Ready to bring the heat to your next pizza night? This hot honey pizza is topped with pepperoni, hot peppers, shredded mozzarella, tangy goat cheese crumbles, and is finished with a glorious homemade hot honey drizzle.
Homemade hot honey pizza takes just a few minutes to make on a baking steel, and you can prep all the toppings while the oven preheats!
Thank you so much to Local Hive™ Honey for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own. And thank YOU so much for supporting the businesses who support The Practical Kitchen! Use Code 15TPK for 15% off purchases at Shop.LocalHiveHoney.com through 12/31/2022.
About This Recipe
My first hot honey pizza experience was the "bee sting" pizza at Roberta's Culver City location in Los Angeles. We didn't even mean to order it; we were a large group and when the waitress dropped it off at our table we were several slices in and marveling at how good it was before we realized none of us had actually ordered it. (I regret nothing!)
The combination of sweet honey, crispy pizza dough, salty cheese, and spicy meat was a revelation. The flavors balanced each other out, the sweet, classic honey flavor smoothing over the slowly building heat with every bite.
In the years since that transformative hot honey pizza experience, I've gone to pastry school and honed my skills as a home pizza maker, baking up tons of unique pizza recipes. So you bet I've developed my own version of a hot honey pizza.
Where Roberta's uses a plain honey on an otherwise hot pizza, I prefer to use an actual hot honey — a hot honey I make from scratch using Local Hive™ Honey's Clover Honey Blend, as will you when you make this recipe! (don't worry, it's easy!) — and I like to add tangy, crumbly goat cheese as well as fresh, thinly sliced Fresno peppers.
Instead of soppressata, I go for a classic pepperoni; it's a little more versatile especially if I'm making other types of pizza that night, and I use a shredded mozzarella instead of fresh because I prefer the way it melts.
If you're not sure if you can handle the heat of this hot honey pizza, there's no shame in that! It took me ages to build up a tolerance for even medium-mild heat, and I generally err on the side of more mild than truly hot when developing recipes.
I've got notes below (see "substitutions & variations") for how to make an extra mild version of this pizza that still has the tiniest bit of lingering warmth.
Why make your own hot honey? Store bought hot honeys often have added vinegar and things like that, and I don't love the flavor vinegar adds to them. I prefer flavor-based heat, not vinegar-based heat. Using a high quality honey with a robust flavor and flavoring it with dried chile peppers is the best way to do that.
The real perk of making your own hot honey from scratch is that you get to control how hot is is. I recommend anywhere from four to eight dried arbol chiles, but if you're really not sure, start by using just two, or even one the first time you make it.
Here are the ingredients that you'll need to make a homemade hot honey pizza! See recipe card for quantities.
- Pizza Dough - I used my overnight thin crust pizza dough recipe here, as usual. You can use any pizza dough you like, but you will get better results with a homemade pizza dough that has a longer rise time because the gluten has more time to relax so it can be stretched thinner, which will bake up crispier.
- Local Hive™ Honey Clover Blend - Local Hive™ Honey's Clover honey blend is 100% raw and unfiltered which allows the smooth, sweet classic all-American honey flavors to shine when paired with the heat from the arbol chiles. I've been a fan of Local Hive™ Honey since long before I ever partnered with them on this recipe; their mission of partnering with beekeepers across the United States to create honey that preserves the flavors unique to each region is just super cool, but the fact that their honey genuinely tastes amazing is the best part. (Use code 15TPK for 15% off your orders at LocalHiveHoney.com through 12/31/2022!)
- Arbol Chiles - Dried arbol chiles. You can usually find these in the "International" aisle at the grocery store. The more chiles you use, the hotter your hot honey will be. Be careful when handling them — wash your hands well immediately after so the capsaicin (the spicy stuff in hot peppers!) doesn't have time to get into all the nooks and crannies of your fingertips.
- Pizza Sauce - This is the same base pizza sauce I used in my supreme pizza recipe. You can use any uncooked store bought pizza sauce you like (I don't recommend using a marinara sauce, for example), but I usually use my super simple pizza sauce which uses the following ingredients:
- Tomato Sauce - Unsalted, a small can (6 oz) is fine.
- Garlic Clove - Just one is plenty, but if you're a garlic girl you can use two.
- Salt - I use Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt which half as salty as other brands. If you're using a different brand of salt, even a different brand of kosher salt, cut the amount of salt in half to start, and only add more if it needs it.
- Oregano & Basil - Dried works best, but finely minced fresh herbs can also add a nice touch.
- Hot Honey Pizza Toppings - The toppings for hot honey pizzas can vary; some people like to use spicy sopressata, others use fresh mozzarella, it's really up to you what combination you like best. I've gone ahead and used my favorite hot honey pizza toppings because this is my recipe, but you can definitely mix things up based on your preferences!
- Mozzarella Cheese - Low-moisture whole milk mozzarella cheese that you grate by hand is the best melty cheese for pizza. That said, if you can't or don't want to grate cheese by hand, pre-shredded is fine. Just make sure it's low-moisture AND whole milk for the best melt!
- Goat Cheese Crumbles - The goat cheese you buy already crumbled in a tub melts best without spreading out too much. This is one of the few times I will tell you NOT to use fresh homemade goat cheese or a goat cheese log; it turns your pizza into soup!
- Fresno Pepper - These mild hot peppers look like red jalapeños but have a milder heat. They can be a bit hard to find, depending on the season, but I'm usually able to find them reliably at Whole Foods year round.
- Pepperoni - Classic pepperoni, pepperoni cups, or spicy pepperoni, it's up to you what kind of pepperoni you like best.
- Powdered Pecorino Romano or Parmesan Cheese - No classic pizza pie is complete without a dusting of finely grated (powdered) cheese. Pecorino Romano is my favorite, but any pecorino or parmesan cheese will do.
How to Make Hot Honey
Making hot honey from scratch is super simple — you're really just infusing honey with heat and flavor from some dried chiles.
That said, there are a few things you want to be careful of in the process to make sure you're preserving the quality, flavor, and consistency of the honey.
- Use a high quality honey from a reputable source. That's why I useLocal Hive™ Honey.
- Bring the honey to a simmer, but do not boil it and definitely do not microwave the honey.
- Only use dried chiles; the moisture in fresh chile peppers gets a bit weird with the sugar.
- The longer the peppers are in the honey before you strain them out, the hotter the honey will be.
- The more peppers you use to infuse the honey, the hotter the honey will be.
- For an extra kick, add a pinch of cayenne or red pepper flakes to the pot when you add the honey.
The first step is to crack the dried chile peppers into the pot. Toast them in a bare sauce pot just until you start to smell them. Stir frequently so they don't burn — just a minute or so!
(This step is technically optional, but encourages the dried peppers to start releasing their oils before you add the honey.)
Add the honey to the toasted chile peppers over low-medium heat. When it starts to bubble around the edges, remove it from the heat and let it sit for at least 10 minutes to infuse.
Use a wire mesh strainer to strain the chile peppers out of the honey and into a jar or container. The honey will be more liquid at this stage, but will regain the syrupy honey consistency as it cools.
Let the honey cool for at least 20-30 minutes before drizzling it over the pizza. Just like when you make homemade hot sauce, it's hard to tell how hot the flavors are until it's cool.
I recommend making the hot honey while your baking steel is preheating. This will give you enough time to make the hot honey and let it cool; it will be ready just as the pizza is coming out of the oven!
You can also make this homemade hot honey in advance. Store it in an airtight container at room temperature and it will stay good for up to 6 months!
How to Hand Stretch Pizza Dough
To get the signature bubbly crust and crispy bottom of this homemade supreme pizza, you'll want to hand stretch your pizza dough.
Pre-shaping before you stretch is key to getting a perfectly round pizza dough. I've written all about how to do this in my guide to hand stretching pizza dough so head there for more detail.
As always, make sure you use plenty of flour, let gravity do most of the work, and always stretch on the backs of your hands so that you don't poke through the dough!
If at any time the dough seems like it's going to tear or it's fighting you and doesn't want to stretch, let it rest for a few minutes (even just 60 seconds!) on the counter.
Dust a pizza peel with semolina flour and plop your stretched pizza dough on top. It's now ready for sauce and toppings!
Why semolina flour? Semolina flour is coarser and rounder than all purpose flour and will help your pizza slide off the peel and onto the baking steel easily. This is a tip I picked up from Andris, the founder of the Baking Steel company. He uses a 50/50 blend of all purpose and semolina flours, but I find I prefer just the semolina.
Hot Honey Pizza Assembly
Start by preheating the baking steel in the oven at 500F for about an hour.
Make sure you have all of your pizza topping ingredients and hot honey made and ready to go before you start stretching the pizza dough. Dust your pizza peel with semolina flour (or use parchment paper) to make sure the pizza dough can slide off it easily.
Once your pizza dough is stretched, work quickly and efficiently to get it on the pizza peel and add the toppings so that the dough doesn't have time to stick to the peel.
Spread the pizza sauce on the dough with the back of a spoon, then top with mozzarella cheese.
Add the rest of your hot honey pizza toppings — pepperoni, Fresno peppers, and goat cheese.
Why do you spread pizza sauce with the back of a spoon? The curved back of the spoon glides gently over the delicate pizza dough. Because the edges of the spoon are curved away from the dough, they won't catch or tear it the way a knife or spatula would!
Don't go overboard with the goat cheese — even with the crumbles, too much goat cheese will turn the top of your pizza into a soup!
Finish by covering your hot honey pizza with a medium-to-generous dusting of finely grated Pecorino Romano or parmesan cheeses. Pecorino Romano is my favorite, but parmesan works too.
Pro-tip: Get some of that finishing cheese on the crust, too! It's so delicate it melts right onto the thin crust and gives it a really nice flavor.
I'm one of those people who loves eating the pizza crusts, so if I can add some cheesy flavor to it — that's a win.
Baking & Topping With Hot Honey
Once your hot honey pizza is loaded up with toppings, give it a little shimmy back and forth on the pizza peel to make sure it isn't stuck. If any parts seem to be sticking, carefully lift them up and dust additional semolina flour underneath.
Launch the pizza onto the steel.
- Place the tip of the pizza peel an inch or two in front of the back edge of the steel.
- Lift the handle of the peel up slightly at about a 20 degree angle.
- In a quick movement, thrust the peel forward about an inch, then immediately pull it back and out of the oven, keeping the tip of the peel on the steel the whole time as the pizza slides off.
Bake for about 2-3 minutes, then use the peel to help rotate the pizza and bake 2-3 minutes more.
To finish, broil the pizza for 1-2 minutes, until the cheese and crust are as browned as you like. Then remove from the oven with the peel.
Note: Broilers are VERY hot and their power can vary widely from oven to oven. Once you switch to broiling, check on your pizza every 30 seconds to make sure it doesn't burn!
Every oven is different, but pizza does cook quickly — after the first 5 minutes on the steel, the pizza dough will be cooked through.
What you're really looking at to determine if it's "done" is the browning on the crust and cheese. Some of that comes down to personal preference!
As soon as the pizza comes out of the oven, top with thinly sliced fresh basil and drizzle generously with your homemade hot honey.
Substitutions and Variations
The best thing about making any type of pizza is you can really customize the toppings to suit your personal preference. Here's some suggestions for how you might adjust this hot honey pizza!
- Roberta's Bee Sting Pizza (Copycat) - Whether or not Roberta's was the first to make a hot honey pizza, it has undeniably been the driving force behind its popularity. Roberta's Bee Sting pizza uses fresh mozzarella, olive oil, red pepper flakes, thinly sliced soppressata, pelati (a very speicific type of tomato sauce), and a drizzle of plain honey to finish.
- Extra Mild Hot Honey Pizza - Remove the seeds and ribs from the Fresno peppers and wait to add hot honey until after the pizza is sliced. People who want hot honey can use hot honey, anyone who doesn't want the added heat from the honey can use plain honey.
- Extra Spicy Hot Honey Pizza - Leave the seeds and ribs in the Fresno peppers, use spicy pepperoni, and add a pinch of cayenne to the hot honey infusion.
- Deluxe Hot Honey Pizza - Add ham cubes, sausage crumbles, crispy bacon, green hot peppers, thinly sliced fresh tomatoes, and/or or sub in fresh mozzarella instead of shredded. Don't add a third type of cheese; use the fresh mozzarella to replace either the shredded mozzarella or the goat cheese crumbles.
Remember: Pizza toppings should always be pre-cooked (or ready-to-eat) before adding to your pizza!
- Pizza Steel - I use the Original Baking Steel (note: I bought my Baking Steel with my own money but love it so much I became part of their affiliate program; use code TPK10 for 10% off!) to make all of my pizzas. A pizza stone will also work if that's all you've got, but it may take slightly longer to cook.
- Pizza Peel - A wooden pizza peel is the best tool for getting your pizza in and out of the oven. If you don't have a pizza peel, an upside down sheet pan will work for sliding it on to the steel. To remove it from the oven without a peel, use tongs (gently) or two spatulas to slide it off of the stone and onto a sheet pan.
- Pizza Cutter - You'll want a good, sharp pizza cutter to slice through all the toppings on a supreme pizza. There are plenty of trendy, unique pizza cutter designs out there but you really can't beat one like Winco's 4" pizza cutter which is less than $10 and was designed for restaurants and the food service industry. If style is as important to you as functionality, however, Mercer Culinary makes a great pizza cutter with a "millennial purple" handle.
- Honey Wand - A honey wand is one of the neatest and cleanest ways to drizzle honey over your pizza. Hold it horizontally and twirl it and the honey will stay neat and tidy in the grooves of the bulb at the end. Switch to holding it vertically and the honey will drip off the end in a delicate ribbon, perfect for drizzling.
Because of all the toppings, homemade hot honey pizza is best same day, eaten as soon as possible after it comes out of the oven. (Don't burn your mouth!)
That said, you can wrap any leftover hot honey pizza slices in foil or plastic wrap and store them in the fridge for about 3-4 days.
Reheat day-old or cold pizza in a dry skillet over medium heat, or on a foil-lined baking sheet in the oven at 350F for 10-15 minutes (or until the cheese is melted again). Keep an eye on it — the honey has sugar in it, you don't want it to burn!
Practical Tips and Recipe Notes
- Once you add the sauce, you'll want to work quickly to add the toppings and get the pizza into the oven. The longer the pizza sits on the peel with the moisture from the sauce and the weight of the toppings, the more likely it is to stick to the peel!
- Store bought pizza dough has LOTS of yeast in it to help it stay active longer. I really don't recommend using it as it's almost impossible to get a truly thin and crispy crust with it. If you DO use store bought pizza dough, you'll want to divide it in half or thirds when you get home, pre-shape it into balls, and let it rise in the fridge (if not using immediately) or at room temperature if using within an hour or so.
- IMPORTANT: If you're using a pizza peel without parchment paper peel, give the assembled pizza a few good shimmies back and forth on it to make sure the dough isn't stuck. If it is, gently pick up the stuck edge and dust some semolina flour under it.
I haven't tested any other methods, so can't tell you precisely how to do this. There are plenty of resources online that can guide you through the process. Look for instructions that use a high temperature (475F+) and a short cooking time for best results.
After it comes out of the oven. There's so much sugar in honey, you don't want it spending so much time in the oven at such a high heat. There is a bit of a debate as to whether or not you should drizzle the honey before or after slicing the pizza, but to that I say: "Why not both?" I do one drizzle as soon as the pizza comes out of the oven, and then usually a second personal drizzle over the slice of pizza on my plate. But you do you!
Hot Honey Pizza
- 6 ounces Local Hive™️ Honey Clover Blend
- 4-8 dried arbol chiles (depending on how hot you want it)
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne (extra spicy!)
- 6 ounces salt-free tomato sauce
- 1 clove garlic
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon dried basil
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- Preheat oven with baking steel at 500°F for 1 hour prior to baking. Remove pizza dough from fridge (if refrigerated) and allow to come to room temperature at least 30 minutes prior to stretching.
Homemade Hot Honey
- In a small, 1 quart sauce pot crack dried arbol chiles in half to release the seeds. Toast pods and seeds until lightly fragrant over low-medium heat for about 60-90 seconds, stirring frequently to prevent burning.
- Add the Local Hive™️ Honey Clover Blend (and ground cayenne, optional) and cook, swirling occasionally until the honey is just starting to bubble around the edges. Remove from heat immediately and let sit for 10 minutes.
- Pour the honey through a wire mesh strainer into a glass jar or container and let cool to room temperature before use.
Prep Hot Honey Pizza Toppings
- Make the pizza sauce. Combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of a mini food processor and blitz on high speed until well combined.
- Slice the peppers. Thinly slice the Fresno pepper into rounds. For less heat, remove the seeds and ribs before slicing.
- Grate the cheese. Use the large holes of a box grater to grate the mozzarella cheese.
- Thinly slice fresh basil. Stack a few basil leaves on top of each other and roll them into a log. Slice thin and unfurl for thin ribbons. NOTE: Wait to do this while the pizza is in the oven. But you may want to get the basil out now so you don't forget about it!
Hot Honey Pizza Assembly
- Lightly dust a wooden pizza peel with semolina flour.
- Hand stretch pizza dough. Stretch the pizza dough into a round about 10-16" in size, depending on how thick you want it or the size of your dough ball. (See: How to Hand Stretch Pizza Dough.)
- Sauce it. Use the back of a metal spoon to spread the pizza sauce almost all the way to the crust. You don't need as much sauce as you think — start with two spoonfuls, and add more only as needed.
- Cheese and toppings. Add the mozzarella cheese, top with pepperoni, Fresno peppers, and goat cheese crumbles. Finish with a dusting of finely grated pecorino romano cheese.
Hot Honey Pizza Baking
- Shimmy. Give the supreme pizza a shimmy on the wooden pizza peel to make sure that no parts of the crust have stuck. Dust additional flour underneath any stuck spots if needed.
- Launch. Open the oven and line up the tip of the pizza peel with the back of the steel. Tilt it at an angle (20° or so) and give it a quick thrust to help the pizza begin sliding off. As the pizza slides, pull the peel straight back, keeping the tip of the peel on the steel, depositing the pizza on to the hot surface to begin cooking.
- Bake. Bake the pizza for 2-3 minutes, then use the pizza peel to rotate it in place on the steel so it cooks evenly. Bake 2-3 minutes more, then broil for 1 minute or until as browned as you like. Remove from the oven.
- Basil & Hot Honey Drizzle. Top immediately with fresh basil and a drizzle of the cooled homemade hot honey. Slice and serve with both hot honey and plain honey on the side to allow guests to further customize the heat and sweetness of their pizzas!
- Once cooled, hot honey can be stored in an airtight container for up to 6 months.
- This pizza sauce recipe makes enough sauce for 3-4 medium 10-15" pizzas. Topping quantities provided are for 1 medium pizza.
- If the cheese is too soft to grate, pop it in the freezer for 10-15 minutes prior to grating.
- Once the pizza has sauce on top of it, don't let it sit too long on the peel. The longer it sits, the more likely it will get stuck! You don't need to rush like you're in a pit crew, but try to get the pizza toppings on and the pizza in the oven in less than 10 minutes.
- If you're nervous about the heat of the hot honey, you can use as few as just one arbol chile for the most mild heat. In that case, you may want to let it infuse for even longer, at least 20 minutes, before straining it.