Americans love pizza. From pepperoni to sausage, from meat-lovers to all-veggie, we consume 350 slices of pizza every second, and 15 percent say it's their number one comfort food. That means industry is paying attention. There are big bucks to be made in pizza, and to this end Melanie Zanoza Bartelme, associate editor of Food Technology magazine has identified eight trends in American pizza preferences and consumption habits. How many of these describe you?

1. Fifty eight percent of U.S. pizza eaters say they would buy more frozen pizza if it had more premium or gourmet ingredients.

2. Pizza consumption in restaurants is trending at its highest level in the past four years with 76 percent of us saying we have eaten at a pizza restaurant in the past 12 months.

3. While pizzas are trending toward thinner crusts, hand-tossed is the No. 1 crust type found on restaurant menus, preferred by 57 percent of us.

4. Another trend is gluten-free pizza crust, the availability of which has increased 58 percent between 2012 and 2015.

5. Tomato-based red sauce remains the most common topping on pizzas, but nontraditional sauces, such as ranch, Alfredo and white sauce, are also appearing.

6. Mozzarella is the most commonly used pizza cheese with 71 percent of the market. It is distantly followed in second and third place by ricotta and Parmesan at 35 percent and 32 percent respectively, but alternate cheeses are on the rise. These include goat, gorgonzola, fontina, Romano, asiago, provolone, feta and even pepper jack. In addition, preference for gouda is increasing so much that it is among the fastest-growing cheeses on restaurant menus.

7. Sausage and pepperoni are still the top meats, being featured on 73 percent of restaurant menus, but bacon is also widely available. Chicken breast is up 22 percent, likely due to its perception as a healthier meat. Prosciutto is growing, up 27 percent since 2010. Other emerging meat toppings include meatballs, salami and anchovies.

8. Onion, tomato, mushroom and peppers are featured as pizza toppings on at least 73 percent of restaurant menus.


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