California Pizza Kitchen BBQ Chicken Pizza

California Pizza Kitchen was one of the first places to make really unique pizzas. This BBQ chicken pizza features chicken, barbecue sauce, mozzarella, Gouda cheese, and red onion.

homemade CPK bbq chicken pizza slices

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Pizza may be originally from Italy, but it truly came into its own in the US. While they have been making pizzas in Naples the same way for hundreds of years, Americans created almost dozens of varieties of pizzas with almost endless toppings. California Pizza Kitchen is known for its innovative and unique pies like Barbeque Chicken Pizza. The next time you are craving a slice, skip delivery and trying making this homemade BBQ Chicken Pizza recipe!

This is NOT Your Everyday Pizza Pie!

When it comes to pizza, everyone knows the basic formula: Dough, tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and toppings. But you can forget all that when making this BBQ Chicken Pizza recipe!

While this pizza may start with the same dough base as a regular pie, things quickly get much more interesting. California Pizza Kitchen instantly increases the sweet and savory level by substituting BBQ sauce for tomato sauce. You can use your favorite BBQ sauce for this recipe, but if you are buying something new, choose a basic, tomato-based sauce for the best results.

Two types of cheeses are used

Sure, this homemade BBQ chicken pizza recipe has the mozzarella cheese you are used to, but it also has something else, a bit of smoked Gouda. Smoked Gouda (“GOO·duh” in English) is originally from Holland. It is a creamy, white cheese that the cheesemaker exposes to smoldering wood chips, giving the Gouda a rich smokiness that reminds many people of the smell and taste of bacon.

Although this recipe only calls for a very light sprinkling of smoked Gouda, you can feel free to replace up to half of the mozzarella cheese with it if you like the taste.

Let’s talk about the toppings

The toppings start with pre-cooked chicken. When cooking the chicken beforehand, make sure to slightly under-cook it to avoid the chicken pieces from drying out in the oven. Next, use a mandolin to cut the red onions as thinly as possible.

If you don’t have a mandolin, use a sharp knife and do the best you can. After the pizza comes out of the oven, sprinkle some rough-cut cilantro on top right before serving.

Some people think cilantro tastes like soap, and if you are one of those people, of course, you don’t have to use it. But if you have never had cilantro before, this is an excellent recipe to try it out. Cilantro is the leaves of the coriander plant, so if you like coriander seeds, you will also probably like cilantro. Cilantro’s unique flavor goes lovely with the sweetness of the sauce, the smokiness of the Gouda, and the acidity of the red onions.

Tips for Making a Better California Pizza Kitchen BBQ Chicken Pizza

  • Make your own pizza dough. Don’t overpay for frozen pizza dough at the store when making your own is easy. Yes, even you can make a great dough with this CopyKat recipe!
  • Don’t over-sauce your pizza. BBQ sauce is tasty, but using too much turns your pizza into a mushy mess that is impossible to eat. Avoid over-saucing by making an asterisk (*) with the sauce on the dough and then spreading it out with the back of a serving spoon.
  • Use a pizza stone. Remember to pre-heat your oven with the pizza stone inside to get the pizzeria-quality crust you want.

Let us show you how easy it is to make homemade pizza on YouTube!


Here’s a list of what you need:

  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Olive oil
  • Barbecue sauce – recommend Kraft Barbeque Sauce – original flavor
  • Pizza dough
  • Semolina or cornmeal
  • Shredded Gouda cheese
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Red onion
  • Fresh cilantro
California Pizza Kitchen BBQ chicken pizza ingredients

How to Make BBQ Chicken Pizza

  1. In a large frying pan, cook the chicken in olive oil over medium-high heat until done.
  2. Refrigerate cooked chicken until chilled through.
  3. Once chilled, coat the chicken with BBQ sauce and place it back in the refrigerator.
  4. Place a pizza stone in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
  5. Cut the chicken into thin strips or small bite-sized pieces.
  6. Sprinkle semolina on a work surface.
  7. Place the pizza dough on the semolina and roll out the dough.
  8. Spread BBQ sauce evenly over the surface of the dough within the edge.
  9. Sprinkle Gouda cheese over the sauce.
  10. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top.
    bbq chicken pizza cheese layer
  11. Distribute chicken pieces evenly over the cheese.
  12. Distribute red onion slices evenly over the pizza.
  13. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the top.
    bbq chicken pizza before baking
  14. Transfer the pizza to the pizza stone in the oven.
  15. Bake until the crust is crisp and golden and the cheese in the center is bubbly.
  16. Remove the pizza from the oven and sprinkle cilantro on top.
  17. Slice and serve.

Did you know California Pizza Kitchen has a great cookbook? They sure do! And you can get it on Amazon: The California Pizza Kitchen Cookbook.

slices of homemade CPK barbecue chicken pizza on a pizza peel

Love California Pizza Kitchen? Try these copycat recipes!

More Pizzas to Make

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Check out more of my easy chicken recipes and the best copycat recipes for casual dining restaurants here on CopyKat!

homemade CPK bbq chicken pizza slices

California Pizza Kitchen BBQ Chicken Pizza

You can make this special barbecue chicken pizza at home, our copycat recipe is no secret.
5 from 4 votes
Print Pin Rate Add to Collection
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: BBQ Chicken Pizza, California Pizza Kitchen Recipes, Pizza Recipe
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 16
Calories: 169kcal


BBQ Chicken

  • 8 ounces boneless and skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons barbecue sauce


  • 16 ounces pizza dough
  • 2 tablespoons semolina or cornmeal
  • ½ cup barbecue sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Gouda cheese shredded
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese shredded
  • ¼ cup red onion sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro


BBQ Chicken

  • In a large frying pan, cook the chicken in olive oil over medium-high heat until just cooked, 5 to 6 minutes. Do not overcook.
  • Set cooked chicken aside in the refrigerator until chilled through.
  • Once chilled, coat the chicken with two tablespoons BBQ sauce. Place it back in the refrigerator. 

To Make the Pizza

  • Place a pizza stone in the center of the oven and preheat to 500 degrees for one hour before cooking pizzas.
  • Sprinkle semolina on a work surface.
  • Place half of the pizza dough on the semolina and roll out the dough.
  • Use a large spoon to spread ¼ cup BBQ sauce evenly over the surface of the prepared dough within the rim.
  • Sprinkle 1 tablespoon Gouda cheese over the sauce.
  • Cover with ¾ cup shredded mozzarella.
  • Distribute half the chicken pieces evenly over the cheese (approximately 18 pieces).
  • Place approximately 18 to 20 pieces of red onion over the surface.
  • Sprinkle an additional ¼ cup mozzarella over the top of the pizza. 
  • Transfer the pizza to the oven and bake until the crust is crisp and golden and the cheese in the center is bubbly, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  • When the pizza is cooked, carefully remove it from the oven and sprinkle 1 tablespoon cilantro over the hot pizza. Slice and serve.
  • Repeat with the remaining ingredients for a second pizza. The two pizzas may be prepared simultaneously if you are careful in placing the pizzas at opposite corners of your pizza stone.


Calories: 169kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 22mg | Sodium: 438mg | Potassium: 98mg | Fiber: 0g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 135IU | Vitamin C: 0.4mg | Calcium: 88mg | Iron: 1mg

About Stephanie Manley

I recreate your favorite restaurant recipes, so you can prepare these dishes at home. I help you cook dinner, and serve up dishes you know your family will love. You can find most of the ingredients for all of the recipes in your local grocery store.

Stephanie is the author of's Dining Out in the Home, and's Dining Out in the Home 2.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Annette

    What kind of BBQ sauce do you use? I feel like the sauce is a big part of the taste and you never mention what kind.

  2. Lizzie

    Oh this is my fav pizza ever!! I used to have this in the Galleria Mall in St Louis Mo everytime we went. And when I was 6 I asked my Mom foe a pizza cooker so I could make my frozen pizzas for after school snacks. I makes me so happy!! I have tried to recreate it a million times so I’m excited to try your version!

  3. Susan Dubose

    5 stars
    This is a great weeknight recipe that we make at least twice a month! Sometimes we use the Pillsbury pizza crust dough and other times, we make our own. But either way, it is delicious.

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