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Making Up For My Cheeseless Childhood: Pizza Dip


As a kid, my body didn’t really do dairy all that well, and my doctor suggested I cut dairy from my diet completely. Five-year-old me learned this meant she couldn’t eat mac and cheese anymore. Tears ensued. Luckily, I was eventually able to reintroduce dairy into my diet and found that cheese no longer any problem. So in this blog series, I’m trying out wacky, kid-friendly recipes, hoping to give families with cheese-loving kids fun, easy, and delicious meals to make together as I search for dishes that adequately make up for my cheeseless childhood. Missed the last post on Chocolate Mac and Cheese? Check it out!


When I told my housemates to come help me eat this pizza cheese dip, one of them asked if there was any pizza to go with it, to which the response was, “The dip IS the pizza!” It was a concept that blew all of our minds.

I think it’s fair to say that pizza is one of the most magnificent wonders to grace our Planet Earth. Even my picky-eater friends rely on pizza as an easy food-fallback. At my classmates’ birthday parties in elementary school, I’d stay clear of the cake and annoy parents by requesting water instead of the soda provided, but I would never turn down a slice of pizza. With this in mind, I had no real need to find an alternative to the already-amazing pizza pie. As a champion bread lover, I originally found the act of removing this intergral component of pizza (i.e., crust) quite questionable. However, I do also love crackers. And I love the act of mindlessly eating way too much dip. So it was worth trying out.

There are a few great recipes out there, with a few variations. For ingredients, I ended up going with:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • ½ tablespoon dried oregano
  • ½ tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1½ cups grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • A solid handful or two of pepperoni slices
  • Ritz crackers

This is another super quick and easy recipe. Prep time takes about five minutes, and cook time is about twenty.

Preheat the oven to 375°F and spray a 9-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Mix the cream cheese, oregano, and garlic power (and/or whatever herbs you’re feeling) in a small dish before coating the bottom of the dish with the spread. Make sure you give the cream cheese some time to soften—I struggled trying to spread it evenly when it was still a little chilly. I eventually found success with the help of the back of a spoon.

CheeselessChildhood_PizzaDip_1

Sprinkle half of your mozzarella cheese (¾ cup) and half of your parmesan cheese (½ cup) on top of the cream cheese (I, of course, added more of each). Then, pour on your marinara sauce until the bottom layer of the dip is completely covered. Make sure the sauce is evenly distributed. Add the leftover cheese (remembering that extra is always encouraged), and finish off with your desired amount of pepperoni.

CheeselessChildhood_PizzaDip_3

Transfer to the oven, and bake until the cheese is melted and the marinara sauce is starting to bubble a bit, about 20-25 minutes. I threw on just a little more mozzarella cheese. Give it a few minutes and dig in.

CheeselessChildhood_PizzaDip_4

The dip was pretty great. It tasted just like pizza, except it was gooier and had way more of that with amazing melted-cheese-stretchiness. Cracker dip is definitely a fun way to eat pizza, and it’s perfect for parties or people with a gluten intolerance. My only issue was that once we got down to the cream cheese layer, I found the taste a little off-putting. Swirling the remaining marinara sauce with the cream cheese helped a bit, but next time I plan on either using less cream cheese or just calling it once the top layer is through.

Despite the disappointing bottom layer, I’m really satisfied with how the dip turned out. Would I choose it over regular pizza? Probably not. But if I’m ever hosting a small party or craving pizza but lacking pizza crust, this dip will definitely be making an appearance.

Sarah Cummings

Sarah Cummings is a native New Yorker braving the Boston winters to study Writing, Literature, and Publishing at Emerson College. In her spare time, she can often be found rock climbing, cuddling the neighborhood cats, or integrating goat cheese into her every meal.