Breakfast pizza, a dish consisting of pizza toppings like eggs, cheese, and meat served on a pizza crust for breakfast, is beloved by many in the Midwest. But is breakfast pizza actually unique to the Midwest, or is it found in other parts of the United States too? Let’s explore the history, popularity, and availability of breakfast pizza across the country.
What is breakfast pizza?
Breakfast pizza is exactly what it sounds like – pizza eaten for breakfast. Unlike traditional pizza though, breakfast pizzas are topped with breakfast foods like eggs, breakfast meats like sausage and bacon, and cheeses. Some popular toppings and add-ins for breakfast pizza are:
- Eggs – Scrambled, over easy, egg whites, etc.
- Cheese – Cheddar, mozzarella, provolone, etc.
- Meats – Sausage, bacon, ham, etc.
- Veggies – Bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, etc.
- Potatoes – Hash browns or tater tots
- Gravy – Sausage or brown gravy
- Fruit – Apples, berries
The crust or base for breakfast pizza is the same as regular pizza – thin crust, thick crust, deep dish, cauliflower crust, etc. Breakfast pizzas can be served on small individual sized crusts or large shareable pizzas.
While traditional pizza is more of an afternoon or evening food, breakfast pizza gives you all the deliciousness of pizza to start your morning. It’s a convenient, portable, and protein-packed breakfast option.
The history of breakfast pizza
Using pizza dough and similar ingredients to make breakfast dishes is not actually a new concept. In medieval times, people would cook flatbreads with eggs and other items on top over their fireplaces and eat them for breakfast. These early pizzas were more rustic and free-form than the modern breakfast pizzas we enjoy today.
Pizza for breakfast became more popular in the 20th century. As pizza itself grew in popularity across the U.S., adding breakfast ingredients on top seemed like an obvious way to enjoy it any time of day.
Breakfast pizza as we know it today originated in the Midwest in the 1970s and 1980s. During this time period, many pizza restaurants and chains tested out breakfast pizza menus and expanded hours to serve breakfast.
One of the first major pizza chains to introduce breakfast pizza was the midwest-based Godfather’s Pizza. The original Godfather’s Pizza opened in Omaha, Nebraska in 1973. According to company history, Godfather’s Pizza locations began serving breakfast pizza in 1985. Their “Wake Up Call” breakfast pizza with eggs, cheese, and sausage is still one of their most popular menu items.
Other Midwest pizza chains like Happy Joe’s in Iowa and Casey’s General Store in Iowa also added breakfast pizza to their menus in the 1980s. Local pizzerias throughout the Midwest started offering their own unique breakfast pizza creations too.
So while putting breakfast toppings on pizza itself isn’t completely new, the popularity of breakfast pizza exploded in the Midwest in the 70s and 80s. The strong breakfast pizza culture in this region launched it as a Midwest favorite.
Where is breakfast pizza most popular?
Breakfast pizza remains an extremely popular item, especially throughout the Midwest. Surveys and sales data show that breakfast pizza consumption is highest in the following states:
In fact, food industry surveys have estimated that Iowans eat around 2 million breakfast pizzas every year, which is the #1 highest consumption in the country.
Breakfast pizza is so beloved in the Midwest that frozen varieties are sold in grocery stores, and many school cafeterias offer breakfast pizza on their menus too.
Outside the Midwest, breakfast pizza hasn’t achieved the same widespread popularity and cultural significance. However, you can still find it in some pizza restaurants nationwide. Breakfast pizza is just starting to gain more recognition in other regions like the South and West Coast.
Why is breakfast pizza so popular in the Midwest?
There are a few theories as to why breakfast pizza has flourished so much in Midwestern states compared to elsewhere:
- Pizza tradition – The Midwest has a strong culture and history of pizza. When pizza chains and shops first started experimenting with breakfast pizzas, Midwesterners were more open to the concept due to their love of pizza.
- Meat and potatoes preferences – Traditional Midwest cuisine tends to feature hearty meats and potatoes. Breakfast pizza matches these flavor preferences with sausage, bacon, ham, and hash browns or tater tots.
- Early morning starts – Agriculture and manufacturing jobs that require very early start times are common in the Midwest. Breakfast pizza is a convenient, filling breakfast you can eat on the go.
- Long winters – Frigid Midwest winters make hot, comforting breakfasts like breakfast pizza more appealing.
The combination of an existing pizza-loving culture and a heartier, convenient breakfast food need made Midwest states the perfect place for breakfast pizza to thrive. The tradition continues today, with Midwesterners remaining the #1 consumers.
Breakfast pizza outside the Midwest
While the Midwest may be the breakfast pizza capital of the U.S., you can still find it in many other states if you know where to look. Here are some places around the country to try breakfast pizza:
- New York City metro area – Numerous pizza restaurants and chains like Villa Italian Kitchen, errmsgio’s Pizzeria, and Pizza Cucinova.
- New Jersey – Bubbakoo’s Burritos serves breakfast pizza burritos.
- Pennsylvania – Allegro Hearth Bakery Cafe’s breakfast pizzas.
- Nashville, TN – Five Points Pizza serves breakfast pizzas.
- Orlando, FL – Pizza Bruno breakfast calzones.
- Houston, TX – The Breakfast Pizza food truck.
- Los Angeles, CA – The Breakfast Bar by Manousheh.
- Las Vegas, NV – Naked City Pizza breakfast pizzas.
- Denver, CO – Benny Blanco’s wood-fired breakfast pizzas.
- Phoenix, AZ – Myke’s Pizza breakfast pizza.
Additionally, frozen breakfast pizzas from brands like Jack’s, Tyson, and Presto are sold at grocery stores nationwide. So while they may not be as culturally ingrained, you can get your breakfast pizza fix outside the Midwest if you crave it.
Signature regional breakfast pizzas
While basics like egg, cheese, and meat are breakfast pizza staples everywhere, some unique regional twists have emerged:
Iowa – Casey’s Breakfast Pizza – Eggs, cheese, sausage gravy, bacon, hash browns
Wisconsin – Yo Mama’s Breakfast Pizza – Eggs, cheese, bacon, broccoli, hollandaise sauce
Michigan – Jet’s Breakfast Square Pizza – Eggs, Cheddar, bacon, ham, sausage
New York – Artichoke Basille’s Artichoke Pizza – Cream cheese, mozzarella, artichoke, spinach
Maine – Otto Pizza’s Lobster Pizza – Eggs, cheeses, lobster meat
Georgia – Big Pie in the Sky’s Southern Breakfast Pizza – Eggs, sausage gravy, pimento cheese, hash browns
Texas – Home Slice Pizza’s Breakfast Taco Pizza – Eggs, chorizo, peppers, onions, cheddar, breakfast potatoes
California – Fresh Brothers’ California Breakfast Pizza – Eggs, bacon, avocado, mozzarella, salsa
Colorado – The Walnut Cafe’s Breakfast Potato Pizza – Eggs, cheddar, potatoes, green chili, bacon
So while Midwesterners remain the top breakfast pizza consumers, you can find regionally-inspired twists on the concept around the U.S.
How to make breakfast pizza at home
Want to get in on the breakfast pizza fun at home? Here are some tips:
- Use refrigerated pizza dough, pie crust, naan, or biscuits as an easy base.
- Brush the crust with olive oil or butter before adding toppings.
- Cook any sausage, bacon, or ham before assembling.
- Crack eggs directly onto the crust and bake until whites are set.
- Grate hard cheeses or slice softer cheeses so they melt well.
- Add quick-cooking veggies like spinach, tomatoes, or peppers last.
- Bake at 400°F for 12-18 minutes until the eggs are set and the cheese melts.
- Let the pizza cool slightly before slicing and serving.
Get creative with your own favorite breakfast flavors! Breakfast pizza also reheats well, so you can easily make a batch ahead.
Breakfast pizza recipes to try
To spark breakfast pizza inspiration for your own homemade creations, here are some popular recipes to try:
Classic breakfast pizza
- Pizza dough crust
- Scrambled eggs
- Mozzarella cheese
- Turkey sausage
- Sliced bell peppers
- Fresh basil
Southwest breakfast pizza
- Prepared pizza crust
- Monterey jack cheese
- Scrambled eggs
Breakfast potato pizza
- Cheddar cheese
- Over easy eggs
- Sliced potatoes
- Ranch dressing drizzle
Veggie breakfast pizza
- Whole wheat pizza dough
- Mozzarella cheese
- Bell peppers
- Scrambled eggs
Try out one of these fan favorite recipes or create your own perfect breakfast pizza combo!
Where to order breakfast pizza
To get your breakfast pizza fix without cooking it yourself, here are some restaurant chains and smaller eateries that serve it:
National pizza chains
- Papa John’s
- Pizza Hut
- California Pizza Kitchen
- Hungry Howie’s
- Villa Italian Kitchen
Regional pizza chains
- Godfather’s Pizza (Midwest)
- Happy Joe’s (Midwest)
- Casey’s General Store (Midwest)
- Mountain Mike’s Pizza (California)
- Grad School (New England)
Smaller regional pizzerias
- Pagliacci Pizza (Seattle, WA)
- Home Slice Pizza (Austin, TX)
- Goodfella’s Pizza (DC, MD, VA)
- Steve’s Prince of Steaks (Philadelphia, PA)
- DeSano Pizza Bakery (Los Angeles, CA)
Check to see if your favorite local pizza shops also offer breakfast versions to start your day. And if you ever travel through the Midwest, breakfast pizza will definitely be on the menu at diners and pizza joints in the region.
While breakfast pizza traces its origins to the Midwest in the 1970s and remains most popular in Midwestern states like Iowa and Wisconsin, you can find tasty versions all over the U.S. The convention of putting breakfast foods like eggs, meat, and potatoes on pizza marries the convenience of pizza with the comfort of a hearty breakfast.
Breakfast pizza will likely continue gaining fans beyond just the Midwest in the coming years. But the region will still stand out for its widespread appreciation, myriad breakfast pizza options, and collective memories of growing up eating cheesy, eggy breakfast pizzas. So next time you’re craving breakfast, give this Midwestern classic a try!