Homemade pizza takes just a few quality ingredients: dough, sauce, cheese, and perhaps some toppings, if that's your thing. There isn't much that stands between you and the pizza of your dreams.
You deserve a great pizza, so be sure you're doing it right and steering clear of these common mishaps.
1. Stretching the dough too thin.
I'm forever in favor of super-crispy, thin-crust pizza, but there is a limit to just how thin that dough can go. Stretch it too thin and the crust simply won't be strong enough to support the sauce, cheese, and toppings. You know, all the other things that make those slices so perfect.
→ Follow this tip: For crispy thin-crust pizza that can really hold its own, gently stretch out the dough (use a rolling pin, if you really have to) until it's between 1/8- to 1/4-inch thick.
2. Loading up your pizza with too many toppings.
I love toppings too, but this is one of those times when more isn't always merrier. Keep in mind that the more toppings you add, the more it slows the cooking down. This can lead to a pizza that's unevenly cooked, with an overcooked or burnt crust and undercooked toppings.
→ Follow this tip: Keep in mind that more toppings generally mean more cook time. So to really get the pizza of your dreams, do your very best to limit your enthusiasm to just a few scattered toppings spread evenly across the pie and some good cheese. Your pizza will cook more evenly and hold up better.
3. Not precooking some toppings.
While most toppings can just be chopped up and tossed onto the pizza before baking, there are a few that always need to be precooked, namely meat. Even though pizza is cooked at such a high temperature, the bake time isn't long enough to cook a lot of meats thoroughly. There are also heartier greens like broccoli rabe that benefit from a quick blanch before baking onto a pizza.
→ Follow this tip: Don't put yourself at risk of getting sick. When using toppings like sausage, chicken, steak, or bacon, always cook them before preparing your pizza.
4. Not prepping your pizza stone or baking sheet before cooking your pizza.
It's up to you whether you use a baking sheet or pizza stone — they're both good choices. But know that in order to get that crispy-bottomed crust that makes pizza so perfect, they each need some attention before building your pizza and sliding it in the oven. Forget these things and risk a crust that's soft and limp.
→ Follow this tip: For a perfect crust with a gloriously crispy bottom, the key is preheating or prepping your preferred cookware. If you're using a pizza stone, it should be preheated in a hot oven for at least 20 minutes. If you're using a baking sheet, you can preheat it in the oven or spread a thin layer of cooking oil over the bottom, then go ahead and build your pizza.
5. You've set the oven temperature much too low.
A 350°F oven might work for a lot of recipes, but it does not work for pizza. Make a pie at a too-low temp, and you'll end up with a pizza that has a limp, soggy crust and overcooked toppings. Good pizza needs a hot oven, so whatever you do, do not stop that temperature dial at 350°F. Don't even stop at 400°F.
→ Follow this tip: It might seem a little scary, but crank your oven up as high as it goes. The closer you can get to 500°F, the better. This cooks the pizza quickly, giving it a beautiful golden crust that's super crispy on the outside but still chewy in the middle.