End of School Year Pizza Party Cook-off

School’s out! Instead of just having the gang over for pizza, why not make it a party instead? Channel your favorite cooking show and unleash your kiddie top chefs with a Pizza Party Cook-off. Kids will have a blast making pizza creations in this easy setup and cleanup shindig.

Your Party Plan

Plan to host this party outside for easy cleanup. Invite a few families or your older child’s pals to celebrate the start of summer with a Pizza Party Cook-off.

If you’d like, order paper aprons and chef hats online to really get everyone in the spirit. Borrow or rent several folding tables to set up pizza making stations (this will help you to avoid bottlenecks). You’ll need a table for gear and dough, one for sauces, another for cheeses, one more for meats and veggies, and then one long table for eating.

There’s no need to make vats of dough in advance. Excellent versions are available frozen, or you can pick up some fresh from your local pizza place. Fun Idea: while you’re there, pick up small pizza boxes — they make perfect doggie bags for leftover pizza. Ask if you can hire someone to come do a dough-tossing demo, too. If you do,buy extra dough for “oops” moments!

Other gear to grab:

Consider the number of guests you’ll be having and your oven’s capacity. If you stick with personal sized pizzas, you should be able to bake four at a time. Don’t forget toaster ovens! They can bake up additional pizzas quickly and are easy to borrow from neighbors.

Want another pizza-for-a-crowd option? Use prebaked crusts from the supermarket to pop in the oven and heat toppings in minutes. You can still have fun with fresh dough by letting kids make garlic knots, pretzel shapes, or brown sugar cinnamon sticks to bake and send home as party favors.

On the Menu

Um, pizza, of course! Prep toppings in advance in plastic storage containers; label the front with a sharpie to organize stations. Include a mix of kid-friendly and fun-for-adults:

Sauces: marinara, pesto, vodka sauce, roasted pepper spread, buffalo wing sauce, barbecue sauce, Alfredo sauce
Cheeses: shredded mozzarella, ricotta, sliced fresh mozzarella, crumbled feta, goat cheese, shredded cheddar-jack cheese, Parmesan, Gorgonzola
Meats: cooked crumbled sausage, pepperoni slices, sliced mini-meatballs, sliced prosciutto, diced ham, cooked crumbled bacon, shredded cooked chicken
Veggies & Fruit: well-drained sauteed spinach, cooked broccoli, thin sliced bell peppers, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, diced raw onions, cooked caramelized onions, roasted peppers, diced tomatoes, grilled eggplant, sliced jalapenos, sliced olives, fresh basil leaves, pineapple, sliced figs, red grapes
Spices: garlic salt, dried oregano, hot pepper flakes

Set out a bucket filled with ice for drinks like bottled water and sodas. Try an easy dessert pizza made with cookie dough, small candies like M&Ms, crushed pretzels, and mini marshmallows to make cookie pizzas. Make ahead or let kids in on the action after they’re done with pizza.

Let the Fun Begin!

Deck each competitor out with a chef’s hat and apron upon arrival. Add fake moustaches to up the fun factor — everything’s better with a moustache! Play Louis Prima, Frank Sinatra, or other Italian-inspired music to set the mood. Enjoy a pizza tossing demo and get cooking.

Show kids how to label their pizza and work through the stations. If you’ll have little ones at the party, you can also organize teams by family and make larger pies. As pizzas come out of the oven, put them out on the judge’s table for sampling and give awards for “Weirdest Yet Delicious” combo, Prettiest Pie, Best Veggie, Best Meat, Best Named Pie, or Best “Jekyll & Hyde” half-and-half pie. Get creative and have fun! Send guests home with a small pizza box of samples for a fun kickoff to summer vacation.

What’s your favorite (weird!) pizza topping combination?

Julie Hartigan

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is a recovering engineer turned chef. She develops recipes and writes about cooking, entertaining, and health for Bed Bath & Beyond, WeightWatchers, FitPregnancy, and others, looking for the spot "where Healthy meets Happy." Julie shares a small urban condo with her 2 little girls, 2 chubby guinea pigs, and 1 very patient husband. You can find her on Twitter @cookingwjulie.

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