Is Pizza a Pie?

Oh, the never-ending debate that has sparked countless conversations among food lovers: is pizza a pie? It’s a question that has left many pondering the true nature of this beloved culinary creation.

Some argue that with its circular shape, doughy crust, and delicious toppings, it fits the pie category. Others insist that its unique qualities set it apart from traditional pies.

Today, we’re diving into this debate to explore the essence of pizza and its relationship to the world of pies. So, let’s start now!

Defining Pizza and Its Significance


Pizza, as we know it today, originated in the sunbathed alleys of Naples, Italy, where it began as a simple dish for the poor.

Its journey from a street snack to an international sensation reveals much about its character. The original pizza, the Margherita, boasts toppings reminiscent of Italy’s flag colors – red (tomato), white (mozzarella), and green (basil).

Traditionally, a pizza undergoes baking in a wood-fired oven, developing a crispy crust with a slightly chewy texture, and a harmonious melt of cheese and tang of tomato. This simplicity belies its global influence, forging a culinary legacy that transcends cultural barriers.

What Is a Pie? 


You got to know the origin of our significant food – pizza. But what about another main matter of the topic today – a pie?

Pies, with their roots traced back to ancient civilizations, have historically been more about practicality than delicacy. The concept began as a way to preserve meats and other fillings, encased within a sturdy pastry that was often not meant to be eaten.

From the Egyptians to the Greeks and Romans, pies evolved as a means of sustenance that could be easily stored and transported. Fast-forward to medieval England, the pie became a hallmark of feasting, filled with game meats and sweetened with fruits and spices.

Today, the term ‘pie’ carries diverse interpretations depending on the region, ranging from savory, meat-laden dishes to sumptuous fruit-filled desserts, each with a crust that ranges from flaky to crumbly and is integral to the experience.

Is Pizza a Pie?

So, is pizza a pie? Can we always call pizza a pie? In essence, the answer is both yes and no.

On one hand, pizza can be considered a pie, particularly when one focuses on its characteristics rather than its categorization. With a dough that functions similarly to a pie crust and the layering of toppings akin to a pie’s filling, pizza embodies the fundamental aspects of what makes a pie.

Moreover, the term ‘pizza pie’ is anchored in certain American dialects, affirming its place in the cultural context as a pie variant. Therefore, while pizza may diverge from traditional pie forms in its open-faced presentation and specific preparation methods, its essence shares enough with the general concept of a pie to answer in the affirmative.

As I have mentioned, pizza shares many characteristics with traditional pies. It has a crust, and ingredients, and can even be eaten as a handheld food like a pie slice.

However, what sets pizza apart is its key ingredient – tomato sauce. While some pies may call for a tomato-based filling or topping, pizza’s defining feature is the distinct spread of rich tomato sauce that covers the entire surface of its doughy base.

Furthermore, connoisseurs often argue that the combination of cheese and tomato creates a balance of flavors that make it unique from other types of pies. This, coupled with its distinct baking process and shape, has led many to argue that pizza is not a pie but rather a category of its own.

Overall, while pizza may share some similarities with traditional pies, its specific characteristics and cultural significance make it a distinct entity in the culinary world.

Why Is Pizza Called Pie?

The phrase “pizza pie” originated from the cultural and linguistic fusion that took place when Italian immigrants introduced their culinary heritage to the United States during the late 1800s and early 1900s.. In Italian, “pizza” essentially referred to the dish itself, but English speakers often added “pie” because of its round shape and the presence of a doughy crust, elements reminiscent of traditional pies.

Additionally, the word “pie” was more familiar to American palates, making it easier for people to relate to the new dish. Over time, calling pizza a pie became a colloquialism in various American regions, particularly in places like New York, where Italian-American communities were extensive.

This melding of languages and cultures helped cement the use of “pizza pie” in everyday vernacular, giving the beloved dish an enduring dual identity as both a pizza and a pie.

Pizza vs Pie: Same In Shape, Crust, and Ingredients

When investigating whether is pizza a pie, it becomes essential to delve into the similarities in shape, crust, and ingredients that bridge these two beloved dishes.

When considering pizza and pie side by side, it’s apparent that their circular shape and reliance on a crust provide grounds for comparison. Additionally, both can be said to boast a variety of ingredients, creating a rich tapestry of flavors that are as versatile as they are delightful.

1. The Shape

The debate often starts with the unmistakable geometric similarity – both pizza and pie generally flaunt a round shape. This shared characteristic is the foundational argument for the ‘pizza is a pie’ camp.

pizza shape

The circular form is not just about aesthetics; it’s also practical, promoting even heating and cooking. Though pie can also come in rectangles or squares, the classic image of a pie is undeniably round, just like pizza.

pie shape

Yet, while a pie’s contents are confined within its pastry walls, a pizza proudly showcases its toppings on an open face.

2. The Crust

The crust is another arena where pizza and pie can be likened to each other. For pies, the crust ranges from flaky puff pastries to dense, buttery shells, acting as a container for the filling.

pie crust

The pizza crust is fundamentally different – it’s more of a canvas than a container, designed to be crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. It undergoes a specific fermentation process to develop its texture and flavor, which is quite distinct from the preparation of traditional pie crusts.

pizza crust

3. The Ingredients

Ingredients offer a variety of flavors for both pizzas and pies. Pies can be sweet, filled with fruits and sugars, or savory, packed with meats and vegetables.

pie ingredients

Pizzas are typically savory; even when they incorporate unconventional toppings, they seldom cross into the sweetness of a fruit pie. However, they share a commonality in their layering – ingredients on a pizza are spread over the surface, quite like how a pie filling rests within its crust.

pizza ingredients

Despite these overlaps, the specific ingredients’ nature and their role in each dish’s assembly and taste differ greatly, cementing their unique identities in the culinary world.

Pie vs Pizza: Different In Toppings and Pastry

While there are some overlapping characteristics, the way ingredients are utilized and the nature of the crust set pizza and traditional pies apart in fundamental ways. Understanding these differences can clarify why pizza holds a unique place in the culinary landscape, distinct from what we typically define as a pie.

1. In Toppings

When eyeing the toppings, pizza, and pie wear their ingredients very differently.

A pizza is topped with a delightful array of cheeses, meats, sauces, and vegetables. Its canvas is an open stage where each ingredient plays a starring role, contributing to a symphony of flavors in every bite.

pizza toppings

Unlike pie, a pizza’s toppings aren’t hidden; they’re out in the open, inviting you to appreciate the artistry and combination of tastes before you even take that first, irresistible bite.

pie toppings

2. In Pastry

Moving to the pastry, pies sport a diverse wardrobe of crusts that range from light and flaky to dense and crumbly. The pastry encases the fillings, serving as a vessel that turns into a golden, often decorative aspect of the pie once baked.

apple pie

In contrast, the pizza crust is an entirely different beast – its main job is to provide a firm foundation for toppings. Developed through a careful fermentation process, it offers a crunch and chewiness that’s unique to the pizza experience.

pepperoni pizza

While the pie’s pastry is integral to its entire structure and consistency, a pizza’s crust aligns more with the role of a trusty base that complements its heap of toppings.

Can Something Be Considered a Pie Even If It’s Not Traditionally Sweet?

Well, we’ve spent a huge amount of time discovering the question: is pizza a pie? I hope you will grasp more insights and change your mind when looking at this special food.

However, many people still pose the question of whether something can be considered a pie even if it’s not traditionally sweet.

Absolutely! Savory pies are as quintessential as their sweet counterparts, breaking the mold of the traditional dessert pie. In many cuisines around the world, pies are crafted with an array of meats, cheeses, vegetables, and herbs, baked within their crusty confines.

From the Spanish empanada to the Australian meat pie, and the Indian samosa – which can be argued to fall under the broad pie category – these savory treats are a testament to the pie’s versatility across various food cultures.

They challenge the notion that pies are meant just for dessert, embracing their role as a staple in hearty meals, proving that the term ‘pie’ is not confined to sweetness alone.


To conclude, while the question “Is pizza a pie” may still be up for debate, the two share enough characteristics to warrant a closer look at their relationship. They are similar in shape, crust, and ingredients, yet with distinct differences that set them apart.

From their toppings to pastry and beyond, we’ve explored how these beloved dishes differ and what makes each one unique. And while we may never fully settle on an answer, we can appreciate the beauty of both pizza and pie for what they bring to our plates and palates alike.

Whether enveloped in pastry or topped with melted cheese, these dishes will continue to be reimagined and savored by food enthusiasts everywhere. This exploration of their similarities and differences only adds to the rich tapestry of food traditions that enrich our lives and palates.

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