Cookson makes pizza with her children

During the pandemic, when we ordered food for dinner, we frequently opted for pizza, which is warm, comforting, delicious…though it can be expensive. The last pie we ordered for delivery came in close to $50. That’s crazy.

So, when Crustology sent us some of their pre-made pizza crusts, we started making pizza at home.

Crustology crusts come three to a package (about $12), and you can get them in different flavors, like herb or chipotle. We started with the “original” crust, spread it with tomato sauce, laid in some sausage, sprinkled it with cheese, and boom, a cracker crust pizza that could compete with anything we’d purchased for delivery.

Random leftovers on a cracker crisp pizza crust, photo David Hammond

Having enjoyed the Crustology pizza crusts, I called the owners of the company to get the thinking behind their pies. Brother and sister Chris Miller and Anne Cookson worked for years in the family pizza crust company, Baker’s Quality, and they wanted to take what they learned and apply it to a new kind of pizza pie crust.  When the pandemic hit, the time seemed right.

I asked Cookson about the advantages of her pizza crusts, and she said “Convenience is number one, but number two is the health angle. Many people are becoming more aware of what they’re putting in their bodies. Our products are ‘clean labeled’ [familiar ingredients, no preservatives, synthetic or artificial additives] with good nutritional values. And they’re vegan.”

The nutritional values (based on one-quarter of the pie) include 90 calories and 3 grams of protein, free of tree nuts and peanuts. But most people don’t select pizza for dinner based on health concerns. Years ago, I worked for McDonald’s corporate during the roll-out of the reduced fat McLean Burger, which flopped because (the marketing folks concluded) people go to McDonald’s for taste rather than high nutrition. I mentioned that to Cookson who replied, “With our crusts, though, you get taste and nutrition. With the McLean, there was some ‘taste deterioration,’ so it maybe didn’t taste like a hamburger. With our crusts, you’re not sacrificing taste for nutritional values.”

Another advantage of making pizza at home with a Crustology crust is that we can use better ingredients than we’ll likely get on a delivery pizza. Plus, as Cookson pointed out, you can use whatever leftovers you have sitting in the refrigerator. Old mushrooms, peppers, and onions? That’s what’ll be going on the pizza pie today.

I pressed Cookson on the words “hand-crafted” on the packaging for the pies, and she confirmed that “our dough is very traditional, with a 24-hour proof, and there are people working that dough through every step of the process.”

We’ve found that a super-thin crust pizza with a little cheese and artichoke hearts, maybe some chili peppers, makes a beautiful little appetizer…or even a whole dinner. And it’s so easy; “my kids, 6 and 2,” says Cookson, “are always making their own pizzas.”

And you can, too.

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David Hammond, a corporate communications consultant and food journalist living in Oak Park, Illinois, is a founder and moderator of, the 8,500 member Chicago-based culinary chat site. David...