Topping a thick-crust pizza with bread crumbs might sound like a strange idea, but it really is the crispy, cheesy secret sauce behind this Sicilian Christmas Pizza. Well, that and the actual sauce of onion and anchovies--ingredients you might want to keep secret from guests. Also key is the extremely sticky dough, which bakes into a feather-light, spongy crust that contrasts perfectly with the crumbly topping. Garnish with the customary dried oregano if desired.

Recipe Summary

25 mins
1 hr 5 mins
1 hr 30 mins
3 hrs
1 large pizza


Original recipe yields 12 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified
For the Dough:
For the Sauce:
For the Crumb Topping:
For the Pizza:


Instructions Checklist
  • Pour warm water into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Sprinkle yeast on top and let bloom. Add salt, sugar, olive oil, and flour. Knead, scraping down sides as necessary, until dough is very elastic and sticky, 6 to 7 minutes. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 90 minutes.

  • Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and salt. Saute, stirring occasionally, until onions soften, sweeten, and turn translucent, 6 or 7 minutes. Add red pepper flakes, black pepper, tomato paste, oregano, and anchovies; mix until anchovies dissolve. Add marinara sauce, rinse out the container with water, and add the water. Stir and let simmer on medium-low heat until flavors come together, about 20 minutes.

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

  • Combine bread crumbs and Pecorino Romano cheese in a bowl; toss together with a fork. Add the reserved anchovy oil and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Mix until bread crumbs are well moistened.

  • Generously coat a rimmed 13x18-inch sheet pan with up to 3 tablespoons olive oil. Oil your hands and turn dough out onto pan. Pull, stretch, and press it to the sides of the pan, pausing to let dough rest whenever it shrinks back too quickly.

  • Spoon sauce over the dough and spread up to about 1/2 inch from the edges. Add mozzarella and provolone cheeses. Sprinkle bread crumb mixture evenly on top; do not press down. Drizzle remaining olive oil on top.

  • Bake in the preheated oven until pizza is well browned is bottom is cooked, about 35 minutes. Bake for as as long as you can without the crumbs on top burning so that the crust cooks as much as possible.

  • Slide pizza onto a cooling rack to prevent the bottom from getting soggy. Transfer to a cutting board once cooled.

Chef's Notes:

Add any tomato sauce you prefer. For best results, sauce should be highly seasoned.

I'm not claiming any kind of authenticity here as I didn't use casciocavallo, the traditional cheese for this pizza, so feel free to use whatever melty cheeses you like for the topping.

If bottom gets soggy, pizza slices can be reheated in a dry pan, which will crisp up the crust nicely.

Nutrition Facts

444 calories; protein 14.7g 29% DV; carbohydrates 50.5g 16% DV; fat 20.1g 31% DV; cholesterol 22.9mg 8% DV; sodium 780.2mg 31% DV. Full Nutrition

Reviews (7)

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Most helpful positive review

Rating: 5 stars
Fantastic! This is a unique pizza that everyone loves (well, maybe except picky kids). Make sure you follow the instructions exactly. The anchovy really makes this pop. I don’t like anchovies. I used them anyways. It was awesome. Read More
10 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 9
  • 4 star values: 1
  • 3 star values: 0
  • 2 star values: 0
  • 1 star values: 0
Rating: 5 stars
Fantastic! This is a unique pizza that everyone loves (well, maybe except picky kids). Make sure you follow the instructions exactly. The anchovy really makes this pop. I don’t like anchovies. I used them anyways. It was awesome. Read More
Rating: 5 stars
Unique and delicious! Read More
Rating: 5 stars
This is a really good traditional sfincione recipe. It is very similar to the one my Nana from Sicily made us. She would add pieces of anchovies to the top and sprinkle the topping with oregano. My Nana would make huge batches of this and put it in her warmer for the entire family to snack on all day before our Christmas eve feast. Just smelling it cook brought me back to my childhood. Read More
Rating: 5 stars
I made it! It was delicious. The ingredients list doesn t say how much honey you need but step 1 says add honey. So I just added 1tb. Read More
Rating: 4 stars
We did not care for the breadcrumb topping but this crust was so fabulous it has become my go-to sheet pan pizza dough recipe. It make a very large pizza and is great for sharing with guests. Cooling the pizza on the wire rack ensures the crust stays crispy and shouldn't be skipped! Read More
Rating: 5 stars
Made this and it was just as delicious as Chef John said it was. I will definitely make this again. Thanks. It was super easy. Read More
Rating: 5 stars
This was delicious and fun to make! I made a bit less dough and mixed by hand as opposed to using an electric mixer. I made this for a party and everyone loved it. Read More