For this vegan caramelized onion pizza, the wow factor comes from shiitake mushroom “bacon.”
Caramelized onion pizza, often called pizza Niçoise, is a classic, for good reason — it’s incredibly delicious, with little further embellishment.
You can make almost anything taste (and smell) like bacon with just a few ingredients, and spare the poor animal. And even if these preparations don’t exactly remind you of bacon, the flavor and aroma are addictive in their own right — sweet, salty, and smoky. Anything you add your faux bacon to will be that much better.
My favorite ingredient to “baconize” is shiitake mushrooms! Their mouth feel and texture are so appealing. Once you make them for this pizza, you’ll want to make them again and again for other uses. They’re great in sandwiches and wraps, and used as a topping for simple pasta and grain dishes.
Use your favorite all-natural prepared crust if you don’t make your own (I don’t; too lazy!). For this recipe, you’ll need one 12- to 14-inch round crust or two large rectangular flatbread crusts (about 12 by 6 inches each).
For this vegan caramelized onion pizza, I use Top This!® flatbread crusts. These pre-grilled crusts are thin and crispy (my personal preference), and the grill marks give them extra eye appeal.
Thick, bread-y crusts are quite comforting and yummy, but my stomach doth protest too much. For me, pizza is more about letting the toppings shine. But feel free use thick crust if that’s your preference.
Of course, you can also use cauliflower crust, which is a fantastic option for this recipe.
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce or liquid aminos
- 1 tablespoon neutral vegetable oil
- 5 to 6 ounces sliced fresh shiitake mushrooms
- 1 teaspoon barbecue seasoning (mesquite, smoky maple, or other; see Note)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 medium onions, quartered and thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 cups vegan mozzarella or pepper jack shreds, or a combination (I like Daiya)
- 12-to 14-inch pizza crust or two large flatbread pizza crusts
- For the shiitake bacon, combine the syrup, sauce and oil in a medium skillet. Stir to combine.
- When the mixture start to bubble, add the shiitakes and stir to coat. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until they begin to brown and get crisp here and there, about 8 minutes.
- Sprinkle in the seasoning, and stir quickly to distribute. Cook for another minute or two over low heat, then remove from the heat and set aside.
- At this point, begin to heat the oven to the temperature suggested on the packaging of the crust you’re using. Usually, it’s 425º F or 450º F.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet or stir-fry pan. Add the onions and cook slowly over low heat until soft and very lightly browned, stirring often. This should take about 15 minutes.
- Sprinkle the vegan cheese evenly over the surface of the crust or crusts, followed by the caramelized onions, and finally, the shiitakes.
- Refer to the packaging from the crust to see what the recommended baking method is — on a pan, a pizza stone, or right on the oven’s shelves.
- Bake in the fully heated oven until the cheese is well melted and crust is golden brown on the bottom. Once again, refer to the packaging from the crust to get a sense of recommended time. Remember that each oven is a bit different so keep your eyes on those pies and don’t let them burn!
- Remove from the oven and let stand for a minute or so, then cut into wedges or sections to serve.
Variation: If you don’t care to make your own shiitake bacon, use a prepared vegan bacon product like Fakin’ Bacon. I’d say about 5 or 6 strips would be about right; chop them into small pieces and cook on a lightly oiled skillet until browned and crisp on most sides.
Another variation: Use about a half cup of chopped black olives instead of the shiitake bacon.
A note about the barbecue seasoning: You’ll find these kinds of seasoning blends in the spice section of supermarkets. They add a bold flavor note, even in small amounts. There are several varieties including mesquite, smoky maple, and just plain barbecue. They're all good!
If you like this pizza, you might also enjoy …
Our entire collection of vegan pizzas
Thanks to Top This!® for sending samples to The Vegan Atlas. This is NOT a sponsored post. We love to tell our readers about products that will make their plant-based life easier and more delicious. Check their store locator to see if this product is available near you.