A plain pizza is one of the world’s perfect foods. Bread, cheese, and marinara sauce- what could be better? Certain toppings really lend themselves to that flavor combination—pepperoni, for example—but there are certain foods that really just don’t jibe with pizza. We tracked down a few, and while they might be well and good on their own, they really just don’t work atop a pizza.

A pizza, by the broadest definition, can be any flatbread with any toppings, and obviously in that application you can find a way to get just about anything onto a pizza, because you’d be hard pressed to find a flavor that doesn’t work with bread. But for our purposes, we’re talking about what you’d find in your standard New York-style pizzeria: a ‘plain’ pie, with just mozzarella and tomato sauce.

It’s almost funny how perfectly certain foods work with pizza, and how perfectly some other foods don’t. Just about any vegetable, when sliced, works just fine, even broccoli. Just about any meat, from sausage to fried chicken to roast beef, works like a charm. But try to add sushi-grade raw fish and you most likely won’t be able to choke down a single bite.

The reason for this is simple: certain flavors and textures are compatible, and others aren’t. Pizza is such a rich, strongly-flavored food that it has the potential to combine nicely with complementary ingredients, but when it doesn’t, it really doesn’t.

So click here to learn about  foods that you really should never add to a pizza. Surprisingly, some of these toppings have found a pizza-based home elsewhere around the world, but it leaves us scratching our heads because the combo really just doesn’t work. Hey, if raw salmon or mayonnaise on pizza is your thing, go for it.

But we wouldn’t recommend it.

1. Canned Tuna


(Flickr/ Paolovalde)

Ask any Italian and they’ll tell you: cheese and seafood just don’t mix. Not only does the cheese ostensibly cover up the delicate flavor of the seafood, it’s also a flavor combination that just doesn’t work. In some parts of Italy pizzerias will offer a tuna pizza, but it’s usually just marinara, tuna, herbs, and add-ons like capers and onions. But once cheese is thrown into the mix, it becomes a wholly unappetizing proposition.

2. Kimchi



Korean fusion is all well and good, but lots of Asian food doesn’t quite mix with cheese, and kimchi, the spicy Korean pickled and fermented cabbage, is one of them. If you absolutely must add kimchi to your pizza, use it sparingly, and make sure it’s balanced out with compatible flavors like spicy sausage.

3. Uni and Other Raw Seafood


(Arthur Bovino)

A good rule of thumb? If it’s good as sushi, it won’t be good on pizza. When you add uni to a hot slice of pizza the heat begins to melt it, making an already mushy food even moreso. Also, the briny, alkaline flavor of the uni simply doesn’t combine well with hot, melty cheese. There are a few people out there who claim to enjoy this combo, so we’ll leave it to them. As for raw fish, it’s both a texture and a flavor issue.

4. Lettuce



One thing lettuce does very well: wither and die as soon as it’s exposed to heat. And what is pizza? Hot. We’re mystified by those ‘salad’ pizzas that you sometimes see in pizzerias, otherwise good sliced piled with sad diced tomatoes and soggy, wilted shredded lettuce. If you want a salad, eat a salad. If you want a pizza, don’t put lettuce on it, for goodness sakes.

See more pizza toppings we don't really recommend here.

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