Pizza Dough Primer


homemade pizza

From-scratch pizza is pretty much a weekly occurrence in our house. It’s beloved by everyone, can be partly made ahead and takes less than 30 minutes from rolling out the dough to sitting down to dinner — all plusses in our busy day-to-day. It’s also a basic framework to eat whatever’s in season. Right about now, we’re stirring up arugula (saved from the garden before some serious winter weather blew in), onions and blue cheese as toppings. In the summer, our pizzas might feature anything from roasted eggplant to simple tomato slices to a medley of homegrown peppers. Any actual recipe for our pizza is skeletal, to say the least. But what follows is a guide for making the pizza dough. For what comes after that, you’ll have to get a little creative!


dough ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cup warm water (110°F-115°F)
  • 2 1/2 tsp. (or 1 packet) dry, active yeast
  • 3-4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt

pizza ingredients

  • 1/2 cup marinara sauce (or homemade pesto)
  • 1-2 cups toppings
  • 4 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 4 ounces cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese


pizza dough


  1. Pour warm water in large mixing bowl.
  2. Sprinkle in yeast. Watch for it to proof (or bubble; this is how you know your yeast is working. Many people feel you need to add honey or sugar to feed the yeast. My experience is that it proofs just fine without any sweetener. Feel free to stir 1/2 tsp. of honey in with the warm water before adding the yeast if you like.). Wait for bubbles to pop up across the surface of the bowl (about 5-10 minutes).
  3. Add flour, one cup at a time, stirring gently, until three cups are mixed in. Add salt and mix well.
  4. Continue to add flour ,1/4 cup at a time, up to four times (or an extra cup of flour total) until the dough pulls away easily from the sides of the bowl, with a texture that’s smooth and supple. If you can knead the dough with your hands without it sticking to them, it’s ready.
  5. Place dough on a floured surface. Leave it at room temperature to rise for about an hour; it should roughly double in size. Or, if making the dough ahead, cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge. You can keep it in the fridge for up to 2 days. Take it out to rise on the counter 2 hours before you want to roll it out.
  6. Once you’re ready to make your pizza, preheat oven to 500°F.
  7. Punch the dough down on a floured surface until its deflated. Reform into two balls. Gentle spread dough with hands or rolling pin into shape pans you’ll be using. I typically use two rectangular baking sheets, going for thin crust pizza. For a thicker crust, use smaller pans.
  8. Spread homemade or jarred marinara sauce thinly over dough.
  9. Add toppings. Sometimes I sauté veggies beforehand (like peppers and onions) other times I place them raw on the crust (like greens and thinly cut mushrooms). Be careful not to overwhelm your pizza with lots of sautéed veggies. You’ll want to sprinkle them on sparingly.
  10. Top with shredded cheese. Our typical pizza sports a mix of mozzarella, cheddar and Parmesan. But you can get creative here. Use fresh mozzarella slices or sprinkle blue cheese along with a thin layer of shredded mozzarella.
  11. Bake 10-15 minutes until crust is golden brown and cheese is bubbling. Let rest in pan for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

homemade pizza