Grandma Pizza

published Dec 14, 2023
Grandma Pizza Recipe

Skip delivery for this thin and crispy sheet-pan pizza.

Serves6

Prep40 minutes to 45 minutes

Cook30 minutes to 40 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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a hand reaching in and pulling out a slices of pizza from the sheet pan.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: Kelli Foster

Not all square pizzas are one and the same. Take grandma pizza, for example. Between the thin crust and melty cheese, it’s light and crispy perfection. Here’s how to make your own grandma pizza at home without picking up the phone. 

What Is Grandma Pizza?

There are several different styles of pan pizza, from deep-dish Chicago-style pizza to Detroit pizza to thick, focaccia-like Sicilian style. Grandma pizza is none of these. It is widely believed that grandma pizza was created on Long Island in a home kitchen. Because it was intended to be baked in a home oven, some of its defining qualities center around successfully producing a pie that’s light and crisp without a professional pizza oven.

What’s the Difference Between Sicilian Pizza and Grandma Pizza?

Grandma pizza might be square, but don’t call it a Sicilian pizza! Grandma pizza has a thin, crispy crust that’s decidedly different from the bready, focaccia-style Sicilian pizza. 

The dough has a relatively short first rise and is then stretched with a generous amount of oil on a rimmed baking sheet. A very short second rise, really just to relax the dough, keeps it from becoming too thick. Cheese is layered on the dough, and then the sauce is dotted over top. The oiled bottom of the dough and the cheese barrier ensures there will be no soggy spots once baked.

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: Kelli Foster

The Key Ingredients in Grandma Pizza

  • Flour: Bread flour is the way to go, as all-purpose flour will yield a softer, more cake-like crust. Because you’re not trying to develop the gluten to create a chewy texture, only brief kneading is needed here. 
  • Cheeses: Parmesan adds a nutty sharpness, and sprinkling it on the well-oiled crust keeps it from feeling dusty. Opt for whole-milk mozzarella, as it stays creamy when baked, but steer clear of fresh mozzarella, as it has too much water for this style. Don’t be tempted to double up on the cheese either, as this pizza is not the one to weigh down with a lot of toppings.
  • Tomatoes: I tried several options for this pie, and gently simmering a can of Italian crushed tomatoes with some aromatics was, by far, the winner. Italian tomatoes have an incredibly fresh and vibrant flavor that some other brands lack, and on this simply topped pizza, it made a difference. A quick simmer of the tomatoes further reduced some of the water in the tomatoes and gently concentrated the flavor. It might not look like a ton of sauce, but it has the perfect balance with the cheese and crust, without compromising on the crispy bottom of the dough.

Grandma Pizza Recipe

Skip delivery for this thin and crispy sheet-pan pizza.

Prep time 40 minutes to 45 minutes

Cook time 30 minutes to 40 minutes

Serves 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups

    warm water (100ºF to 110ºF), divided

  • 1 teaspoon

    active dry yeast

  • 1/4 cup

    plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided

  • 2 1/2 cups

    bread flour, plus more for kneading

  • 1 1/4 teaspoons

    kosher salt, divided, plus more as needed

  • 1 teaspoon

    granulated sugar

  • 1

    (about 15-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, preferably Italian

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    dried oregano

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 1

    small clove garlic

  • 12 ounces

    whole-milk low-moisture mozzarella cheese

  • 1/4 cup

    grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Place 1 cup of the warm water in a small bowl, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon active dry yeast, and stir to combine. Let sit until the yeast is foamy, 5 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, pour 1/4 cup of the extra-virgin olive oil onto a large rimmed baking sheet (13x18 inches). Place 2 1/2 cups bread flour, 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt, and 1 teaspoon granulated sugar in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Make a well in the center.

  2. Pour the yeast mixture into the well. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil. Stir with a stiff spatula until a shaggy dough comes together. It’s OK if there is a little dry flour in the bowl. Scrape the dough and any remaining flour onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough, adding a very light dusting of flour if needed, just until the dough feels smooth, soft, and a little tacky, but releases cleanly from your hands and the work surface, 2 to 4 minutes.

  3. Transfer the dough onto the baking sheet and turn to coat well in oil. Lightly cover and let rise in a warm place until the dough has more than doubled in size and fills between one-third and one-half of the baking sheet, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

  4. After about 30 minutes, heat the oven and make the sauce. Arrange a rack in the lower third of the oven and place a pizza stone, baking steel, or upside-down baking sheet on the rack. Heat the oven to 500ºF (you want it hot and well-heated!).

  5. Place 1 (about 15-ounce) can crushed tomatoes in a medium saucepan. Add the remaining 1/4 cup water to the can and gently shake the can to rinse it out; pour into the saucepan. Add 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Finely grate 1 small garlic clove into the saucepan.

  6. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium or medium-low and gently simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened slightly and reduced to about 1 1/2 cups, 5 to 15 minutes. Taste and season with more kosher salt and black pepper as needed. Remove from the heat and let cool.

  7. Uncover the dough and gently stretch and press until it is an even, thin thickness and fills the baking sheet, making sure the dough stays oiled on both sides and the oil doesn’t just pool in the corners. It’s OK if it doesn’t fully reach the corners. If the dough doesn’t want to stretch, just give it a few minutes to relax and try again. Don’t just stretch from the middle of the dough or you will end up with a section of thick dough and a section so thin you can see through it.

  8. Cover again and let rise in a warm place until slightly puffed, soft, and relaxed, 30 to 45 minutes. Meanwhile, grate 12 ounces whole-milk low-moisture mozzarella cheese on the large holes of a box grater (about 3 cups). Finely grate Parmesan cheese on the small holes of a box grater until you have 1/4 cup if needed.

  9. If needed, gently stretch the dough to fully cover the baking sheet. Sprinkle all over with the Parmesan. Sprinkle with the mozzarella, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Drop small spoonfuls of sauce all over the cheese, but do not spread out (the sauce will not fully cover the pizza).

  10. Transfer the baking sheet to the oven, placing it on the pizza stone, baking steel, or upside-down baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet and bake until the crust is well-browned around the edges and the mozzarella has bubbled and browned in spots, 8 to 10 minutes more.

  11. Let the pizza cool for about 5 minutes. Loosen the edges of the pizza with a spatula or thin knife, then cut into 12 large squares (or transfer to a large cutting board before cutting).

Recipe Notes

Substitutions: Bread flour makes all the difference in a crisp, light crust. You can use all-purpose flour instead but know that it will be a little more cakey and bready.

Storage: Wrap any leftover pizza in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil, or place in a large resealable bag. Refrigerate for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator if frozen. To re-crisp the pizza, bake on a baking sheet in a 350ºF oven or heat in a skillet over medium to medium-low heat until heated through.