Making homemade pizza dough from scratch seems scary, but it's really not. The two secrets to success? Watching the water temperature carefully and using a pizza stone. Read on to find out our pizza dough recipe and catch our favorite pizza recipes at the end!
In a very large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, salt, and yeast. Stir in water and oil until combined and all the flour is moistened.
Yeast may seem fragile for some cooks, but if you watch the water temperature carefully, you won't kill the yeast. The best crusts rely on it.
It's usually impossible to get your dough uniformly mixed with a wooden spoon. Once most of the pizza dough has come together to form a ball, use your hands to get it to come together completely before kneading.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead dough until smooth and elastic, about 3 minutes. Place in a lightly greased bowl, turning to grease surface of dough. Cover; let rise at room temperature until double in size (2 hours). If not using right away, cover with plastic wrap coated with nonstick cooking spray; chill for up to 24 hours.
If chilled, let dough stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Remove dough from bowl (do not punch down). Divide dough into four portions. Gently shape each portion into a ball. Cover; let rest for 10 minutes.
Preheat oven to 500°F. Place a pizza stone, if using, in the oven while it preheats. On a lightly floured surface, roll or stretch each dough portion into a 10- to 11-inch circle. Transfer dough circles to a baking sheet that has been sprinkled generously with cornmeal. Spread 2 tablespoons pizza sauce on each dough circle. Top with meat, if desired, and cheese.
Generously dust a baking sheet with cornmeal. Gently transfer a dough circle to the sheet. If you have enough cornmeal on the sheet, the dough will transfer onto the hot stone easily.
Because the stone will be very hot, use the baking sheet to shimmy and shake the topped pizza dough onto the stone, gently pulling the baking sheet back toward you as the pizza settles on the stone.
Gently slide one topped dough circle at a time to the heated baking stone (or place the baking sheet in the oven). Bake about 7 minutes for baking stone (about 10 minutes for the baking sheet) or until crust is golden.
After dividing dough into four portions, wrap each portion in plastic wrap and place in airtight containers. Chill up to 24 hours or freeze up to 3 months. Thaw dough in refrigerator. Let it stand at room temperature for 30 minutes; continue with steps 4 and 5.
Baking stones get really, really hot! That heat makes your pizza crust crispy on the bottom yet chewy in the middle. Place the stone in the oven while it preheats and be careful when transferring your pizza to the hot stone. Manufacturers vary with care instructions, so follow the instructions specific to your stone.