Sicily.

The first I had was Detroit-style and that’s the one that turned me over to the dark side of enjoying thicker crust pizza. Compared to my childhood memories, the crust was buttery, crispy on the edges, but also fluffy inside. It kind of reminded me of focaccia. 

Focaccia Pizza Slice

Enter the sourdough focaccia pizza crust.

Fast forward to a year long commitment to my sourdough starter (we’ve been on an off for years but this is our longest running relationship thus far), and I’ve now perfected both focaccia and a focaccia pizza crust. Of course, topped with Ezzo’s cup-and-char pepperoni that I am lucky enough to find at a local grocery called Weiland’s in my neighborhood. Those crispy, thicker pepperonis literally turn into cups and collect little pools of grease (no blotting allowed).

Don’t forget the drizzle of hot honey, a post-oven topping that has also taken Columbus by storm thanks to Paulie Gee’s, that also takes up residence in those cups. I used to drizzle balsamic reduction all over my pizzas, but now I oscillate between that and hot honey. Other favorite post-oven toppings include: fresh basil (pictured here), ricotta, burrata, and fresh greens (especially arugula).

Focaccia Pizza with cup and char pepperoni

Six years ago: Redheads

Seven years ago: Sausage and Egg Breakfast Casserole

Ten years ago: Funfetti Cheesecake Pudding Dump Cake

Focaccia Crust Pepperoni Pizza


Yield: 4 servings Prep Time: Cooking Time:
Nutrition facts: 200 calories 20 grams fat


  • 3/4 cup ripe (fed) sourdough starter*
  • 3/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 1-1/2 tsp instant yeast
  • 3 cups bread flour**
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for pan
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1-1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup pizza sauce
  • 1 cup shredded fresh mozzarella***
  • Pepperoni (preferably cup and char from Ezzo Sausage)
  • Hot honey and fresh basil, for garnish


  1. In a large bowl, combined the starter, water, and yeast in a large mixing bowl. Let sit for 5 minutes or until yeast starts to foam.
  2. To the yeast mixture, add flour, oil, honey, and salt. Mix and knead (by hand or stand mixer) until smooth and elastic. If dry add more water, if too sticky add more flour. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover, and allow to rise for 60 minutes*.
  3. Gently fold the dough over three or four times, and let it rise for another 60 minutes*.
  4. Drizzle about 2 tablespoons olive oil into the center of a large rimmed half sheet baking pan (13x18-inches). Transfer the dough to the pan, and turn it over to coat it with the oil.
  5. Gently stretch the dough into the edges and corners of the pan. As soon as the dough begins to shrink back, cover it, and let it rest for 10-15 minutes. Gently stretch the dough again, repeating the rest once more, if necessary, until the dough fills the pan.
  6. Cover the pan and transfer it to the refrigerator to let the dough rise for 14-16 hours (overnight).
  7. The next day, remove the pan of dough from the refrigerator and preheat the oven to 425°F for 30 minutes with a rack placed on lower third of the oven.
  8. Just before you're ready to bake, gently dimple the dough at irregular intervals with your fingers, pressing down firmly but not abruptly (don't want to deflate too much).
  9. Spread pizza sauce over the top, then sprinkle with cheese, and top with pepperoni.
  10. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until light golden brown and cheese is bubbly.
  11. Remove from the oven. Allow it to cool slightly before topping with hot honey and basil, then slice and serve.


*If your sourdough starter is not very active, add 1-1/2 tsp active dry yeast. Amount of rise may vary based on starter activity. **You can use all-purpose but it's better with bread flour. ***For the true Columbus experience, add a mixture of Provolone and Mozzarella.

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Source: Adapted from King Arthur.

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Tag @THESPIFFYCOOKIE on Instagram and hashtag it #THESPIFFYCOOKIE

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Rita March 30, 2024 - 2:29 pm

If the yeast is in the starter, the first direction is to combine yeast and starter. Maybe some better directions so I can try this recipe out :)

Erin March 31, 2024 - 12:01 pm

Yeast is in the starter, but to help the rise time go faster I add additional yeast. Although I just realized it is missing from the ingredient list. I have fixed that, thanks for letting me know.

Simple Sourdough Ciabatta Rolls Recipe - The Bella Vita February 1, 2024 - 5:42 am

[…] you love sourdough recipes, you should definitely try this sourdough focaccia pizza; it’s a delicious and savory Italian bread that is perfect for […]

Heather September 9, 2023 - 7:44 pm

These directions are really vague. Should the dough be doubling during the 60 minute rise times? Mine didn’t do much rising.

My dough was also really dry when typically focaccia is wet. Some descriptors would be helpful to know what to expect. It’s in the fridge now, so we’ll see what it does. At least pizza dough is forgiving.

Erin September 9, 2023 - 10:48 pm

My apologies for not being more specific. I have added to the directions that I hope are helpful.

With a freshly fed starter you should see visible size increases, but it’s hard to say exactly how much as every starter is different, so maybe not a full doubling.

As for the dryness, it should be smooth and elastic when first formed. If it is not elastic and instead dry more water should be added. After rising in an oiled bowl and coating in oil in the pan it should have even more added moisture. But you are right it is very forgiving, so I have hope!

Heather October 7, 2023 - 8:18 pm

Thank you! The clarifications to the recipe are very helpful.

Robert W Maxwell January 26, 2023 - 4:29 pm

I don’t see a yeast quantity in the recipe?

Erin January 27, 2023 - 11:36 am

Correct, the yeast is already in the sourdough starter ;-)

Radha May 7, 2021 - 9:41 pm

This is a gorgeous pizza. I have sourdough starter sitting in fridge and going to make this weekend. Thanks for the interesting post.

Lynn @ Fresh April Flours May 7, 2021 - 8:18 am

I love ways to use sourdough starter– I might have to put this one my Mother’s Day list!

Karen May 2, 2021 - 6:05 pm

One of the most gorgeous pizzas I’ve ever seen! It’s a great way to use sourdough too.

Erin May 3, 2021 - 4:40 pm

Thanks so much!

Susan April 7, 2021 - 11:48 am

I tend to like thin crust better, also, but recently learned to make Detroit-style crust, which I make with half regular flour and half almond flour. Part of what I like about it is that it is so very easy to work with. I love the idea of sourdough pizza crust, but not sure I’ll ever be able to get on board with dealing with/understanding sourdough.

Erin April 8, 2021 - 9:03 am

I also gravitate towards thinner crusts but it’s fun to try new ones. I’ve not tried almond flour in a crust before I will have to try that.


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