Hot summer days are tough for a pizza lover, especially if that pizza lover doesn't have a grill to take the pizza party outside. A few years back, my husband and I — both hardcore pizza devotees — started experimenting with stovetop pizzas to avoid turning our apartment into a sauna during the summer months, and this soon became a favorite technique.
Besides eliminating the need for a hot oven, stovetop pizzas are super fast and perfect for when you're just making one or two personal pizzas. Here's the method we've settled on as our favorite.
High Heat, Then Medium Heat
The tricky part when cooking pizza on the stovetop is making sure the crust gets baked, but doesn't start to burn. Start with cooking the crust by itself on high heat, then flip and reduce the heat to medium. This should be enough to develop golden, toasty spots on both sides without tipping it over into burning. It's fine to peek at the underside with a spatula and adjust the heat up or down as needed.
Cover the Pizza to Cook the Top
Once you've cooked the first side and flipped the pizza crust, then add the toppings. Cover the pan to make sure the cheese melts and the other toppings get warmed through. For a more traditional oven-baked pizza, with all the crispy bits, you can run the pizza under the broiler for a minute or two toward the end of cooking.
Once the cheese has melted to your liking, the pizza is ready!
Make-Ahead Pizza Dinner for One or Two
Pizza, in general, is a great make-ahead dinner. You can prep everything, including the dough and toppings, and keep it all refrigerated until you're ready to cook. With everything ready to go, actually cooking these stovetop pizzas takes 10 minutes, tops. It's okay if the dough is still a little chilly from the fridge; it will still cook just fine!
I also think these stovetop pizzas are best suited for quick weeknight dinners for one or two! More than that, and I feel that one person would get stuck at the stove while everyone else at the party gets to chow down. No fun. For bigger parties, it's best to stick to the oven or grilling methods for cooking pizza.
How To Make Skillet Pizza on the Stovetop
What You Need
1 pound pizza dough, store-bought or homemade
1 to 2 teaspoons cooking oil
1/2 to 1 cup pizza sauce, store-bought or homemade
1 to 2 cups shredded cheese
1 to 2 cups toppings, like diced onions, diced peppers, cooked sausage, or any other favorite toppings
10- to 12-inch skillet with a lid — cast iron, stainless steel, or nonstick
- Prepare the dough: If you're making your pizza dough from scratch, prepare the dough and let it rise. If your dough has been refrigerated, take it out of the fridge and let it warm on the counter while you prepare everything else.
- Prepare the toppings: Have the sauce, shredded cheese, and other toppings ready to go. Quickly cook any raw toppings that you want cooked before assembling the pizza. Arrange all of the toppings within easy reach of the stove, where you'll be cooking the pizza.
- Roll out the pizza dough: Divide the dough in half. Lightly flour your counter and then press or roll one half of the dough into a circle that's slightly smaller than your pan.
- Heat the skillet: Place your skillet over medium-high heat and add a teaspoon or two of cooking oil. You want just enough oil to slick the bottom of the pan.
- Cook the pizza for 1 minute: Transfer the circle of pizza dough to the pan. Cook for about 1 minute, or until you see large bubbles forming on top and the underside shows golden spots. You can deflate the bubbles with the edge of your spatula — or leave them! They'll turn into crispy bits once you flip the pizza.
- Flip the crust and add toppings: Use the spatula to flip the pizza to the other side. Immediately top with a few spoonfuls of sauce, a generous sprinkle of cheese, and other toppings.
- Cover and reduce the heat to medium: This helps the cheese melt and prevents the bottom of the pizza from burning.
- Cook the pizza for another 4 to 5 minutes: After a few minutes, peek under the lid and see if the cheese has melted. Cover and continue cooking if needed; adjust the heat as needed to make sure the bottom gets golden but doesn't burn. The pizza is ready as soon as the cheese has melted to your liking.
- Transfer to a cutting board and enjoy! Transfer the pizza to a cutting board with a spatula and let it cool slightly before eating. Meanwhile, start cooking the other pizza.
- If you'd like a more crispy, deeply golden top, run the pizza under the broiler for a minute or two at the end of cooking, until the top starts to develop toasted spots.
This post has been updated — first published September 2009.