How to Make Pizza Dough for Classic and Deep-Dish Pizzas

No need to feel intimidated—it's totally possible to master how to make pizza dough from scratch in just one afternoon. Our Test Kitchen aces will walk you through how to make homemade pizza dough, and will also share the secrets for make-ahead pizza dough so you can prep ahead for future pizza parties.

Sure, you could swing by your local parlor and ask them for a pound of their signature dough. Or you could go semi-homemade and crisp up one of those store-bought crusts, stir together a boxed mix, or get a head start with frozen bread dough. But when you're on a quest to make the ultimate pizza, it's essential (and easy!) to master how to make pizza dough at home.

Admittedly, compared to ordering delivery, it can feel a bit daunting to make your own pizza dough. But take the DIY route and you can customize your crust any which way you like. Ahead, we'll share how to make homemade pizza dough for thin to medium pies, such as New York-style, plus how to make pizza dough from scratch for deep dish-style feasts. Then we'll discuss the process for make-ahead pizza dough so you can save up for a rainy (ahem, hungry) day.

So grab that apron, cue the Italian music, and channel your inner pizzaiola. Your best pie ever begins here.

Gaby's Homemade Pizza Dough
Matt Armendariz

How to Make Pizza Dough from Scratch for a Classic Pie

The two secrets to success as you embark on the adventure of making homemade pizza dough from scratch? A hot oven and a hot baking stone.

Baking stones get really hot, which is essential to keep in mind when learning how to make pizza dough both for safety purposes (keep those oven mitts handy!) and for technical reasons. A hot stone is the key to score a crispy outer crust that's chewy on the inside. To get the baking stone nice and toasty, pop it in your oven, then allow it to heat up as your oven preheats. If you don't have a stone in your kitchen, simply preheat a baking sheet and dust it lightly with cornmeal before adding the dough on top to bake.

Step 1: Gather the Ingredients to Make Pizza Dough

For our classic homemade pizza dough, you'll just need a few pantry staples.

  • Bread flour
  • Active dry yeast
  • Salt
  • Vegetable oil
  • Warm water

Step 2: Combine Ingredients

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—as long as it was still alive in the first place! (Study up on how to test yeast for signs of life, plus discover more about all of the different styles of yeast.)

It can be tough and time intensive to try to get your dough uniformly mixed with a wooden spoon, so once most of the pizza dough has come together to form a ball, use your hands to get it to come together completely.

Step 3: Knead and Portion

Transfer the pizza dough to a lightly floured surface. Knead dough until smooth and elastic, which should take about 3 minutes. Place the kneaded dough in a lightly greased bowl, turning to grease all surfaces of the dough.

Cover the bowl with a clean and dry kitchen towel, then allow the dough to rise at room temperature until it doubles in size (2 hours or so). If not using the dough right away, cover the bowl with plastic wrap spritzed with nonstick cooking spray; chill for up to 24 hours. (See "Tips to Make Your Best Pizza Dough, No Matter the Style" below for more about make-ahead pizza dough.)

If chilled, let the dough stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Without punching it down, gently remove the dough from the bowl. Divide it into four portions, then gently shape each portion into a ball. Cover; let rest for 10 minutes.

Step 4: Stretch and Top the Dough

Preheat the 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 of pizza sauce on each dough circle. Top with desired pizza toppings, including meat, cheese, and/or vegetables. (Our best healthy pizza recipes are a stellar place to snag some inspiration!)

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 should transfer onto the hot stone easily.

Step 5: Bake the Pizza Dough

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 the crust is golden.

Deep-Dish Pizza
Blaine Moats

How to Make Homemade Pizza Dough for Deep-Dish Pizzas

Instead of a baking stone, you'll cook your Chicago-style deep-dish pizza in a 10- by 2-inch round cake pan or a springform pan.

Step 1: Gather the Ingredients to Make Pizza Dough

For our deep-dish dough, you'll just need slightly more oil than for the classic crust recipe above. The rest of the ingredients are fairly similar:

  • All-purpose flour
  • Active dry yeast
  • Salt
  • Vegetable oil
  • Warm water

Step 2: Prep the Pan and Combine Ingredients

Brush your cake or springform pan with oil, then sprinkle the bottom with cornmeal.

In a large bowl, combine warm water and yeast, stirring to dissolve the yeast. Let this stand for 5 minutes so the yeast can activate. Stir in flour, oil, and salt.

Step 3: Knead and Rise

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead in just enough additional flour to form a moderately stiff yet smooth and elastic dough. This should take about 5 minutes.

Shape the pizza dough into a ball, then place it in a lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease all of the surfaces. Cover and let the dough rise in a warm place until it doubles in size, or for about 50 to 60 minutes. Punch the dough down. Cover and let rest for 5 minutes.

Step 4: Stretch the Dough in the Pan

Place the dough in the prepared pan. Using oiled hands, press and spread it evenly over the bottom and 1½ inches up the side of the pan. Cover and allow the dough to rise in a warm place until it has nearly doubled in size again, which should take about 30 to 35 minutes.

Step 5: Top and Bake the Pizza Dough

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Top with sliced cheese, then marinara sauce and/or meat sauce. Finish with vegetables and more cheese.

Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until the edge of the crust is crisp and golden brown and the filling is heated through. If necessary, cover the crust with foil during the last 10 minutes of baking to prevent overbrowning. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. If using a springform pan, remove the side of the pan. If desired, sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese and basil leaves. Cut into wedges.

Tips to Make Your Best Pizza Dough, No Matter the Style

  • Take a temp check. Yeast may seem like a finicky ingredient—after all, it's alive! But if you use a thermometer, your water will be the perfect temperature to activate the yeast without scorching it. The success of your crust relies on your yeast's happiness, so aim for warm water between 120°F and 130°F (no hotter and no colder).
  • Pick the perfect flour. Bread flour has a higher protein content than all-purpose flour, so we call for the former in our classic crust. This gives the homemade pizza dough a tuggy, chewy texture. If you don't have bread flour, simply trade in all-purpose flour, which we call for already in the deep-dish recipe above. (P.S. Here's the scoop about the different flour types and why their protein content matters.)
  • Get knead-y. To get your dough uniformly mixed, your hands will get a little dirty. Once most of the dough has come together through stirring, use your clean hands to form a ball and start kneading. (Don't want to fuss with the mess? Try our Food Processor Pizza Dough or Bread Machine Pizza Dough methods instead.)
  • Dust on the cornmeal. Generously sprinkle your baking sheet with cornmeal and it will be a breeze to transfer to the preheated baking stone. Alternatively, if you don't have a stone, coat the baking sheet with cornmeal prior to preheating it.
  • Transfer carefully. Because the baking stone will be very hot, use the baking sheet to shake the topped pizza dough onto the stone, gently pulling the baking sheet back toward you as the pizza settles on the stone.
  • Prep ahead. For make-ahead pizza dough, prepare as directed through step 2, then cover with plastic wrap coated in nonstick cooking spray. Chill for up to 24 hours. Let the dough stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before rolling and proceeding with the rest of the steps for how to make pizza dough. To freeze dough, prepare as directed through step 2, wrap in plastic wrap, and place in an airtight container to freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before using. Again, you'll want to let the dough stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before rolling.
Mini Cauliflower Pizzas
Jason Donnelly

Bonus Ideas for How to Make Pizza "Dough" Without Yeast

We say "dough" because a lot of these options are more fairly deemed crusts. But we couldn't leave you hanging without sharing some options for how to make gluten-free pizza dough and other plant-based crusts:

Now that you're a master at how to make pizza dough, you can whip up a different pie any time the craving strikes. Speaking of cravings, if you're in the mood for similar flavors, don't miss these 16 recipes that taste like pizza but aren't!.

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