Some things are just so easy to make, I wonder why it’s the norm to buy them. Homemade pizza dough is one of those things. Here’s my recipe for easy pizza dough that makes for a soft, pillowy crust (and can even be made ahead)!
I’ve got so many pizza recipes lined up for you this week and I am *so excited*, but before we get into the toppings we should probably talk about the crust, right?
The pizza crust is a make-or-break element to any good pizza, so today I’m showing you how to make a homemade pizza crust that’s fluffy, tender, and above all easy to make.
Homemade pizza dough ingredients
- Warm water: There are no eggs or milk in pizza dough, just water!
- Yeast: I tested both instant (rapid rise) and active dry yeast here. Instant yeast gave the best results, but active dry yeast does a decent job if that’s all you have (it just may need a little more time to rise).
- Sugar: Sugar is important to help activate the yeast and keep the dough tender.
- Salt: A healthy spoonful of salt is essential for flavoring the pizza dough.
- Olive oil: Not only will olive oil help tenderize and flavor the dough, we’ll brush it on top to create a golden crust.
- Flour: All-purpose white flour is perfect for homemade pizza dough. You can also use bread flour for a chewier texture, or Caputo Tipo 00 for a thin crust pizza.
- Cornmeal (optional): Most pizzas are dusted on bottom with cornmeal, which prevents the pizza from sticking to the pan while adding flavor and crunch. Use it if you have it!
Let’s make pizza dough!
Step 1: Proof the yeast
Combine warm water (about 105 degrees F) with yeast and sugar. This is going to activate the yeast while also helping you to see if the yeast is alive. After 5 to 10 minutes, the mixture should be frothy (if not, discard and try again with fresher yeast). Mix in the salt and olive oil.
Step 2: Mix in the flour
Now it’s time to get messy. Mix the wet mixture into the flour. The dough will become difficult to mix with a spoon and eventually form a loose ball. Transfer the dough ball onto a lightly floured surface.
Step 3: Knead
Knead by hand (8 minutes) or with the bread hook of a standing mixer (5 minutes), adding additional flour a tablespoon at a time if dough is really sticking to the surface. Pizza dough has been kneaded enough when it is smooth and passes the finger poke test (when you poke it with your finger, the dough should slowly spring back).
How do you hand- knead dough? Work the dough into a ball, then press down and slightly forward with the heels of your hands. Fold the dough in half, then repeat. Kneading should be rhythmic and quick, and result in a smooth dough ball
Why do you knead dough? Kneading develops the gluten proteins in the flour, which give it a soft interior and a crunchy exterior. Without kneading, less gluten develops and will result in a flat, dense dough.
Step 4: Rise
After you’ve kneaded the dough and your forearms are ready to fall off, place the ball in a lightly greased bowl, then cover with plastic wrap. Set in a warm place and let rise for 1 to 2 hours, or until dough has doubled in size.
Pro tip: to help you dough rise faster, heat your oven for just a few minutes to get it warm. Turn it off then set your dough inside the oven. The warm (but not hot!) temperature will help the pizza dough rise more quickly!
Step 5: Divide
Divide the dough into two equal balls, then cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes. If you don’t plan on making 2 pizzas, you can freeze one of the balls now.
Step 6: Roll
Time to form that classic pizza circle! You can either roll it out on a floured surface with a rolling pin (easiest) or stretch it by hand (most likely to make your Italian grandmother proud). Pizza should be about 12 inches wide (go wider for thin crust).
I like to roll my pizza crust directly on parchment paper. It prevents the pizza from sticking to the surface and I can easily transfer it to the baking sheet!
Step 7: Bake
Preheat your oven with the pizza pan in it. Cooking your pizza on an already-hot pan will produce a crispy bottom and evenly cooked crust!
If you rolled the pizza dough on parchment paper, simply transfer the pizza and paper to your baking sheet. Otherwise, dust the baking sheet with cornmeal or grease the baking sheet before laying on the dough.
Brush dough with a touch of olive oil, then top with your favorite ingredients! Cook for 10 to 15 minutes on a low rack, then broil about 2 minutes on the highest rack until cheese is golden.
Our favorite homemade pizza recipes
Asparagus Pizza with Burrata and Arugula
Autumn Pear Pizza
Beet Pesto Pizza with Goat Cheese and Kale
Beer Caramelized Onion and Brussels Sprout Pizza
Goat Cheese and Mushroom White Sauce Pizza
Three Cheese Roasted Grape Pizza
- 1 ½ cups warm water about 105°F/40°C, 360 mL
- 1 ¼-oz package instant yeast 2 ¼ tsp, 7 g
- 1 Tbsp sugar 15 g
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp olive oil + some for greasing bowl/pan 15 mL
- 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour 450 g
- Proof yeast: Combine warm water with yeast and sugar. After 5 to 10 minutes, the mixture should be frothy. Mix in the salt and olive oil.
- Mix in flour: Mix the wet mixture into the flour in a large bowl. The dough will start to get difficult to mix with a spoon and eventually form a loose ball. Transfer the dough ball onto a lightly floured surface.
- Knead: Knead by hand (8 minutes) or with the bread hook of a standing mixer (5 minutes), adding additional flour a tablespoon at a time if dough is really sticking to the surface. Pizza dough has been kneaded enough when it is smooth and passes the finger poke test (when you poke it with your finger, the dough should slowly spring back).
- Rise: Place dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set in a warm place* and let rise for 1 to 2 hours, or until dough has doubled in size.
- Divide: Divide the dough into two balls, then cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes. If you don’t plan on making 2 pizzas, you can freeze one of the balls now**.
- Roll: Roll pizza dough directly onto lightly flour- or cornmeal-dusted parchment paper (12 inches for traditional crust, 14 for thin crust). Brush dough with olive oil then top with your favorite ingredients
- Bake: Preheat oven to 475°F (250°C). Place your empty pizza pan in the oven while it preheats to make the pan hot (hot pan = crispy crust). Bake on lowest rack for 10 to 12 minutes, then move to upper rack and broil for 2 minutes.