This Homemade Pizza Dough recipe makes the perfect pizza crust every time! It calls for basic pantry ingredients, it’s freezer-friendly and virtually fool-proof! Whether you mix the pizza dough in a stand mixer, food processor, or by hand, I’ve got you covered!
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It wasn’t until I moved away from Connecticut that I realized how spoiled my taste buds were living in the Northeast. Where I grew up there are “mom and pop” pizzerias and Italian restaurants on every corner and each one is phenomenal! I’ve lived in 7 states and 2 foreign countries, and nothing beats pizza from the East Coast! So, out of necessity, I’ve been making my own homemade pizza dough recipe, pizza sauce, and pizza for 18 years now and I am THRILLED to finally share with you the tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way to make the best homemade pizza dough!
Once I moved away from Connecticut and realized that I would have to rely on myself to satisfy my pizza cravings, I started testing pizza dough recipes. And did I ever test a ton! About 7 years ago I happened upon Cook’s Illustrated Pizza Dough recipe. I tried it and was immediately impressed, but felt like I could make it slightly better. For the next 6 years, I tinkered with the recipe and baking method and today I’m finally ready to share my adapted recipe and baking method with you. Let’s get started!
There are about a million pizza dough recipes out there and they all include the same 5 or 6 ingredients: water, yeast, salt, flour, olive oil, and sometimes cornmeal. So, what sets this pizza dough recipe apart from the others? Simply the recipe instructions and cook’s tools.
How to Make Pizza Dough – Tips for making the best:
Warm water and yeast go together like peas and carrots. The warm water helps activate the yeast so there’s less rise time. I also use a little bit more water in this recipe than others do, because I find that it gives the crust a chewier, “from the pizzeria” texture.
Rapid Rise Yeast.
This is my yeast of choice when making any type of yeast dough. It rises quicker and who doesn’t love quicker pizza production?
Also, a quick tip about the yeast: keep it in the freezer! This extends the shelf life for months past the expiration date.
Hands down, bread flour makes this pizza dough have the best texture. It makes it a little breadier (in a good way with a deliciously chewy, not spongey, texture). Bread flour also helps the crust attain the best all-over crust when it’s cooked on a preheated pizza stone. My flour of choice is King Arthur Bread Flour.
I cannot say it enough, weigh your flour on a food scale for this pizza dough recipe! When I weigh my flour I never have to adjust the amount of flour or water in the dough, and it comes out perfectly every time.
Salt adds a bit of flavor to the pizza dough. All the toppings in the world can’t add flavor to the dough, so don’t miss this step. A little salt really goes a long way.
Use your Hands, NOT a Rolling Pin.
I’ve found that using a rolling pin to stretch out the dough compresses too many of the lovely gas bubbles in the dough. We want those gas bubbles as they prevent the dough from cooking up flat.
Square 6-Quart Food Container.
I opt for a square food service container with a lid because I can visually track the rising process by using the lines printed on the container. Plus, I like using it because it has its own lid—no wrestling with clingy plastic wrap here!
Using a pizza stone helps the pizza dough recipe cook evenly all over. A pizza stone also helps make the bottom of the pizza crust perfectly crisp and the interior soft and chewy.
I know a pizza stone is a bit of an investment, but I’ve made pizzas without one and the crust tends to turn out flat, limp and missing that delicious golden-brown color!
***PIZZA STONE TIMING TIP: My oven takes about 30 minutes to reach 500 degrees F. In order to make the best pizza, you need to preheat the pizza stone in your oven for at least 30 minutes once the oven reaches 500 degrees F. So start preheating the oven at least 1 hour before you plan on cooking the pizza (30 minutes for the oven to reach 500 degrees with the pizza stone in it, and another 30 minutes of preheating to evenly heat the pizza stone so it’s good and ready to cook your pizza!).
Let that dough rest!
If the dough is snapping back while you’re pressing it out, then let it rest! Cover the dough with a damp paper towel and let the dough chillax for 5-10 minutes and then go about shaping it again. If needed, repeat the process 1 or 2 more times. This short rest helps the gluten in the dough to relax and it makes it easier to work with. The dough will also be less prone to tearing when you give it the rest that it needs.
Parchment paper isn’t sturdy enough to transfer the pizza to and from the oven, so I opt for a pizza peel. I haven’t lost a pizza yet when using the peel, plus it makes me feel like a pizza pro when I use it.
Pizza peel AND parchment paper? Isn’t that a little overkill? Some may see it as being overkill, but I see it as being cautious and ensuring my pizza comes out perfectly EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Because trust me, before I started using parchment paper to shape my crust on, I would make a mess with the cornmeal all over the pizza stone and oven, and sometimes I wouldn’t use enough cornmeal and the pizza would be impossible to get off of the pizza peel. Ugh. Trust me, folks, just use the parchment paper!
I love the bit of added flavor that the cornmeal adds to the pizza crust. It will also have your family guessing if the pizza is homemade or if it’s from your favorite pizzeria!
Brushing a little bit of olive oil around the edges of the pressed out pizza dough allows the exposed crust to become gorgeously golden brown while baking in the oven. Plus, it adds a beautiful sheen to the baked pizza crust.
Pizza Dough Recipe – Freezing and Thawing Instructions:
- Make the pizza dough thru step 5 below. Deflate the dough by punching it down. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured countertop, and divide the dough into two equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a smooth, round ball. Wrap the dough balls tightly in plastic wrap and place them into quart-sized Ziploc bags. Place the dough in the freezer immediately.
- Don’t be surprised that when you recover the dough from the freezer that it has popped through the plastic wrap. This is normal as the dough continues to rise slightly until it freezes completely.
- You can freeze the dough for up to 3 months.
- On the day you plan on using the dough, in the morning keep the dough in all of its wrappings and transfer it to the refrigerator. This will give it enough time to thaw for dinner.
- Take the dough out of the Ziploc bag and plastic wrap and transfer it to a lightly floured surface. Cover the dough with a damp paper towel and let it stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Place the pizza stone in the oven and preheat at 500 degrees F. Make sure the pizza stone has been preheating at 500 degrees F for at least 30 minutes.
- Once the dough has been at room temperature for 30 minutes, proceed to step 8 below in the pizza dough recipe directions.
Common Question about Freezing Pizza Dough:
Do I really have to freeze the dough if I’m using it the next day?
When you freeze the dough, you stop the rising. If you place the dough in the refrigerator until the next day, the dough will continue to rise (albeit slowly) and you will have over-risen dough on your hands. This will produce an unruly and puffy pizza crust with the wrong texture. Trust me, nobody wants this!
Cook’s Note – Perfect Homemade Pizza Dough Recipe:
- You can use all-purpose flour for this pizza dough recipe but be warned that the pizza crust will not be as crisp and it will be slightly spongey.
- I highly, highly, HIGHLY recommend weighing your flour instead of using measuring cups. It’s a more accurate way to measure and it will take the guesswork out of mixing the pizza dough.
Cook’s Tools and Ingredients – Perfect Homemade Pizza Dough:
ONE YEAR AGO: Chile con Queso
TWO YEARS AGO: Southwest Quinoa Stew
THREE YEARS AGO: Savory Pistachio Pairing
- 1 ¾ cup warm water (between 90-100 degrees F)
- 2 ¼ teaspoons instant yeast
- 4 ¼ cups bread flour (22 ounces), plus more for dusting
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 3½ Tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon yellow cornmeal
- Measure water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup, and then add yeast and give it a quick stir. Let the mixture sit until yeast is dissolved and a bit frothy, about 5 minutes. Mix in 2 tablespoons of olive oil to yeast mixture.
- MIXING BY STAND MIXER DIRECTIONS (my preferred method): Meanwhile, in a bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment mix together bread flour and salt until combined. With the mixer running on low, slowly pour in yeast mixture and mix until cohesive dough forms. Stop mixer and switch to a dough hook. Knead on medium speed until smooth, about 4-5 minutes. Form dough into a smooth, round ball and proceed to step 5.
- MIXING BY FOOD PROCESSOR DIRECTIONS: Add flour and salt to the work bowl of a food processor and pulse with a steel blade to combine. Slowly pour in liquid ingredients and pulse together until a cohesive dough ball forms. Continue to process until dough is smooth and elastic, about 30 seconds longer. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand for a few seconds to form a smooth, round ball and proceed to step 5.
- MIXING BY HAND DIRECTIONS: In a large bowl combine the salt and half of the flour. Add the yeast mixture and mix until combined using a sturdy wooden spoon. Add the rest of the flour and mix until a cohesive dough forms. Lightly flour a countertop and move the dough on top of the floured surface. Knead dough until smooth and elastic, about 8-10 minutes, using a minimal amount of flour while kneading. Form dough into a smooth, round ball and proceed to step 5.
- Lightly oil a large bowl or container (see picture above of the container I use) with ½ tablespoon of olive oil. Move dough to prepared bowl or container and roll the dough around in the oil to lightly coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or place the container’s lid on and let the dough rise until double in size, about 1 ½ - 2 hours.
- While the dough is rising, move oven rack to the second highest position. Place a pizza stone on the rack and preheat oven to 500 degrees F for at least 30 minutes.
- Deflate the dough by punching it down. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured countertop, and divide the dough into two equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a smooth, round ball. (If you’re freezing one of the dough balls then wrap it in plastic and place it into a Ziploc bag before transferring to the freezer. For more detailed directions, see my freezing instructions above.) Cover dough with a damp paper towel and let the dough relax for 15-30 minutes.
- Place parchment paper on top of the pizza peel and sprinkle cornmeal over the top. Move 1 dough ball to the pizza peel and press dough out into a 14-inch circle by gently stretching and pressing the dough. (I find it’s best that once the dough is pressed out into an 8-inch circle to place the palm of my hand in the center and gently pull the dough by the edges to get it to 14 inches). If the dough is really snapping back while you’re trying to press and stretch it, then cover it with a damp paper towel and let the dough relax for 5-10 minutes before starting again to get the dough to 14 inches. Brush ½ tablespoon of olive oil around the outer edge of the dough.
- Once the pizza stone has been preheated at 500 degrees F FOR AT LEAST 30 MINUTES, sauce, and cheese the pizza as desired and use the pizza peel to slide the pizza and parchment onto of the preheated pizza stone. Bake for 8-12 minutes or until the crust is beautifully golden and the cheese is bubbly. Use the pizza peel to remove the pizza from the oven. Let the pizza sit for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
- Repeat steps 8 & 9 with remaining dough.
Makes 2 14-inch pizzas.