This classic homemade pizza recipe includes a pizza dough recipe, topping suggestions, and step-by-step instructions with photos for making the perfect pizza at home.
What should you do when your 8-year-old nephew pays you a visit? Of course, make pizza! Of course, not. I didn’t think about it until we were completely exhausted. Monopoly and Gin Rummy, I’m sorry. But it turned out to be a brilliant idea because my father had just received a baking stone for Christmas and my nephew is a huge pizza fan.
I told him that if he helped me make it, I would make him famous on my website. That seemed to pique his interest. He thought the dough was “slimy and gross,” but he enjoyed choosing his own toppings and thought the final product was “awesome.”
My Favorite Pizza Dough Recipe
The method described below combined recipes from Joy of Cooking and Cook’s Illustrated’s The Best Recipe. The pizza dough recipe yields enough dough for two pizzas ranging in size from 10 to 12 inches. I’ll be more patient the next time I stretch out the dough to get it even thinner.
The Best Flour for Homemade Pizza Dough
Bread flour is ideal for making homemade pizza dough. You can substitute all-purpose flour for the bread flour specified in the recipe, but bread flour contains more gluten than all-purpose flour and will result in a crispier pizza crust.
How To Make Sure Your Yeast Is Active
Pizza dough is a yeasted dough that necessitates the use of active dry yeast. Make sure to check the yeast package’s expiration date! Too old yeast may be dead and will not work.
Also, if the yeast does not foam or bloom within 10 minutes of being added to the water in Step 1 of Making Pizza Dough, it is most likely dead. You’ll have to start from scratch with fresh, active yeast.
How To Measure Flour for This Pizza Dough Recipe
Cup measurements can differ depending on how you scoop the flour (we fluff the flour, lightly scoop it, and level it with a knife). As a result, I recommend using a kitchen scale to weigh out the flour amounts. This is the only way to ensure a consistent level of accuracy.
Is It Better To Let the Dough Rise Overnight?
You don’t have to let your pizza dough rise in the refrigerator overnight – or for up to 48 hours – but it will develop more flavor and air bubbles that will puff up when the pizza is cooked. (Some people fight over the air bubble slices.) Remove the dough from the refrigerator an hour before using to bring it to room temperature.
Pizzas With Raw Ingredients
Some toppings should be cooked before topping a pizza because they will not be fully cooked before the pizza is done cooking. Before using raw meat as a topping, it should be thoroughly cooked. Any vegetables, such as onions, peppers, broccoli, or mushrooms, that you do not want to be raw on the cooked pizza should be sautéed first.
Make-Ahead and Freezing Instructions
After the pizza dough has risen, it can be frozen for later use. Cut the dough in half (or the portion sizes you will be using to make your pizzas). Place on parchment paper or a lightly floured dish and freeze for 15 to 20 minutes, uncovered. Remove from the freezer and place in individual freezer bags, removing as much air from the bags as possible. Place back in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Thaw the pizza dough overnight or for 5 to 6 hours in the refrigerator. Allow the dough to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes before stretching it out in the following steps.
Making the Pizza Dough
Proof the yeast:
Fill the large bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer halfway with warm water. Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and set aside for 5 minutes to dissolve.
If the yeast hasn’t completely dissolved after 5 minutes, stir it. The yeast should start foaming or blooming, indicating that it is still active and alive.
(Note that if you use “instant yeast” rather than “active yeast,” no proofing is required.) Simply add to the flour in the following step.)
Make and knead the pizza dough:
Mix in the flour, salt, sugar, and olive oil for a minute on low speed with the mixing paddle attachment. Then, instead of the mixing paddle, use the dough hook attachment. Knead the pizza dough for 7-10 minutes on low to medium speed with the dough hook.
If you don’t have a mixer, simply combine the ingredients and knead them by hand. To the touch, the dough should be slightly sticky or tacky. If it’s too wet, add a little more flour.
Let the dough rise:
Spread a thin layer of olive oil inside a large mixing bowl. Put the pizza dough in the bowl and turn it around to coat it with the oil.
You can now specify how long you want the dough to ferment and rise. Slow fermentation (24 hours in the fridge) produces more complex flavors in the dough. A quick fermentation (1 1/2 hours in a warm place) will give the dough enough rise to work with.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap. Place the dough in a warm place (75°F to 85°F) for 1 1/2 hours for a quick rise. Place the dough in a regular room-temperature place (your kitchen) for a medium rise.
Preparing the Pizzas
Preheat the pizza stone (or pizza pan or baking sheet):
Place a pizza stone in the bottom third of your oven. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 30 minutes, preferably an hour. If you don’t have a pizza stone, a pizza pan or a thick baking sheet will suffice; you’ll need something that won’t warp at high temperatures.
Divide the dough into 2 balls:
Remove the dough’s plastic cover. Flour your hands and press the dough down to deflate it slightly. Cut the dough in half.
Form two round dough balls. Place each in a separate bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside for 15 minutes (or up to 2 hours).
Prep the toppings:
Prepare the toppings of your choice. It is important to note that if you load up each pizza with a lot of toppings, the crust will not be crisp.
One pizza would require about a third of a cup of tomato sauce and cheese. A pizza can be covered with one to two thinly sliced mushrooms.
Flatten the dough ball, and stretch it out into a round:
Working with one ball of dough at a time, flatten it with your hands on a lightly floured work surface.
Starting in the center and working outward, press the dough to 1/2-inch thickness with your fingertips. Turn and stretch the dough until it can no longer be stretched any further.
Allow the dough to rest for 5 minutes before stretching it to the desired diameter of 10 to 12 inches. Handle the dough with care!
You can also use your fingers to hold up the edges of the dough, allowing it to hang and stretch as you work around the edges. If a hole appears in your dough, place it on a floured surface and press it back together.
Brush the dough top with olive oil:
To prevent bubbling, press down and make dents along the surface of the dough with your fingertips. Brush olive oil over the top of the dough (to prevent it from getting soggy from the toppings). Allow another 10 to 15 minutes to rest. Repeat with the second dough ball.
Sprinkle the pizza peel with cornmeal, and put the flattened dough on top:
Lightly sprinkle your pizza peel (or flat baking sheet) with cornmeal. (The corn meal will act as little ball bearings to help move the pizza from the pizza peel into the oven.)
Transfer one prepared flattened dough to the pizza peel.
If the dough has lost its shape in the transfer, lightly shape it to the desired dimensions
Spread with tomato sauce and sprinkle with toppings:
Spread the tomato sauce over the pizza, then top it with your desired toppings. Be careful not to overcrowd the pizza with toppings, or it will become soggy.
Slide pizza into the oven:
Sprinkle some cornmeal on the baking stone in the oven (watch your hands, the oven is hot!). Gently shake the peel to see if the dough will easily slide, if not, gently lift up the edges of the pizza and add a bit more cornmeal.
Slide the pizza off of the peel and onto the baking stone in the oven.
Bake the pizzas, one at a time, in a 475°F oven until the crust is browned and the cheese is golden about 10 to 15 minutes. If desired, sprinkle on a little more cheese near the end of the cooking time.
Pizza Dough & Homemade Pizza
The dough for this pizza yields about 2 pounds, enough for two (1-pound) balls of dough.
- Extra virgin olive oil
Cornmeal (to help slide the pizza onto the pizza stone)
Tomato sauce (smooth or pureed)
Firm mozzarella cheese, grated
Fresh soft mozzarella cheese, separated into small clumps
Fontina cheese, grated
Parmesan cheese, grated
Feta cheese, crumbled
Mushrooms, very thinly sliced if raw, otherwise first sautéed
Bell peppers, stems and seeds removed, very thinly sliced
Italian pepperoncini, thinly sliced
Italian sausage, cooked ahead and crumbled
Sliced black olives
Chopped fresh basil
Baby arugula, tossed in a little olive oil, added as pizza comes out of the oven