Sicilian Christmas Pizza (Sfincione)


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.

Prep Time:
25 mins
Cook Time:
1 hrs 5 mins
Additional Time:
1 hrs 30 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs
1 large pizza


For the Dough:

  • 2 cups warm water (100 to 110 degrees F (40 to 45 degrees C))

  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast

  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon white sugar

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 4 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour, or more as needed

For the Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 large yellow onions, diced

  • salt to taste

  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 9 oil-packed anchovy fillets, drained and 1 tablespoon oil reserved

  • 1 ½ cups marinara sauce

  • ¼ cup water

For the Crumb Topping:

  • ¾ cup fine plain dry bread crumbs

  • 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese

  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided

For the Pizza:

  • 3 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese

  • 3 ounces shredded aged provolone cheese


  1. 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.

  2. 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.

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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

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

    close up view of a square slice of Sicilian Christmas Pizza on a white plate
    Chef John

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 (per serving)

444 Calories
20g Fat
51g Carbs
15g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 12
Calories 444
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 20g 26%
Saturated Fat 6g 29%
Cholesterol 23mg 8%
Sodium 780mg 34%
Total Carbohydrate 51g 18%
Dietary Fiber 3g 11%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 15g
Vitamin C 3mg 16%
Calcium 259mg 20%
Iron 4mg 19%
Potassium 276mg 6%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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