Topped with charred eggplant slices and bright-red pickled peppers, this vegan pesto pizza is a satisfying, comforting meal for any time of year.

The MVP here is the eggplant. Unlike other recipes where eggplant is breaded and fried or sauteed in oil before it goes on the pizza, in this one, you cut the eggplant into thick (½-inch) slices, swipe them quickly with a little olive oil on each side, and then broil them until the centers are soft and the outsides are nicely browned.

broiled eggplant on baking sheet

Since you use only a small amount of oil, the eggplant gets nice and soft—not greasy—when you bake it on a round of pesto-slathered pizza dough. Plus, that char on both sides of the eggplant slices adds a nice depth of flavor to the finished pizza, complementing the herbaceous brightness of pesto and tang of pickled peppers.

vegan pesto and eggplant pizza before bakingvegan pesto and eggplant pizza after baking

A Note on Substitutions

This recipe looks long because I’ve included sub-recipes for homemade vegan pesto and quick-pickled peppers. Feel free to buy both at your local grocery store or market to keep things simpler. Just be warned: Pesto is not typically a vegan food. Check the labels to make sure you’re getting a vegan product.

As for pickled peppers, I love jarred cherry peppers. They’re on the milder side, so they won’t overpower the eggplant and pesto.

Thursday Night Pizza's Vegan Pesto and Eggplant Pizza, finished on peel

Vegan Eggplant and Pesto Pizza FAQs

Do I have to make my own pesto and pickled peppers?

Nope! However, if you follow a vegan diet, make sure to check the ingredient labels on store-bought pesto and pickled peppers; most pesto sauces are made with cheese.

Is pizza dough vegan?

Yes! The only ingredients in regular pizza dough are flour, sugar, salt, yeast, water, and olive oil.

Can I add cheese to make this a non-vegan pizza?

Of course! Sprinkle 4 ounces of diced fresh mozzarella over the eggplant before baking.

Where do I find more vegan pizza recipes?

Check out my vegan pizza recipe archive for three more options, including a fan favorite: Roman Potato Pizza.

Vegan Pesto Pizza with Eggplant

Topped with creamy, charred eggplant slices and bright-red pickled peppers, this vegan pesto pizza is a satisfying, comforting meal for any time of year.

Prep Time15 minutes

Cook Time10 minutes

Total Time25 minutes

Course: Main Course

Cuisine: American, Italian, Mediterranean

Keyword: vegan pizza, Vegetarian Pizza

Makes: 1 (12- to 14-inch) pizza

Cost: $15

Ingredients

  • 1 medium to large eggplant
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 (14- to 16-ounce) ball pizza dough
  • ¾ cup vegan pesto, store-bought or homemade (recipe follows)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped pickled hot or sweet red peppers, store-bought or homemade (recipe follows)

Instructions

  • If you are making your own pickled sweet or hot peppers (recipe follows), start them first.

  • Preheat the oven to 500°F (if using a baking sheet) or as high as it will go (if using a baking stone/steel; place the stone in the top third or place the steel in the bottom third of the oven before you start preheating). Let the oven preheat for at least 30 minutes. Then, switch the oven to Broil on high.

  • If you are making your own vegan pesto (recipe follows), start it right after you preheat the oven.

  • Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Cut the eggplant into ½-inch-thick slices. Pour a couple tablespoons of olive oil into a small ramekin and grab a pastry brush. Lightly brush both sides of each eggplant slice, working quickly so the oil doesn’t soak into the spongy vegetable. Then, sprinkle both sides of the eggplant with salt. Slide the baking sheet onto the rack in the top third of your oven (put it right on top of your baking stone, if that is on the top rack). Broil for 5 to 6 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. Take the baking sheet out of the oven, use a thin metal spatula to carefully flip the eggplant slices, and return the baking sheet to the rack in the top third of the oven. Broil for 5 more minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Remove the eggplant slices from the oven and transfer them to a plate to cool.

  • Stretch or roll out your dough to a 12- to 14-inch circle, then transfer it to a baking sheet / pizza pan or a lightly floured pizza peel (if using a baking stone/steel).

  • Prick the dough all over with a fork. Spread the pesto on the dough, getting it all the way to the edges. Then, lay the eggplant slices on top, cutting them into half-moons if you like. Drizzle with olive oil and season with a big pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper.

  • Transfer the pizza to the oven and bake until the crust is golden around the edges and evenly browned on the bottom—about 8 minutes on the baking sheet, 5 minutes on the baking stone/steel.

  • Take the pizza out of the oven. Use a fork to mash down the eggplant slices a bit (this will make the pizza easier to slice). Drizzle the pizza with olive oil, season with another pinch of salt, and top with the chopped pickled red peppers. Slice and serve.

Pesto and Pickled Pepper Recipes

This vegan pizza will be delicious whether or not you decide to make your own pesto and/or pickled peppers. However, if you do decide to go the homemade route, I promise you won’t be disappointed. The following pesto recipe can be made with a range of different herbs and nuts, and it gets a hint of tangy vibrance from capers and lemon juice. Similarly, the quick-pickled peppers can be made with just about any pepper you can think of, though for aesthetics, I suggest choosing something red like cherry peppers or red bell.

Customizable Vegan Pesto

You definitely don’t miss the cheese in this vegan pesto, and the best part is that you can use any combination of nuts and fresh herbs you like!

Prep Time10 minutes

Cook Time5 minutes

Total Time15 minutes

Course: Condiment, Sauce

Cuisine: American, Italian, Mediterranean

Keyword: pesto, vegan

Makes: 1.25 cups

Cost: $10

Equipment

  • Cutting board and knife

  • Food processor

Ingredients

  • cup raw unsalted pine nuts, pistachios, slivered almonds, hulled sunflower seeds, pepitas, or chopped walnuts
  • 1 medium garlic clove
  • 2 packed cups basil, mint, parsley, and/or baby spinach leaves
  • 1 heaping teaspoon drained capers
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions

  • Toast the nuts in a small saucepan over medium heat until fragrant and golden. Remove the pan from the heat and dump the toasted nuts into the bowl of your food processor.

  • Add the garlic and pulse until the nuts are the consistency of crumbs, add the herbs, capers, lemon juice, salt, and a few grinds of black pepper, and pulse again until everything is finely chopped. Pour in the olive oil and process to a smooth-ish paste.

  • Keep any leftover pesto in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Quick-Pickled Hot or Sweet Peppers

If you like something crunchy and bright to top your finished pizzas, whip up a batch of these quick pickled peppers. I especially love using this recipe with red cherry peppers!

Prep Time10 minutes

Cook Time5 minutes

Total Time15 minutes

Course: Condiment, Snack

Cuisine: American, Global, Mediterranean

Keyword: Pizza condiment

Makes: 1 cup

Cost: $5

Equipment

  • Small saucepan

  • Cutting board and knife

Ingredients

  • 1 large garlic clove, smashed and peeled
  • cup thinly sliced hot peppers or chopped bell peppers (seed the hot peppers if you want milder spiciness)
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt

Instructions

  • Put the garlic and peppers in a small jar or heatproof glass container with a lid.

  • In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until bubbles start to pop up around the sides of the liquid, then immediately take the saucepan off the heat and pour the liquid over the garlic and peppers.

  • Let the mixture cool to room temperature. Use immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 month.





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