Recipe, Tips

10 paths to painless pizza-making

As you may have noticed, we’re kind of into pizza in the smitten kitchen. I mean, just a little. I can’t help it–in my mind, it combines the best things on earth: homemade bread, charred-edged ingredients, pairing well with a green salad and wine, and–the way I make it, at least–it never feels like a heavy meal.

Every time I post about pizza, I answer at least five or seven of the same ten questions in the comments, so I thought that it was time to create a FAQ on the topic that will hopefully answer all of your questions (feel free to ask additional ones in the comments) in one tidy URL. Consider this a primer for the new pizza recipe I will tell you about next.

Like the bread-making tips I shared way back in the newborn days of this site, my point of these are not to fill your head with reminders and cautionary tales that will cause you more worry when you get into the kitchen–there are enough sites that do that, I know that for many people, anything yeast-based is scary enough. Instead, I want to impart to you how easy it can be, and how strongly I feel that anyone on earth can succeed in making impressive pizza at home. I hope this helps.

pizza dough, man on moon

1. You don’t need a bread machine, a dough hook or a food processor to get it right.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: people having been making bread a lot longer than these fancy machines have been around. Sure, they can knock a few minutes off your prep time (and that dough hook sure creates a smooth and supple dough), but a simple pizza dough takes so little time to make by hand, in our dishwasher-free kitchen at least, it’s rarely worth the extra dishes it will create to bust out the machines. I mix my dough ingredients with a wooden spoon in a large bowl, knead it for a few minutes on a counter, then oil that bowl and use it to let the dough rise. Dish- and drama-minimizing, it’s my favorite way to cook.

2. It needn’t take all day.

That process I described above–stir then knead–takes no more than ten minutes. If your kitchen is on the warm side, the dough takes just an hour to double. It’s certainly not the fastest weekday night meal out there, but it might just be the simplest. Nevertheless, if you’re in a hurry, you can speed up the dough rising time with a stellar tip I borrowed from Simply Recipes: heat your oven to 150 degrees, then turn it off. Place your dough in an oiled bowl in this warmed oven to rise.

how you know it has doubled enough

3. It can be ready for you when you get home.

I’ve been promising you this refrigerator tip for ages, but, sadly, that’s how long it took me to test it out. If you’d like, you can mix and knead your dough ingredients in the morning, plop them in an oiled bowl, cover it with oiled plastic wrap and leave it in your refrigerator while you go to work. The dough will slowly rise–truly developing the best flavor–while you’re away. By the time you come home, it should be doubled. Take it out, let it get back to room temperature, deflate it on a floured counter and you’re on your way.

4. You don’t need a pizza paddle.

This is another one of those tools that are fun if you have them, but are in no way a prerequisite for making pizza at home. A tiny kitchen demands that I don’t even consider such extras. Instead, I slide the pizza dough, prepped with toppings, onto a piece of cornmeal-dusted parchment paper that’s been placed on the back of a baking sheet. With a little shove-and-yank, I slide the parchment paper with the pizza right onto the pizza stone in the oven. It bakes right on the parchment paper, which I use to yank the pizza out to the oven when it’s done.

n'th picture of pizza dough

5. You don’t need a pizza stone.

Pizza stones improve the crust of pizza and breads, no question about it. But it doesn’t mean you can’t make delicious pizza without them. I have more than once baked pizza on the back of a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper and sprinkled with cornmeal, just as I described above, and been thrilled with the results.

6. You don’t need a professional pizza oven, but high heat is your friend.

One of the most salient differences between the brick-oven beast at your favorite pizza shop and, say, the smitten kitchen’s diminutive, apartment-standard white-painted oven is that the former gets much hotter than the latter–by even 500 degrees. Your best bet to get the brick-oven effect at home is to turn your oven all the way up to broil for a good ten minutes before you pop your pizza in, and step back from the inferno as you open its mighty jaws, lest you want a high-heat facial!

7. Pizza cooked under the broiler is amazing.

Speaking of broilers, there are a few in-the-know pizza types out there that swear by the broiler for making perfect, Patsys-like pizza (say that three times fast!). The technique, described in full, with a colorful story on, involves getting a cast iron skillet hotter than the fires of Babylon and cooking a pizza on the back of it for about 1.62 minutes, and is totally worth checking out.

rolling out dough

8. You can cook it on the grill, but only if you invite me over.

I absolutely love grilled pizza, and it’s a fun way to use the grill at the point in the summer when you’re so sick of steaks-n-burgers-n-skewers. Here’s my highly-refined (ha) method: Brush your heated grill with oil. Have your pizza dough rolled out, and your toppings at arm’s length. Throw the dough over the grill for a minute or two, until you get a bit of coloring underneath (shouldn’t take long). With tongs and a deep breath, flip it out onto a platter, uncooked side down. Top it as you wish, slide it back onto the grill and cover the lid. It should be ready in about five minutes.

9. You can cook it on the stove.

At Mario Batali’s Otto Pizzaria in the Village, the astoundingly good pizza is cooked on the stove, not in an oven. His product line’s stove-top (or oven-friendly) pizza pan mentions this only casually in the description, but I’ve been captivated ever since. Sadly, I haven’t tried it out [See above: Tiny kitchen, filled to capacity, etc.] but I hope to, soon.

10. You can buy pizza dough from your local pizza shop.

Yes, I know I have spent a terrific amount of time preaching the virtues of homemade, dead-easy pizza dough but you know what? Sometimes, even I get tired of eating dinner at 10:30 p.m. in the name of purist cooking pursuits. [I hope you were sitting down for that one.] Go to your local pizza shop and ask to buy a dough. In NYC, this is a cinch, of course, and the doughs run about $3 each. Once you get it home, it’s ready to go. Heck, that’s even faster than ordering one from that Shmomino’s racket!

Pizza Dough Recipes:

Pizza Recipes Here:

Pizza Recipes I’m Stalking Elsewhere:

One year ago: Gateau de Crepes

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154 comments on 10 paths to painless pizza-making

  1. Taryn

    Gah, I LOVE making homemade pizza. I wish it would cool off outside so I could take some of these tips and put them to good use! If only we had a grill :(

  2. Erin Kermanikian

    Thank you for responding to my question a few days ago about how the new dough measured up to the one with wine and honey. I also wanted to add that I went home that day and made pizza – because we do seriously have it once a week – and now I have a new favoirte topping combo! – First I used a mandoline to slice zucchini the long way and tossed it in a bowl with 4 minced garlic cloves and olive oil. I placed the thin slices on the pizza dough and then used the mandoline to shred some fresh brussel sprouts on top – a big ol’ mound some fresh ground pepper and salt and more olive oil a little bit of cheese (under the veggies – but probably not neccesary) – It was fantastic!!!!
    Back to a doug question – or quest on my part…please come out to LA and eat pizza at Pizzeria Mozza and PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE figure out how to make that wonderful crispy bubbly sourdough pizza dough. Please.

  3. Olivia

    I’ve been buy pizza crusts to make it at home, but I must try making my own dough. It sounds so good. I remember my grandmother adding like a cup of sugar (if memory serves me) to her dough.

  4. I always think of pizza as something that’s maybe better left to those with coal-fired ovens, but you make DIY pizza seem very achievable to the home cook. And that’s a lovely gift. Thanks!

  5. This is great! I have bought pizza dough at my local italian market and it turned out great. My only problem is that I can’t roll out the dough so it looks like a circle – it usually looks oblong. Not that big of a deal but if you have any tips on how to roll it out, I’d love to hear them!


  6. My husband has been making homemade pizza for years. He used to swear by the honey/white wine Mario Batali recipe, but now he’s started using this one:
    It’s spectacular. Perfect crust every time (thus far), however, with traditional methods, you know within an hour if the crust will work or not, and with this one, you don’t know its feasibility until after an overnight rest in the fridge. You should try it, though, we’ve been so happy with it.

  7. daffy

    Only found your site on Monday, but have been checking back or updates, and today’s is a glory. Love the refrigerator pizza dough tip – makes it work for my family’s out-all-day-arrive-home-starving schedule. Thanks smitten kitchen!

  8. Nicole

    Wow, the dough rising in the refrigerator is priceless knowledge! I just may have to try that before work one of these days!

  9. Joy

    Mmmm…I love homemade pizza. I’ve only started making it but always get disappointed with the dough-y crust. I used to avoid making dough because the recipes that I see talk of using a stand mixer for dough kneading and I didn’t have it. But you’re right, I don’t need it. I’ve actually had good results manually kneading. It’s good exercise if you’re going to be eating the dough goodies, too. Heh. For rising the dough, I just warm up the oven and turn it off.

    Thanks for testing the refrigerator tip. I’ve always read about it, but never tried it because I was scared it won’t rise at all!

  10. I can’t thank you enough for this post, if only because one of the links provided led me to this link where they actually discuss how to make that Patsy’s like pizza.

    And as Patsy’s is my favorite pizzeria everywhere, this is just fabulous information.

    So thanks!

  11. Ah, I have just found myself at that point of which you speak where I am sick of all the standard grill fare, but nowhere near sick of grill flavor. And I was just thinking that I’d love homemade pizza, but I just can’t deal with the kitchen after heating the oven to the screamin’ high heat needed for a truly crisp pizza crust.

    After reading this post, I must now pursue the perfection of pizza-on-the-grill technique. Mmm. Smoky, charred, perfectly crisp pizza. Yum-my! Great idea.

  12. Kai

    I make my own pizza every Friday night! I have a gas stove and I set my bowl on top of the (off) oven to rise and it’s doubles in about 30 minutes. I have no fancy tools, just my hands, a bowl and a cookie sheet! My favorite is Tostada pizza, where I mash up black beans into a paste and top with sauce and cheese, bake and then top with shredded lettuce and tortilla chip pieces. YUM!

  13. Nancy

    Have you tried the artichoke pizza on East 14th St.? I went yesterday, no line at first but then out the door, a slice (for $3.00) that was the size of my son’s head (he is in the 99+%ile) and it taste like a spinach artichoke dip pizza, crusty and thick. It could have been lunch and dinner.
    I make a pizza from the old Food Network, with potatos, rosemary, asiago and fontina cheese. OMG it’s fabulous. Pizza dough, boiled potatoes sliced thin, asiago and fontina grated on top, sprinkle with rosemary and olive oil and bake.Deelish

  14. Alyson

    We’ve been making the Alton Brown dough (substituting 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour for the bread flour) for a month or so now – fabulous. And we’ve also been making it on paving stones in our (gas) oven. They can totally live in there, they’re super cheaper than a stone and I think they make better pizza. If you go that way, make sure you get actual stone and not some fancy looking concrete. My husband has declared it much better than anything we can buy around here.

  15. Larry

    Have been making my own in a gas oven on a stone for about 5-6 years. I use a no fail dough from Wolfgang Puck – rolled out super thin.
    Would like to recommend our favorite – have tried many and keep going back to this one – Pizza Marguerita.
    Coat crust with ev olive oil, (wanted to use the debateable abbreviation but then chose not to) sliced fresh “good” tomatoes with salt and fresh ground pepper – flip flop in the olive oil and make a full layer, top with sliced or grated part skim Mozzarella, top with lots of fresh basil in thin strips, Parmesan Reggiano grated on top and if desired, red pepper flakes. Enjoy!! Be careful, the tomatoes stay HOT!!

  16. martha in mobile

    I made the potato pizza the other night — it was just like being in Rome! (Except that it wasn’t square and wasn’t sold by the gram and there weren’t Italian men telling me that I am blonde even though my hair is brown). And we grilled it on a pizza stone in our Big Green Egg, so it was extra yummy.

  17. Carla Hinkle

    Thanks for the great tips …

    did you know that Trader Joe’s sells great pizza dough for $1???? Always my fall-back.

  18. Kikilia

    Can’t buy ready made pizza dough anywhere in my neck of the woods (small town mid-west)- but would love to be able to do so.

    Thanks for the tips- might have to try it out soon!

  19. I never have any luck making my own pizza dough. I’m never happy with it. Maybe I’m dough-challenge. :) I’m going to try your Wine-and-Honey Pizza Dough. Wish me luck!

  20. Ann

    GREAT POST. What? You don’t want to answer the same questions over and over and over? You’d rather be onto the next beautiful concoction? Okay, then. Really, this is good bc homemade pizza can be rather intimidating and this clears it all right up.

    It’s 5:18pm right now and last picture made me groan a little. Embarrassing. At work.

  21. I just don’t know HOW to get the pizza crust to roll out thin! It’s frustrates me so much! I’ve gone as far as to get my kids in the kitchen and we each pull a side of the dough! Are there any secrets? The best pizza dough EVER is from WEGMANS! But I’m craving the THIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIN crust pies! Any advise/hints would be appreciated!

  22. I will have to tell you I just started making my own pizza dough not too long ago and it is so true, it is soooo easy to do. I find myself making it a lot these days, but since it is so hot, I have a hard time wanting to heat my oven to 500F to do it. I must say I had never tried anything with yeast before and I was pleasantly surprised on how easy it was to do!

    Although now I have found myself to be quite the pizza snob…I go somewhere that has pizza that is uninteresting and I find myself saying, “Wow I could have made better at home…”

  23. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I have made my own pizza dough in the past, but wasn’t entirely happy with the results. With your little tips and tidbits in this post, I’m sure I’ll get it perfect next time!

  24. Thanks for these great tips! I have what might be a very dumb question. I have a cast iron griddle and so am interested in trying the cast iron/broiler idea you linked above; I’m dubious, though, about their method of sliding the pizza from cardboard onto the cast iron. Will your Simplest Pizza Dough recipe above really slide that easily? I’m assuming I cannot use your parchment-paper idea as it would probably burn to ash against the cast iron? Any thoughts?

  25. courtney

    I love homemade pizza, especially since we only have one good pizza place close by and they close somewhat early (9pm even on Friday and Saturday) and don’t deliver. The problem is that my husband is one of those more, more people, and loves the big chain delivery places that have soggy greasy pizza so loaded with cheese and toppings it’s disgusting. The way I figure it is a properly dressed pizza isn’t too unhealthy of a meal, you have tomato sauce a little bit of carb because the crust is thin, a bit of cheese. As long as you steer clear of too fatty meat it isn’t that bad, and I tend to do veggies.

  26. Susan

    My homemade dough is okay, I usually make an herb variety but it seems to be lacking something. And I don’t make it enough now that I’m at altitude (which really doesn’t seem to change much) but I can’t bring myself to buy it at WF either. I need to get back in practice.

    I noticed TasteSpotting a minute ago too, it was up a few hours ago (but not updated). So sad.

  27. Sara

    Great pizza info. Here’s my question: Can you recommend a recipe for whole wheat pizza dough? When I make my first foray into pizza land I’d like to make a whole wheat crust.

  28. A great post! I love making pizza and I find it quite an easy process! I make my dough by hand and I’m always satisfied by the end result…

    Your pizza looks fabulous!



  29. Great post! You’re right, you don’t need fancy equipment to make a great pizza. I mix my ingredients on the counter with a fork and knead by hand for 10 minutes. And I get a crisp base by heating a baking sheet while the oven is warming up to its highest setting. Then I use a rolling pin to transfer the pizza base to the hot sheet and assemble the topping there.

    I do like your suggestion of letting the dough rise in the refrigerator. Another thing to try out! Thanks.

  30. ann

    I’ve been making pizza like a madwoman lately, but not as like, pizza pizza, but as like, bread pizza, if that makes sense. Or, you know what? It may be more like focaccia… I make the dough and then top it with herbs and olive oil and garlic and bake as an accompaniment to salads and soups and stuff. I love making pizza. It’s so versatile and delicious. Thanks for the tips, Deb! I’ve never broiled mine, but I can’t wait to try it out now :-)

  31. Nickii

    I have had to learn how to make pizza after moving to Cayman. There are no good pizza’s (or dough) here to be bought. After reading all the comments for this and for the “simplest pizza dough” post I had to throw my 2 cents in. I don’t let my dough rise. We like thin crust. I make the dough and let it rest while I chop up the toppings and make the sauce. Then I punch it down (it has only risen a tiny bit at that point) roll it out and put it in the oven for 2-3 minutes. I find that using peel is much easier after the dough has been in the oven. Spread the sauce and ingredients on and there you go.

  32. I’m dying now to make some homemade pizza! It would eliminate the “but I’m in the mood for pizza!” excuse for ordering in.

    Thank you for this post for pizza … um… proselytes. (Okay, okay, so I went to the thesaurus for an appropriate word. I just had to keep up the alliterative trend!)

  33. Madge

    These are great tips. Letting the dough rise in the fridge has made homemade dough so much easier on weeknights – I throw it together the night before and let it rise in the fridge overnight (using a bit less yeast than my recipe, which is adapted from the updated Joy of Cooking, calls for).

  34. I have the same request as Jane M…I can’t figure out how to get my pizza dough stretched out thin enough.

    What I have been doing is making a very soft dough with lots of oil and sugar in it, spreading it in a dry pan, freezing it…and then popping the dough off the pan and spreading oil on the pan, replacing the crust, topping the pizza and then baking it.

    But this makes a thick, goopy, “pan style” pizza which is what my husband really likes. I would really like to do some thinner pizzas on the grill or on a pizza stone, but I’m not sure what sort of rolling/stretching technique would work.

  35. Jen

    My fiance is from New Zealand and loves pizza with chicken, camembert and apricot jam. I think I am going to try that cooked on the grill this week-end.

  36. Carrie

    We grill pizza all the time and we did it *slightly* differently. Once the dough is ready for cooking, I brush oil on one side of the dough and sprinkle with cornmeal. The grill is preheating on HIGH. Once the dough is ready to be placed, I turn the grill down to medium and flip the dough, oiled side down onto the grill. While it is cooking, I coat the other side of the dough with oil and cornmeal. Then I flip it over. TURN THE GRILL OFF! Quickly add all my pizza ingredients, close the cover. Within 5-8 minutes, the toppings are perfect and the crust is perfect! You have to turn the grill off or you will burn the crust – just do indirect heating/cooking!

    And, for a great pizza recipe: carmelized onions, prosciutto, and a lemon cream sauce rather than the traditional red sauce, topped with an Italian blend of cheeses! The best!

  37. You just made me SO happy! I love how every step is reassuring us all to make our own pizzas. Yay, now you’ve given me the confidence. But do I neeed….

    just kidding. You’ve answered all my questions!

  38. liz

    Ooo, our pizza paddle broke, so that tip about the parchment is inspired!

    Also, the pizza dept. at Whole Foods will always sell you pizza dough with no hassle. It’s also about $3 and makes a nice crust.

  39. christina

    i was perusing your older entries and i am fascinated by your spice tins! where did you buy them? they are pretty much the epitome of decorative and functional

  40. *delurking* Lovely! I wonder if we’re on the same brainwave. I’ve been contemplating on making pizza for dinner lately; it’s one of those things that I crave most frequently.

    I love your stories and pictures :)

  41. Thanks for the tips.
    I just made pizza for the kids last night. I usually make three or four differnt types each time I make it (about twice a month). One from last night was a cheese and spinach with fresh spinach from our garden, so good.

  42. I am a longtime fan of making my own pizza. And the husband and I are gearing up for another fun summer season of pizza making. Summer’s veg bounty somehow always inspires me to make interesting pizza toppings. Fresh spinach? zucchini? crazy little mushrooms from the farmers market? yes please.

    But I have to admit that when I got to “broil” I went “ruh?!” and a smile hit my face. I rubbed my eager little hands together and thought “Awesome. A whole new technique to experiment with”

    Great FAQ


  44. I, too, am yeast-challenged. I buy dough at Papa Murphy’s, a take-and-bake chain…they are in our little town in ohio, you might look for one if you are not in a big city with Italian markets.

    I have recently made my first successful yeast foccaia, and look forward to grilling pizza on our new grill. Thanks for all you suggestions…

  45. nia

    we do dough overnight in the fridge all the time, it’s perfect, and my husband par-bakes the crust with olive oil and garlic, then adds the rest of the toppings. (works well if you have thicker crust) also PASTORELLI canned pizza sauce is fabulous. Nice and thick and spicy.

  46. i get bored with doughs and change every so often. but my favorite toppings are sliced yellow squash, zucchini, onions and mushrooms. browned italian sausage on half, since my husband’s theory is it isn’t a meal if there’s no meat.

    also, parchment paper is wonderful stuff, but the finished pizza can slip right off and into the bottom of your oven if you’re not careful when removing it from the stone. and oh, how the house fills with acrid smoke! on the bright side, if you’re making several pizzas, you can use the parchment paper over and over!

  47. we make homemade pizza all the time and i love it! my husband is vegan so he tops his with tons of veggies and pine nuts and i go with the cheese. we do use a breadmaker to make our dough which is very convenient, if you think ahead of time. i swear that you can only get the good crust, though, by using some semolina flour. we go half semolina, half white flour and it’s delicious! huzzah for homemade pizza!

  48. mel

    putting my oven on the self-cleaning cycle totally works. my super-ghetto range lifts up so that i can open the oven despite the safety latch. the only thing is that the third time i did it, my pizza stone cracked in half. it still works, but i haven’t done it again for fear of it breaking into even smaller pieces.

  49. This is the problem I have time and again: I crank my oven up high, throw it in, but the cheesy top always gets too brown before the crust is done. I try making the crust as thin as possible, and have even lowered the temperature to 425 degrees, but I still have the problem. Help???

    1. M Erskine

      Hi Jora- my husband has owned pizza places for 25 years- when I started making pizzas at home and consistently had this same prob he said it is most likely due to the cheese being shredded too thinly. There is a delicate balance in all the aspects of a pizza. Oven temperature- thickness of dough- raw vs Pre cooked toppings-and the cheese thickness. Try shredding your cheese as thick as possible-even chop by hand if you must. And never use pre shredded. It doesn’t melt properly.
      Good luck:)

  50. Sarah

    FYI – A cheapo solution to the pizza stone thing is buying some terra-cotta tiles at the hardware store. I bake bread on them and the results are fab, so I bet they would be great for pizza as well.

  51. Susan

    I made Mario’s pizza crust last night and baked the pizza’s tonight. Oh my..this was the best crust. What a wonderful flavor and so light and crispy too. Thanks for recommending this one, I’ll definately use it again. It was just as easy as your original crust recipe..just a couple different ingredients.

    I tried it 2 ways. First pizza I spread it out on parchment on my pizza pan and it came out perfect. By the second pizza, we weren’t hungry I just hurriedly oiled up the pizza pan and sprinkled it with the cornmeal, smushed out the dough, and threw on the other stuff helter skelter. It was even better! That cornmeal adds such a nice little extra crunch. I didn’t use my stone at all and just baked it on the lowest shelf at 475º. Me thinks this crust is no fail!

  52. Ahh, parchment paper! You have imparted to me the piece of wisdom I have been missing for the past two years! I have terrrrrrible problems with my topping-covered dough sticking to my pizza peel/cutting board/baking sheet, and this has caused some serious temper tantrums. I started to avoid pizza making for that reason alone. But now I see there is a solution. Thank you, smitten kitchen, for letting pizza come back into my life.

  53. laura

    When I make pizza dough, I let it rise and then I roll it out (actually I use my hands) onto a silpat or parchment. I get it super thin, and then I freeze it. Later it just peels right off the parchment or silpat. Then I can just throw it on the grill. I wonder if I could throw it on the pizza stone in the oven…. I’m sure you could.

  54. Thank you! Thank you! For ages I have been trying to convince my friends that making your own pizza dough with just a bowl and a spoon and your own two hands is actually REALLY easy and simple! They never believe me. This FAQ is fantastic. What a gem.

  55. Fabulous… Aussie pizzas way overloaded and bases like cardboard. Make my own (but in a breadmaker) and cook ’em like they do in Italy. Simple good ingredients. yummmm….

    Hang on a sec. No dishwasher? Are you completely serious? I live in the sticks, and I still have a dishwasher… gads. Everything about this blog is amazing, but that’s the most amazing thing of all…

    *walks off muttering about laziness in the kitchen being a sin*


  56. DEB! thank you so much. I had been wanting to try pizza start-to-finish and I needed someone to tell me not to be a scaredy cat. I made pizza on Saturday AND Sunday this weekend, and it was delicious both times. What a great post :)

  57. Irene

    I’ve been meaning to try to make this at home – asparagus is plentiful right now in CA and this may be the perfect crust for it, especially if I can do the dough in the am before work and have everything else ready to go by the time I get home at night. Try this combo for something different – Asparagus, smoked mozzarella, goat cheese, whole roasted garlic cloves, thyme, chili flakes. It’s from Cafe Bernardo in Davis, CA. One of their other locations also adds pancetta along with leeks to the pizza, but the folks in Davis tend to be more vegetarian eaters than in other areas.

  58. Definite thanks for your list of pizza recipes with links! We’ve recently discovered the joys of homemade weeknight pizza.. wonderful satisfying, both for the tummy and for the sense of pride!

  59. Thanks for these tips. I’ve always wanted to make pizza at home but have been full of excuses: takes too long, oven not hot enough. . .and so on and so forth. These tips are helpful and will provide me with the posterior-kick that I often require.

    The pizza in the picture looks gorgeous. I have been so dissatisfied with the pizza I get around here (national chains) that I haven’t had pizza in quite some time (a year or so). Pizza is one of my favourite foods! I really have to do pizza at home then, so it will be the way I like it.

  60. asha

    To Sarah, above, who uses the “cheapy” solution of terracotta tiles: CAUTION! As an ex-potter I can tell you that “cheapy” terracotta (especially that which is not intended for food use) can easily have a high lead content–particularly if made in developing nations like Mexico. I would never do it. Buy a pizza stone for $15.

  61. nette

    Great summary-two things to add:

    there is a big difference between buying store-bought (re: frozen and thawed) dough vs. local pizza place. Often people who have a hard time rolling out dough are using the former version.

    Also, I too have a tiny kitchen sans gadgets, but for a great crispy crust, I recommend cooking the dough in a large saute pan with olive oil, flipping it when its done on one side. Add toppings and by the time you’re done with that, the other side will be done. Slide into the broiler for extra melty cheese and crispness. I think Mark Bittman wrote an article about this for the times, I highly recommend it…

  62. nicole

    i just started making home pizza earlier this year. my favorite book so far is the California pizza kitchen cookbook. we got it for the Thai chicken pizza recipe but so far we have loved everything in it 9 out of the 10 recipes we have tired.

    as for the pizza stones i got mine for $12 at target. it works great and its so cool to see the crust start to cook as soon as you place it on the stone.

  63. I’ve read a tip to those who don’t have a stone but haven’t tried it yet. put the dough in the oven for a bit (only the dough) then remove it and put the sauce and cheese and back to the oven

    the extra time at the start SHOULD let the dough get it’s color and crispiness

  64. Cialis

    The key to reallly good pizza is letting the dough rise. dont rush the process. In fact leave the dough covered with with a dish towel and leave it on top of the dryer. Also using high quality olive oil makes a difference in taste.

  65. Jenna

    JANE – The trick to stretching dough is to let it rest. If it’s shrinking back after you roll or stretch it, the glutens are too tight and need to relax. Set it down on the counter for 20 minutes. It should be good to go after that.

    This technique is also how you get super thin crusts. The more relaxed the gluten is, the thinner you can get the dough.

    For the record, I bake on an inverted baking sheet with just sauce on the dough for 5 minutes at 500 degrees, then I put the toppings on and bake for 2 more. Then I turn the oven to broil for 1.5 minutes to finish. Works great!

  66. Bri

    Deb~ Thank you so much for your tips. I just made my first ever homemade pizza this evening. While it wasn’t as beautiful as yours, it was really quite good. Of course, I don’t have a pizza stone, peel or any of the other fancy gagetry, but it turned out wonderfully nonetheless. I never would have believed I could make pizza at home that would make me not want to order out again (none of the pizza places in town compare to New York pizza so I suppose this isn’t much of a feat). My husband informed me that my success meant that I was required to make it again, but I’m not complaining. Thanks again!

  67. Maria

    I’ve found good luck using a pizza pan on the pizza stone. You get the ease of assembling your pizza in the pan and your pizza stone stays clean and hot in the oven. You get the benefit of the even cooking w/the stone and taking your pizza out of the oven is a breeze because it’s in the pan. Crust cooks evenly and tastes great!!

  68. Rhea

    I made pizza and the everything was fine…sauce, fresh mozerrella, pepperoni. However all the toppings tend to slide of after its cooked. Is this because I put too much sauce ?

  69. deb

    You can, but it a) is bad for your knife’s blade and b) will make your stone messy, and you really want to avoid getting it wet, if you can. If you do get it wet, definitely don’t soap it and make sure it dries at least overnight before you use it again.

    So yes, in short, definitely easier to cut the pizza on a different surface.

  70. Debbie

    I’ve really been enjoying your blog and it has inspired me to cook things that I might not have tried before. Thanks!

    I tried out your refrigerator tip with the pizza dough and it unfortunately did not seem to work for me. I’m hoping that if I tell you what modifications I made to the recipe, that you might be able to figure out what happened so that it will work next time. For the dough, I used 1 cup of white whole wheat flour and 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour. I did have to add two tbsp of water to the dough as it seemed pretty dry…would that be because of the white whole wheat flour? I oiled the bowl and plastic wrap with cooking spray and let the dough sit in the refrigerator for at least 11 hours.

    Lastly, your directions say that once the dough from the refrigerator has risen, to deflate it. Is it necessary to then let it sit for another 15-20 minutes under plastic wrap?

    Since it didn’t rise, I am going to try your tip of putting it in the oven. The lowest temp on my oven is 170 so hopefully, that won’t hurt it.

    This is my first time making pizza dough…Thanks in advance for your help.

  71. you have saved our Friday night pizza.

    we (my husband and i) started ‘making’ pizza back in college every Friday night, originally with pre-made crust (as in boboli). then my husband stumbled upon your site and we made . since then we have been honing our pizza making skills, experimenting with different recipes and even starter dough. I think i have even mastered making wheat pizza that isn’t too dense and dry. Our ultimate goal is to get BIG bubbles in the crust. My theory is that the more watery the dough (like with the sourdough starter) and hot the oven, the more bubbles. I have yet to make a really bubbly crust, and blame our oven for not topping 550 degrees. Have you had any success at this?

  72. Kate

    Deb–I have a pizza stone, but no paddle, so i’ve always just cooked the pizza on a cookie sheet (we tried to move it using the cookie sheet several times… but gave up after burning ourselves :) ). I tried your idea of using parchment paper to transfer it from the cookie sheet to the stone, and then baking it on the parchment paper today…. and the parchment paper scorched and burned, and left me with a pizza that was really pretty on top, but scorched and burned on the bottom. I had the oven turned up all the way (to 500)… is there an upper temp limit when using parchment paper? Have you had this happen before? I was so excited about the parchment paper idea!–Kate

  73. Deb, I’m anxious to read your reply to Kate because I’ve had exactly the same problem with parchment. Tomorrow I plan to try someone’s suggestion to put the pan on the stone. I will try 450°F on one shelf up in an electric oven. Do you think lowest shelf is too close to the coils? Thanks for your help and this great tips.

  74. deb

    Yes, actually there is an upper limit to parchment paper, which is usually 425 to 450. Which leads me to suspect — and not for the first time — that since I never had the scorching issue that our oven ran way cool and even when set to 500 was probably not anywhere near it!

  75. stephanie

    Hi Deb, I’ve never commented before but absolutely love your site and have tried (successfully!) quite a few of your recipes – I always look forward to seeing new recipes in google reader. One of my favorites is your super simple pizza dough – I was curious to know if you’ve ever added rosemary or any other herbs (or cheese) to it. Thanks!

  76. Laura D

    Hey, your site makes me want to run home and cook every workday! I’m not the greatest chef, but my mom is incredible. She makes pizza about once a month, and her best tip is: it doesn’t need to be a circle. Don’t kill yourself pulling and pinching the douch into a circle: just make it a square or any polygon, really.

    And if you’re looking for a mouth watering pizza: cherry tomatoes and arugula, or boiled, sliced potatoes, red onion and rosemary. And about a cup of olive oil for each!

  77. ANNE

    I’ve been making pizza for years and everyone loves it. My problem repeatedly is that I cook in 500 degree oven on metal pizza pans with holes in them. I always have to cover the top of my pizza & put it back in because the bottom has not cooked enough! What am I doing wrong?

  78. I’ve had great success with both pizza dough recipes (both the basic and the sweeter one). Strangely, I found the sweeter one much more difficult to knead and I found the dough much less malleable. I was worried it wasn’t going to rise, but sure enough it worked like a charm.

    The pizza sauce is also awesome. One of my favorite topping combos is to roast vegetables and top the pizza with sauce, the veggies, feta and fresh oregano. Leftover veggies get mixed with leftover sauce for roasted vegetable pasta sauce on another night. More details and pizza grilling ideas are on my site:

  79. Wendy

    I tried your recipe with the refrigerator tip. The dough did not double though. In fact, it’s 3 days later and the dough started at 3 cups and is now at 5 cups (I put it in a 8 cup measuring cup to rise). I’m going to proof my yeast to make sure it’s still good, but any other ideas on what went wrong? When I got home from work after 10 hours it was almost 4 cups, so it had barely risen at all.

  80. Naomi

    I had wondered about making pizza on the stove before, and after seeing that you mentioned it and Mario makes a pan for it, I figured it was definitely worth a shot–especially now that it’s in the 90’s and I have no desire to turn the oven on (though I did, anyway, to make your delicious bourbon banana bread, the aged banana’s deathbed conversion to born-again scrumptiousness). Can’t go wrong with bourbon. But I digress.

    The long and short of cooking pizza on the stove: It’s delicious, it’s easy, it doesn’t heat up your house, and you DO NOT need a special pan (sorry, Mario). I use a large nonstick pan and I’m sure a cast iron pan would work just as well. Simply heat the pan over medium-high heat, roll out the dough, and cook it at least partially covered in some oil until it has browned a bit on the bottom and is bubbly on top. Flip it (making sure to re-oil pan), and quickly put on toppings. Cover it for a few minutes to help the cheese melt, and cook it uncovered for a few more for a delightfully browned and crispy crust. Thanks for the inspiration, Deb!

  81. Ann

    We tried grilling our pizza tonight (used the ATK cookbook’s recipe for the dough), and when we tossed it on the grill, it sort of sunk down between the grill bars, creating deep groves and hills on the side that would later house the toppings. Is there a way to prevent that? I have to say, the ATK’s recipe (first time I’ve used it) was a bit messier/stickier/goopier than other recipes I’ve tried, so that may have contributed to the situation. We’ll try our standard (read: Kitchenaid stand mixer cookbook) next time, which was quite a bit sturdier, or maybe your recipe, unless you can advise that this has happened to you as well, and there’s a way to fix it?

    Thanks! And thanks for this amazing blog! It really got me out of my cooking rut; I cooked something from this blog almost every night last week!

  82. With regard to point number nine – I’m wondering if you could cook a pizza in your dutch oven as they can go on he stovetop right? I had a baking dish that could be used the stove top and in the oven, I can’t remember it’s brand name but it was cast metal of some sort and could be used for roasts, and casseroles ec on the top or in oven but also could be used to bake cakes and pizza on the stove top – if you left the lid slightly adjar. Having said this it does not have the grilled flavour of a pizza cooked at high heat in an oven but very practical if you don’t have a working oven or a small house that would hea up too much on a summer day with the oven on!

  83. Neil

    So many good tips on here, can’t wait to try them! esp. the the pan pizza, so on it! I have a good tip for crispy crust in the oven that has worked great for me; I put corn meal on baking sheet, spread pizza with toppings, bake at 450 until just the dough starts to crisp, 15-20 min-ish, then use tongs to slide directly on rack, leave for another 10 minutes or so, till the darkness of the crust you like! It is a very crispy method, maybe too crisp for some but ilove it.
    Thanks for this great post!

  84. Tommy

    When you cook pizza on the grill you say to flip it off uncooked side down then top. Does that mean you are putting the toppings on the cooked side? and then placing the uncooked side on the grill?

  85. Kate

    I’ve been making my own pizzas for some time and the refrigerator tip seemed just too good to be true! I did not see the 3 or so comments that said this did not work and it (sadly) didn’t work for me as well! Any chance you could chime in with what we might be doing wrong? I followed the recipe to a tee- thanks!

  86. These tips were a great help! Thanks so much! You made the Rosemary, chicken and potato pizza much closer to a success than it would have been. Any tips on getting a good thin crust? That’s the only place where my attempt really failed

  87. LoPay

    After the dough has risen, I put it on a pan that is the same width as a 2.5 gallon freezer bag and put in the freezer for later use. I prep all my toppings and then pull the dough out of the frezer and top it. If you are fast, you can pop the dough off the pan and on to your hot stone.

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  89. Over three years and this post is still going strong!
    I have a stand mixer, so I always make at least enough dough for two pizzas. Right before proofing (the short rest before rolling it out) I divide it up, put the extra dough in oiled zip-top bags, and stash it in the freezer. The night before/morning that I want pizza, I move a frozen block of dough to the fridge. The yeast develops some extra flavor as it’s defrosting in the refrigerator, I only have one cleanup for multiple doughs, and I haven’t noticed any decrease in quality with freezing it (granted, the dough never lasts more than a week in the freezer before I eat it).

    I saw some Whole Wheat comments, and my advice would be that if you’re using more whole wheat flour than a 50/50 ratio with white flour, add some Vital Wheat Gluten. In addition to whole wheat flour requiring more moisture, there’s not as much gluten, so you won’t get the same stretchy doughy consistency without additional gluten.

    I’ve done honey in my dough, but never wine, so now I’ve got something new to try.

  90. Marwa

    thankssssssssssss alot for the useful tips
    1 important question , my pizza dough is perfect but i find that after baking and while cutting my toppings tend to fall of the pizza leaving the tomatoe sauce
    any idea how to avoid that

  91. Mala de Silva

    I bake pizzas in the oven. I don’t have a pizza stone. I bake pizzas in phyrex dishes.
    I noticed that edges of the pizza dosen’t get brown. It was like white colour. I am used to brush olive oil on edges. Is that a wrong thing I did? Please explain.

    1. deb

      A dish that doesn’t have a rim (most Pyrex that I see are casserole-style, i.e. they have walls/sides) will allow the heat to get to the edges better and brown them. You don’t need a pizza stone. Any flat tray will do. You can also use the back of a tray, if you don’t have any without rims.

  92. Kay

    Hi Deb,

    Did you end up replacing your old pizza stone? If so, I would love to know if you’ve found one that’s working well for you. Thanks!


    1. deb

      I think I replaced it, broke it again, then recently bought this. I’m also a little enamored by this. But for stone-like simplicity on the cheap, I understand that going to a hardware store and buying unglazed quarry tile is the best way to go (you can read up about this here and many other sites).

  93. Kay

    Thanks so much! One other question (sorry I didn’t think to add this to my previous comment): what is the pizza in the first photo?! I haven’t stopped thinking about it since I read this page yesterday!

    (P.S. Your photography, along with everything else, always leaves me in awe. Thank you for what you do.)

  94. Janet in CT

    Store bought dough, let rise overnight or all day, roll thin. Let rest a while to prevent shrinking and roll to fit pan. I use an overturned old cast iron pan with oven preheated to 500 degrees using wide aluminum foil oiled with olive oil to transfer pie in and out. Crust rolled thin with all topping but pizza sauce, added after another hour of rising leaves the dough thin, light, crispy. I set the timer for 8 minutes in the oven and add the shredded cheese in the final minute. If pepperoni is used it gets rolled in paper towel and given 15 seconds on high in the microwave so lots of fat ends up in the paper. The melted cheese provides plenty of fat.

  95. Kelly Diffily

    Deb – I love your site, and have been cooking up a storm from your archives this summer – its my favorite place to find inspiration for using fresh, local, unprocessed ingredients. So here’s the thing: on Friday nights, I take a little break from more-complicated cooking I do during most of the week – we have a little tradition of making pizza. Since the whole point is to make a simple/easy meal (and I work full time and don’t arrive home until 6pm), I’ve been using Trader Joe’s pizza dough, or occasionally pick a dough up from the local pizzeria. But I think its high time I take a stab at homemade dough.

    With TJ’s dough, I’ve usually frozen it, and then just pull it out of the freezer on the morning I plan to make the pizza, and its ready to go when I get home from work. So here’s my question: can I do that with homemade dough? At what point in the process do I freeze it? Any other suggestions for homemade dough for a working mom?

    1. deb

      Hi Kelly — It depends on where the TJs dough is in the process, too. Do you defrost it, punch it down and let it rise again? Or once it is defrosted, do you use it immediately, no resting time before baking. If the former, pause the recipe before the first rise (i.e. right after you knead the dough); if the latter (more likely), pause it after you’ve pressed down the first rise.

  96. Kelly Diffily

    Deb – its definitely the latter – once it is defrosted, use it immediately, no resting time before baking (giving it time to come to room temp of course). So I could successfully use your recipe and stick it in the freezer after I’ve let it rise once/pressed it down once? And if I pull it out of the freezer a week or a month later (usually in the morning before work put in fridge; to be used when I get home), it will be ready to go when I arrive home from work?

  97. Kelly Diffily

    So Deb – I simply must report back on my freezing success, for all those working moms out there who think this homemade pizza dough stuff isn’t possible for them – it worked like a charm! Per your suggestion, I make the dough (on the weekend) to the point of letting it double via the first rise, pressing it down, and then sticking in the freezer. Then, on the morning I want to use it, I just transfer from freezer to fridge, and when I get home from work I pull it from fridge and let it rest on the counter for 20 or 30 min, and its ready to go! Genius! (I’ve been using your simple dough; today I tried the wine/honey version for the first time, so I’ll have to report back on that).

  98. Thank you so much for such a very great recipe….before reading your recipe I used to make different pizza…but later I made pizza by reading your pizza….it was delight and much more tasty than before.

  99. Hey skip making the dough or buying it from a pizzeria. If you’ve got a Trader Joe’s nearby they make a pretty darn good ready to bake fresh pizza dough in the fridge section.

  100. ash

    I was dreading this day when I have to make my own dough, but we can no longer get a decent dough, no matter how much we pay for it. Thanks for this easy recipe.

  101. ash

    I also want to mention about Trader Joe’s pizza dough. I love this store and will not be able to live without it, but their pizza dough is very bad.

  102. I have this down to a science! I always microwave my 1 cup of water 30 sec to warm it up before adding my pinch of sugar and yeast (2.5tsp). I let that sit while I measure my 4.5 cups of flour add a couple of TBS of olive oil, pour my yeasty water in and stir. While I have that going I microwave another 1 cup water for 30 sec. Then by the time I need more water for my dough, I have it warmed. I usually need about 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of this second cup of warm water to get my dough to the right consistency. (no need to knead too much – just make sure there aren’t lumps) and then place it into an oiled bowl (I actually use a plastic shoe storage box because I like the size and they’ll stack easily when I doing several batches at once) and put this in your mircowave. The dough is nice an warm from the warm water you added and the microwave is warm from heating up the water in it. Now, clean up and take the dog for a walk. By the time you get back your dough is nicely risen.(It will take about an hour.)

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  104. Thank you for this page – I have really enjoyed reading it.
    But thank you especially for two (2) particular tips…
    Cooking a pizza on a cast iron skillet under a grill as hot as … what was it … the fires of Babylon in 2 minutes and 2 seconds. I’m definitely going to try that one!
    And the second one: proving dough in a warm oven. May I assume that the temp you give is 150ᴼF? ‘Cos I’m thinking C might cook it instead of rise it. :-)

    Also that refrigerator tip. I was aware that dough that rises very slowly if left in the fridge – but somehow I’d never thought to use that point to a cooking advantage before. So thank you for that one too. All in all, it seems, you have created a very happy reader in me…. Cheers!

  105. Grace

    How do you suggest keeping part of your dough for another day? I cook for one most days so wouldn’t necessarily use all the dough for one pizza. Does it keep well? What is the process once I want to use the second half? Thanks Deb!

    1. deb

      Grace — It’s probably good for additional day in the fridge, but longer than that, I’d use less yeast so it doesn’t overproof. (It was designed as a quick-result recipe.) I’d put it in the fridge before its first rise, so it can grow slowly.

  106. Lara

    I rarely comment on pages. But I REALLY enjoyed making this based on your recommendations. I was excited that the outcome was really top notch!!! Thanks so much!!!

  107. Caz

    My partner and I make our own pizza’s every Friday – gotta celebrate the weekend somehow! I make 2-3 week’s worth of pizza dough at once, split it out and stick the additional weeks’ in the freezer – it freezes beautifully. I then get it out on a Thursday evening to defrost and rise slowly over the next 24 hours. I get perfect risen dough every time with no difference in taste from fresh. Long live Fridays!

  108. naveen

    I do have small oven at home which can be use for toasting, grilling, oven, and there are one tray which is of aluminum, and one is same like we got in fridge (lines gap in that) and today I tried to make pizza twice on aluminum tray after oiling the tray , I are heated d oven but pizza was uncooked from the center can u tell me what should I do or I should use rings for base of pizza dough like in dominos people use, or I should also preheat that tray where exactly I am lacking

  109. yeven

    Hi Deb! I finally purchased your cookbook and can’t wait to get started! This question may have been asked before, but I couldn’t find the answer. Can the pizza doughs you have in the book be frozen? If so, at what stage can they go in the freezer? Thanks!

  110. rogermiddleton75

    I really liked that you had mentioned that kneading the pizza dough doesn’t take all day and that it can be done in ten minutes. I had recently promised a friend that I would bring a pizza over to his house this weekend and I’m wanting to make it at home but I didn’t have any idea how to make pizza. It’s good to know that I can set up the dough a day before and they have everything ready to start cooking the next day, I’ll be setting this up for sure. Finding a bag to put the pizza in might be the hardest part, but I’m sure I’ll be able to find one.

  111. Debbie Robins

    I’m not sure what I did wrong! Ive made the rushed pizza dough many, many times and love it. But since we have plenty of time on our hands these days, I decided to try the leisurely recipe. When I took it out of the fridge it had not risen at all. Not a bit. My yeast is fresh, I followed the recipe, any idea what could have happened? I’m currently heating my oven to see if it will rise in there like the rushed recipe.

  112. Ann O’Neill

    My pizza bottoms are always soggy. I, cook the pizza for 15 minutes at 250°C.
    Can you please help me?

    Many thanks.


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