How to Make the Giardiniera Slathered on Lou Malnati’s Italian Beef Deep-Dish Pie

Family-owned Lou Malnati's shares an adaptation of the recipe for their hot giardiniera

September 29, 2021 7:15 am
Lou Malnati's is launching an Italian beef and hot giardiniera pizza for National Pizza Month
Lou Malnati's is launching an Italian beef and hot giardiniera pizza for National Pizza Month.
Jeff Marini

As delicious to eat as it is difficult to pronounce, giardiniera is as beloved in the Windy City as da Bears, da Bulls and Ditka.

Typically a mixture of vegetables including carrots, celery, cauliflower and hot peppers pickled in salt brine or vinegar and then packed in olive oil, giardiniera originated in Italy and is made using the Italian process of preserving fresh vegetables from the garden to last through the winter, according to The Chicago Tribune.

An Illinois resident since it moved to the U.S. along with the wave of Italian immigration that came to Chicago in the late-19th century, giardiniera now brings acidity, saltiness and spice to Chicago staples like Italian beef and deep-dish pizza. Or, in the case of a new limited-time pie that family-owned pizzeria chain Lou Malnati’s will be selling via Tastes of Chicago starting on October 4 in honor of National Pizza Month, both at the same time.

Topped with the pizzeria’s custom blend of the pickled condiment, Lou Malnati’s new deep-dish Italian beef and hot giardiniera pizza is made with vine-ripened tomato sauce from California and mozzarella cheese sourced from Wisconsin. Despite the imported ingredients, the deep-dish pizza, which is also topped with slow-roasted herbs and spices, is Chicagoan through and through.

Another Chicagoan, Lou Malnati’s head of R&D Kelley Borscha, says the giardiniera on the new pizza is hot without being overpowering or detracting from the other tasty elements of the deep-dish pie.

“Giardiniera is one of those things that if you know, you know. If you don’t know, it’s like, ‘What is that word?’ It’s definitely a Chicago thing,” she tells InsideHook. “It has to have just the right harmony of spice and salt because sometimes it can get too spicy to where it can be a turnoff for some people. The one we use just hits that perfect blend where it gives you a kick, but it’s not to where you lose the flavors of everything else on the pizza. When you think of something marinating in oil, you might think it would get just mushy. These veggies stay crunchy and they have that bite. That is really important.”

Lou Malnati's is launching an Italian beef and hot giardiniera pizza for National Pizza Month
It doesn’t get more Chicago than deep-dish pizza with Italian beef and giardiniera.
Jeff Marini

Borscha says she has seen the spicy condiment used in other contexts as well. “My husband is a major hot giardiniera fan, so he literally puts it on everything,” she says. “I think it honestly can go on anything, even with breakfast items like eggs. You can put it on a deli sandwich or a cold sandwich. People do it more for the flavor than to get their vegetable count for the day. You really can put it on anything and everything.”

Now topping Lou Malnati’s limited-edition pizzas, the hot giardiniera is shipping nationwide along with the pies.

“A lot of people miss the food if they move away from Chicago. We hear that all the time,” Borscha says. “It feels great for us to be able to give them that piece of home and still feel connected to Chicago even if they’re miles away. Especially in this past year with COVID and people not being able to travel and see family members. Shipping our food is a way for people to still get that taste and this pie just screams Chicago: deep-dish, Italian beef, hot giardiniera. We are selective when we do these limited-time offer pizzas because we want to stay true to our traditions and have really top-quality ingredients, but this was the perfect combination and it just screams good old Chicago.”

Order up one of the pies or make the hot giardiniera at home with the recipe below.

Lou Malnati’s Hot Giardiniera (Adapted)


  • 2 large celery stalks, large dice
  • 2 large carrots, large dice
  • 1 1/2 cups cauliflower florets
  • 1 1/2 cups green olives, sliced
  • 1 cup salt
  • 2 teaspoons chili flakes
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 cups white wine vinegar
  • 2 cups extra virgin olive oil
  • Water


  1. Place all the vegetables into a medium-sized bowl. 
  2. Pour in the salt and then stir until everything is coated.  Till the bowl with cold water until all the vegetables are covered.  Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight.
  3. After allowing it to sit for 12-24 hours, pour the vegetables into a large strainer, drain the water and give the vegetables a quick rinse in clean, cold water.  Rinse the bowl and then return the vegetables to it.  
  4. Mix the chili flakes, pepper and garlic together, then add the olive oil and vinegar. Mix well until blended and then pour the liquid over the vegetables. 
  5. Cover again and refrigerate the mixture overnight once more.  It should be ready to enjoy the next day.


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