Butternut, Caramelized Onion, and Blue Cheese Pizza

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 2 slices)

Butternut, Caramelized Onion, and Blue Cheese Pizza

This pizza is my love letter to fall. All the best seasonal flavors converge here: sweet butternut squash, woodsy herbs, toasty hazelnuts, and pungent blue cheese. A bed of silky caramelized onions serves as the "sauce," a delicious change of pace. The butternut ribbons are beautiful and—bonus benefit—cook quickly in a super-hot oven (no par-cooking required). Serve with an arugula or kale salad for a dynamite pairing.

prep time: 38 minscook time: 10 minstotal time: 48 mins


  • 12 oz. whole-wheat pizza dough (I used dough from Whole Foods)
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 4 cups vertically sliced yellow onions (about 1 lb., 2 medium onions)
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 3/8 tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 8 oz. butternut squash, shaved into ribbons (about 3 cups ribbons; see tips below)
  • 2 oz. firm blue cheese, thinly sliced (I used Point Reyes)
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh sage leaves
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped toasted hazelnuts
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Let dough stand, covered, at room temperature to take the chill off.
  2. Place a pizza stone or heavy baking sheet in oven. Preheat oven to 500°F (leave pizza stone or baking sheet in oven as it heats).
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons oil; swirl to coat. Add onions; sauté 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium-low (I went closer to low than medium), and stir in garlic. Cook 20 minutes or until onions are silky, very tender, and caramelized; stir in a tablespoon of water every now and then if the onions start to stick or burn. Remove from heat, and stir in thyme and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
  4. Meanwhile, combine butternut ribbons, 1 1/2 teaspoons oil, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt; toss gently to combine.
  5. Pat or roll dough into a 12-inch circle on a piece of parchment paper. Brush outside rim of dough with about 3/4 teaspoon oil. Top dough evenly with onions, leaving a 1-inch border. Arrange butternut ribbons over onions. 
  6. Lift dough, on parchment, and place parchment and dough on hot pizza stone. Bake pizza at 500°F for 10 minutes or until crust is browned and crisp and butternut is browned in places (broil for a minute or two if the top isn't browned to your liking). Remove pizza from oven; brush outside rim of crust with remaining 3/4 teaspoon oil. Nestle cheese into butternut ribbons (note: residual heat will soften and melt the cheese). Sprinkle pizza with hazelnuts, sage, and pepper.



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There you go—recipe card up top, so you don’t have to scroll through lots of photos and words to get to what you want most. This is my first blog post (!!), so please forgive any errors or oddities. I’m learning as I go…

This pizza is nothing short of a knockout. It’s beautiful, delicious, healthy, easier than it looks, and meatless. Just keep in mind that the pizza is your entree, not your entire meal—so serve it with a side salad or some roasted veggies. Here are some helpful tips as you’re making it:

First, make sure you get the pizza dough out of the fridge. Let it stand at room temperature as the oven heats and you do all the prep work. Trust me, this is a crucial step. Room-temp dough is much easier to work with than cold dough. That cold dough will snap back and fight you as you try to roll or stretch it out. But room-temp dough? It’s much more well behaved.

For the onions, I recommend standard yellow onions—not sweet onions, which (with the butternut) would take the pizza in a too-sweet direction. Besides, the standard guys gain a little sweetness through the caramelization process. I call to vertically slice them, which helps them hold their shape better. It basically looks like this:


As for caramelizing those onions, I encourage you to exercise patience. Don’t try to rush the process by turning up the heat; you won’t get the silky texture you’re after. Listen as the onions cook; if you hear too much sizzle, they may be sticking or scorching—at which point you should stir in a tablespoon of water. This is what they should look like when they’re ready (this is before I stirred in the thyme and salt):


Now for the squash. Do the prep for this as the onions are cooking. Since you’re aiming for long ribbons, choose a squash with a long neck; this will make creating long ribbons much easier. Here’s the one I used:


I peeled the entire neck with a vegetable peeler, then cut it off near the bulb. I then cut the neck in half vertically, then into a few one-inch thick slabs. Then I ran the vegetable peeler over the slabs to create ribbons; I found it easiest to start at the farther edge and pull the peeler toward me. You’ll have leftover squash, which is perfect for cubing and roasting for a side dish or to puree for a soup.


Once you toss your squash with a little oil and salt, it's time to assemble the pizza. Stretch the dough into a 12-inch circle on a piece of parchment paper. The paper allows you to lift the pizza, on the paper, and place everything (paper and all) on the hot pizza stone. You still get the crispy crust, and the whole process is much easier than trying to slide the dough from a pizza peel onto the hot stone. Once the dough is shaped, top with the onions.


Now pile on the squash. It may seem like a lot, but it cooks down a good bit in the oven.


Pop that guy in a 500°F oven for 10 or so minutes, then take it out and brush a little oil onto the outer rim of the crust; this adds sheen and flavor. Now top with cheese, sage, hazelnuts, and black pepper. (If you add the cheese before the pizza goes in the oven, it will turn into buttery goo; it’s delicious, but it just melts away to have a visual impact. The residual heath from the hot pizza will soften and slightly melt the cheese anyway.) That’s it! Enjoy!!