Pizza is often thought of as junk food. But Neapolitan pizza is a different story, with its think, low-calorie crust, few, low-calorie toppings, and relatively little cheese, it’s a fairly healthy option. But how many calories does Neapolitan pizza have?
An entire Neapolitan pizza contains only 700-1000 calories. And it’s made with fresh, quality ingredients. Neapolitan pizza is therefore one of the healthiest types of pizza.
Why Does Neapolitan Pizza Contain so Few Calories?
The main reason Neapolitan pizza has few calories is that it has less cheese, fewer high-calorie toppings, and has a crust made with a lean dough.
The exact number of calories will of course vary depending on the toppings and cheese you’re using. And how much. But all over you’ll find much fewer calories in Neapolitan pizza than most other types of pizza.
Neapolitan Pizza Cheese Calorie
Neapolitan pizza is usually topped with mozzarella cheese. Mozzarella cheese is a high moisture, relatively low-fat cheese, with a milky flavor and creamy consistency. Due to its high moisture and low fat content, mozzarella contains only around 280 kcal / 100g.
A standard size Neapolitan pizza contains around 200 calories worth of mozzarella cheese. Something that’s significantly lower than other types of pizza.
Neapolitan Pizza Sauce Calories
A Neapolitan pizza has around 50 calories of tomato sauce.
Traditional Neapolitan pizza sauce is simple. It’s mainly made from tomatoes, fresh or canned. In addition to olive oil, salt, and basil. The two main calorie sources are tomatoes and olive oil. Since tomatoes are low in calories, around 50% of the calories come from the tomatoes, while the other 50% comes from the olive oil.
For the exact recipe, check out authentic Neapolitan pizza sauce here.
Neapolitan Pizza Dough Calories
A 250g Neapolitan pizza dough contains 550 calories. The main reason Neapolitan pizza dough contains so few calories is that it uses a lean dough.
Neapolitan Pizza Dough is Lean
According to the AVPN (The True Neapolitan Pizza Association), Neapolitan pizza should be made with a lean dough. This means the dough doesn’t contain any oil. Neapolitan pizza dough, therefore, has far lower calories than most pizza doughs, since flour is the only ingredient that contributes to the calorie count.
The reason Neapolitan pizza dough traditionally is made with a lean dough is that you bake the pizza in a blazing hot wood-fired oven. Oil conducts heat well, so by adding oil, the pizza will bake faster. And in an extremely hot oven the pizza is already baking fast enough, so adding oil to the dough will burn the pizza crust.
Adding oil to the dough can however be beneficial if you bake pizza in a cooler oven since it speeds up the baking. But adding oil to the dough will also increase the calorie content significantly (easily 20%, or more depending on how much oil you use).
Another factor that affects the calorie count of your pizza dough is dough hydration. Dough hydration is the amount of water compared to flour in the dough, expressed in percentages, e.g. 60% hydration. With a higher hydration dough, the amount of flour is going to be lower. And since water doesn’t contain any calories, a higher hydration dough is going to contain fewer calories.
In the table below you can see how the calorie content differs at different hydration levels for a lean dough at 250g:
|Neapolitan Pizza Dough Hydration||Calories|
If you want the recipe, check out my easy to follow authentic Neapolitan recipe here.
Pizza Margherita Calories
A classic Pizza Margherita contains only 700-800 calories.
Pizza Margherita only uses the lean pizza dough, with tomato sauce and mozzarellas cheese, in addition to a few leaves of basil. A splash of extra virgin olive oil also sometimes added, to the pizza.
How to Reduce Pizza Calories
The easiest way to reduce the calories of homemade pizza is to use a lean dough, increase the hydration of the dough, use low-fat cheese and pizza sauce, and avoid too many calorie-dense toppings.
Use a Lean Pizza Dough
Fat is the highest calorie ingredient, at 900 kcal per 100g. By using a lean dough, cutting the oil from your dough, you can easily reduce the calorie content by 10-20%.
For Neapolitan pizza, it’s even beneficial to not use any oil. The reason is that oil transfers heat very well. And Neapolitan-style pizza is baked at a high temperature. This will lead to a burnt crust very quickly. You, therefore, want to use a lean dough for Neapolitan-style pizza.
If you make Neapolitan-style pizza at home with a lean dough, you want to bake it as hot as possible. I recommend using a pizza stone or pizza steel, in combination with cranking the oven to the hottest setting. This way you can actually get a pizza that’s just as good as at the pizzerias.
Increase the Hydration of the Dough
Another thing you can do is to increase the hydration of your homemade pizza dough. This simply means increasing the amount of water in the dough, compared to flour. This way you’ll get more dough, without adding calories.
By increasing the hydration, you will also get a lighter, softer crust with larger air bubbles. And a better oven puff. A good starting point is 65% hydration, but you can play with even higher hydration pizza dough.
Click here if you want to know more about Neapolitan pizza dough hydration and how it affects the crust.
User a Low-fat Pizza Sauce
The third thing you should do is to reduce the amount of olive oil in your pizza sauce, or cut it completely. Your pizza sauce can be almost as good without any oil, but I recommend you to use good tomatoes!
Use Less Cheese
Cheese is another calorie contributor. So to lower the calories of your pizza, you should lower the amount of cheese.
A good Neapolitan pizza doesn’t need a ton of cheese, and I actually recommend to not use that much cheese any way.
Another option is making no-cheese pizza. A great example of a no-cheese pizza is Pizza Marinara, which is a classic Neapolitan pizza.
Avoid Calorie Dense Toppings
The least adjustment you want to do is to use fewer, and lower calorie toppings. E.g. salami, pepperoni, and bacon are examples of high calorie toppings that you should avoid or reduce. Try some leaner meat or vegetables.
Compared to other styles of pizza Neapolitan pizza is a low-calorie option. Neapolitan pizza is not junk food, it’s a traditional dish that’s made with fresh, quality ingredients, and the pizza chefs take great pride in. You can therefore enjoy Neapolitan pizza without worrying too much about calories. But like with everything, the key is moderation.