October 11, 2021
There are a lot of differing opinions around pizza. Some consider it junk food, while for others, it’s the perfect meal with an ideal balance of carbs, fiber-rich vegetables, and fats. And, let’s not get started with the fierce contention around which kind of pizza is best: New York or Chicago, thin or thick crust, gourmet or express. Because the truth is it’s likely far easier to make pizza than it is to decide where you stand on these topics.
This brings us to another opinion: Cooking pizza is difficult. We say “opinion” because it’s just that. We’d argue that making pizza is actually quite easy, not to mention fun. You only need a few easy-to-find ingredients and a little bit of time on your hands. Don’t worry if you’re wary about being able to pull off a pizza toss. We promise that this recipe won’t require it.
This tutorial will show you how to make your own dough and bake pizza with all your favorite toppings.
How to make the best homemade pizza
Preparation time: 1 hour
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Total time: 1hr 25 minutes
Servings: 6 (makes two pizzas that can be cut into as many slices as you wish)
For the dough:
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 1/4 cups warm water
- 1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 1/2-4 cups all-purpose flour
For the sauce:
- 6 ounces canned tomato paste
- 15 ounces tomato sauce
- 1-2 tablespoons oregano to taste
- 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 tablespoon garlic salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Red pepper flakes to taste (optional)
- 2 cups shredded cheese
- Chopped fresh oregano or basil
- Sliced or chopped vegetables
- Pepperoni, sausage, or browned ground beef
- Olives, sun-dried tomatoes, or hot peppers
Making the dough:
- In a large bowl, combine the yeast and sugar in warm water and let them dissolve. Leave for five minutes.
- Add the oil and salt to the yeast/sugar mixture.
- Stir in the flour, adding about one cup at a time. As you stir, the dough will start to form.
- Take the dough out of the bowl and knead it on a clean, floured surface for three minutes. Never kneaded dough before? Not a problem. There are many helpful technique videos on YouTube.
- Grease a large bowl by using a paper towel to spread oil over the entire surface of the inside.
- Form the dough into a loose ball and place it inside the greased bowl. Turn the dough over once so that all sides of it get oiled.
- Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and let the dough rise until doubled in size. This will take around 45 minutes. If you live in a cold climate, place the bowl in a warm spot. While you’re waiting, you can make the pizza sauce.
- Once the dough has doubled in size, punch down into it, and divide it in half. Roll out the dough on a floured surface and then press into a greased 12-inch pizza pan. If you don’t have a roller, you can skip that step and simply press out the dough in the pan. Here’s a helpful video on how.
- Once you’ve added a layer of sauce, cheese, and any other toppings you’d like, bake the pizzas, one at a time, at 400°F for 25-30 minutes or until the crust is lightly browned.
Chef’s Tip: There are a lot of factors when considering how long to cook pizza. Not all ovens are the same, and altitude affects baking times. Also, your pizza may require less cooking time if you’ve rolled the dough thin. When deciding how to cook pizza in the oven, use your best judgment. If the dough looks undercooked, leave the pizza in for a few more minutes. If the edges are darker than golden brown, remove the pizza from the oven to prevent burning.
Recipe adapted from Taste of Home
Making the sauce:
- Combine the tomato paste and sauce well in a bowl.
- Mix in the spices and sugar. If you want some heat, gradually add in some red pepper flakes.
Recipe adapted from Taste of Sunshine
- 269 calories
- 10 grams fat
- 4 grams saturated fat
- 20 milligrams cholesterol
- 922 milligrams sodium
- 64 grams carbohydrates
- 5 grams sugars
- 4 grams fiber
- 25 grams protein
Nutritional values are estimated and will vary based on the toppings, cheeses, and sauce you use. The values given above were calculated for a cheese pizza with meat and vegetable toppings.
- Sliced mushrooms
- Sliced black olives
- Thinly sliced onions
- Chopped fresh herbs like basil or oregano
- Sun-dried tomatoes
- Italian sausage crumbles
- Ham (make a “Hawaiian” pizza by adding some cubed pineapple, too)
- Sliced hot peppers
- Dollops of pesto sauce
- Roasted red pepper or eggplant
- Additional cheeses like feta or fresh parmesan
- A sprinkling of fresh greens like arugula
- A drizzle of olive oil or balsamic vinegar
Some tips for making the best homemade pizza:
- Make sure the yeast activates. This is what ensures your dough rises correctly. When activating the yeast, be sure to use warm water because hot water can kill the yeast, and cold water won’t spark the reaction. Active yeast bubbles up after around five minutes.
- Use the correct flour. This recipe calls for all-purpose flour, and it’s generally a safe bet. Some other recipes call for a mixture of flour, including a variety called “00,” which is very high in gluten. Speaking of gluten, search for dough recipes created specifically for gluten-free flour if you are avoiding wheat. Gluten-free flour behaves differently from its wheat-based counterpart unless it’s a specially formulated mixture made for all-purpose gluten-free baking.
- Have fun and experiment with toppings. We’ve seen everything from grapes to french fries and even pasta on pizza, so whatever idea you have is worth trying.
- As you become a better pizza chef, you might want to experiment with pre-baking. This technique is one in which you bake the pizza dough for half the total cooking time before adding the sauce, cheese, and other toppings, and then reinsert the pizza in the oven for the rest of the cooking time to melt the cheese and warm the sauce and other toppings. This helps ensure that the cheese doesn’t burn or develop a hard crust, and it keeps the sauce from drying out too much. Finally, it prevents delicate toppings like herbs, greens, and cooked meats and vegetables from getting tough and overly browned.
Did you know you can make your own frozen pizza? That’s right. You can make several pizzas on a lazy Sunday afternoon and set yourself up for a happy surprise later in the week when you come home from work exhausted.
Make the dough and bake it in the oven with just a layer of sauce. That is, leave off the cheese. Then, once the pizza is thoroughly cooled, add a layer of shredded cheese and any other toppings you like. Wrap the pizza tightly in plastic and stick it in the freezer. When you’re ready to enjoy it later on, simply reheat it as you might any other frozen pizza. Generally, you can do so at 350°F for 15-20 minutes.
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