How To Make Awesome Pizza at Home

How To Make Awesome Pizza at Home

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Emma Christensen
Mar 22, 2018
(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Pizza is a regular visitor to our house — only it doesn't usually come from a delivery person. Making homemade pizza from prepared dough is a quick and easy dinner any night of the week. Even making your own dough only really adds a few minutes to the prep time! Pile on your favorite toppings and get ready to chow down.

Awesome Homemade Pizza: Watch the Video

3 Steps for Awesome Pizza at Home

1. Make your own pizza dough.

Yes, you can buy pretty decent pizza dough from the bakery counter at your grocery store, but why bother when you can easily mix up a batch at home for pennies? Use any one of our pizza dough recipes to get started.

While the rise time on most of these is relative short (one to two hours), you can mix the dough the night or morning before and let the dough rise slowly all day. Be sure to bring the dough to room temperature for an hour before shaping.

My favorite method for shaping the pizza is to roll the dough onto a piece of parchment paper. The dough sticks to the parchment, making it easier to work with and easier to transfer into the oven. The pizza will release from the parchment during cooking and the parchment can be removed halfway through cooking. The parchment darkens in the oven, but doesn't burn or catch fire.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

2. Keep the sauce and toppings simple.

When it comes to red sauce, trust us when we say a simple, no-cook blender sauce is best. Pesto or rich ricotta are wonderful substitutes as well.

There are also no rules about the kinds of toppings you put on your pizza. Choose ones you love. They will cook a little in the oven, but if it isn't something you like to eat raw, like sausage or mushrooms, cook them ahead of time. If you'd like fresh greens or herbs (like arugula or basil) on your pizza, sprinkle them over the pizza right when it comes out of the oven. The residual heat from the pizza will wilt the greens just slightly and bring out their flavor.

It's best, though, to keep the toppings to just a handful at most. If you load homemade pizza down with a ton of toppings, it may take too long for the crust to cook.

3. Bake it hot.

Don't be afraid to really crank the heat up to its highest setting. The high heat will help make a crunchier and more flavorful crust. Let the oven heat for at least half an hour before baking your pizzas. If you have a baking stone or steel, place it in the lower-middle of your oven. (Or you can invert a baking sheet in the oven as a sort of pseudo pizza stone.)

Baking on parchment paper will make loading and unloading the pizza from the oven easier, but you can also use flour or cornmeal to keep the pizza from sticking to a pizza peel or additional inverted baking sheet for building the pizza on.

Read more: Want the Best Homemade Pizza? You Have to Turn Up the Heat.

How To Make Pizza at Home

Makes 2 (10-inch) pizzas; serves 4

What You Need

Ingredients

  • 1 pound

    pizza dough, at room temperature for at least 1 hour

  • 1/2 to 1 cup

    sauce: tomato sauce, white sauce, or other spread

  • 2 to 3 cups

    other toppings: sautéed onions, sautéed mushrooms, pepperoni, cooked sausage, cooked bacon, diced peppers, leftover veggies, or any other favorite toppings

  • 1 to 2 cups

    shredded or sliced cheese (4 to 8 ounces) such as mozzarella, Monterey Jack, provolone, fontina, or any other favorite

  • Cornmeal or all-purpose flour (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 550°F or higher. Arrange a rack in the lower-middle part of the oven (if you have a baking stone, place it on the rack) and heat the oven to 550°F or higher. Don't be afraid to really crank the heat up to its highest setting, as the high heat will help make a crunchier and more flavorful crust. Let the oven heat for at least 30 minutes.

  2. Divide the dough in half. One pound of dough makes 2 (10-inch) pizzas. Divide the dough in half and cover one half with an upside-down bowl or a clean kitchen towel while you prepare the first pizza.

  3. Roll out the dough.
    Method #1: Pizza Baked on Parchment: Tear off a large piece of parchment paper roughly 12 inches long. Working with one piece of the dough at a time, form it into a large disk with your hands and place it on the parchment. Use your hands or a rolling pin to flatten the dough until it is 1/4-inch thick or less. If the dough starts to shrink back, let it rest for 5 minutes and then continue rolling.

    Method #2: Pizza with Cornmeal or Flour and a Baking Stone: Sprinkle a handful of cornmeal or flour on a pizza peel or on an upside-down rimmed baking sheet. Working with one piece of the dough at a time, form it into a large disk with your hands and place it on the peel. Use your hands or a rolling pin to flatten the dough until it is 1/4-inch thick or less. Shake the peel or baking sheet frequently as you shape to make sure the dough isn't sticking. If the dough starts to shrink back, let it rest for 5 minutes and then continue rolling.

    Method #3: Pizza Baked on a Baking Sheet: Brush a thin film of olive oil on a baking sheet. Working with one piece of the dough at a time, form it into a large disk with your hands and place it on the baking sheet. Use your hands or a rolling pin to flatten the dough until it is 1/4-inch thick or less. If the dough starts to shrink back, let it rest for 5 minutes and then continue rolling.

  4. Top the pizza. Spoon half of the sauce onto the center of the pizza and use the back of the spoon to spread it out to the edges. Pile on half of the toppings and half of the cheese.

  5. Bake the pizza. Using a pizza peel or the back side of a baking sheet, slide your pizza (with the parchment or with the cornmeal) onto the baking stone. If you don't have a baking stone, bake the pizza right on the baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes, then rotate the pizza. If using parchment, slide it out from under the pizza and discard. Bake until the crust is golden-brown and the cheese is melted and browned in spots, 3 to 5 minutes more.

  6. Slice and serve. Transfer the pizza to a cooling rack and let cool slightly, just until you're able to handle it. Transfer to a cutting board, slice into pieces, and serve. Repeat making a second pizza with the remaining dough, cheese, and toppings.

Recipe Notes

How To Make Pizza on the Grill: Great for a smoky flavor and extra-crispy crust.

Pizza on the Stovetop: Try this method when you don't want to heat up the kitchen.

Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat slices on the stovetop with this method.


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