You Can Hack Your Oven to Make Restaurant-Style Pizza — Here’s How

published Aug 21, 2019
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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

Pizza Friday is a tradition at my house. But we don’t (usually) get delivery — I prefer to switch on the oven and make it from scratch. While I dream of one day owning a pizza oven, I’ll be working with our plain ol’ oven for the indefinite future.

It’s not exactly what our local pizza joint is using to churn out pies, but over the years my husband and I have figured out how to get homemade pizza as close to restaurant-quality as possible. Here’s how we do it.

How to Turn Your Home Oven into a Pizza Oven

The biggest difference between a home oven and a pizza oven is that a pizza oven gets much, much hotter, and it distributes this heat evenly from all sides. That’s why the crust browns on both the bottom and the top, and the cheese gets bubbly and melts so quickly. A home oven typically heats just from the bottom, meaning the top of the pizza crust never gets as browned and crisp as you’d like.

Luckily it’s pretty easy to mimic some of the qualities of a pizza oven at home — and you don’t need any special tools. If you have a pizza stone, definitely go ahead and use it, but this hack works well with a plain-old rimmed baking sheet, turned upside down.

1. Arrange a rack on the top third of the oven.

First, make sure a rack is the the top third of your oven, so it’s close to the broiler.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

2. Place a heavy rimmed baking sheet on rack.

Grab a heavy rimmed baking sheet and place it on the rack, upside down. This lets you slide the pizza onto and off it a little more easily. Note: You can also use a pizza stone or steel here, if you have one.

3. Preheat the oven to 500 to 550°F.

Crank up the oven to its maximum temperature and let it heat for at least 30 minutes. You want it to get nice and warm in there.

4. Assemble your pizza on parchment paper.

While the oven is heating, assemble your pizza on a large piece of well-floured parchment paper (or a pizza peel, if you have one).

5. Turn on the broiler.

A few minutes before you’re ready to bake your pizza, switch your oven to Broil. Now you’ve got direct heat coming from the top as well as lots of residual heat from the bottom and sides.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

6. Carefully remove the baking sheet, slide your pizza on, and put it back in the oven.

Use oven mitts or a heavy-duty towel to remove the piping-hot baking sheet. Carefully slide your pizza on, leaving the parchment paper behind, and then return it to the oven.

If you’re using a pizza stone or steel, you do not need to remove the hot, heavy stone from the oven; simply slide the pizza onto it from the parchment or your peel.

7. Bake until crust is golden-brown and cheese is melted.

Bake the pizza for around five minutes (depending on how hot your oven is), keeping an eye on it until you see the crust brown and bubble, and the cheese melt. I like to keep the oven light on so I can keep a close watch on the pizza without worrying about precious heat escaping.

Carefully remove it from the oven, slice, and dig in!