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Caramelized Fennel & Onion Skillet Pizza Recipe

This Caramelized Fennel & Onion Skillet Pizza Recipe combines the rich sweetness of the caramelized onions and fennel mixed with the slight tartness of goat cheese spiked with black peppercorns and Chinese 5 spice. Inspired by the flavors and smells of absinthe, this pizza is made for pairing with absinthe cocktails.
Servings 2 to 4
Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Rising Time 2 hrs


Crust Ingredients (from America’s Test Kitchen’s Skillet Pizza)

  • 2 cups + 2 tablespoons bread flour
  • 1 and 1/8 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup ice water

Pizza Ingredients

  • 1/4-1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil enough to cover the bottom of the sauté pan
  • 3 large onions thinly sliced
  • 4 fennel bulbs cored and thinly sliced, fronds reserved for later
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt + to taste
  • 8 ounces goat cheese
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper grind whole peppercorns in a spice grinder
  • 1/8 teaspoon Chinese 5 Spice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 to 1.5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup pecorino romano cheese grated
  • Fennel fronds


Crust Instructions

  • Lightly grease a large plastic bowl and set aside.
  • In the bowl of a food processor, add the flour, yeast, and salt and pulse until combined.
  • With the motor running, add the oil and then the water. Process until a rough ball of dough forms.
  • Let the dough rest for 2 minutes and then process for another 30 seconds.
  • Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for 30 seconds until the dough has formed a smooth round ball.
  • Transfer the dough seam side down in the greased plastic bowl. Tightly cover with plastic wrap and let it sit for 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours until it is double in size (see notes for freezing the pizza dough for later). Or immediately place the covered unrisen dough in the fridge for at least 8 hours or up to 16, letting it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes the next day before shaping.

Pizza Instructions

  • While the pizza dough is rising, caramelize the onions and fennel*. Heat the olive oil (1/4 to 1/2 cup depending on your skillet’s size) in a large heavy-bottomed sauté pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the onions and fennel and stir to coat.
  • Keep stirring occasionally for 10 minutes. Add salt and continue to cook for 30 more minutes to an hour, stirring every couple of minutes. You want the onions and fennel to start sticking a little to the pan and getting brown but you’ll want to stir enough that they don’t burn.
  • If the onions and fennel are getting really dry or are close to burning you can add a little water to the pan or more olive oil (you can also use broth, wine, or bourbon).
  • Keep going until the onions and fennel are a rich brown color. Taste and add more salt if needed. Set aside.*
  • In a food processor, pulse the goat cheese, 1 tablespoon olive oil, lemon juice, black pepper, and Chinese five-spice blend until smooth and well blended. Set aside.
  • Adjust the oven rack to the upper-middle position and preheat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a pastry brush to grease a 12-inch oven-safe skillet with 2 tablespoons olive oil. It will seem like a lot but you want the oil to fry the bottom of the pizza crust, making it nice and crispy.
  • Transfer the pizza dough to a lightly floured surface and divide it in half. Cover the half you aren’t rolling out with lightly greased plastic wrap. Press and roll the other piece of dough out into an 11-inch circle, trying to keep the dough thickness even throughout.
  • Transfer the dough to the prepared skillet and reshape if necessary.
  • Use a pastry brush to lightly spread extra-virgin olive oil over crust and sprinkle with kosher salt.
  • Very lightly* spread some of the cheese mixture over the crust (about 2 to 3 tablespoons).
  • Top with caramelized onions and fennel.
  • Add 8 to 9 teaspoon-sized dollops of the cheese mixture on top of the caramelized onions and fennel and spread them out slightly.
  • Drizzle balsamic vinegar over the pizza (about 1 tablespoon) and sprinkle the grated pecorino romano cheese on top.
  • Sprinkle fennel fronds on top of everything.
  • Put the skillet over high heat and cook until the edge of the dough is set, the pizza is slightly puffed, and the bottom of the crust looks spotty brown (3 minutes).
  • Transfer to the oven and bake for 7 to 10 minutes until the edges are brown
  • Remove the skillet and slide the pizza onto a wire rack and let cool slightly.
  • Repeat steps 6-17 for the second pizza. Or freeze the dough to save for later (see notes).


*The caramelized onions and fennel can be made ahead of time if desired. Simply store them in an air tight container in the refrigerator. It makes enough for 3 pizzas. Or you can make one pizza and blend the caramelized onions and fennel with the goat cheese to make an onion dip.
*Don’t overload your pizza with very thick layers of the different toppings.
What if you don’t have a food processor?
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the flour, yeast, and salt together.
  • Attach the dough hook and on low speed, add the olive oil and water. Mix until a cohesive dough forms and there is no dry flour, about 2 minutes.
  • Increase the speed to medium-low and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic and clears the sides of the bowl, about 8 minutes.
  • Continue on with step
Freezing Pizza Dough
  • Take the ball of dough and cover it with a coating of olive oil all over.
  • Put it into a freezer bag and seal, making sure to squeeze out all the air. Keep the dough in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • When you are ready to use it, transfer the dough to the fridge overnight for 12 hours.
  • Let the dough sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before rolling it out.
Author: Megan Wells
Course: Main Dishes
Keyword: food and drink pairings, homemade crust, pizza