Make Your Own Lactose-free Pizza with Real Cheese

Pizza has been one of my big pregnancy cravings. Unfortunately, satisfying that craving has not been as easy as calling for take-out. Even though I’m no longer grain-free, I’m still lactose-free because I’m pretty sure I’m lactose intolerant. While butter, aged cheeses and my homemade yogurt and kefir don’t give me any trouble, I’ve experienced intestinal upset from as little as half a tablespoon of commercial sour cream. Lactose just doesn’t seem to agree with me—so I knew that if I really wanted pizza, it would have to be a lactose-free pizza.

I’d experimented with lactose-free pizza during my two plus years on the GAPS diet, but I eventually gave up my search because aged cheeses like cheddar, Monterey jack, and Parmesan just weren’t giving me the taste and texture I was looking for. When I decided to renew my efforts last month, I was disappointed to find that Googling “lactose-free pizza” mainly yielded suggestions of dairy-free cheese alternatives (no thanks) or making your own mozzarella from lactose-free milk (potentially intriguing, but far too much work for me right then). Myriads of keywords later I eventually stumbled upon a far better solution: provolone.

Lactose-free Pizza with Provolone

If you’re not familiar with provolone, it’s an Italian cheese with a production process similar to mozzarella. Unlike mozzarella, however, provolone is an aged cheese, so its lactose content is very low. That means that it can be a good option for people who need to minimize lactose in their diets. While provolone certainly isn’t an exact match for mozzarella (the taste is stronger and the texture not quite as stringy), in my opinion it’s by far the best aged substitute I have ever tried. Thanks to provolone, pizza is back in my life again! I also think that provolone will work well in other dishes that usually use mozzarella, such as on top of this amazing fresh tomato basil garlic sauce.

(I should point out it’s probably not technically correct to say that a pizza made with provolone is lactose-free, as even aged cheeses contain small amounts of residual lactose. Since many people with lactose intolerance do well with aged dairy products, however, I think it’s an apt description nonetheless so I’m sticking with it. If you are very sensitive to lactose, it’s possible that a pizza made with provolone will contain too much lactose for your body to handle.)

Tips for Using Provolone on Pizza

It seems like finding provolone is slightly more difficult than finding mozzarella—at least here in Boulder. I have successfully found it at several of our local health food stores, though—as well as at Costco, which was a great find because the price was roughly half of what I paid for it at the health food stores.

Since provolone is typically a deli cheese, you may only be able to find it sliced, rather than sold as a block. While the slices are difficult to grate, I have had success simply slicing them into thin slivers before topping the pizza. If you want your cheese on the thicker side, you could also just apply the slices as is.

I haven’t used mozzarella on pizza in a long time, so I can’t say how long the cooking time compares to a mozzarella pizza. I’d just watch your pizza carefully until it reaches your desired bubbliness/brownness.

If you’re lactose-intolerant, do you miss pizza? What pizza substitutes have you come up?



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11 Responses to Make Your Own Lactose-free Pizza with Real Cheese

  1. Janis says:
    Ooo - mystery solved! During a couple of my recent conversations with Jesse, he's been shopping for provolone, and I didn't think to ask him why. You are so persistent about finding work-arounds for your dietary needs - good for you!
  2. Meghan, I love fontina on pizza-it's my favorite pizza cheese by far-but I'm intrigued to try provolone. Thanks!
  3. Erin says:
    Hi, Meghan! That's a great tip about provolone cheese! I'm glad you can finally eat pizza :-)
  4. Donna says:
    I've been doing the Paleo diet due to intolerance to lactose and gluten. Pizza is the food I've missed the most and sometimes I give in and eat it, but then I Pay for it for days. Thanks for this tip about provolone. I'm curious to give it a try.
  5. Paula B. says:
    The safest is no cheese or vegan cheese. I tried the low-lactose items. My body said: "No"
  6. Cassie says:
    I know this post is quite old but I did just want to point out that swiss cheese is comppletely lactose free!
  7. joe says:
    Actually a local pizza chain I worked for in high school used only sliced provolone. We sliced it ourself, but pretty much the thickness of the deli sandwich provolone. I think the difference is negligible, but I still add it to my homemade pizzas and strombolis.
  8. Joe says:
    Just found this old thread, here's how I've been getting my lactose-free pizza fix. I've been buying cheeses labelled as lactose-free from my local dairy case. Usually some lactose-free cheddar, parmesan and gouda. You can experiment with any mix you like. I grate it all up, and take it to my local pizza maker. The commercial pizza cheeses they normally use are specially processed to withstand the high pizza-oven temperatures, so that is taken into account. They make my pizza with everything but the cheese, put it in the oven for 3 minutes, then take it out, put the cheese on, and in for another 3 to 4 minutes. For me, it's a perfect lactose-free pizza. My next adventure - a provolone pizza (thanks for that tip).

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