Recipe Review

I Tried Pizza Poppers, and I Believe the Hype

updated Jul 28, 2022
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Credit: Patty Catalano

Coming of age in the late ’90s/early aughts meant that Bagel Bites and sun-dried tomatoes were formative elements of my culinary awareness. So when I saw that Liz Moody posted a recipe for Pizza Poppers on her Instagram page, it was as if the recipe was made just for me.

With a few basic ingredients, anything can be made pizza-style. We’ve seen it done with sandwiches, dips, and pasta, to name just a few. But this snack-sized recipe dials pizza down to its essentials: tomato, herbs, and cheese. Would these roasted tomatoes deliver the true essence of pizza without the crust? Or would it be just another crustless pizza hack? I headed into the kitchen to find out for myself.

How to Make the Instagram-Famous Pizza Poppers

Halve cherry tomatoes and spread them out on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Add a drizzle of olive oil, sea salt (I used Diamond Crystal Kosher salt in my test), and dried oregano and toss to coat. Arrange the tomatoes into a single layer, cut-side up, and roast the tomatoes at 400°F until the bottoms are deeply browned, 30 to 40 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese and return to the oven until cheese melts, about 5 minutes.

Credit: Patty Catalano

My Honest Review of the Instagram-Famous Pizza Poppers

These pizza poppers are incredibly easy to make, requiring ingredients that are reliably on my weekly grocery list and less than 10 minutes of prep. I roasted the tomatoes for 30 minutes at 400°F and the bottoms were exactly as Moody described: “dark brown and even black in spots but not totally burned.” I feared that pushing them any further would cause bitter flavors to develop, so I sprinkled the tops with finely shredded mozzarella and a shower of Parmesan and slid them back into the oven.

These cheesy, herby tomatoes really do taste like pizza! Roasting the tomatoes mimics the flavors of long-simmered tomato sauce, while oregano really drives home the idea of pizza. While they do look similar to sun-dried tomatoes, don’t expect the pizza poppers to be as chewy — especially hot from the pan. Give the tomatoes a few minutes to cool before serving so that you can pop them into your mouth one or two at a time.

Roasting concentrates the fruity, umami flavors of already-sweet cherry tomatoes, so I was only able to snack on a few before my taste buds were overwhelmed. While these poppers are poised as a snack, I think they’re better as pasta salad mix-ins or as an unexpected addition to summery snack boards.

If You’re Going to Try the Instagram-Famous Pizza Poppers, a Few Tips

  • Choose similarly sized tomatoes. It’s best to stick with bite-sized tomatoes that are approximately the same size so that they cook evenly. Packages of cherry or grape tomatoes are usually pre-sorted, but some containers of miniature heirloom tomatoes have a wide range of sizes.
  • Use a mixture of cheeses. Moody offers a variety of cheese options, but for the classic pizza flavor use shredded mozzarella and grated Parmesan cheese.
  • Use Italian seasoning as a substitute. If you’re out of oregano, use dried Italian seasoning instead. This spice blend is a mixture of oregano, basil, and other herbs.