BBQ Chicken Sheet Pan Pizza

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What about BBQ chicken for your next pizza?! This recipe uses leftover cooked chicken and balances sweetness with heat with a hickory BBQ sauce. Press the dough into the pan, add the toppings, and you’re good to go!

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Photography Credit: Aaron Hutcherson

BBQ chicken pizza is practically a certified American classic. It was first invented by Ed LaDou for California Pizza Kitchen in the 1980s. (Previously, LaDou was the pizza chef at Wolfgang Puck’s Spago, where he invented the now-famous smoked salmon pizza.)

That original version featured barbecue sauce and chicken (duh) along with mozzarella, smoked Gouda, red onion, and a sprinkle of cilantro after it came out of the oven.

CPK BBQ Chicken Pizza Copycat

CPK BBQ Chicken Pizza Copycat

How to Make Sheet Pan BBQ Chicken Pizza

This sheet pan recipe is fairly similar to the original except I pare it down to one cheese and skip the cilantro in favor of thinly sliced jalapeño, which I think is the key to making the pizza really shine. All of this goes on a thin crust that gets baked to a nice golden crisp.

For the dough, I took the lazy route and picked up a pre-made ball from the freezer section of the grocery store, but you could also make a half batch of our no-knead pizza dough recipe that’s practically just as easy. (If you buy it frozen from the grocery store, be sure to let it thaw in the fridge overnight.)

I also threw a rotisserie chicken in my basket while buying the other ingredients since I didn’t have any leftover shredded chicken on hand, but you could certainly use leftover chicken if you have it or poach your own.

What BBQ Sauce to Use?

When it came to what barbecue sauce to use for this pizza, I opted for a hickory sauce (for its smokiness) since I wanted to give it as much “barbecue” flavor as possible. I used Hunt’s, but feel free to use whatever brand of barbecue sauce you like the best—or make your own!

Homemade BBQ Chicken Pizza Recipe

Homemade BBQ Chicken Pizza Recipe

How to Work with Sheet Pan Pizza Dough

This particular recipe is mostly assembly, which makes it a great way to easily get dinner on the table.

The step where you want to pay attention is in spreading the dough in the pan—you want to be very gentle and take your time so as not to tear the dough. (Even if you do, you can always just pinch it back together.)

Dough also gets fussy to work with if it’s too hot or too cold, so make sure it’s at room temperature to get the best results. Even so, it’ll take some coaxing to get it to reach the edges of the pan and will likely spring back a little, but the pizza dough will relax as time goes on.

If it’s being extremely difficult, cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for a few minutes while you prep the other ingredients before finishing stretching it in the pan.

California Pizza Kitchen BBQ Chicken Pizza

California Pizza Kitchen BBQ Chicken Pizza

How to Top Your Sheet Pan Pizza

After that, it’s time to top the pizza. I toss the chicken with the barbecue sauce to make sure it stays moist. As for the cheese and other ingredients, I like to sprinkle cheese both under and over the other toppings so that everything sort of fuses together. (You can certainly top the pizza however you see fit, but this is my preference.)

Lastly, I think the sliced jalapeño adds a nice spiciness that complements the sweetness and smokiness of the barbecue sauce. If you are severely against spice, then I suppose you could omit this ingredient. Or if you’re a heat seeker, add even more!

California Pizza Kitchen BBQ Chicken Pizza

California Pizza Kitchen BBQ Chicken Pizza

Want More Great Sheet Pan Recipes?

BBQ Chicken Sheet Pan Pizza Recipe

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If your dough is store-bought or has been refrigerated for a long time, set out on the counter for at least 30 minutes to bring it to room temperature to make it easier to work with.

If you don’t have leftover chicken or a rotisserie chicken to make this recipe, quickly poach a few chicken breasts following this method.

Optional topping: It’s not a favorite of mine, but some people like pineapple on a pizza like this.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound pizza dough, store-bought or homemade, room temperature (See Recipe Note)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups cooked shredded chicken
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce, such as Hunt’s Hickory BBQ Sauce
  • 6 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 jalapeño, thinly sliced

Method

1 Preheat the oven to 450ºF. Place a rack in the lowest position.

2 Stretch the dough onto the baking sheet: Place the dough in the center of the baking sheet and drizzle with the oil. Turn the dough to coat it well, spreading some of the oil over the baking sheet.

Gradually stretch the dough until it reaches the edges of the baking sheet, being careful not to rip any holes in the dough. If it springs back or is difficult to stretch, this usually means that the dough is too cold. To remedy the situation, cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes before continuing.

How to Make BBQ Chicken Pizza stretch the dough

3 Top the pizza: Mix together the shredded chicken and barbecue sauce in a bowl, then spread evenly over the pizza dough, leaving a little bit of a border around the pizza.

Sprinkle evenly with two-thirds of the cheese, scatter the red onion and then the jalapeño, and then sprinkle with the remaining cheese. (I like to have cheese both under and over the toppings, but you can assemble it however you choose.)

How to Make BBQ Chicken Pizza add the chickenCalifornia Pizza Kitchen BBQ Chicken Pizza add the red onionPizza with BBQ Chicken add the second layer of cheese

4 Bake the pizza: Set the pan on lowest shelf of the oven and bake until the cheese melts and the pizza is golden brown, about 15 minutes. Cut into squares and serve hot.

Pizza with BBQ Chicken bake the pizza

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Aaron Hutcherson

Aaron or “Hutch” is the blogger behind The Hungry Hutch, which features a delicious variety of savory and sweet recipes. He grew up in the Midwest, but has called New York City home for nearly a decade.

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