Homemade Pizza Dough Guide
Published: 11th January 2021
As much as the toppings you choose create the perfect pizza, the key to a great pizza is the dough. The dough itself is one of the simplest things to bake and requires minimal ingredients and patience to create perfectly puffy crusts for your homemade pizzas.
Be it the thin crust, California style, or even deep dish. There is an easy way to bake and devour each kind of pizza crust within the comforts of your four walls.
There is something so comforting about the smell of freshly baked dough in your house. Anyone with the right kind of recipe and technique can achieve that delicious dough, ditch the pizza delivery entirely and bring the pizzeria into their home.
Making a dough might seem like an ardent task, but you’ll be surprised how easy it is to make any and all types of doughs after reading this blog. We have tried to cover each and every aspect of the pizza dough, crust and ingredients to be used in this piece. So, what are we waiting for? Let’s dive into the world of pizza doughs.
Different types of Pizza Crusts and Styles
Pizza crusts refer to the style of the dough that forms the base of the pizza. It is the formative layer on which the whole pizza is baked and decorated with topping of our choice. And that is why it is so important to get this base right.
There are numerous kinds of crusts to satisfy the cravings of all the pizza-loving people alike.
We have curated the most exhaustive list of all the crusts that inculcate different varieties of tastes and textures.
All of the styles of pizza below will eventually be found on the recipes section of this website.
Thin Crust Pizza
Thin crust pizza is one of the most loved varieties of pizza and is my personal favourite too. It traces back its origins from Italy and an authentic thin crust pizza is baked in the red brick oven. The dough of this pizza is specially flattened and baked to give it a crispy and crunchy texture. It is easy to cook and can be customized as per your liking.
Arguably the original and best, it's also the one that I am trying to perfect on my homemade pizza baking journey
The Neapolitan pizza has a plentiful amount of sauce on each of its slices and is generally thin, floppy with thick fluffy crusts. It is stone-baked for a short amount of time that ranges from 60-90 seconds.
A Neapolitan pizza is topped with piping hot marinara sauce and is available in 3 variants namely-Pizza Marinara, Pizza Margherita, and Pizza Margherita Extra.
You’ll be surprised to know that this kind of pizza can get official certification from The Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana if it meets some given criteria set up by the institute. But let’s just take baby steps towards that goal.
This pizza can be baked so quickly and can be topped with just some staple ingredients like tomato sauce, fresh basil, and cheese (preferably mozzarella)
New York Style Pizza
One thing I remember about my first ever New York slice was the sheer size of it.
The crust of a New York Style pizza is thick with a crispy edge, and the rest of the slice is nice and soft allowing you to fold the pizza to eat it in the traditional New York way. Speaking of New York-style- people actually claim that the dough for this pizza made in New York has a distinct taste because of the minerals present in New York water. But don’t you worry a homemade one would taste equally good!
New York pizza is a metamorphosed version of the Neapolitan one, and now it dominates the world of pizza eaters around the globe. The pizza is traditionally cooked in a coal-fired oven, but now it can easily be baked in our regular ovens with some basic pizza-making ingredients and condiments.
California really broke the mold with their creations. It brought the freshness back to the pizza slice. The California-style crust is nothing out of the ordinary but the toppings are what make these standout and the chefs in California curated many pizzas in the same way they would a Michelin star meal. Think of all the exotic toppings-goats cheese, truffles, broccoli, avocados and you're on your way to the style of a California pizza.
California-style pizza is the epitome of the healthy and unique food habits of Californians and it is the holy grail choice for people who are vegetarians or vegans.
New Haven Style Pizza
New Haven pizza originates from Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana, one of the oldest and well-known pizzerias in the US. In this pizzeria, they use a coal-fired brick oven to cook their famous oblong/off round hand-stretched pizzas. New haven pizza is locally called ‘Apizza’ (pronounced as ah-beetz)
The baking process of this pizza takes a little bit more time as compared to the other thin-crust pizzas. The yeast is made to ferment for a good amount of time in the kneaded dough and the crust is made to rise at a high temperature for a longer time.
I have tasted both styles of New Haven Pizza- wood-fired and oil oven baked. The wood-fired pizza leaves a smoked effect in your mouth and has a rustic earthy taste to it whereas the oil oven one fresh and crispy from all the sides and the smokiness do not overshadow the taste of the ingredients that goes into it. Both the styles are equally good and have made their havens amidst pizza lovers.
St Louis Style Pizza
St. Louis-style pizza has been a popular choice of pizza for party orders. It ditches the conventional triangle slices and has square-shaped pizza slices. St. Louis Style Pizza originated from Melrose Pizzeria that was run by Amedeo Fiore and his wife Betty.
What makes the St. Louis Style pizza unique is its cheese-Provel. It is a solid combination of Swiss, cheddar, and provolone cheeses and has butter-like consistency. This gives the pizza a gooiness above its cracker crust that is made sans yeast.
Ed Imo is a very famous pizzeria owner of Imo’s Pizza in St. Louis. It is one of the most well-known brands when it comes to serving this kind of pizza. In his words, this pizza is a square beyond compare!
Sourdough Style Pizza
The distinct flavor of sourdough can make an amazing flavor for any style of pizza. Sourdough does not use any yeast and is created using a sourdough starter which forms its own yeast. Every sourdough pizza I've ever made comes out with the same flavor and a super crunch crust. A sourdough pizza is very close to a New York-style one in terms of its texture.
This style of pizza takes its own sweet time to ferment and develop its authentic taste. The preparation time of this pizza scared me a bit at first, but trust me the wait was all worth it. You might take some time to master the skill of baking a Sourdough Style pizza, but I am sure that the first bite of this homemade delicacy would speak for itself.
Grandma Pizza tops the chart of home-made pizza delicacies. The pizza has some sense of sentimental value attached to it as it was first made by Italians longing for their home and trying to replicate the flavors just by the use of limited ingredients and no oven.
The pizza has a thin crust that is baked with olive oil on a pan. One of the most unique characteristics of the pizza is how it layers its topping. Instead of putting cheese on the top and tomato sauce underneath it, it places it the other way round. After baking, it is cut into square pie-like pieces and enjoyed amongst one and all.
Thicker Crust / Deep Dish
A thick crust pizza is very similar to the thin one except for the fact that it has a higher viscidity, especially around the outer edges. Its baking time also differs from the thin crust pizza. With a plethora of toppings on the thick crust, it made its way into the hearts of the majority of people.
On the extreme end of the spectrum, lies deep dish pizza. It originated from Chicago and was quick to make its way across the globe. They are tall and allow space for a lot of toppings and sauce.
Detroit Style Pizza
Detroit Pizza is an iconic pizza and a go-to pizza for pizza lovers. It has a scrumptious, thick, and airy crust. If we trace back the journey of Detroit Pizza, we see that it was first made by Gus Guerra who was trying to create a pizza similar to a Sicilian one in his bar.
Detroit Pizza has rectangular slices topped with piping hot tomato sauce, cheese, and pepperoni. What makes this pizza stand out from the crowd is the pan used to bake it. The pan has a deep structure and is steel made which allows the pizza to cook from all ends evenly.
Just put together a few basic ingredients, and you’ll be on your way to make an amazing Detroit-style pizza.
Sicilian Style Pizza
I remember enjoying Sicilian style pizzas during the late months of December amidst the festivities. It comes from Sicily and is enjoyed by everyone across the globe. It is locally called Sfincione. The dough is porous and spongy that absorbs all the goodness of olive oil and the delicious sauces.
Parmesan and mozzarella are the two types of cheeses that are generously spread over this type of crust. The pizza gets its crispy texture because of the breadcrumbs coating done to its crust. The crust is usually rectangular in shape and the baking time for it ranges from 10-12 minutes. It is very easy to make and you like cooking then you should definitely get hands-on with it.
Chicago Style Pizza
Chicago Style Pizza is my personal favorite. Absolutely everything is delightful about this pizza. It has a velvety crust that complements its freshly made tomato sauce. It is also topped with copious amounts of cheese which just dissolves in your mouth instantly. The dough of this pizza is folded with butter in each of its layers,and this gives the crust a flaky texture.
The pizza is very thick and made on an iron skillet. You just need a few toppings like pepperoni and sausage to make this pizza. Super easy and super delicious!
Flatbread Style Pizza
One of the quickest recipes to prepare and the one which I mastered easily is Flatbread Style Pizza. It is one pizza that can be baked in a breeze. This pizza can also be made well even if you do not have yeast. Each bite of this pizza is crispy and flavorsome. Just like its name, the crust is flatter than usual pizza and can be rolled out thinly.
It requires minimal ingredients and takes about 15 minutes to be baked and browned, and it can be devoured with a variety of sauces like marinara, pesto, or even hummus.
Focaccia Style Pizza
Focaccia Style Pizza has been on my list to bake for a long time now. I have heard so many good things about this unconventional pizza which makes me even more excited to try it out.
It is also called ‘Pizza Bianca’. It has a thick crust with a bread-like texture. It is filled with authentic italian herbs and condiments that gives this pizza a distinct and inherent taste. Even with minimal toppings, this pizza tastes heavenly.
Dough for your dietary requirements
Intolerances suck! As someone who has Crohns I know plenty of people who are also coeliac. Over the last few years there has been a rise in choice for pizza loving gluten intolerant people. The techniques for making these bases are slightly different and will introduce some new ingredients to help with the lack of gluten in the dough.
Vegan Pizza Dough
Most pizza dough is already vegan which is a winner! In the cases where some doughs may contain butter you can switch this for some vegan butter or maybe some olive oil. They are equally good as butter and retain the moisture of the pizza.
Calzone is not necessarily a crust but more a technique of what you do with the above thinner crust doughs above. The pizza dough is rolled as thin as you can get it and then you fold the dough over the loaded pizza ingredients to turn into a semi-circle before sealing the edges.
This style of pizza dates back to the 18th century and since then it has made its way into the kitchens of many pizza lovers. The calzone is stuffed with generous amounts of veggies, salami, cheese, and any other toppings you’d like. It is a popular lunch choice for people who are always on the go.
Naan Bread Pizza
Naan bread can come in all shapes and sizes, in fact most of my pizzas come out shaped like a naan bread as I still can't stretch a completely round pizza
Naan bread also comes in a variety of different flavours. As a fan of garlic I'd go straight in for a garlic naan base.
If you fancy a sweeter base you could experiment with a peshwari naan.
In the millennial lingo, this pizza is better known as ‘Naaniza’. It is very easy to make and is a party favorite too. You can make a lot of Naan Bread Pizza from a single dough as the crust is generally small and flat.
You can also try topping it with healthy ingredients and get a wholesome meal experience.
Pitta Bread Pizza
Need something with nearly zero prep time and all the pizza flavor? Grab a pitta bread. We normally have a spare pitta bread lying around at our house after certain meals, throwing some toppings on top and grill for a few mins and you have a tasty snack.
Pitta Bread is truly a lifesaver for lazy cooks and it also makes the best out of leftover food. Apart from being a savior, this pizza is also fancied by a lot of people who like savory pizzas. There are also gluten-free versions available for this form of pizza, so there is room for everyone in the pitta bread pizza world.
Polenta Pizza Base
This is one of the more bizarre ones but it completely makes sense. Polenta is gluten-free so this would make an alternative dough for anyone who is gluten intolerant. Polenta is also Vegan depending on the recipe you choose, the standard preparation method just uses water.
This is probably one of the healthier pizza crusts too as polenta is low calorie, low in fat, and packed full of fibre and complex carbohydrates.
This base is also simple to make and just requires a little time in the fridge for the shaped polenta to firm up before adding any toppings.
One thing when it comes to eating this type of crust though, you may require a knife and fork for this one!
Main Ingredients for a Classic Pizza dough
The key ingredient in pizza dough. You should always use high quality, high protein flour for your pizza doughs. This will typically be called bread flour or strong white flour.
You may also see things like '0' or '00' flour. The '00' flour is the best flour for pizza dough as the durum wheat is finely ground. Because of this the gluten acts differently and gives us that typical pizza base feel when biting into your slice.
Active Dry Yeast
Active Dry Yeast is one of the predominant styles of Yeast that you will see in most supermarkets. It either comes in a small tin or more commonly in a box containing sachets measured out into 7g portions.
I always use filtered or bottled water for my pizza doughs, this is more of a habit due to me having pretty hard water where I live.
The amount of the water, also known as dough hydration, can really transform your pizza dough too.
Salt is one key ingredient in the dough that needs to be of the right kind and the correct measure. If not put properly, it can completely ruin the pizza-eating experience for a person.
I like putting Diamond Crystal Kosher salt in my dough instead of regular table salt as it lifts the whole flavor of the pizza and binds the ingredients flawlessly. Some people also prefer using sea salt because of its nutritional value. As most of these salts have a coarse texture, I prefer to grind them finely before mixing them in the dough.
Optional ingredients for Pizza dough
Melted butter can give the pizza a subtle taste. It lifts the overall taste of the crust and different proportions of it can be used to make the crust moist or flaky.
I like using salted butter in my dough as it gives an inert standalone taste to the crust. You can also go for the unsalted one and add herbs of your choice to it and customize it according to the flavors you want to add to your pizza.
(Pro-tip- Add minced garlic and salted butter to your dough to get the most amazing flavor)
I love drizzling some olive oil over my pizzas and I even love to put it in my dough while kneading it. Extra virgin olive oil adds a strong and pungent taste to pizzas and gives the base a sogginess which prevents it from overcooking in the pan or oven.
Olive oil can also be infused with condiments like oregano and chilli flakes. Olive is certainly priced higher than soybean and refined oil but it is worth it because of its high nutritional value and quality. You can definitely get yourself a small bottle at first and try it out while baking your pizza.
Xanthum Gum is an additive that provides stability to gluten-free pizza dough. It ferments with the sugar added to the dough and thickens to give the dough a structure.
Xantham Gum is becoming very popular because of the health benefits, like lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels it provides. People are generally skeptical about using Xantham but it is FDA approved and can be safely used in your dough.
I'm a fan of heat, you can add a hidden kick to your pizza by adding in some chilli flakes to your dough. I tend to add mine in at the start by adding about a teaspoon into the dry mix before adding the water.
Pizza dough Hydration
You'll see hydration mentioned a lot when looking at different doughs. Hydration is the amount of water in the mix. Lower hydration doughs will give you a more dense dough, and a higher hydration level will provide you with a lighter and more rustic dough.
Lower hydration doughs are far more comfortable to work with due to the mixture being thicker to touch. On the other hand, and as you might imagine, the more water you add to the mix the harder that becomes.
With a higher hydration dough, you'll struggle to knead. When it comes to this point, you'll need to use the folding technique.
Frequently asked questions about Pizza Dough
What is the difference between pizza dough and bread dough?
Quick answer for this is that a standard pizza dough has little to no fat in it. A typical bread recipe will also include milk, butter or eggs to add to the texture of it. With all that said, nothing is stopping you using some bread dough as a pizza base. You could typically use something more 'bready' in a deep dish or thicker crust pizza.
Can I roll out my pizza dough instead of stretching?
Yes, you can, but when you see the benefits of stretching, you might not want to. When you roll out your pizza dough, you're squishing out all of the air bubbles that are created during the rise out of the dough. When you stretch the dough you can gently massage the air to the crusts. With the air from the rise in the crust, you'll have that amazing puffed crust everyone is looking for on their pizza every time.
What is the best temperature for the water in pizza dough?
You'll find that a lot of online recipes will either say water, warm water but they never specify an actual temperature. Never use cold water in your dough, the reason for this is that cold water kills yeast and dead yeast will not give you any form of rise. The same goes for water being too hot.
The ideal range for the yeast to start fermenting and doing all the great things to your dough is around 28 - 35 Celsius or 80 - 95 Fahrenheit.
If you don't have any fancy equipment to get this temperature right, there is a more straightforward way to get the water into this range.
Take two-thirds of your overall water as boiling water and add to that the remaining one-third of water before using the water in your recipe.
How far in advance can I make pizza dough?
I tend to make my pizza dough around 24 hours before I'm due to use it. To extend the time to 24 hours you can prove the pizza dough in a fridge to slow down the process. Room temperature speeds up this process so if you're using it on the same day, it's probably best to not use the fridge.
Can you freeze pizza dough?
You can, before you freeze you want to allow the dough to prove. Once the dough had proven you should knock the air back out of it and then portion the dough ready for freezing. When you have your portions you need to wrap it very well in cling film, you could even go as far as double wrapping the dough in cling film just to be safe. For best results use the frozen dough up to 3 months after freezing.
How do I use frozen Pizza dough?
To use the frozen dough, grab it out of the freezer and put it into the fridge for around 12 hours until completely thawed out. Bring that dough out from the refrigerator about 30 mins to 1 hour before you're ready to start making your pizzas.
Should I sift my flour first using a sieve?
Yes, doing this will make sure that your flour is nice and fine and it will have less chance of developing lumps. It will also make it much easier to mix and it will help it to combine with the other ingredients.
Can you create pizza dough without yeast?
You can! There are a few different methods you can use that don't include yeast although the texture will be slightly different to what you are used to with a yeast-based dough. These are:
- Dough recipe made with baking soda instead of yeast
- Baking soda with something acidic like lemon to cause a reaction
- The infamous sourdough pizza base
Do I need to dissolve dried yeast in warm water?
Active dry yeast needs activating by warm water. Once you have your water at the ideal temperature just add in the yeast and stir it until dissolved.
Can you use out of date dried yeast in a dough recipe?
Yeast is always best used fresh as it loses its potency over time. Remember, yeast is alive! If your yeast has expired, you can check the strength of yeast using this method.
Should I add dry pizza dough ingredients to the wet ingredients or wet to dry?
It's always best to add the wet into the dry ingredients. If you add the dry ingredients to the wet, the dry ingredients will float on top of the water and may form a skin.
How do I knead high hydration dough?
High hydration dough and be close to impossible to knead like a normal dough. The additional water makes it incredibly sticky and you'll spend more time peeing dough off your hands than kneading the dough.
It would recommend the stretch and fold technique for high hydration dough. I would also recommend doing this in a bowl rather than on your work surface.
On your first prove every 15 mins for the first hour you should do the following
- Wet your fingers so the though dough doesn't stick
- Grab the side of the dough opposite you and lift the dough upward making sure to stretch but not tear.
- Pull the dough towards you and press it down into the near side dough.
- Rotate the bowl 90degrees and repeat the stretch and fold.
- Repeat this process for about 5 mins ensuring you keep your hands wet throughout the process.
Eventually, you'll notice this dough becoming smoother and the gluten will become stronger too.