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How to make homemade pizza – Learn how to make the best pizza at home in an oven or on the grill! This is the ultimate guide with everything you need to know about pizza is all in one place including recipes and essential equipment.
I am sure that you don't need me to tell you how amazingly delicious pizza is! Whether you get your pizza from the frozen food section of your local grocery store, or a swanky pizza parlor in town we can all agree that pizza is insanely popular.
First of all I should point out that making crave-worthy pizza at home is not complicated, and you do not need a bunch of fancy equipment. Yes, a wood-burning pizza oven in the backyard would be amazing, but not required. Simple ingredients, measuring cups, a mixing bowl, and an oven or grill will produce excellent pizzas at home.
This guide will walk you through pizza dough basics, some tools that are nice to have in your kitchen, plus tips for topping and cooking your amazing creations without any added stress.
There are so many different styles to choose from; Neapolitan, New York, Chicago, California, even St. Louis style. From deep-dish to thin and crispy, there is a pizza variety for every pizza aficionado.
A Slice of Pizza History
Prior to the eighteenth century, people in Naples, Italy enjoyed basic flatbreads like focaccia with several toppings. Most people believed tomatoes to be poisonous, so no one had thought to put them on bread, yet. These early "pizzas" were considered peasant foods because they were simple and low cost.
In 1889 Neapolitan pizza maker Raphaelle Esposito created the Pizza Margherita, a pizza garnished with tomatoes, sliced mozzarella, and fresh basil, to represent the national colors of Italy in honor of Queen Consort of Italy, Margherita of Savoy. Pizza gained popularity and became a tourist attraction to visitors in Naples.
Neapolitan pizza is the "original" pizza and carries cultural and historical importance. So much so that laws in Italy aim to protect the integrity of the real Neapolitan pizza and and establish parameters for its production. Of course most of us cannot bake our pizza in a wood-fried oven at 900 degrees for 90 seconds!!
Different Styles of Pizza
This type of pizza is a descendant of the the Neapolitan pizza. It features thin, flexible crust, a light layer of sauce, and plenty of mozzarella. It is larger than Neapolitan, sometimes as large as 18-inches in diameter and is sold by the "slice". A whole pizza is called a "pie" that is hand-tossed and baked on pizza stones.
The deep-dish crust is the hallmark of Chicago-style pizza. A buttery, 2-inch deep crust filled with mounds of mozzarella, tomato sauce, loads of toppings and a dusting of Parmesan on top. You can also find thin crust pizza, but it is cut into squares and known as the "party cut".
California is known for their gourmet cuisine and flavor combinations with toppings like cilantro, smoked bacon, Gouda cheese, sautéed spinach, and red onions. Wolfgang Puck's restaurant Spago is credited with originating the concept of California-style pizza about 30 years ago, and it has become a firmly established fixture in the American pizza scene.
This style may have originated as a spin-off of the thin, square-cut Chicago-style pizza, but it has become uniquely it's own. St. Louis pizza features a cracker-thin crust that is created without yeast. It is then topped with a variety of cheese known as Provel. It is a unique blend of Swiss, cheddar, and provolone that is not generally found outside of St. Louis. The combination of cheeses creates a smoky flavor that is a distinctive part of the St. Louis-style of pizza that is hard to replicate.
Essential Pizza Equipment
You do not need every item on this list, and you probably have most of them already. This is a list of the things that will make your life easier when it comes to mixing, shaping, cooking, and cutting your pizza.
- Measuring Cups or Kitchen Scale - I know, I know we are supposed to weigh our ingredients, but I am old-school and still use measuring cups which is the way my recipes are written.
- Measuring Spoons - to accurately measure yeast and spices.
- Mixing Bowls - you need a place to mix your dough and allow it to rise.
- Rolling Pin - a kitchen basic that every cook needs.
- Pizza Peel - usually made of wood or metal, a pizza peel features a long handle which allows you to slide your gorgeous pizza into a hot oven, and the thin edge helps to remove your cooked pizza. A flat cookie sheet can also be used in a pinch if needed.
- Pizza Stone - Pizza stones are made from stone or ceramic and come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from round to rectangle. The porousness of the stone recreates the original brick baking surface by pulling the moisture from the dough as it cooks.
- Baking Steel - they are very thin and very heavy, but heats up faster than a stone and is not as fragile to store.
- Sturdy Sheet Pan- an inverted sheet pan, or edgeless baking sheet are also an excellent way to bake your pizza without a stone or steel.
- Rocker Cutter - rocking pizza cutter is designed to slice smoothly through your pizza crust without disturbing your well placed toppings.
- Wheel Cutter - the sharp blade makes a clean cut in any crust and presses the crust and toppings together, keeping the toppings on your pizza.
You can see the rest of my favorite kitchen tools and gadgets here in my Amazon Affiliate Page. I earn a small commission when you purchase through my links, at no cost to you, so I can keep bringing you more delicious recipes!
Prefect Pizza Dough
Pizza dough is the most important ingredient to achieve the perfect pizza!! Mediocre dough equals a mediocre pizza so do not skimp out on this part. You can purchase dough from your local pizza place, but I beg of you not to purchase a tube of dough at the grocery store. It will not give you the taste or the results that make homemade pizza worth making!
Making pizza dough is not complicated at all; you just need flour, water, yeast, and salt. Some recipes call for sugar or honey but it is not required to make your dough rise.
Chilling your dough allows the gluten to relax and gives you a chewier texture. If desperate you can make your dough and immediately make your pizza, it is still quite delicious!
Bringing your chilled dough up to room temperature is essential, cold dough is hard to work with. If your dough shrinks back when you try to shape it, it is too cold. Simply allow it to rest for a bit longer before trying again.
Favorite Pizza Dough Recipes
- Italian Pizza Dough - this traditional dough recipe using soft wheat tipo "00" pizzeria flour for a light and airy crust with a crispy exterior.
- Homemade Pizza Dough - this simple recipe is made by hand or in a bread machine for foolproof pizza dough using all-purpose flour.
Want to know how to perfectly proof pizza dough? Check it out: How to Proof Dough in an Instant Pot
Perfect Sauce and Toppings
Too much sauce, or too many toppings will weight down the dough, prevent the crust from rising, and the center of your pizza will end up soggy. This is definitely a less is more situation.
Simple Sauce Recipes
- Homemade Pizza Sauce
- White Pizza Sauce
- Sun-dried Tomato Pesto
- Basil Pesto
- Roasted Red Pepper Pesto Sauce
- Barbecue sauce is also one of my favorites as you will see later.
How to get a crispy pizza crust at home
Heat is your friend! I always place my pizza stone in the oven and turn it up to 500 degrees for one hour before baking my pizza. Commercial pizza ovens can reach 900 degrees, residential oven cannot. By heating the stone or steel (or baking pan) for a long period of time, it gives your pizza a nice crispy crust.
The second option is to use a pizza oven insert that is made to bake your pizza on the grill. It is enclosed on three sides with a baking stone on the bottom. Most grills can achieve much higher temperatures than your oven!
Third option to to cook your pizza ON the grill. It will give your pizza a more rustic appearance and will cook very quickly, so you need to be ready with your toppings!
Can I parbake pizza bases ahead of time?
Yes you can make make par-baked pizza ahead of time and store them in the freezer for a quick pizza fix. Simply stretch out your pizza dough as per your recipe directions, then bake at the highest oven temperature (usually 500 degrees) for 2 minutes.
This will just cook the center and leave the crust looking pale. Remove from the oven and place on a wire cooling rack. Wrap with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for up to 3 months.
To use, thaw on the counter for a couple of hours, or in the refrigerator for several hours. Top and bake for about 10 minutes at suggested recipe temperature.
Storing and Reheating Leftovers
If for some crazy reason you have leftover pizza, do not leave it out overnight on the counter...this is not college! Place the slices crust side down and stack in a plastic container, or wrap in aluminum foil and place in the refrigerator.
Keep in the refrigerator for two to three days depending on the toppings. Fragile toppings like shrimp or lobster should be eaten within one day.
The preserve the texture of your pizza, it is best to reheat in an air fryer or traditional oven and not the microwave. Place pizza in an air fryer set to 280 degrees and heat for 5 minutes. Preheat traditional oven to 250 - 300 degrees and place the pizza on a cookie sheet for approximately 5 minutes.
Top 10 Pizza Making Tips
- Warm dough will stretch more easily.
- Kneading the dough gives it a better, more elastic texture. Overworking the dough results in a tough, chewy crust.
- Too much sauce is a surefire way to destroy your pizza! Pour a large spoonful (about a quarter cup) in the center of the dough and slowly move in a spiral pattern towards the edges.
- Toppings that release a lot of liquid (tomatoes, zucchini), can also cause a soggy crust. Use them sparingly so you don't overload the pizza.
- Keep an eye on the timer and the cooking pizza. Make sure it browns on the top and around the edges, but if it turns black it's gone too far! Too many toppings, especially raw toppings will not cook before the crust is done. Cook raw ingredients like chicken, sausage, onions, eggplant, and potatoes before placing on the pizza.
- Do not overdue the toppings. Choose four or five toppings including the sauce and cheese to avoid a huge disaster, and conflicting flavors. The dough will not cook properly, and the toppings will all fall off if there are too many.
- Spread out your toppings to avoid them piling up in the center. Layer each ingredient so that you can still see some cheese and sauce underneath.
- Choose high-quality cheeses to minimize any grease and improve flavor. Pre-shredded, bagged cheeses are mixed with ant-caking agents and tend to clump up on your pizza.
- Timing is everything! You need patience to pull your bubbling cheesy pizza out of the oven at just the right time. If you pull it too soon you can end up with a soggy crust and unbrowned toppings. When you do pull it out of the oven, allow the pizza to rest for 2 minutes to avoid scorching your mouth!
- Do not be afraid to experiment! No one says that you can only eat pepperoni pizza for the rest of your life, give steak, onion rings, and gorgonzola butter a try, or shrimp scampi...hint, hint.
Classic Pizza Recipes
Seafood Pizza Recipes
Meaty Pizza Recipes
- Prosciutto-Arugula Pizza
- Chili Cheese Dog Pizza
- Cherry Bourbon Barbecue Pork Pizza
- Sausage and Kale Pizza
- Barbecue Chicken Pizza
- Steakhouse Pizza
- Chicken Enchilada Pizza
- Buffalo Chicken Pizza
- Chicken Tostada Pizza with Cornmeal Crust
- Bacon Cheeseburger Pizza
- BBQ Chicken Pizza
Grilled Pizza Recipes
Breakfast Pizza Recipes
- Asparagus Brunch Pizza
- Eggs Benedict Pizza
- Breakfast Pizza with sausage gravy, bacon, and scrambled eggs
- Breakfast Pizza with Hash Brown Crust
Dessert Pizza Recipes
Specialty Pizza Recipes
- Pesto and Arugula Greens Pizza
- Butternut Squash and Sage Pizza
- Bagel Pizzas
- Pepperoni Pizza Muffins
- Meat Lover's Pizza Rolls - made with deep fried egg roll wrappers
Because is the main course of any meal, side dishes should be on the light side.
- Classic Caesar Salad or tossed green salad
- Big Greek Salad or fresh, cut vegetables
- Watermelon Fruit Salad or fruit kabobs
- Marinated Olives and Mushrooms with Mozzarella
Italian food, Italian wine, right? My personal choice is always a nice Pinot Noir (Le Crema, Sonoma Coast), but a classic Chianti, flowery Riesling, or classic Italian red wine would be nice as well. Of course beer is always an option.
For the kids, sparkling or flavored water or soda.
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