Pizza really is a universally beloved dish, and rightly so. After all, no matter what your food preferences, there is quite literally a pizza topping to please even the fussiest of diners.
Whether you are a meat lover who likes to load your pie up with sausage and pepperoni or a vegetarian who likes to add all sorts of tasty veggies, pizza can be the answer to almost any culinary question.
But is pizza generally considered fast food? I wanted to find the answer to this question and researched the topic more closely.
While homemade pizza and pizzas served at restaurants are not considered fast food, mass-produced frozen pizza can definitely be categorized as fast food. That is because most frozen pizza products contain high amounts of fat, sodium, and refined carbohydrates.
So clearly, not all pizzas are created equally! Keep reading to learn more about the different kinds of pizza and how healthy or unhealthy they can be.
Does Pizza Count as Fast Food?
Whether or not pizza counts as fast food depends on the ingredients used and the way the pizza has been prepared. Frozen and mass-produced pizza is generally considered fast food, while pizza made at home or a restaurant is not.
When I researched the term “fast food”, I found the following definitions online:
- food designed for ready availability, use, or consumption and with little consideration given to significance or quality
- restaurants specializing in food that can be prepared and served very quickly
When it comes to ingredients, I found the following definition:
- “fast food” is a commercial term describing food sold in a restaurant or store with frozen, preheated, or precooked ingredients and served in a packaged form for take-away
Let’s take a closer look at these three different ways of preparing pizza!
Many restaurants have pizzas on their menus, and most commonly, these pizzas will be prepared by a chef in the back who is handcrafting your ordered meal.
Alternatively, they can be made through an assembly line setup that will put together your pizza right before your eyes.
Any pizza that is prepared after you order it surely cannot be considered fast food, correct?
On the other hand, many chain fast-food restaurants can make dozens of pizzas available on a grab-n-go basis.
More often than not, these types of restaurants can also get their pizzas bulk-delivered frozen.
This is just about as close to fast food as pizza can possibly get.
So, from a mere production and time point-of-view, I think keeping these two types of restaurants apart is crucial when discussing fast-food pizza!
When it comes to production, frozen pizza is undoubtedly fast, both when it comes to quality and quantity.
Of course, it’s only logical for a mass-produced food item to be made as quickly as possible. Otherwise, it wouldn’t really be possible to produce large amounts of it.
And, as you can prepare it equally speedily in the oven or microwave at home, I think it’s pretty fair to say that frozen pizzas are fast food!
It stands to reason that any food made in a home kitchen is pretty much the opposite of fast food. My husband Max bakes plenty of pizza at home, and he can assure you that making these pizzas takes quite some time!
And why not? Making pizza at home is tons of fun and lets you have more control over what ingredients go into it.
I will discuss ingredients and the health aspect of pizza further down in this article, so make sure to keep reading!
It’s really more of a creative process that allows you to create a food that’s both visually appealing and tastes really great.
And, if we are sincere, those features are not really combinable with the term fast food, are they?
Is Pizza Considered Fast Food in Italy?
Most authentic Italian pizzas are handcrafted by skilled chefs, or pizzaiolos, as they are referred to in Italy, making them anything but fast food in the country that is the birth cradle of modern pizza.
In fact, if you’d sit down in an Italian restaurant somewhere in Naples, where the modern-type pizza was first invented in the late 18th century, and ask the chef or waiter if they make fast-food pizza there, he’d probably start yelling and kick you out!
And rightly so, because authentic Italian pizza is an actual culinary experience! You should definitely visit Italy and try it for yourself! It’s really something.
If you can’t go to Italy, try to find a real Italian restaurant somewhere close to you, I’m sure there is one around, and many of them are decent substitutes for the real thing.
That said, Italy does have its own version of fast-food pizza, at least kind of.
It can be found sold by the slice from many street food vendors as a quick lunch or snack. You can see those guys standing at basically every corner in every Italian city.
But, for the most part, even those street pizzaiolos make pretty decent-tasting pizzas! So, it’s not really fair to call their product fast food, I think!
Is Pizza Healthy to Eat?
Whether or not the pizza you are eating is healthy depends mainly on ingredient quality and amount.
While pizza prepared at home or by a pizza baker includes high-quality ingredients, frozen pizzas often have low-quality ingredients that negatively impact your health.
For example, if you are eating a premade slice at a fast-food joint or a store-bought frozen pizza, preservatives may be added to the sauce and meats to make them last longer.
Prepared, frozen pizzas often also contain high amounts of sodium. Too much salt in your food can lead to high blood pressure, which is linked to several severe health conditions, such as heart attacks and kidney failure.
Furthermore, as these pizzas’ cheese and meat toppings are commonly highly processed, they contain more fat, which, in turn, has a lot of calories.
They also tend to have thicker crusts and more added sugar in them, which means they are loaded with refined carbohydrates, further adding to the pizza’s total calorie count.
This doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t enjoy the occasional frozen or fast-food pizza! But if you’re conscious about your health and diet or trying to lose weight, keeping these types of pizza to a minimum can be a very smart idea!
On the other hand, homemade pizza with many quality ingredients can actually be pretty healthy.
For one thing, you can bake your pizza with a much thinner crust, which will drastically reduce its calorie count.
For another, high-quality pizza toppings can be fairly nutritious and healthy for you if used in moderate quantities!
Pepperoni, salami, and sausage are all loaded with essential, muscle-building proteins.
PRO TIP: Qualitative ham, chorizo, salami, and other sausages used as pizza toppings are generally very high-protein and very low-carb!
Cheese is filled with protein, calcium, and Vitamin A, which are important nutrients your body needs to stay healthy.
And then there are veggie toppings! Not only do vegetables, such as green bell pepper, red onion, and mushrooms, add texture, flavor, and crunch, but they are also chock full of vitamins, minerals, fibers, and phytochemicals.
PRO TIP: Add your veggie toppings after you’ve baked your pizza. This way, they’ll keep all their healthy nutrients and remain fresh and crunchy!
And let’s not forget every pizza’s base; tomato sauce is an excellent source of Vitamin C.
So, to sum up, homemade pizza can actually be pretty healthy and can easily be modified to account for many dietary restrictions.
Furthermore, there are plenty of options for those wanting to cut down on carbs, fat, or animal products.
Regardless of that, it remains a calorie-rich dish that is, perhaps, not suited for daily consumption, which brings us to the last topic of discussion!
How Often Should You Eat Pizza?
Once again, you will have to separate the frozen, mass-produced pizza from the homemade or restaurant kind. Frozen pizza should most certainly only be eaten occasionally, while it is perfectly okay to eat homemade pizza more often.
If the only pizza you eat is the frozen and premade type, you should consider this a “sometimes” food, at most!
Since these more affordable options can include poor or lower-quality ingredients, in my opinion, they are not something that you want to enjoy daily or even weekly.
Those who want to eat pizza more often will be best served to go to a good restaurant or make their own. Of course, the latter is more often than not the cheaper alternative of the two, and usually also the more fun one.
If you are in charge of the ingredients going into your pizza, you can be sure to include those that fit your diet and lifestyle.
You also won’t aggravate any food intolerances that you or your friends and relatives might have.
Lastly, preparing a pizza from scratch can be a very creative and fun experience. If you’ve never tried to make pizza at home, it’s definitely something I recommend!
Go ahead and give it a go. You’ll probably be very positively surprised, and chances are that you will never buy a frozen pizza ever again!
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