Learn how to make pizza dough from scratch! This easy recipe creates a delicious crust that you can roll into the perfect pie shape. Then just add your favorite toppings and enjoy each amazing slice.
Ditch the delivery and freezer aisle options for good. Instead get ready to transform simple pantry ingredients like flour, yeast, salt, water, and olive oil into homemade pizza dough. Just mix, knead, rise, and shape! The hardest part is waiting, but luckily the hot oven cooks the crust in under 15 minutes.
Completely controlling all the ingredients allows you to experiment with different taste and texture combinations. Once you master the crust, the flavor potential is endless. This guide is full of substitutions and options to take your pizza-making skills to the next level.
Yeast makes the dough rise
Yeast is an essential ingredient in pizza dough, it’s the only leavening agent. The workhorse of the formula, the organisms work on a microscopic level to ferment the starches in the flour into carbon dioxide. The result is a light and airy crust, plus some delicious chew due to gluten development.
Using instant yeast speeds up the rise to about 45 to 60 minutes. Active dry yeast can be used as a substitute and needs about double the time.
- Bread flour has a higher amount of protein (about 14 to 15%) which yields a thicker hearty crust and chewy interior. It’s my top choice for pizza dough.
- All-purpose flour has a lower amount of protein (about 10 to 13%) which gives a thinner crisp crust and airy bite.
Add in some oil
Olive oil adds a hint of fruity flavor, but it also helps with softness as the fat coats some of the proteins in the flour which slightly reduces the gluten network.
Don’t skip the salt
Salt is the ultimate flavor enhancer. It turns a bland flour mass into a more delectable product. Sodium also helps to control the activity of the yeast, as it competes for moisture. This ensures that the gas bubble production isn’t out of control and that the dough doesn’t have a strong residual yeasty taste.
How the fermentation time impacts flavor
Fermentation happens when yeast make bubbles inside the dough as it rests. Over time organic acids produce nutty flavors. For those who want to enjoy their pizza within a few hours of making the dough, at least a 1 to 2-hour rise is required. But if you can wait a few more hours, or refrigerate the dough overnight, the intensity of the flavors will become more complex.
Extending the fermentation in a cool environment slows down the yeast, but there’s still activity happening in the dough. The enzymes like amylase in the flour further break down the starches, giving more fuel for the yeast to eat and free the sugar molecules for better caramelization of the crust.
- Lightly coat a baking sheet with olive oil and cornmeal for better browning and surface texture.
- For an even crispier texture, you can preheat a pizza stone and use a peel to transfer the shaped dough.
- You can make a skillet pizza using a 12-inch cast iron pan.
- If you have a metal pizza pan, that also helps to make perfectly round pies.
Turn up the heat!
The hotter the oven, the more oven spring (gas expansion in the crust) for a light and bubbly texture, and even cooking of the exterior. Commercial pizza ovens get scorching hot, which is why they cook so quickly. Standard home ovens may get to 550 degrees, but not much higher.
I find that baking at 500ºF in the lowest part of the oven ensures that the bottom of the crust is properly brown and crisp, the edges expand and become golden, and the toppings melt and cook.
Flavoring the crust
- Mix-in dried spices like Italian seasonings or garlic powder right into the dough.
- Lightly brush olive oil down as a base before adding the sauce and toppings.
- Experiment with garlic, herbs, and butter as a base.
- Brush just the crust edge with butter and sprinkle on dried parmesan cheese.
Proper topping ratio
The right balance of crust to toppings is key to an evenly cooked and golden pizza, especially for this thinner style. Make sure not to overload it with marinara sauce and other ingredients. Too much can cause the bread to become soggy in the center and it will take longer to bake due to the extra moisture in the oven.
For every 12-inch crust, use ⅓ to ½ cup pizza sauce, ½ to 1 cup of shredded cheese, and a single layer of toppings (it’s okay to have some overlap) with some cheese exposed.
Other tasty uses for the dough
- Deep dish pizza
- Individual breakfast pizzas
- Use the entire recipe to make a Sicilian style pizza in a rimmed ½ sheet pan.
- Garlic knots
- Cinnamon sugar knots
Make it extra crispy
I experimented with adding in sugar to the dough and I find it gives the crust extra gusto for an evenly brown, crispier crunch. It also adds extra flavor, especially after an overnight refrigerator fermentation. Our family preferred the chewier style crust without sugar, but if you love more snap, add in 1 ½ teaspoon into the dry ingredients.
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Homemade Pizza Dough
- 3 cups bread flour, or all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for brushing
- 1 ⅛ cups warm water
- 2 teaspoons cornmeal, optional
- In the bowl of a stand mixer combine flour, yeast and salt.
- Heat the water in the microwave until it reaches 120 to 130ºF (48 to 54ºC), about 45 to 60 seconds.
- Add the olive oil and warm water to the flour mixture. Using the dough hook, knead the dough on the lowest speed of the stand mixer (setting 2) until soft and smooth, about 5 to 6 minutes. When poked the dough should spring back. Take a small piece and stretch it, it should be fairly elastic. Portion the dough into 2 balls.
- Baking it soon: Lightly grease separate bowls for each ball with olive oil and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel. Allow it to rise in a warm draft-free space until doubled in size, about 45 minutes to 1 ½ hours. When poked the dough should stay indented.
- Baking it later: Lightly grease separate resealable plastic bags and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 3 days. Let the dough sit at room temperature for 1 hour before baking.
- Set the oven rack to the lower position. Preheat to 500ºF (260ºC). Meanwhile, shape the pizza dough, working with one ball at a time.
- Lightly brush a large baking sheet with olive oil. Evenly sprinkle cornmeal on the pan if desired.
- Lightly punch down the dough to release the gas bubbles. Transfer to a lightly floured surface. Knead four times then shape into a ball. Cover and allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes.
- On a flat surface press the dough into about a 6-inch disc. Then lift the dough up and holding the top edge, let gravity stretch it down, turning to complete a full rotation. You can also place the center of the dough on your fists to turn and stretch the dough. Place the dough on the board and press down with fingertips to further flatten into a 10-inch circle. Leave the edges slightly thicker, about ½-inch tall and wide.
- Transfer dough to the greased baking sheet. Let it rest for 10 minutes to relax the gluten. Gently press into the desired pizza size, 12-inch for thinner crust or keep at 10-inch for a thicker crust.
- Right before baking lightly brush olive oil over the dough to add flavor if desired. Spread the sauce on top, followed by the cheese and other toppings.
- Bake one at a time on the lowest oven rack until the crust is golden brown, and the cheese is melted and bubbly, about 8 to 12 minutes.
- Slice and serve pizza immediately when still hot.
- Recipe Yield: 2 (12-inch pizzas) or 4 (6-inch pizzas)
- Serving Size: 1 slice.
- More Flavorful Crust: If you have the time, let the dough chill for at least 8 hours before baking.
- For a Crunchier Crust: Add 1 ½ teaspoon granulated sugar (6g) to the dry ingredients.
- Active Dry Yeast Substitution: Add the same amount of active dry yeast for instant yeast. Warm the water to 100-110ºF (37-43ºC). In a small bowl combine yeast with ⅛ cup of warm water, let sit for 10 minutes until foamy. Add yeast mixture into the flour mixture with the remaining water and olive oil. The rise time may need to be doubled.
- Refrigerating the Dough: Pizza dough can be stored for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. Allow sitting covered, at room temperature until easy to roll, about 1 to 2 hours.
- Freezing the Dough: Pizza dough can be frozen for up to 1 month before using it. After kneading, portion the dough and flatten into a disc. Place in separate resealable plastic bags. Defrost in the refrigerator 1 day before use. Let sit it at room temperature for 2 hours before using it.
- This recipe can easily be halved to make just 1 large pizza.
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