Making Pizza at Home: Ultimate Guide
Pizza is one of the most popular take-out foods in the United States. Americans eat, on average, over 40 pizzas a year. Knowing how to make pizza at home has some very real benefits. In 2019, The California Milk advisory board gave away $25,000 in prizes for a pizza making contest using California cheeses. Contestants from all over the state tested their recipes against one another in several categories to compete for the best homemade pizza. Pizza making contests throughout the country pit contests against one another for ultimate pizza making challenges where creative slices lead to new flavors and even new business ventures.
You might be the next pizza master! You know you’ve always dreamed of starting a food truck side gig!
If you don’t have a competitive or entrepreneurial spirit, knowing how to make some killer pizza is still pretty special.
Psst, pizza is delicious and cheaper to make at home.
We’ve worked hard to write up a culinary series on making pizza at home and decided to wrap it all up for you in our Ultimate Guide to Making Pizza at Home.
Why You Should Learn How to Make Pizza at Home:
Pizza is a divisive subject. Whether you’re on #teamthickcrust or #teamthincrust, NY-Style, or California Pizza Kitchen, we want you to have the basics down so you can craft your own personal pizza style at home.
After all, what’s more American than relentlessly arguing over whose favorite pizza is better? Feed your family on the cheap and put your neighbor’s pizza game to shame by learning how to make your favorite slices with Maker’s Make Stuff.
But first…a history lesson
History of Pizza Making:
The current world record for pizza eating is a staggering 40 1/2 slices of pizza in 10 minutes. Joey Chestnut, a competitive eater, holds that world record for pizza eating. Pizza has become a cultural icon around the world and particularly in the United States. Pizza has earned its spot in the food hall of fame after thousands of years of pleasing mankind with its cheesy, saucy flavors.
Before the invention of fast-acting yeast, bread was flat. The people of ancient civilizations creatively topped their flatbreads with meats and cheeses and what we now know of as pizza was born.
People have been arguing over whose pizza is better for thousands of years.
Romans first coined the term “pizza,” and the people of Italy kept pizza to themselves until World War II troops brought the ideas and recipes of pizza home to the US after the war. Before World War II, pizza was enjoyed in the United States by Italian Immigrants who spread throughout American Cities, bringing their beloved pizza to their mostly Italian neighborhoods.
Pizza started as street food for the poor and, over time, has evolved into a culinary icon enjoyed throughout the world.
The first Pizzaria opened in New York City in 1905, while Chicago Style deep dish pizza wasn’t invented until 1943 by two men who would later go on to open Pizzaria Uno.
Some of the first pizza restaurants opened in the United States are still operating today run by the descendants of the original owners.
From pizzerias to frozen pizzas, each day, 13% of the US population consumes pizza for at least one meal.
Pizza has become so popular that one man, Dave Portnoy, makes over 7K dollars a month from his online pizza reviews.
Aside from all the money there is to be made with pizza, learning how to make pizza at home can save you tons of money each year.
- We consume around 250,000 lbs of pepperoni each year.
- Pizza restaurants globally buy over 4 billion dollars worth of cheese each year.
- 94% of Americans eat pizza regularly.
- Superbowl Sunday is one of the top pizza sales days in the United States.
- We eat about 350 slices of pizza per second.
- 61% of Americans prefer thin crust of thick crust or deep dish (Chicago Style is the WORST)
- The most expensive pizza ever made cost $2,745.00. It had luxurious ingredient toppings such as smoked salmon, lobster, and edible gold.
- A restaurant in New York City sells “Luxury Pizza” for $125.00 per slice. It has six different types of caviar for toppings.
- We buy 3 billion pizzas a year in the United States.
- The average slice of pizza has 271 calories. Adding veggies can increase the nutritional value. Women are more likely than men to add vegetables to pizza.
Now that you know just how famous pizza truly is, let’s get to making pizza at home!
Types of Homemade Pizza:
While there is only one genuinely delicious pizza (thin crust, duh!), I would be remiss if I didn’t include all kinds of pizza in this ultimate guide to making pizza at home.
Chicago Style Pizza
Let’s start with the least favorite. Invented in Chicago in 1943, deep-dish pizza is more of a pie and less of a pizza. Deep dish pizza is exactly as it sounds, deep. It’s ultra-thick crust pizza with layers of oozy gooey cheese, and tomatoes ON TOP of the cheese (excuse me, but no). Chicago deep-dish is almost impossible to eat by the slice, so plan on using a fork and knife to eat your pizza pie. I will give Chicago credit for its hot-dogs, but pizza, not so much. I feel comfortable saying this, knowing that 61% of Americans agree with me on this one.
The original and the favorite of pizza eaters is the NY-Style pizza. From its ancient roots, NY-Style pizza has a slow-proof crust that gives it the tangy sour flavor similar to that of ancient flatbreads. Firing NY pizza in a brick oven or high-temp cooking creates a charred and crispy crust and bubbly cheese. East Coast pizza is famous for its tart crust, tangy, sauce, and creative toppings.
Thick Crust Pizza
Thick crust pizza is going to be what you find at the average American Pizzaria. A fluffy and soft crust that’s baked all the way through is the signature of famous pizza joints such as Papa Johns, Pizza Hut, and Dominos. You will find standard toppings such as pepperoni and sausage or veggie lovers, but you’re less likely to find exciting and imaginative toppings such as clam pizza.
Thin Crust Pizza
You’ve asked, and they’ve answered. Americans prefer thin crust, and commercial pizzerias are offering a thin crust version of your favorite slices. The difference between thin crust pizza and traditional NY-Style pizza is the proofing time. Regular thin-crust proofs for 30-minutes to an hour and doesn’t have that signature sourdough flavor of NY style pizza.
Stuffed Crust Pizza
The late ’90s and early 2000s were a time of creativity and experimentation for the commercial pizza market. Here we started seeing thick pieces of salty mozzarella rolled up into the crust to melt during baking. Stuffed crust pizza is especially delicious if the crust is brushed with garlic butter before putting the pizza into the oven. String cheese is an excellent substitute if you want to try making stuffed crust pizza at home!
How to Make Pizza At Home:
Whether you want to host a make-your-own-pizza night or want to learn how to bake fresh and delicious pizza for your family, we’ve got you covered. Choose your preferred style (no judgment here if you like deep-dish), and we will help you learn how to make the most creative and amazing slices of pizza.
Gather Your Supplies:
Pizza night can come together perfectly with a few simple supplies. While we love our backyard pizza ovens, a regular ol’ oven or grill will be perfect for making delicious pizza at home.
What you’ll need:
- A Mixing bowl: preferably glass for yeasted doughs.
- A covered container for proofing or rising your dough
- 12″ pizza pan: Did you know that 14″ pizza is the most popular size for commercially bought pizza? We find 12″ the perfect size to make at home. Most ovens and grills can handle this size, and you don’t need any special supplies to pull a pizza this size out of the oven or off the grill. The pizza cooks directly on the grill or oven rack, but the pan is helpful for cutting after the pizza is baked.
- A pizza cutter.
- A deep-dish pizza pan: for you Chicago-Style folks. You can’t bake a deep dish without a pizza pan.
These are the basic supplies to make pizza night happen for your family. We’ve talked more in-depth about creative ways to have a pizza party at home and the supplies to make pizza night extra special for your friends and family.
Check out that post here!
Choosing Your Pizza Flavors
From the crust to the toppings and everything in between, the beauty of pizza is its ability to be customized in thousands of different ways. From savory to sweet, pizza can be mixed and remixed, so your pizza night will never become boring.
We prefer the tangy flavor of NY-Style pizza, but not everyone has the time or the planning capacity to wait 72 hours for your dough to proof in the fridge. You can still follow our NY-Style Pizza dough recipe and simply proof your dough as you usually do in a warm spot in your kitchen. If you have the time to wait for the 72-hour for your dough to slowly proof in the fridge, the flavor and texture of the crust are worth the wait.
The sauce is where the flavor combinations start to get exciting. From our no-cook tomato sauce to hummus and Nutella, you can sauce your pizza with all kinds of exciting flavors.
80% of pizzas are topping with mozzarella cheese. And while we adore mozzarella cheese, we strongly encourage you to think outside the bag a little and try different combinations of cheese on your homemade pizzas. Brie and goat cheese are two of our favorite cheeses to pile on top of homemade pizza!
The toppings are where your pizza combinations expand exponentially. Some of our favorite categories of toppings include fruit, meats, veggies, and even some no-bake garnishes to sprinkle on your slices after they’ve finished baking!
Check out our Guide to Pizza Toppings for our extensive lists of sauces, cheeses, and pizza toppings.
Choose Your Baking Method for Homemade Pizza:
The trick to a crispy pizza with a crust that’s baked all the way through is firing your pizza at higher temps. Preheat your oven to 500-degrees or fire up your grill to high heat. Pizza crisps up perfectly and quickly in as little at 9 minutes.
If you like extra heavy toppings or thicker crust, plan on as many as five-7 extra minutes in the oven to avoid a floppy slice. Nobody wants a floppy slice.
We’ve made pizza in the house and on the grill, and a 500-degree oven will heat up your kitchen, but it’s worth it for the crispy, fully cooked crust.
Don’t forget to check out our post feature our favorite back yard pizza ovens!
If you have a smoker that can reach higher temps, smoked pizza is AMAZING. We Smoke Pizzas on our RecTec Electric Smoker.
Make Pizza with Your Leftovers!
In our humble opinion, one of the best things about making pizza at home is the freedom of choice and creativity you get with your pizza flavors and pizza toppings. Turn your household leftovers into an exciting pizza night, from BBQ chicken pizza to taco pizza there are not many leftovers that don’t taste great on pizza!
Save your family money by not ordering out every week and create fun and delicious pizzas at home using our tips and tricks for the best-tasting pizza at home.
Troubleshooting Homemade Pizza:
With any kind of baking or dough work, problems arise the first few times you try something. (I’ve been learning how to make sourdough bread for the better part of 8 years). Here are a few common issues that arise with making pizza and how to work around them.
Dough Didn’t Rise:
Maybe your yeast was old, or you didn’t add enough. Luckily for you, pizza is a FLAT food. Don’t even sweat it too much if your dough doesn’t rise too much during the proofing. You’re not looking for a significant rise as if you’re making bread. Some people don’t like many bubbles in their pizza crust. If your dough doesn’t rise enough, keep it. You’re making a flat pizza anyway. If your dough makes a round disk, you will be able to transform it into pizza, we promise.
Dough Won’t Stretch:
A Tight dough is a common problem and usually quickly resolved. Hand stretching pizza takes patience. If your pizza is bouncing back after you stretch it out, let it rest for a few minutes. After a few minutes, those glutens will relax a bit more and allow you to continue stretching your pizza.
A few things to make sure you will have an easier time stretching your pizza:
- Make sure your dough comes to room temperature before you attempt pulling it by hand. Cold dough won’t have any give and will rip and break.
- Let it rest: If your dough is less and less stretchy as you make your pizza shape, take a break and go again in a few minutes.
- If your dough does rip, simply pinch the hole shut. You’re going to cover it with toppings anyway.
Here’s an excellent video on hand stretching pizza dough. This dough goes through the exact steps I’ve learned to use when hand stretching pizza dough.
There is nothing more frustrating than ordering a pizza pie and picking up your slice and having all of the cheese and toppings slide off because the crust us underbaked.
Nobody wants a floppy slice!
Baking your pizza all the way through is the key to firm slices. Don’t be afraid to brown that cheese on top for the sake of a fully cooked crust. Before pulling your pizza out of the oven, check that bottom crust, it should be starting to brown and feel crunchy, not doughy.
If you’re baking your pizzas in an oven, a preheated pizza stone is a great way to ensure you get a fully cooked, crispy crust.
Best Way to Reheat Leftover Pizza:
Pizza for breakfast, anyone?
Don’t worry about having to get the oven going again if you’re interested in leftovers. One of the best ways to reheat cold pizza is to heat the slice right on a non-stick skillet. You get a crispy bottom and cheese that’s warmed all the way through.
- Place your pizza slice on a non-stick skillet over medium-low heat for 2-4 minutes or just until crispy.
It’s that easy. You might even be able to get away with wiping out the pan with a dry paper towel to clean it.
Freeze Some Dough for Next Time:
Our dough recipe makes six 12 inch pizzas. If you don’t plan on making that many pizzas, all you have to do is freeze your divided dough in a freezer bag. When you’re ready to make more pizza, defrost your pizza dough in the fridge and allow to come to room temperature on your counter before stretching out into pizza.
Pizza dough freezes well. Double your recipe so that you have as many as 12 pizza doughs in your freezer and ready to use. Make sure to slow proof your dough in the fridge for 72-hours before you divide and freeze to get that tangy flavor in your crust.
Making Pizza at Home is Easy!
We hope that our work perfecting the best homemade pizza, helps you feel more confident in tackling this cultural food item. Creating customized pizzas at home will save you money and leave everyone in your family pleased with their custom pies.
No more arguing over pizza toppings. Everyone gets to make their own!