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How to Make Pizza at Home

With premade pizza dough, the hard work is already done. Here’s how to make delicious pizza at home whenever the craving strikes.

I have yet to meet a person who doesn’t adore pizza. Though pizza is originally Italian, it sometimes feels classically American with different regions of the U.S. putting their own spins on it, claiming to have the best recipe around. No matter where you grab a slice, I think we can all agree on one thing for certain: Pizza is one of the best food ideas out there.

Types of Pizza

As pizza has become more popular in America, regions of the country have taken on their own style of pizza. Here are some of the most popular:

New York-Style Pizza

New York-style pizza is characterized by its thin crust and wide pizza slices. City dwellers usually grab a slice to go and fold it up to eat while they walk. It’s said that New York-style pizza is closest to the true Italian version of pizza; the crust is traditionally hand-tossed and topped with a layer of sauce, mozzarella cheese and toppings.

Neapolitan Pizza

As opposed to New York-style pizza, Neapolitan pizza is not meant to be consumed on the go—in fact, this type of pizza is best served with a fork and knife. Neapolitan pizza, with origins in Naples, Italy, has an extremely thin crust that is baked at a high temperature, traditionally in a wood-fire oven, causing the sides of the crust to puff up and rise. Bake it for too long, and you’ll end up with charred edges. What you’re actually aiming for is a softer crust. One of the most popular ways to top Neapolitan pizza is margherita style—with tomatoes, slices of mozzarella cheese and fresh basil leaves.

Sicilian Pizza

Sicilian pizza gets its name, as you may have guessed, from its city of origin: Sicily, Italy. It’s traditionally a thick-crusted pizza served in a square shape, rather than a round. The true Italian version of this pizza is topped with ingredients like anchovies, herbs, onions, tomatoes and a variety of Italian cheeses; but it has evolved with its introduction to the United States. Order a Sicilian-style pizza in America, and you’ll be served a square or rectangle, thick-crusted pizza with a lot of sauce and mozzarella cheese.

Chicago-Style Pizza

Chicago-style pizza, otherwise known as “deep-dish pizza” originated in the Windy City, though who can take credit for its invention is still unclear. A popular report is that Chicago’s Pizzeria Uno was the first to serve it, though which chef to attribute the recipe to is also disputed. Whoever invented it, all Chicagoans agree: deep-dish pizza is unique, delicious and New York’s biggest rival for “best pizza in America.” Chicago-style pizza is characterized by its doughy, thick crust. It’s often baked in a round pan, more similar to a cake pan than a traditional pizza pan. Toppings are then assembled in a reverse order of a regular pizza—a layer of cheese goes in first, then a layer of meat and/or veggies and finally a hefty amount of sauce. Since Chicago-style pizzas are so thick, they usually have a much longer bake time than other types of pizzas.

Detroit-Style Pizza

Similar to Sicilian pizza, Detroit-style pizza is famously known for being baked in a square instead of a round, but there are a few key differences between the two. Detroit-style pizza has airier, lighter dough than its Sicilian descendent. It typically forgoes mozzarella cheese and instead uses Wisconsin brick cheese that gets nice and crispy when baked on top of the dough, almost like a fried cheese. Toppings and sauce are then added at the end!

Calzone

Calzones, though technically pizza, don’t look like your average slice. Calzones are folded pizzas, resembling dumplings or turnovers stuffed with cheesy pizza goodness. This is the Italian’s version of pizza to eat on the go, and it has become extremely popular in the United States as well. Though traditionally filled with tomato and cheese, many calzone variations are stuffed with meat and veggies, too, and are often seen served with extra marinara sauce.

Pizza Crust

Italian Herb Butter Pizza Crust

For those of you who love pizza as much as we do, we have some good news: There’s no need to go out to enjoy a good slice. You can make a restaurant-worthy pie right at home—easily! And we’re going to show you how.

Luckily you don’t need to know how to make pizza dough, because with Pillsbury pizza crust the hard work (plus some of the waiting) is already done for you. And if you want to pass it off as your own, we won’t tell! However, if you insist on making a scratch pizza crust, our sister site, bettycrocker.com, has a great recipe for homemade pizza crust

Trust us, we know the allure of having a frozen pizza or two on hand. But you can make pizza crust and store a few in the freezer so you can readily make homemade pizza whenever the cravings strike. We’d recommend that you make the dough, allow it to rise and then freeze it so that all you have to to is let it thaw and roll it out on busy weeknights when you’re short on time. Make sure you give it some time to thaw though—let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator for best results!

Whether you make dough from scratch or use a premade dough, you have a few methods to choose from when baking it. You could play it safe and bake on a baking sheet based on the package instructions. (Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that!) If you’re craving a crispier crust, a baking stone are both good tools to keep on hand. Using a stone? Make sure to heat it in the oven 10-30 minutes before you plan to bake so the stone is piping hot. You should probably also make your pizza on top of a pizza peel sprinkled with a little cornmeal to make it easy to transfer your pizza to the oven. If you don’t have a pizza peel, an upturned baking sheet (flip it over and sprinkle with cornmeal, then assemble your pizza on the bottom) works too. We’ve even got an easy step-by-step guide on how to grill pizza for that smoky flavor and lightly charred crust.

For a Crisper Crust

Pre-bake dough for 8-9 minutes. Flip crust with spatula. Top with pizza sauce, cooked meat, cheese and other toppings as desired. Bake 6-10 minutes longer or until crust is deep golden brown. Most recipes for thin, crispy pizza crust will call for an oven temperature between 400 and 500 degrees. For an even crispier crust, pre-heat your oven with your pizza stone or baking sheet in it—this will ensure the bottom of the pizza has a nice crunch!

For Soft Crust

Do not prebake dough. Spread with sauce and top as above. Bake 9-13 minutes for cheese pizza, 13-17 minutes if additional toppings are added, or until crust is deep golden brown. Typically, temperatures called for soft crust pizza recipes are still quite high—you don’t want to go below 400 for pizza or you will end up with a sad, soggy crust (and no one wants that!).

Depending on your crust preferences you could choose classic crust, thin crust or an unroll, top and bake crust.

Pizza Sauce

5-ingredient Pizza Sauce

It’s easy to buy your favorite sauce, but with just five minutes and a few simple ingredients, you can make a tasty pizza sauce at home. Mix it up to suit your family’s tastes with your favorite flavor of canned tomatoes. Fire-roasted crushed tomatoes or crushed tomatoes with basil used in the recipe below both make an excellent marinara.

Try our Five-Minute Five-Ingredient Pizza Sauce and you’ll never go back to store-bought sauce again!

Start with about two tablespoons of sauce in the middle of your pizza crust, then spread it out using the back of a large spoon or ladle for the best coverage.

Make this recipe your own! If you like a little spice, throw in a 1/4 tsp of crushed red pepper flakes to add an extra bit of warmth and flavor. Basil and oregano are traditional pizza sauce flavors, so add in a little of one or both to taste. If you like your sauce with a little texture, you can leave it as is, but if your family prefers a smoother sauce, you can blend it with a stick blender or in an upright blender. For a regular blender, simply pop open the pour spout and cover it with a kitchen towel when you blend to avoid exploding sauce all over your kitchen.

While store-bought pizza sauce does not need to be heated before use, cooking your own tomato sauce helps the flavors to blend together and the tomatoes to break down.

If you’re not a huge fan of tomato sauce, you can also make a “white pizza,” which is made with a sauce that’s typically just a bit of olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Or, if you really want to get crazy, try making a barbecue chicken pizza or pizza with buffalo sauce and ranch!

Pizza Toppings

Supreme Garden Pizza

When making your pizza at home, it can be easy to get carried away adding a ton of your favorite toppings. But don’t top to excess! It will prevent the crust from cooking evenly and you may end up disappointed with the result. Spread out the toppings and don’t go overboard on cheese or sauce for a well-balanced pizza—sometimes less is more!

Whether you love to cover your pizza with meat, vegetables, only cheese or sans cheese (yes, you can), there’s a pizza for pretty much everyone.

The Cheese

We all know that pizza just isn’t pizza without cheese, but how to you get your pie to have the right balance of melty, slightly blistered, gooey goodness? It all depends on what types of cheese you decide to use.

The best cheese for melting is the obvious choice: mozzarella. Most pizza recipes call for this cheese, and some pizzas like margherita exclusively use it, not blending with any other type. Mozzarella is an excellent choice because its high fat content makes it easy to melt and it has a mild flavor so you can go wild with toppings if you want.

The best cheese for flavor really depends on your personal preference and toppings. If you want a classic, Italian pizza, a blend of mozzarella and provolone is best. If you want to get fancy with your pizza, prosciutto, arugula and/or caramelized onions, goat cheese is a great go-to. For more richer, unique flavors, try gouda or gruyere!

Feel free to use Cheddar cheese on your pizza, but know that while it’ll add some tasty, sharp flavor to your fun pizza (like cheeseburger pizza, for example) you won’t get the classic, melty, slightly blistered look that’s typical of mozzarella.

Parmesan cheese is great on pizza…after baking! Parmesan cheese will lose its flavor when baked, so don’t use it in your cheese blend, but rather sprinkle some of it on top of your pizza after it comes out of the oven for some extra flavor and texture.

It’s also fun to push your boundaries and try a combination of toppings you might not normally go for. Here are a few of our favorite twists on classic pizza that go beyond pepperoni. Who knows, maybe you’ll surprise yourself and find your new favorite way to make pizza!

Supreme Garden Pizza

When making your pizza at home, it can be easy to get carried away adding a ton of your favorite toppings. But don’t top to excess! It will prevent the crust from cooking evenly and you may end up disappointed with the result. Spread out the toppings and don’t go overboard on cheese or sauce for a well-balanced pizza—sometimes less is more!

Whether you love to cover your pizza with meat, vegetables, only cheese or sans cheese (yes, you can), there’s a pizza for pretty much everyone.

The Cheese

We all know that pizza just isn’t pizza without cheese, but how to you get your pie to have the right balance of melty, slightly blistered, gooey goodness? It all depends on what types of cheese you decide to use.

The best cheese for melting is the obvious choice: mozzarella. Most pizza recipes call for this cheese, and some pizzas like margherita exclusively use it, not blending with any other type. Mozzarella is an excellent choice because its high fat content makes it easy to melt and it has a mild flavor so you can go wild with toppings if you want.

The best cheese for flavor really depends on your personal preference and toppings. If you want a classic, Italian pizza, a blend of mozzarella and provolone is best. If you want to get fancy with your pizza, prosciutto, arugula and/or caramelized onions, goat cheese is a great go-to. For more richer, unique flavors, try gouda or gruyere!

Feel free to use Cheddar cheese on your pizza, but know that while it’ll add some tasty, sharp flavor to your fun pizza (like cheeseburger pizza, for example) you won’t get the classic, melty, slightly blistered look that’s typical of mozzarella.

Parmesan cheese is great on pizza…after baking! Parmesan cheese will lose its flavor when baked, so don’t use it in your cheese blend, but rather sprinkle some of it on top of your pizza after it comes out of the oven for some extra flavor and texture.

It’s also fun to push your boundaries and try a combination of toppings you might not normally go for. Here are a few of our favorite twists on classic pizza that go beyond pepperoni. Who knows, maybe you’ll surprise yourself and find your new favorite way to make pizza!

Extreme Pizza

Pepperoni Pizza Cake

There are those who love pizza. And then there are those who love pizza so much they take it to extreme levels. We are those people. The king of extreme pizza recipes is our epic pizza cake—which practically broke the Internet. We’ve also made a bundt cake out of pizza rolls, wrapped pizza inside pigs in a blanket and stuffed it into pizza pretzels.  We’ve even made pizza into a bubble ring pull-apart, tucked it into savory pizza cupcakes and made pizza rolls into nachos! Our pizza love knows no bounds.

Click one of the recipes below to find out how to make some of our craziest pizza recipes at home!

How to Make Pizza Everyone Will Love

So what do you do when everyone in your house has a different favorite pizza? Get the whole family involved in making this easy 4-Square Family Pizza, or make individual pizzas so everyone can choose their own toppings

4-Square Family Pizza

Pizza FAQs

Garlic Butter Crusted Margherita Pizza

Does it matter what order I build the pizza?
When making pizza at home, I’ve found that it’s best to top in the following order: crust --> sauce --> cooked meat and/or vegetables --> cheese.

Adding the cheese last ensures that all your toppings will stay safely on the pizza once the cheese melts. At restaurants, deep-dish pizza is sometimes topped with sauce last, followed by a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, but at home I go the safe route.

If you plan to add some fresh green leafy vegetables or delicate herbs to your pizza, add them at the end, after the pizza is fully cooked. The residual heat will lightly wilt the greens and help bring out their flavor. Fresh basil and arugula are my favorites. I love to dress some arugula with a little vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper then top the pizza with it for a pizza-salad combo.

If you’d rather add leafy greens to your pizza before baking, try adding them on top of the sauce. That way, there’s less risk that they’ll burn in the oven.

Can you make pizza without cheese?
Absolutely. Many people avoid dairy for dietary reasons, and some people prefer to have their pizza more flatbread style, without cheese. Whatever your reasons, it’s absolutely acceptable to make pizza without cheese. Just proceed as normal when making it at home, but skip the cheese step. Be careful when cutting into the finished pie, because the toppings will move around more easily without a layer of cheese to hold them on.

For those looking for a dairy-free cheese alternative, Daiya is a popular (and tasty!) dairy-free and vegan cheese substitute.

How can you tell when pizza is done?
As long as the crust is golden brown and cooked through, when you take your pizza out of the oven is a matter of personal preference. Some people prefer their cheese golden brown and bubbly, some like it just barely melted.

When you remove the pizza from the oven, let it rest a few minutes so the cheese can set and then cut, serve and eat to your heart’s content!

What should I serve with homemade pizza for a complete meal?
Pizza is awesome because it usually has most of the food groups already in it. If your pizza doesn’t have any veggies, try serving it with a large green salad. Spinach-strawberry salad makes a perfect complement to a pizza. You could stick with the Italian theme and serve a caprese-style pasta salad

Breadsticks are also a natural side dish for pizza and our twisted garlic bread recipe made with pizza crust is a big win with kids. It’s easy to make and fun to dip in your homemade pizza sauce! This 5-Ingredient Crescent Cheesy Bread is also a nice addition to homemade pizza. 

How long does leftover pizza last?
Like any food, be sure to refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours of the end of the cooking time. According to the USDA, leftover pizza can be kept in a refrigerator for 3-4 days. In the freezer, it can last 1-2 months. For best results, store leftover pizza in an airtight container.

What’s the best way to reheat refrigerated pizza?
Day-old pizza reheats well in a dry nonstick skillet. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes (watch carefully so it doesn’t burn) to crisp the crust and help the cheese regain its freshly melted, ooey goodness.

Reheating on a pizza stone or pizza crisper is another option, but it certainly takes longer to get the pizza hot.

Our advice: Unless you’re in crisis and have no time to wait, avoid a nuked nightmare and never microwave your pizza.

What is the difference between pizza sauce and marinara sauce?
Though seemingly similar and containing a lot of the same ingredients, the main difference between marinara sauce and pizza sauce is that when making from scratch, marinara sauce is cooked on the stove, and pizza sauce is not. Pizza sauce is ready to spread as soon as you have finished making it. You can use marinara in place of pizza sauce in a pinch; try adding a bit of tomato paste to it first to thicken it up slightly and make it easier to spread!

Can I cook pizza on the grill?
You sure can! We love a good grilled pizza in the summertime. All you need is your charcoal grill and some extra heavy-duty foil with cooking spray. Click here to see how to do it! 

What is the difference between a calzone and Stromboli?
Stromboli and calzones are very similar, though they are often folded and filled in different ways. The general concept remains the same: stuff pizza dough with fillings like cheese, meat and veggies. Calzones are almost always served in a half-moon shape, while Stromboli is often served wrapped up in a long cylinder roll. Stromboli is also primarily served in America, while calzones have origins in Italy.

Do you need to preheat the oven before baking pizza?
YES! The hotter the oven, the better the pizza. Preferably for an extra-crispy, evenly-baked crust, stick your pizza stone or baking sheet in the oven while it’s preheating and then carefully place the pizza on top of the hot stone or sheet when the oven is ready. If you put the pizza in the oven before it’s fully preheated, your dough won’t cook all the way through, or it’ll require additional baking time.

All Pizza Everything

Pizza is utterly delicious in many forms. It can be eaten as Stromboli, calzones, and even as a fruit pizza for dessert. Here are some of our favorite ways to eat pizza:

Craving more pizza? Well, how about flatbread!



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