Homemade pizza takes just a few quality ingredients: dough, sauce, cheese, and perhaps some toppings, if that's your thing. That's to say that 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.
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 thin pizza with too many toppings.
I love toppings too, but some pizza styles can't hold that many. 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 on thinner-crust pizzas.
Follow this tip: Keep in mind that more toppings generally mean more cook time. So limit thinner-crust pizzas to two to three toppings and some cheese. For heartier pies, try a sheet pan pizza with a thicker crust.
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 being added to 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, pizza stone, or baking steel — all are good choices. But 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 you run the 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 before building 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.