Focaccia is a quintessential Italian flatbread only rivaled in popularity by pizza.
The main difference between these two flat baking treats is in their uses.
Pizza is the main course; it’s always the star of the show, the center of attention.
Sure, pizza has global acclaim and quite a charm, but focaccia is silently running its own show.
Focaccia is a great complement to any meal, it has a place on the table regardless of the main course, and it’s versatile too.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner or a quick snack, focaccia delivers every time.
Here’s the thing with focaccia:
Like a pizza in a way, focaccia is not only one thing, but many; focaccia has many faces depending on what you make of it.
Toppings can make a focaccia loaf light and convenient or hearty like a full meal.
There’s place for creativity here, so the question arises: what to put in a focaccia?
We’ve got you covered, below you’ll find a nice collection of focaccia toppings for your new favorite bread, from traditional to not so much.
These are our Favorite Focaccia Bread Toppings (and You’ll See Why)
Take a look at these classic and not-that-classic ideas to make your focaccia memorable.
There’s no particular order in this list, so feel free to jump to your favorites!
1. Oil, a Drizzle Makes all the Difference
Let’s start simple. Bread is a cornerstone of the Italian diet, but so is olive oil.
Sounds like a boring topping? This can’t be further from the truth.
A good, high-quality olive oil is decadent, insanely delicious, and very intricate.
It’s not only the texture, but it’s also the flavors unfolding in your palate.
Really, olive oil will make any good focaccia an excellent one.
Be careful; a cheap olive oil will only make your bread greasy.
Olive oil can be the means to carry other flavors. Infused olive oil is easy to find and easier to make: truffled olive oil, herb-infused oil, lemon, garlic or chili, the sky’s the limit!
Take a look at Sharon and here beautiful focaccia recipe on her website Certified Pastry Aficionado.
2. Go Green with Herbs
Rosemary is a classic Italian focaccia topping. If you’ve tried focaccia at a restaurant, chances are you’ve tried it before:
Focaccia al Rosmarino, that sounds as good as it tastes!
Cooking is all about substituting things you know they work for similar items you think might do too, and with aromatic herbs that’s plain simple.
Sprinkle basil leaves, thyme, oregano, chives, tarragon, or even crushed lavender flowers will give your focaccia a makeover.
It’s hard to go wrong here, so just pick the herb you like the most and give it a go.
See how Carrian and Cade from Oh Sweet Basil makes herbs work.
3. Cheese, because it Makes Everything Taste Better
We talked about pizza before, and you might argue that cheese is one of the key differentiating factors when compared to focaccia, but there’s enough cheese for everyone.
Sprinkle cheese sparingly over your focaccia, without covering it entirely like you would with pizza.
We want bits of deliciousness here and there, a pleasant surprise you randomly find.
You know Parmesan cheese will deliver, but try others as well: Grated mozzarella, pecorino, Asiago or Grana Padano.
Hard and semi-hard cheese you know will slightly melt and brown in the oven.
Drool over Melissa Stadler’s cheese focaccia.
4. Sweet, Tangy, Tomatoes
This topping might not come as a surprise; tomatoes are fairly standard for focaccia toppings, but how could we leave them out?
Tomatoes are sweet and tangy — a good, solid answer to what to put in a focaccia.
Try thin slices of large tomatoes or halved cherry tomatoes, there’s a world of difference between them.
Homemade tomato puree, seasoned with salt, pepper, and perhaps garlic, is a perfect dip for focaccia too.
Serve your tomato dip on the side ad watch everyone fight over it; it’s that good.
This roasted tomato focaccia from Paige at Last Ingredient looks awesome.
5. Green, Black, any Olives
Going back to the Italian core diet, olives are always accepted in focaccia.
There’s this earthiness, this green flavors and pleasurable bitterness; the taste of olives take your focaccia to new depths.
You can have fun in this category too. There are hundreds of different olives on earth; some are small and wrinkled; some are large and juicy.
Try Kalamata olives from Greece, Sicilian Castelvetrano olives, chunky Gordal olives from Spain, or any other unusual type you find in your local specialty store.
Avoid the generic stuff; those are better for Martinis!
Try making Sommer Collier’s amazing Focaccia Bread with Roasted Garlic and Olives at A Spicy Perspective.
6. Sausages and Ham, Let’s get Meaty
Another play from the pizza playbook, pepperoni, pastrami, salami, you know these guys.
Saltiness, fat and intense flavors are guaranteed, and beautiful, bright colors are always welcome.
Try adding bits of cured ham to your focaccia, or minced beef here and there.
Spicy chorizo sausages or longaniza will give your bread a foreign taste, and don’t overlook bacon; we know you’re salivating already; as long as it’s delicious meat, everyone’s invited.
Visit Silvio Cicchi’s site to see how it’s done. His Focaccia with tomatoes and sausage is finger-lickin’ good
7. The Natural Sweetness of Fruit
Now here’s a twist. Fruit might not be the first topping to cross your mind, but results are unbeatable.
The trick is making sure fruit is not dominating.
Try thinly sliced apples and pears, never too sweet, they add hints of sugar and the exact tanginess to balance it all.
Sliced peaches work equally well, and a few halved grapes here and there, raisins or even cranberries, will take your focaccia to another level.
For a classic take, top your focaccia with figs. It’ll taste as authentic as an Italian watching a soccer match.
Delight yourself with Maria’s apple cinnamon focaccia at Smorgaseats blog.
8. Seeds, the Origin of Life
You know you don’t eat enough seeds. Somehow the whole category has never hit the mainstream, and that’s for focaccia too.
Seeds give great flavors, toasted aromas, and a delightful crunch.
So, why not explore what’s out there in the seed aisle to give your focaccia some added personality?
Poppy seeds are a great choice, they’re healthy and small enough to let other toppings come through.
Walnuts, pecans, cashews, these have perceivable flavors and a good-enough size to become main characters.
Pine nuts are classy, sunflower seeds insanely crunchy; you get the picture; choose your champion.
Sue Lau makes an amazing Savory Seeded Focaccia at Palatable Pastime.
9. Mushrooms, Treasures of the Forest
White button mushrooms, cremini, portobello, shiitake, maitake, oyster mushrooms, enoki, chanterelles, do we need to tell you more?
Mushrooms, in all shapes and sizes, are beautiful additions to your focaccia.
Earthiness, umami richness, texture, they got it all! And they look pretty too.
Go seasonal, visit your farmers market and get fresh (never canned) mushrooms and slice them thinly.
Add them sparingly on top of your flatbread and consider yourself an artist.
Check out Ricki’s recipe for a Mushroom Focaccia at Recipe Land.
10. Onions, three ways
Onions are another common topping for your focaccia, but only because it’s so good!
And you still have some decisions to make.
Julienned red onions, as thin as you can cut them, will roast beautifully in the oven and will give flavor without being overpowering.
Again, just toss them here and there; don’t overdo them.
Caramelized onions, previously made in a saucepan, bring sweet and umami flavors to your focaccia that no other ingredient can accomplish.
You’ll be surprised for the depth of character and complexity caramelized onions alone bring to the table.
Finely diced white onions, invisible to the untrained eye, will give flavor and aromatic intensity to your bread putting no one off.
Cindy Cameron makes a delicious Garlic Onion Focaccia for Taste of Home. Go check it out!
11. What’s Life without Spice?
Heat might not cross mind when you think of Italian food, but actually, spiciness is an essential part of the country’s cuisine.
Pepperoncini, a mildly spicy red chili, finds its way into many classic Italian preparations, including the famous arrabbiata pasta.
Focaccia can also enjoy some spiciness. Add pepperoncini flakes to give your bread just the right hint of heat or go crazy by adding a few jalapeno slices.
It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but trust us, you’ll gain a few fans.
See this video for Jalapeno and Cheddar Focaccia Bread from Rookie with a Cookie
12. Chicken Teriyaki, Really?
The 80s was quite a decade. The modern American Cuisine was being forged, and the California-style pizza was invented.
Outrageous, but delicious focaccia toppers, from pâté to mustard, from feta cheese to salmon, pizza became the center of a culinary revolution.
The chicken teriyaki pizza became one of its ambassadors.
Is focaccia ready for a similar makeover? We think it is, and why not start with a sweet, extravagant idea like chicken teriyaki focaccia?
Fear not, we already tried it, and it’s delicious! Make your chicken teriyaki ahead of time, the top your focaccia with it, and bake.
Keep the chicken, ditch the sauce, or else our focaccia might become overly soggy.
See how Quang Tran makes Chicken Teriyaki in his channel
13. Nutella, Because We All Love It
Ending with a sweet note, make decadent focaccia by adding a hefty spread of Nutella to your flatbread. The hazelnut spread is actually Italian, so we’re not breaking any rules here.
As a topping or as filling in a focaccia sandwich, you’ll see focaccia and Nutella were born to be together. It’s not just the flavor, it’s the creamy texture, the addictive sweetness, this one is a keeper.
Learn to make Mini Sweet Focaccias bread with Nutella at Bella Cibo’s Kitchen.
Focaccia Toppings: Mix and Match
Now that you’ve met the players let’s make some winning combinations that will make you, your friends, and family, go insane for the stuff and forget about the rest of the meal.
The Caprese Focaccia
Ripe cherry tomatoes cut in halves; basil leaves (add at the last minute!); thinly sliced mozzarella; a drizzle of fine olive oil.
The Autumn Focaccia
Sliced apples, sliced figs, Sliced button mushrooms, olive oil to taste.
The Pizza Focaccia
Pepperoni, black olives, pepperoncini flakes; tomato puree on the side
The Rosemary and Olives Focaccia
Sliced green olives, rosemary, olive oil
The Nuts n’ Grapes Focaccia
Sprinkle poppy seeds, pecans, raisins, and halved grapes.
Make Your Own!
And of course, how could this guide be complete without a simple focaccia recipe for you to get started in the world of Italian flatbread? Follow instructions carefully.
- Add 4 cups all-purpose flour, 2 tablespoons of salt and 2 teaspoons of yeast into a mixing bowl. Incorporate with two cups of warm water and let it rest in the fridge for 24 hours.
- Place the dough in a butter-greased baking pan and drizzle with olive oil. Let it rest to get to room temperature.
- Add your favorite toppings, season with salt, and another drizzle of olive oil and bake for 30 minutes at 425°F.
It’s Time for Dinner!
Here are a few main courses that will benefit from the company of your fresh made focaccia.
Hearty beef stews, beef broths, chicken casseroles, slow-cooked meat, every hot pot in the world, and curries go great with focaccia.
As long as you can dip this bread in a sauce, clean your place with it or scoop out chunks of food, focaccia works nicely.
Grilled meats, BBQ, prime cuts, char-grilled sausages, and roasts are lovely with focaccia as a friendly, starchy side dish.
Canned fish, sardines, smoked salmon, smoked mussels and even octopus; seafood is traditionally eaten with a side of oily focaccia. Bread will be bread.
Also, remember that focaccia is fantastic sandwich bread, so get loose and make your next sandwich something out of this world.
Now you know how to top focaccia like a pro. Just like with topping bruschetta, there are the traditional ways, and then there’s innovation: your focaccia, your rules, period.
Don’t listen to purists. Like humans, food evolves, and the best recipes come from the kitchen of a person willing to do things differently.
Isn’t it exciting to know what to make for focaccia toppings to make it different and exciting every time? Focaccia is not just bread, it’s a baking project to get your creativity going.
What to Put on Focaccia Bread
- Sausages & Ham
- Chicken Teriyaki
- Choose your desired Focaccia topping recipe.
- Gather and organize needed ingredients.
- Create tasty Focaccia toppings to complete your meal!