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Hellooooo crispy, fried crust and a thick, almost focaccia-like puffy interior with all your favorite toppings! This Cast Iron Pan Pizza recipe doesn’t taste just like Pizza Hut: it tastes 1,000x better.
It’s a toss-up whether we love pizza or tacos more around here. But we definitely enjoy pizza night at home, especially on Fridays nights. Some of our other popular pizza recipes are Chicago Deep Dish Pizza, Four Cheese Pizza with Tomato Basil Arugula Salad, and Grilled BBQ Chicken Pizza.
Cast Iron Pan Pizza
I love making pizza at home for my family. It’s one of the easiest yeast-doughs to work with, if that sort of thing intimidates you and has caused you to shy away from making loaves of bread.
Not only is making pizza a fun tradition that gets the whole family involved (what kid doesn’t want to have a say in which toppings go on the pie and helping to spread sauce and sprinkle cheese), but it also straight-up tastes better and is much less expensive than ordering takeout!
Get ready for the best pan pizza of your life!
I grew up on Pizza Hut pizza thanks to their Book-It program in the 80’s and 90’s and my incurable bookishness and love of reading.
The Book-It program started in Wichita, Kansas in 1984 after President Ronald Reagan asked American businesses to get involved in education. Kids could earn 1-topping personal pan pizzas and a badge (remember those?) for reading books.
So I decided to include a Pizza-Hut style cast iron pan pizza recipe in my collection of foods that Kansas is known for as part of my American Eats series. Which was a bit of a risk since, if I’m being totally honest, Pizza Hut hasn’t my favorite pizza for a long time. Like, probably since I got the free personal pan pizzas with my book-it coupons as a kid.
But this cast iron pizza recipe has forever changed they way I feel about pan pizza and we will be making this over and over again from now on!
How to make pizza in a cast iron pan
When it comes down to it, the recipe below is almost exactly the same as my basic pizza dough recipe that is HUGELY popular on here and gets thousands of visits a day! But it’s the tiniest change to the recipe and some specific differences in the technique that create a whole different pizza experience that is a game-changer if you love deep dish pizza like I do.
- We’re going to dial back the yeast to just 1 teaspoon. The thing most people don’t know about yeast is that you can get away with less yeast than most recipes call for, as long as you compensate with an increased rise time. If you need things to rise faster, adding more yeast can help. This isn’t the approach if you want pizza in, say, 2 hours. It’s the approach you take on Thursday night when you know you want pizza for dinner the next day.
- This is practically a no-knead pizza dough. Instead of kneading the dough until it’s smooth, you just stir the ingredients together in a bowl until it’s a rough shaggy lump, then let it sit in the bowl on the counter for about an hour. Stretch and fold the dough every 15-20 minutes. Like, you literally just pull the dough away from the center in one direction, then fold it in half, turn the bowl a quarter turn and repeat, stretching, folding, and turning, for a total of 4 folds. Rest the dough for another 15-20 minutes and repeat 3 more times. It’s all of 5 minutes of work over the course of an hour. Do it once you put the kids to bed while you are watching a show whenever you get to the point where you need to fast-forward between commercials.
- Cover loosely with a piece of plastic wrap and do a long, slow rise in the fridge overnight. Or up to three days. Seriously, this dough can just hang out in the fridge for up to about 72 hours (longer than that and you will want to freeze it). Magic happens as the flavor of the dough develops over time.
- THREE hours before you want to eat, pull the dough out of the fridge and generously oil TWO large cast iron skillets. This recipe makes enough dough for two 10″ to 12″ pizzas because our small family of four can easily handle one and we always want leftover pizza for lunch the next day anyway. You can always divide the recipe in half if you think one pizza will be enough and you don’t want leftovers.
- Divide the dough in half and roll each piece in the pan so that the dough is evenly coated in oil. Then use your fingers to press the dough toward the edges of the pan. Don’t worry about stretching it all the way or if it wants to shrink back from the edges a bit. That’s totally normal! Just cover it loosely and let it rest for 15 minutes, then use your fingers to press it towards the edges of the pan again. Chances are it will stay put this second time around, but if not, give it another 15 minute rest then press it out again and call it good.
- Let the dough rise for 2 hours. The dough will still be cold from the fridge at this point, so give it a couple hours sitting on the counter to come up to room temperature and rise a bit. It will fill the pan all the way to the edges without any extra work.
- Preheat your oven to 550 degrees F or 525 degrees F or as high as your oven will go. The key to quality pizza at home is a really hot oven. I always preheat mine for at least 20-30 minutes before I put the pizzas in to bake.
- Now for the fun part! It’s time to top your pizzas. Spread about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of pizza sauce all the way to the edges of the dough. Sprinkle each pizza with 1 1/2 cups of freshly grated mozzarella cheese, then top with your favorite toppings and they are ready to bake! Don’t go overboard on the toppings, which can weigh down the crust and make it more difficult to cook through evenly.
- Pop the pizzas in the oven and bake for about 12-15 minutes until crispy on the bottom. Use a spatula to lift the pizza from the pan a bit to check on whether the bottom crust is done yet or not. It should be a beautiful golden brown. You might need to pry the edges away just a bit if there wasn’t quite enough oil to prevent the cheese from sticking, but otherwise the pizza should pretty much be ready to just slide right out at this point.
- Do NOT cut the pizza in your cast iron pan! This could easily damage your pan, and frankly, it’s much easier to slice pizza with a pizza cutter or a large sharp knife when you slide it out onto a cutting board. Let the pizza rest for a minute or two, then run a knife around the edges and slide the pizzas out of the pan onto a cutting board within 2-3 minutes of removing from the oven so they don’t start to steam in the pan and lose some of that wonderful crispiness.
What if I want pan pizza but don’t want to wait overnight?
If you find the method of folding tedious or you just want pan pizza today, that’s okay too! Go right ahead and make my regular pizza dough recipe which is ready to go into the pan after about an hour long rise and use that instead. It doesn’t have quite the same flavor because it doesn’t have the same time to develop overnight, but you will still get excellent, crispy crust pizza in the end.
You could even use store-bought pizza dough and still have pretty great pizza thanks to the magic of a well-oiled cast iron pan.
Should I use a 10-inch or 12-inch cast iron pan?
Either size skillet will work with this recipe. A larger pan will result in a still puff and thick crust, but it won’t be as bread-y as the smaller 10-inch pan. I have one of each size and honestly the pizza is delicious either way.
If you don’t have an oven-safe cast iron pan to use, you could also use a baking dish or even a 10-inch cake pan.
Do you have to preheat a cast iron pizza pan?
You don’t need to preheat your cast iron for this recipe. In fact, doing so would be problematic since we are just stretching and pressing out the dough in the pan and letting it rest until it fills the pan, rather than rolling it out to fit. A hot pan would start to cook the pizza too soon.
Some of our favorite topping combinations for pan pizza
Supreme: pepperoni, canadian bacon, cooked mild Italian sausage, chopped green peppers, chopped onions, sliced mushrooms, and olives
Pepperoni: It’s so simple and basic, but always a favorite.
Hawaiian: canadian bacon & pineapple
Meat Lovers: pepperoni, canadian bacon, cooked mild Italian sausage, salami, and crumbled cooked bacon
Garden Veggie: green peppers, red onions, spinach, mushrooms, artichoke hearts
More restaurant-quality recipes you’ll want to make at home
- Olive Garden Salad Dressing
- Bombay House Chicken Tikka Masala
- Chicken Madeira
- Chicken Marsala
- Honey Walnut Shrimp
- Crispy Egg Rolls
- 3 3/4 cups bread flour
- 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
- 1 teaspoon instant or active dry yeast
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil + 4 tablespoons olive oil for the pan
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups of pizza sauce, divided
- 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
- Any desired toppings like pepperoni, cooked Italian sausage, sliced mushrooms, onions, peppers, olives, pineapple, etc.
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese, divided
- Combine flour, water, yeast, salt, and olive oil in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix with the paddle attachment for 30-45 seconds, just until everything comes together in a shaggy dough. This can also be done by hand with a spoon by stirring for 1 minute. Scrape down sides of bowl to gather the dough into a rough ball, then cover loosely with a piece of plastic wrap and let it rest for 5 minutes.
- After 5 minutes, use wet hands to stretch the dough out, pulling from the bottom, and laying it over the top of itself, sort of folding it in half. Rotate the bowl 90 degrees and repeat the motion of stretching the dough out and folding it on top of itself 3 more time for a total of 4 folds. If the dough is sticking to your hands, moisten them again or use a wet bowl scraper to scrape the dough away from the side of the bowl so you can pull the dough from the bottom. Cover and let rest for another 5 minutes.
- Repeat the process of making the four folds, then covering and resting for the dough for 5 more minutes between each set of folds, three more times, for a total of four rounds of folding that take the place of kneading the dough. After that, cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 40 minutes at room temperature before sticking the dough in the fridge to slowly rise overnight. Let the dough rise at least 12 hours, but up to 72 to develop flavor.
- Three hours before you want to serve the pizza, take the dough out of the fridge. Divide the remaining olive oil between two 10" or 12" cast iron pans (2 tablespoons per pan), swirling to coat the pans well and using your fingers to use some of the oil to grease up the sides a bit as well. If you don't have a cast iron pan, another oven-safe skillet, 10-inch cake pan, or even a 9x9-inch square baking dish will work.
- Divide the dough between the two pans, turning to coat both sides with oil. Gently press the dough towards the edges of the pan, dimpling it with your fingers as you do so. If the dough shrinks back, that's okay. Let it rest for 15 minutes, then stretch it again until it reaches the sides of the pan. If it still doesn't reach the edges, give it a final 15 minutes rest and then stretch it one more time.
- Cover the crust loosely with a piece of plastic wrap and let it rise at room temperature for 2 hours. 30 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 550 degrees F (or as hot as your oven will go).
- Top each pizza with about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of pizza sauce, spreading it all the way to the edges of the crust. Sprinkle with the shredded mozzarella cheese all the way to the edges of the pizza to create a caramelized edge crust. Top with the your favorite toppings and sprinkle each pizza with parmesan cheese.
- Bake on the bottom rack of the oven for 12 to 15 minutes until the cheese is bubbling and the bottom and edges of the crust are golden brown. You can use a metal spatula to lift and check the bottom. If your oven doesn't go all the way to 550 degrees F, you will need to increase the baking time to more like 18 to 20 minutes for a lower temperature like 450 degrees F.
- Run a knife around the edges to keep the cheese from sticking as it cools, but let the pizzas rest for 2 minutes. Use a metal spatula to slide the pizzas out of the pans onto cooling racks so the crust stays crisp. If you leave the pizzas in the pan too long, the crust will start to go soggy. Slice and serve.
- Be careful not to overload the dough with too many toppings, which can make it difficult for the pizza to cook through.
You can sprinkle with fresh, chopped herbs like oregano, basil, or thyme or additional freshly grated hard cheese like parmesan or romano just before serving.
Sources: adapted from King Arthur Flour
Curious about foods from other states in my American Eats series? Check them out below!
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