Chunky slices of Japanese milk bread topped with homemade pizza sauce, salty ham, fresh veggies, and melty mozzarella cheese. This Japanese Pizza Toast is the epitome of deliciousness and nostalgia! No wonder it makes a popular lunch and snack item among children and adults in Japan!
Need a quick lunch or a savory snack idea? Let me introduce Japanese Pizza Toast (ピザトースト). Yes, pizza toasts are all good, but this one starts with the sweet, soft, and non-like-the-other Japanese milk bread as the base. You get delicate crispy exterior, softest chewy insides, and with all the savory pizza toppings.
Growing up, my brother and I loved pizza toast for our after-school snack! It’s undeniably the BEST KIND of childhood comfort food. Busy moms and dads can make it. Kids can make it. And 15 minutes is all it takes!
Table of Contents
What is Pizza Toast?
Pizza toast (ピザトースト) is basically toast with your favorite pizza toppings! Instead of proper pizza dough, we use bread slices as a stand-in to imitate one of the most favorite foods in the world. You can say it’s a short-cut version to real pizza. Shortcut it is, but pizza toast is truly special on its own. Even a child can tell you that bread, cheese, and tomato sauce make some really yummy food.
To make Japanese version of pizza toast, we use only Japanese milk bread, otherwise known as shokupan. The mildly sweet and pillowy soft texture of the milk bread makes it a great canvas for a fun variety of pizza toppings.
History of Japanese Pizza Toast
So, how did Japanese pizza toast come about? Pizza used to be a luxury food item in Japan and not everyone could afford it. In 1964, a coffee shop called Benishika (紅鹿舎, べにしか) in Tokyo took the idea to create a simpler version of pizza by using everyone’s favorite milk bread, resulting a new hot item that we call Japanese pizza toast today.
Its popularity lives on until today, and you can find pizza toast being served as lunch or snack menu at coffee shops and bakeries all over Japan. Homemakers love making pizza toasts for their kids too since it is as quick and easy as comfort food gets!
How to Make Pizza Toast
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Japanese milk bread (shokupan) – this can be store-bought or homemade.
- Pizza sauce – store-bought or homemade. See below.
- Mozzarella cheese – shredded or sliced.
- Onion – I used sweet onion.
- Green bell pepper
- Ham (sausage, salami, or bacon) – Pepperoni is not commonly used for Japanese pizza toast, but you could use it if that’s what you have.
- Cherry tomatoes
Other Pizza Toppings Ideas
Overview: Cooking Steps
- Cut the Japanese milk bread into thick slices. For children, cut the slice in half.
- Spread the pizza sauce on the slices.
- Top with cheese, onion, ham, bell pepper, tomato, and again cheese.
- Place the slices on a wire rack and toast them until the cheese is melted and browned slightly.
- Serve immediately and enjoy!
5 Tips to Make Delicious Pizza Toast
- Cut ingredients into thin slices. This especially helps if you don’t like biting into raw onions or bell peppers.
- Make homemade pizza sauce. It doesn’t take up much time, but this improves the flavors!
- Cut the slice in half first. If you’re going to serve the pizza toast to children, it’s a good idea to cut the milk bread slices in half so it’s easy to hold. Put the two pieces into a regular slice shape to put toppings and toast. Try not to separate the two pieces.
- Sprinkle a small amount of cheese over the pizza sauce, then add toppings. Finally, add more cheese on top before toasting.
- Put the toast on a wire rack so that the air can circulate at bottom of the toast. I highly recommend placing aluminum foil below the wire rack to catch any falling toppings, such as cheese, if you want to avoid the mess.
Make Homemade Pizza Sauce with Simple Ingredients
When I was growing up in the 80s in Japan, there was no “pizza sauce” in a squeezable bottle like we have these days. So our easy pizza toast was simply made with ketchup and my mom still uses ketchup when she makes pizza toast for my children when we visit Japan. I know, don’t cringe! Ketchup on toast is a thing in Japan.
If it wasn’t quick and easy, I would skip the hassle of making my own homemade pizza sauce but this is really fuss-free. You can’t beat the flavors, so let me share my quick pizza sauce recipe.
You will need:
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Crushed red pepper (red pepper flakes)
- Ketchup (or use a few canned whole tomatoes)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Dried oregano (I sometimes add it if I feel fancy, but not necessary)
All you need to do is to cook the above ingredients in a frying pan (or saucepan) in that order until combined!
If you’ve tried this pizza toast recipe, then let us know how you got on in the comments below, we love hearing from you!
Japanese Milk Bread Recipe
You can purchase Japanese milk bread called Shokupan (食パン) in Japanese grocery stores or bakeries. You can also buy a similar milk bread in Chinese and Korean bakeries and supermarkets these days.
But If you’re interested in making your own, I have a very detailed recipe and a tutorial video. I hope you give it a try! I also have a helpful post on how to purchase a Japanese shokupan loaf pan from Japan.
Delicious Recipes Using Japanese Milk Bread
- Tamago Sando
- Katsu Sando
- Japanese Fruit Sandwich (Fruit Sando)
- Wanpaku Sandwich
- Crispy Chicken Sandwich
- 6 Japanese Twists on Avocado Toast
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For the Quick Pizza Sauce
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ tsp crushed red pepper (red pepper flakes)
- 1 clove garlic (minced)
- 3 Tbsp ketchup (or 2 whole tomatoes, canned, per 3 slices)
- ⅛ tsp kosher salt (Diamond Crystal; use half for table salt)
- ⅛ tsp freshly ground black pepper
For the Pizza Toast
- 3 slices shokupan (Japanese milk bread) (¾ inch or 1.5 cm thick per slice)
- ⅛ sweet onion
- ⅛ green bell pepper
- 4 cherry tomatoes
- 3 slices ham
- 6 Tbsp shredded mozzarella cheese (or more, if you'd like)
- Gather all the ingredients.
To Make the Quick Pizza Sauce
- Heat a small frying pan (or saucepan) over medium-low heat. When it's warm (not hot), add the olive oil, red pepper flakes, and minced garlic.
- Sauté the garlic and pepper flakes without burning them, about 2 minutes. Once fragrant, add the ketchup.
- Stir and combine all the ingredients together until homogeneous.
- Add the salt and black pepper to taste. Transfer the sauce to a bowl and set aside to cool.
To Prepare the Ingredients
- Using a bread knife, cut the Japanese milk bread into slices ¾ inch (1.5 cm) thick, if you haven't already.
- Thinly slice the onion and green bell pepper.
- Using a sharp or serrated knife, thinly slice the cherry tomatoes into thirds (if possible). Cut the ham into thin, short strips.
To Make the Pizza Toast
- If you will be serving the pizza toast to children, cut the slice(s) in half (I cut it diagonally). Then, put the two pieces back together as if it's one uncut slice. Now, add the toppings. First, spread the homemade pizza sauce on top, about 1 Tbsp for each slice.
- Sprinkle a little bit of cheese on the pizza sauce (once melted, this cheese helps hold the toppings in place). Next, scatter some onion slices on top.
- Then, scatter the green pepper slices and ham.
- Finally, add a few tomato slices and top with more cheese.
- Adjust the wire rack of a toaster oven in the middle. Place the pizza toast directly on the wire rack, taking care not to let the toppings fall or hang off the edges. Tip: I place my slice on a wire rack with a tray underneath. This helps catch any melted cheese that might drip down. While the bottom of the slice doesn’t get as crisp, the tray keeps the oven clean.
- Serve hot immediately. Sprinkle more red pepper flakes on top, if you'd like.
- You can wrap the leftover (uncooked or cooked) pizza toast tightly in plastic and store it in the refrigerator for 2 days or put the wrapped pizza toast in a plastic bag and freeze for 2 weeks. Reheat the defrosted or frozen pizza toast in the toaster oven before serving.