Follow CentsToShare on Twitter! Follow CentsToShare on Facebook! Follow CentsToShare's Feed!

How To Make Pizza For 38 Cents

by Jonathan on January 6, 2011 · 86 comments

To kick off CentsToShare’s DIY series, we are sharing a great recipe that you can try out, to make your own 4-6 inch, personal pan pizza for way less than a buck! Everyone loves pizza, and everyone loves to save money, how about combining them? Buying all the ingredients individually gives you the chance to save a lot of money, when you calculate out just how much it costs per slice, or per pizza in this case. Even though all the ingredients together may cost about the same as a pizza from Pizza Hut or some other place, you can make a lot more with those ingredients, than you get by purchasing one pre-cooked.

As readers will be finding out, my wife is a great cook. To top it off, she’s also extremely talented at putting together meals, for us, that are really cheap. Over the past few months, she has made this for us a few times, and it is always extremely tasty! In addition to that, it’s really really easy to make, so even I can make it. ;)

Ingredients (depending on what you like)

- 1 medium sized onion
- 1 package of generic brand frozen dinner rolls
- 1 26oz can of Hunts Tomato Sauce (or generic brand, any variety)
- 1 8oz bag of generic brand mozzarella cheese
- 1 16oz package of fresh mushrooms (not cans)
- 1 8oz package of Hormel (or generic brand) pepperoni


1. If you have the dinner rolls frozen (like we did, because we bought them in bulk), take them out of the freezer 2-3 hours before making your pizza. Flatten one dinner roll using a rolling pin, as flat as you would like, for each pizza that you are planning to make. So for 3 pizzas, flatten 3 separate dinner rolls.

2. Take about 1 tbsp of tomato sauce and spread over the entire, flattened dinner roll. Depending on how much you want, you can increase or decrease this amount.

3. Dice up a small amount of onion. You won’t need a lot, maybe 6 little pieces per pizza. Place the onion pieces on top of the sauce.

4. Place about 4 pieces of pepperoni on top of the onions.

5. Place 3 mushroom slices on top of the pepperoni.

6. Put about 1/4 cup of cheese on top of the entire pizza.

7. Bake at 375 F, for about 15 minutes or until the crust is turning golden brown.

8. Take out, and let cool for about 5 minutes before eating. That’s it! Ready to enjoy.

How Much Does It Really Cost?

I decided to run some rough numbers on this recipe, because I like to know about what our meals cost, and the results were pretty surprising. Here’s what we paid for each ingredient:

Onion – $0.50 at about $.69 cents/lb
Tomato Sauce – $1.00 for a 26 oz can (watch for those sales!)
Mushrooms – $1.49 for 16oz package (fresh)
Dinner Rolls – $1.19 (again watch for sales on generic items)
Pepperoni – $0.99 (clearance!)
Cheese – $1.50 for 8oz package

Total Cost – $6.67 (plus tax)

Cost Details

Running the numbers on how much we use for each pizza we get the following:

Since we used such a small amount for each pizza, I let this sit at about $0.01 per pizza. When you only use 6 small squares out of a whole onion, I figure this is probably higher than it should be.

Tomato Sauce

Serving Size = 1/2 Cup or 8 tbsp
Servings/Can = 6

Serving size we used = 1 tbsp
Servings we’ll get for pizza = 48

Cost/Serving = $1.00 / 48 servings = $.02


Serving Size = 14 slices
Servings/Container = 8

Serving size we used = 4 slices
Servings we’ll get per pizza = 29(28.6)

Cost/Serving = $0.99 / 29 = $0.03

Dinner Roll

Serving Size – 1 Roll
Servings/Container – 12

Cost/Serving = $1.19 / 12 = $0.10


Serving Size = 1/4 cup
Servings/Container = 8

Cost/Serving = $1.50 / 8 = $0.19


Serving size we used = 3 Slices
Servings/Container = ~50 (I actually counted them all!)

Cost Per Serving = $1.49 / 50 = $0.03

Cost Summary

Onion – $0.01
Sauce – $0.02
Pepperoni – $0.03
Dinner Roll – $0.10
Cheese – $0.19
Mushrooms – $0.03

Total Cost Per Pizza = $0.38 (wow!)

As you can see, that’s much cheaper than what you can buy at gas stations and pizza places. Depending on what you want on your pizza, you can reduce that cost even more, or increase it some as well. This ingredient list was my personal creation, but you are certainly welcome to change it up. Also, one last note, most of these ingredients were purchased when they were on sale. Keep your eyes and minds open, and you’ll be able to eat for much cheaper than you would realize.

Don’t forget to let us know if you try, and enjoy the recipe!

**We are not professionals. The calculations contained within this article are for cost-reduction, demonstration purposes only. They are meant to be accurate, but if a mistake is noticed, please kindly contact us for correction. Costs of this recipe, and all recipes on CentsToShare do not include the costs of operating appliances within your home, the costs of transportation, nor the costs of your time.**

Enjoyed this article? You may enjoy these as well!

About the author

Jonathan wrote 103 articles on this blog.

Jonathan is the founder and primary writer at CentsToShare. He enjoys reading above all else, but also gardening, building, eating healthy food and being self-reliant. Living a happy, stress-free life is possible, but it must be sought after, and not taken for granted. If you like the site, please let me know in the comments or through email - Thanks!

{ 62 comments… read them below or add one }

Daddy Paul January 9, 2011 at 6:16 pm

Sounds good. Creative recipe!


Jonathan January 9, 2011 at 9:12 pm

For the money, it’s the best tasting pizza in it’s class. :)


Kerry D. January 12, 2011 at 9:36 am

For almost a year now, we’ve been making weekly pizza from SCRATCH! Turns out, working with yeast isn’t that difficult, and since I buy large bags of flour, cheese, and yeast, it’s extremely inexpensive. The pizzas easily beat out commercial pizzas in terms of quality, and the cost is only about $1 per 12 x 16 pizza!


Jonathan January 12, 2011 at 2:13 pm

That’s a great price Kerry! We’ve worked with yeast some, but haven’t been able to make a delicious loaf of bread quite yet. With enough practice though, it’ll happen. Isn’t it amazing how cheap it is to make your own meals?


Liz January 13, 2011 at 8:26 pm

Jonathan, Try making bread rolls before moving onto loaves of bread, it is easier to learn your prefered consistency. When you come to a recipie you like then try it in a loaf.


Jonathan January 14, 2011 at 7:28 am

Thanks for the tip Liz!


Tom January 12, 2011 at 11:33 am

Hi Jonathan – Thanks for the awesome article! My wife has been making pizza dough from scratch that tastes great. I know it’s not as convenient as the dinner rolls, but I think it might be slightly cheaper.

I like how you broke down each ingredient in terms of cost. Any idea how much the electricity/gas for the oven cost per pizza?

Keep up the the great work!


Jonathan January 12, 2011 at 2:16 pm

Thanks for the compliment Tom! I’m thinking that home made dough would taste better than dinner rolls, and be a little cheaper overall. Once we master home made bread (not quite yet), I think I may do a follow-up on this article just to see if it is.

I wouldn’t have a clue how much it costs to run the stove, but I’d bet, it’s not too much. An easy way to figure it out though, would be to find out how much electricity or gas your stove uses (it may be in the manual that came with it), and calculate it out against how much either commodity costs. I’d say electricity is much cheaper than gas powered, based on my experience with gas and electric heat.

Sounds like an interesting experiment…hmmm…


MousE April 13, 2012 at 2:45 am

I found this recipe on the chickensintheroad website to be perfectly easy for breadmaking. It doesn’t require a mixmaster or food processor, just flour, water, salt, sugar, yeast:

How to make Grandmother Bread:

Two-loaf standard recipe

3 cups warm water
1 tablespoon yeast (1 packet)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
7 cups all-purpose flour
In a large bowl, combine water, yeast, sugar, and salt. Let sit five minutes. Stir in first three cups of flour with a heavy spoon. Add the next cup of flour a little at a time as needed, stirring until dough becomes too stiff to continue stirring easily. Add a little more flour and begin kneading. The amount of flour is approximate–your mileage may vary! Continue adding flour and kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic. Let dough rise in a greased, covered bowl until doubled. (Usually, about an hour.) Uncover bowl; sprinkle in a little more flour and knead again before dividing in half. With floured hands, shape dough into loaves and place in two greased loaf pans. Tear off two pieces of waxed paper and grease with oil spray (to prevent it from sticking to the loaves as they rise) and cover loaf pans. Let rise till loaves are tall and beautiful! (About an hour, depending on the temperature in your kitchen.)

Bake for 25 minutes in a preheated 350-degree oven. Makes two loaves. Recipe can be cut in half.

One-loaf standard recipe:

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 teaspoon yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
3 1/2 cups flour

You can look on her website for variations. I’ve made it quite a few times, especially with an addition of olive oil,
and it’s dead easy and turns out perfect. I find the one loaf standard recipe gives me two large pizzas, and after the
first rise, you can wrap it and freeze it.

It works great!

I love your idea for personal sized pizzas. I’m doing that next time, I’ll just divide the one-loaf standard into
6 pieces.



Mike January 12, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Nice post – Now I’m going to think of this every time my wife and I make a homemade pizza, which we typically do once every two weeks or so.


Jonathan January 12, 2011 at 2:17 pm

As will I Mike. :) Thanks for the comment. It’s pretty amazing how cheap one can eat at home!


kristine January 12, 2011 at 4:03 pm

Great idea!
Can anyone share their recipe for homemade pizza dough? I only eat whole wheat, not white, so I can just substitute that flour. I do not think I can find inexpensive frozen whole wheat dinner rolls.
I am sure I will use 2x as much mushrooms and onions!


Jonathan January 12, 2011 at 8:15 pm

Thanks for your comment Kristine. Stay tuned if you are looking for a homemade dough recipe. I think we’ll be making some in the near future, and it’ll be turned into article.

I’ve never actually tried whole wheat crust for pizza. I bet it’s pretty tasty.


Patricia January 12, 2011 at 8:48 pm

Hi Kristine. I used the recipe off of Farmgirl Fare for the first time. Hers calls for 3 cups of bread flour-I would strongly urge you to use either white whole wheat or use a little more water and keep the dough good and sticky–1 tsp yeast (2 tsp if you have less time), 2tsp salt, and 1 1/3 cups of water. I also add 1 Tbl. of olive oil. I think it adds alot of flavor. Stir the first three ingredients together (no need to proof instant yeast) then add the water (and oil if using),stirring until your arm feels like its going to break! You can use a large food processor or stand mixer that has a dough hook. Knead it for about 10 minutes. Susan lets it rise for two hours but I put mine in the oven with the light on for half an hour which helps speed up the process. Then turn the oven to 500 degrees for half an hour. I also have a pizza stone that I got for 25.00 at WalMart a few years ago. Best purchase I ever made. I allow the stone to heat up for half an hour while the dough continues to rise close to the oven. This hour to hour and a half lets me get all the toppings together. I make my own italian sausage from either ground pork or ground hamburger. Last night I did as Susan suggested and made the pizzas (2) free form. I cut the dough in half and floured a board and first rolled it almost to the size of the stone. I have a wooden peel (also a wise purchase for even less) that I sprinkled heavily with corn meal. I then picked up the dough on either side of it –and it will stretch–and laid it on the corn meal. That will keep it from sticking to the peel. You can also use the back of a cookie sheet. Then I took the edges and just turned then inwards an inch pressing down to make a good edge. You might need to restretch. I guarantee it won’t be a perfect round shape–who cares! Add your mozzerella, then your other toppings followed with real grated parm (makes all the difference) Shake your peel or cookie sheet to make sure the pizza moves and slide it onto the stone or cook on the back of the sheet for 12-15 minutes. Best crust we have ever had.


Jonathan January 12, 2011 at 9:02 pm

Sounds great, thanks for sharing Patricia! :)


Patricia January 12, 2011 at 9:08 pm

I meant “knead it” not Need it!!!!!


Jonathan January 12, 2011 at 9:22 pm

Haha, fixed it for ya!


SAP January 15, 2011 at 3:46 pm

Maybe you could change “Dinner roles” in your original post to “dinner rolls” while you’re at it….

Jenny January 16, 2011 at 11:47 am

Arrow Head Mills makes an all purpose baking mix that is made with whole wheat flour, but with some white flour, too. I used to use it a long time ago to make drop biscuits (rolling with a rolling pin not mandatory). It was quick and easy. That might work for you. The biscuits’ texture (firmer) and taste were so much more like homemade than canned, white biscuits They also make an organic pizza crust mix, but it’s made with just organic white flour. I’ll also post if I try an actual homemade crust – I bet whole wheat with some cornmeal would be really good!


Jen January 13, 2011 at 4:51 pm

I make this one, it’s pretty good and not difficult!


Jonathan January 14, 2011 at 7:30 am

Looks like a winner to me, I’m gonna have to check that out. Thanks for sharing!


Andrew January 15, 2011 at 3:31 pm

I saw this link from Lifehacker, and I love this post! I am a college student that is always looking for a cheap way to feed myself. It sounds like a quick recipe, and somewhat nutritional! I can’t wait to try it! Please do more of these “Cheap Eats” posts!


Jonathan January 16, 2011 at 1:31 pm

Thanks Andrew! We plan on posting quite a few of them. We seemed to have found a pretty popular topic. ;)


carlos January 15, 2011 at 4:42 pm

Plus the cost of operating the oven. Which is pretty high actually.


Jamie January 15, 2011 at 5:02 pm

Plus the cost of your time from prep to clean-up. Also, this is leisure time which I value higher than my usual wage (unless you’d rather be prepping pizza than spending time w your kids, biking, reading, etc…)


Alexa Claire January 16, 2011 at 5:20 pm

I think it’s silly to imply that if you take steps to lower your spending, it’s because you’d rather be doing that than spending time with your children. Taking ten minutes to make a pizza instead of getting one delivered and spending around 65x as much money (assuming you spend just $25 on delivered pizza) is just the smarter way to do it. You could definitely invite your whole family to help make the pizza as well, and make cooking a bonding experience. (:


lol January 15, 2011 at 6:15 pm

nice, but you forgot electric costs


Alexa Claire January 16, 2011 at 5:13 pm

Since everyone’s oven, electricity or gas rate (and these rates can vary throughout the year), and actual time it takes to preheat and bake the pizzas will be different, including the costs to run the appliances would be time-consuming and rather pointless, don’t you think?


John Lamar January 16, 2011 at 5:48 pm

You also have to figure out the unknown variables such as the time of year and time of day. Both gas and electric rates fluctuate constantly, and differ all over the country.

Be sure however, when you order a pizza you are paying them to heat the oven even when they aren’t cooking anything. Plus putting money into their profit jar.


Courtney January 15, 2011 at 6:37 pm

This is awesome, but can you freeze them somehow? I’m going to try parbaking the crusts, freezing, adding sauce/toppings (fast!) and freezing again.


Emily January 15, 2011 at 8:53 pm

That’s exactly what I was thinking, I bet it’ll work great!


Jonathan January 16, 2011 at 1:36 pm

akbozo has a pretty good solution for freezing, see below. We haven’t tried freezing yet, but we don’t a very big freezer either. Maybe once we move we’ll try it out. Let us know if it works out well for ya.


akbozo January 16, 2011 at 12:20 am

i am the owner of a pizza restaurant. if you want to freeze your pizza, prepare it as you normally would, bake it for only half the time. for example if you would bake for 10 minutes in a 500 degree oven, only bake for 5. your freezer should be set for 20 degrees below zero. when frozen double wrap in saran wrap. or if you can, vacuum pack. when you want to eat it, thaw until it is room temperature, pre heat oven to 500, should be done in 8 or 10 minutes. should have a shelf life of six months frozen, although in my experience as a poor college student, you might as well refrigerate because it will be eaten before the week is out. also. if it’s still out there, try rhodes bread, cheap and good. sorry, part of this got lost in the first iteration.


Jonathan January 16, 2011 at 1:39 pm

Sounds like a great plan for freezing them up, thanks for sharing that. This is a great recipe for college students. :)


Michael January 16, 2011 at 5:31 am

I’m gonna give this a try. Of course I will add some extra herbs, red pepper and seasoning to the sauce, and maybe upgrade the ingredients slightly.

Those frozen pre-portioned dinner roll doughs are excellent. If nobody has ever tried this, take some frozen biscuit rolls like Pillsbury, thaw them on a plate, and drop them into some hot oil, then flip them over, cook till nice and golden, take them out of the fryer and roll them in a cinnamon and sugar mixture. Practically instant Malasada doughnuts.


Jonathan January 16, 2011 at 1:40 pm

We just picked up a bunch of clearance Pillsbury rolls that ‘go bad’ in about a week. This is an excellent idea, one I think I had when I was growing up. Makes me wanna go get em out and make em up.

Let us know if you enjoy the recipe!


Ponchey January 16, 2011 at 11:36 am

I love how people nit pick these posts to death! I would think the cost to run your oven is a given when it comes to cooking so who really cares? If you’re that concerned about it, cook it over a camp fire….but then we might need to figure out how much larger your carbon footprint increases! Thanks for your post Jonathan and good job on the creative “cheap eats” post!


Jonathan January 16, 2011 at 1:43 pm

Couldn’t agree more. :) Thanks for the compliment Ponchey.


ร่มบ่อสร้าง August 10, 2011 at 4:52 am

This is nice in theory, but I would be worried about all the unhealthy stuff you get when you buy the cheapest ingredients.


Annissa August 20, 2011 at 8:31 pm

Just because it ends up being ‘cheap’ doesn’t always mean there is unhealthy things in the food product. We do our best to choose good food products at a reasonable price. We didn’t buy highly processed cheese product for our pizza (which is usually cheaper — or anything to a similar respect in the other products used), we bought plain simple cheese that happened to be a good price. The game is finding that food for less. However, we do appreciate your comment and concern about health!


Nate January 16, 2011 at 1:03 pm

I do something similar with our family, but we were able to cut down on time (and potentially cost) by using XL Pitas for the crust. When the store has them on sale (often 8 for $1) we buy up a bunch and throw them in the freezer, the pitas don’t stick together, and can go right from the freezer to having toppings put on without defrosting.

We also throw a little pizza seasoning (pre-mixed spices) into the sauce. We open a large can (cause canned sauce is cheaper) and put the sauce and the seasoning into an old Spaghetti sauce jar, and then shake. This jar can be put back in the fridge after pizza’s are made and will make a few pizza’s into the future as well. (The seasoning flavors the sauce a lot better if it is let sit in the fridge, at least overnight)

A huge plus if you like thin crust, crisp pizza’s. I freeze big blocks of cheese when they are on special as well. Because, you know…I’m cheap.


Jonathan January 16, 2011 at 1:45 pm

I’m really getting hungry for pizza now, I may just go make up some of these. :) Thanks for sharing those ideas. Letting the sauce sit over night is an excellent way to let the flavors blend. I hadn’t thought of using pitas, will have to remember that!


ES January 16, 2011 at 10:12 pm

Another option instead of dinner rolls is to use a pita. Tastes great.


joe January 17, 2011 at 1:51 am

Don’t know where you find mushrooms or cheese for that price. I’m a bargain shopper and can’t get those prices, even on sale.


Mike January 17, 2011 at 12:56 pm

I shop at Hy-Vee which is a midwest chain, and every so often they have their store brand shredded cheese on sale 10 for $10. Normally a few times a year.


Jonathan January 18, 2011 at 8:42 pm

We do a lot of our shopping at HyVee as well. This is where we find the best deals, including the mushrooms and cheese. Fareway also has great prices.

Unfortunately these prices aren’t all over the place, so not all people can benefit.


dajolt January 17, 2011 at 3:14 am

Great post.

Instead of taking dinner rolls out of the freezer 2-3 hours before making
pizza, I’d do my own dough 1 hour before making. Mixing together the
ingredients takes 5 minutes (plus another five to clean-up) and then
you have fresh dough which tastes great and is cheaper, too. Homemake
dough stays usable in the fridge for up to 4 days. You can also home freeze it
to keep it for months.

And you can freeze little portions of pizza toppings which will thaw while the
dough rises.

The only “problem” I had with home make pizza was the sauce and how to make a small quantity
without generating any leftovers. My solution is a mixture of tomato paste, ketchup and water with added pepper and some spices. All these ingredients have a very long fridge-life so nothing get’s wasted.


Harlowe Thrombey January 18, 2011 at 8:07 pm

Where in America is there real cheese, 8 oz, for $1.50?

That’s less than half of what most people I assume pay.


Jonathan January 18, 2011 at 8:45 pm

We buy all our cheese at Hy-Vee, which is a midwest chain. They often have their store brand on sale for $1 a bag.

Most regions will have multiple chains that operate in the area. Try checking every one of them out. We recently discovered a chain store called Aldi, which sells gallons of milk for $2.29 a gallon, way less than other stores in the area. When we first found them, they had it for $2.19 a gallon.


Tori January 21, 2011 at 6:11 pm

This is nice in theory, but I would be worried about all the unhealthy stuff you get when you buy the cheapest ingredients.

Might be better to try to can some tomatoes in the summer and use those (super low cost, and no BPA-lined cans, pesticides). Also probably much healthier to buy flour and make the dough (so easy, only takes 15 minutes to mix and knead, then you throw it in the freezer till you’re ready for it) than to get rolls. I buy organic flour, even, and it’s still super cheap (5 lbs for $4, makes about 48 pizza crusts, in my estimation, or about 8 cents/generous-sized crust). Add in the minimal cost of yeast and salt, and it’s probably about 10 cents.

Finally, the dairy is the real deal-killer here. I just don’t feel safe eating the cheap stuff that comes from factory farms. So, I’d probably drop a little more (like $3 for 8oz) for organic cheese. However, I know not everyone is as weird about that stuff as me!


Jonathan January 24, 2011 at 9:09 pm

Thanks for the comment Tori. Even buying better quality products, the recipe is much cheaper than established chains sell their products for. But on a side note, how do you know that it’s healthier? ;)


Karlo E. February 19, 2011 at 6:38 pm

Just tried making this for the first time with Pillsbury rolls, I was a bit rushed so it didn’t come out exactly as planned. I still have one more can of rolls in the refridgerator for my next attempt, but I wanted to see if I could clear up a few questions first.

I had a bit of trouble flattening the dough out in time, before the dough became sticky. I think it was because I have some doubt of whether I was supposed to use the whole can of rolls or just ‘one’ roll, so I used half of the can (4 rolls). Has anyone that has used this brand of rolls for this recipe (or similar) give me a bit of advice in this regard.


Jonathan February 19, 2011 at 9:28 pm

Thanks for trying out our recipe Karlo. We just used single generic frozen dinner rolls for the dough, and flattened it out using a rolling pin. I suspect using a bit of flour would keep Pillsbury rolls from sticking.


Daniel White March 11, 2011 at 8:41 am


Pretty much impossible around where I live. :( Nothing here is 38 cents!


Annissa August 20, 2011 at 8:34 pm

Your pizza may not be exactly 38 cents (although possible), but if you break down what you’ve bought for the ingredients (considered you bought wisely) I promise you, you will probably have a personal size pizza that’s cheaper than a pre-made one at the store (or ordering it from a restaurant).


Lisa - San Diego Homes for Sale March 23, 2011 at 7:13 pm

Interesting Recipe. I’ve never actually made my own pizza. I’m going to try this recipe. If it’s really .38 I am going to save a lot of money!


hio July 1, 2011 at 2:20 am



hio July 1, 2011 at 2:21 am

We buy all our cheese at Hy-Vee, which is a midwest chain. They often have their store brand on sale for $1 a bag.


ร่มบ่อสร้าง August 10, 2011 at 4:52 am

Creative recipe!


บ้านถวาย August 10, 2011 at 4:53 am

We’ve been making weekly pizza from SCRATCH! Turns outใ


Lynda June 3, 2012 at 5:17 pm

I tried this recipe and reviewed it here:

Happy eating!


Wayne @ Young Family Finance July 27, 2012 at 10:38 pm

Made this recipe and it turned out great! My wife made our own pizza crust, though, and it made it even cheaper. I made mine without mushrooms, however! I have to give them all to my kids or there would be a rebellion. Good thing I’m not fond.


Leave a Comment

{ 24 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: