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This really is the BEST Pizza Dough recipe that we use all the time when making pizzas for our Friday night dinner and movies at home with the kids or casual pizza parties with friends where everybody gets to top their own. It's easy to make homemade pizza dough that is crispy and chewy with great flavor, and it makes the perfect base for all your favorite pizza topping combinations!
Craving pizza but want something a little different? Try our Cast Iron Pan Pizza (Copycat Pizza Hut Pizza Recipe), Chicago Deep Dish Pizza, Easy Stromboli Recipe, or Four Cheese Pizza with Tomato Basil Arugula Salad!
The BEST Pizza Dough Recipe
I have been making this easy homemade pizza dough recipe for years. It's really simple and uses ingredients we always have on hand. And it rises really quickly (only 30 minutes), so I can get things started and have cheesy, fantastic pizza customized with all of our favorite toppings ready in about an hour.
It hardly takes any longer than picking up pizza from our favorite pizza place. And it's definitely WAY less expensive to do a weekly pizza night tradition when you make them at home.
How hot should the oven be to make homemade pizza?
Professional pizzerias use really hot ovens, which gives their crusts the signature crispy texture that can be hard to achieve at home.
Cooking at lower temperatures (or overloading your pizza with too many toppings) can cause the pizza to cook slower, which can result in soggy, limp pizza that might taste okay, but won't be nearly as close to authentic pizzeria-style pizza that we're going for.
I recommend preheating your oven for AT LEAST 30 minutes, even up to an hour, at 500 degrees F (or 475 if that's as high as your oven will go). Many ovens will indicate that it is completely preheated when it actually is not all the way there, which is why I recommend the extra heating time.
If you are using a pizza stone, put it in the oven before turning the heat on so it has plenty of time to get hot as well.
Do I have to have a pizza stone?
No, a pizza stone isn't totally necessary for making really great homemade pizza, but it certainly helps.
If you have one, use it, but if not, my cheater approach is to turn a baking sheet over and use that to bake your pizzas on.
How to Make Pizza Dough
- Combine warm water, yeast, and sugar in a large bowl. If using active dry yeast, you will need to let it proof for 5 minutes (until it starts to get foamy) before adding the flour, salt, and olive oil. Or if using instant yeast, you can add the flour, salt, and olive oil right away.
- Stir together with a wooden spoon or dough hook until everything starts to come together, then knead for 5 minutes using a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, or by turning the dough only a lightly floured surface and kneading for 6-7 minutes by hand until the dough is smooth and elastic. It should be tacky, but not so sticky that it is difficult to work with. If it is seeming too sticky, add a little extra flour, 1-2 tablespoons at a time.
- Transfer the dough to a large clean bowl with 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil. Turn the dough to coat it in the oil, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge for up to 3 days (if you are making the pizza dough in advance) or let it rise for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 ½ hours until doubled in size. I find that pizza dough is pretty forgiving, so I wouldn't sweat a super specific rise time. I usually just make it, then work on cleaning the kitchen and prepping our pizza sauce, grating cheese, and gathering toppings, and by the time I'm done with that I'm ready to start stretching out the dough.
- Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F (or 475 if that's as hot as your oven will go) for at least 30 minutes to an hour while the dough is rising.
- When the dough has risen, divide it into 2-3 evenly sized balls (or more if you are making personal pizzas). I like to lightly dust the outside of each ball of pizza dough with a little additional flour.
How to Make Homemade Pizzas
- Once your dough is ready, pat or roll it out into circle-ish shapes and place on a pizza peel sprinkled with cornmeal or on a large piece of parchment paper set on a large, fairly sturdy cutting board. My personal preference is to stretch out my dough and set it on parchment paper since I don't have a pizza peel, but you can use a rolling pin to roll the dough ¼" thin if you prefer.
- Top each circle of dough with about ¼ to ½ cup of sauce (classic pizza sauce is always a hit, but you could use BBQ sauce, pesto sauce, a white sauce, skip the sauce entirely if you feel like it).
- Slide your pizza off of the pizza peel or cutting board onto the preheated pizza stone or upside-down baking sheet. I find it's easiest to just slide my rack out of the oven, then slide my piece of parchment paper with the pizza on it over onto the heated pizza stone.
- Bake for 5-10 minutes. The cheese on top should be melted and the crust should be turning golden brown around the edges. The amount of time will depend on just how hot your oven is, how many toppings you added to your pizza, and how thick or thin the crust is.
How I shape pizza dough
I always shape my pizza dough by hand, rather than using a rolling pin.
A rolling pin totally works and gets uniform thinness, but I actually like a little bit of a thicker crust around the edges and thinner center, which also helps the pizza cook more evenly as well, and that isn't something you can achieve with a rolling pin.
These are the two best way I've found for achieving this is to shape the pizzas by hand. They both take a little practice, but neither is hard once you get the hang of it. And if you find that your dough keeps shrinking back as you are trying to stretch it out, let it rest for 5 minutes so the gluten can relax, then try again.
Method 1: Drape the dough over your fists
Start with a ball of dough and pat it out into a disc. Then make sure you aren't wearing any rings and lay the dough on top of your balled fists, using them to rotate and gently stretch the dough. Go ahead and try giving it a little toss even!
This is going to cause the dough to thin more in the center while leaving a slightly thicker ring around the edges.
Method 2: Steering wheel approach
My other technique starts the same way with flatting a ball of pizza dough into a disc. Then I hold it like a steering wheel with my hands at the top. The weight of the dough will cause it to naturally start to stretch on its own.
Keep turning and rotating the "wheel" of pizza dough, holding it a couple inches in from the top, until it has stretched out into a large thin circle.
What is the best flour for pizza dough?
I highly recommend using bread flour when making this pizza dough recipe.
I know it's a pain buying a special ingredient if you don't regular stock bread flour in your pantry. And you CAN make this pizza dough recipe with all-purpose flour if that is all you have on hand.
BUT, there is a noticeable difference between pizza dough made with bread flour and all-purpose flour. Which is why I swear by it for making homemade pizza dough.
Bread flour gives a crispier pizza crust that is truer to the classic pizzeria-style crust, which can be difficult to attain at home.
I recommend either King Arthur Bread Flour or Bob's Red Mill Artisan Bread Flour. This post isn't sponsored, those are just two widely available brands that always have great quality to make the best pizza dough.
How long should you knead pizza dough?
If you aren't an experienced bread baker, you may wonder how long to knead pizza dough. If you are using a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment, I recommend about 5 minutes. If you are doing it by hand, I would probably go another minute or two longer at 6-7 minutes.
Kneading the dough helps develop the gluten in the flour, which is baker-speak for getting the texture right in your pizza dough so it has that wonderful chewy-crisp quality that I love in a good pizza crust.
How long should pizza dough rise?
Pizza dough should rise until it has doubled in size. Which can be anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 ½ hours, depending on how warm it is in your house. That said, I almost always give mine about 30-45 minutes because I don't like to wait longer and that's about as much time as it takes me to clean my kitchen and prep everything else.
I find this is a really easy, forgiving dough and a more specific rise time really isn't necessary. If it looks noticeably bigger than when you first put it into the bowl and covered with plastic wrap, you should be good to go ahead and start making your pizzas.
Make-Ahead & Freezing Instructions
Make-Ahead: You can make the dough up to 3 days in advance and just keep in in the fridge covered with plastic wrap until you are ready to make your pizzas. Just combine all the ingredients and knead like normal, then place the dough in a clean bowl with a little oil and transfer to the fridge immediately, skipping the rising time.
When you want to make your pizzas, just pull the dough out of the fridge and let it sit on the counter for two hours to come up to room temperature and rise before proceeding like normal.
I actually think the flavor and texture of the crust of the pizza is even better when the dough is made at least a day in advance!
Freezing: You can actually even freeze pizza dough to always have some one hand. Make the dough like normal and let it rise, then divide it into 2-3 balls. Rub a little extra olive oil around each ball of dough, then place the balls of dough into freezer-safe ziploc bags and freeze completely. You can keep the balls of frozen pizza dough in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Thaw overnight in the fridge for at least 12 hours, then let it sit on the counter at room temperature for at least 1 hour before using.
Best Pizza Toppings
You can top your pizza however you like, but keep in mind that because pizza cooks so quickly at such a high temperature, the ingredients won't have a lot of extra time to cook.
So things like sausage need to be cooked in advance, and it's best to slice veggies on the thin side, or even roast them first.
Also, I always spread my sauce over the dough then sprinkle with half of my shredded cheese first, followed by the toppings and then the rest of the cheese. I find having cheese on the top and bottom helps the pizza cook more evenly, not be as soggy (especially if using toppings like pineapple or sliced tomatoes), and the toppings don't all slide right off.
Here is our long list of our favorite pizza toppings. We change it up all the time and when we have friends over, it's fun to pull out a bunch of different toppings so everyone can make their own!
- freshly grated mozzarella cheese (it melts so much better than the pre-shredded kind)
- ricotta or burrata cheese (if you want to get all fancy)
- pepperoni (forever and always)
- cooked sausage
- canadian bacon
- crumbled cooked bacon
- sliced green, red, or yellow peppers
- chopped red onions
- sliced olives
- sliced mushrooms (I prefer fresh)
- thinly sliced Roma tomatoes
- pineapple tidbits (if using, be sure to drain these really, really well or they will make your pizza soggy)
- roasted red peppers (so good!)
- minced garlic
- artichoke hearts
- fresh basil leaves or other herbs (add these right as the pizza is coming out of the oven
- sliced Italian meatballs
- roasted broccoli
- thinly sliced zucchini (a personal favorite that I came to love on pizza while traveling through Italy)
- caramelized onions (absolutely divine)
- leftover grilled chicken
- drizzle of olive oil
I'm sure I'm forgetting others as you can pretty much top a pizza with anything.
I would love to hear your other favorite toppings in the comments below and will update this list periodically as I think of more toppings!
Also, anybody else love dipping your pizza in ranch dressing or butter garlic sauce? So good!
More Dinner Favorites To Make At Home
- Best Ground Beef Taco Meat
- All-American Hamburger with Crispy Onion Strings & Burger Sauce
- Baja Fish Tacos Recipe
- Homemade French Fries
- Red, White, and Blueberry Bacon Burger with Basil Aioli
- Smoked Pulled Pork
- Easy Creamy Chicken Marsala
- Cubanos [Cuban Sandwich Recipe]
- The BEST Homemade Swedish Meatballs
The BEST Pizza Dough Recipe
- 1 ½ cups warm water 110 degrees F
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 ¼ teaspoons 1 package active dry yeast or instant yeast
- 3 ½ to 4 cups bread flour
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons salt
- Place a pizza stone in the oven if you have one. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F (or 475 if that's as high as your oven will go) while preparing the pizza dough so it can be completely hot when you are ready to bake the pizzas.
- Combine warm water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl. If using active dry yeast, let it proof for 5 minutes until foamy. If using instant yeast, there is no need to wait for the yeast to proof.
- Add flour, olive oil, and salt and stir well with a wooden spoon or mix in a stand mixer with a dough hook until combined.
- Knead for 5 minutes using a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment or 6-7 minutes by hand until smooth and elastic. The dough will be tacky and slightly sticky, but should still be manageable to work with.
- Drizzle a clean bowl with a little olive oil, then place the ball of dough in the bowl and turn it to coat in the oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean cloth and let rise for at least 30 minutes (or up to 1 ½ hours) until doubled in size.
- Divide the dough into 2 or 3 balls (or more if you want to make personal-size pizzas).
- Roll, pat, or stretch the dough out until it is roughly ¼" thick, then top with ¼-1/2 cup of pizza sauce, freshly grated mozzarella cheese, and other toppings.
- Bake for 5-10 minutes until the cheese is melted and the crust is golden brown and crispy around the edges.
- Cool slightly before cutting and serving.
- After rising, the dough can be divided into smaller balls, then frozen for up to 3 months. Rub each ball with a little olive oil first, then place in a freezer-safe ziploc bag before freezing. To thaw, set the dough in the fridge overnight for at least 12 hours, then let it sit at room temperature for 1 hour before using.
- This pizza dough recipe can be made up to 3 days in advance. Just transfer it to the fridge before letting it rise. Remove from the fridge and let it rise for 1-2 hours before using.
- See post for pizza topping ideas.