{UPDATE: A whole new series dedicated to perfecting homemade pizza with updated recipes and a lot of step-by-step tutorials on baking, so you may want to check that out first!}

For the last couple of years, our tradition has been to make homemade pizza every Saturday night. We haven’t missed many Saturday nights, which means a) we probably need to get out more and b) we have made A LOT of pizza in our day. I think we finally have the combination of dough, sauce and baking style that works perfectly and we won’t be making many changes in the future, except to get wild and crazy with the toppings (turkey pepperoni, anyone?).

Here are my tried and true recipes for pizza dough (and I have tried A LOT of pizza doughs in the last few years, trust me) – one is a slow-rise pizza dough that is best to make the night before and let rise in the refrigerator for nearly 24 hours, the second is for a quick and easy pizza dough recipe for those nights when I haven’t planned ahead (ahem, shamefully that happens more often than not). Both are fabulous – pliable and easy to manipulate into the perfect pizza plus they taste great. I shape the dough with my hands to get a thin crust…and yes, I have to admit that occasionally (ok, frequently), I will toss the dough into the air like a REAL pizza afficionado and then subsequently toss that said piece of dough into the trash because it usually either lands on one of my children or on the floor.

I’m also including my go-to recipe for pizza sauce. If you haven’t made your own pizza sauce before, please, please try this. Stop opening the jar of generic spaghetti sauce (I know you do that, because I used to also) and try this. You’ll never, ever go back. It is so simple, it is beyond words, and the result is thick and exceptionally flavorful.

Trade Secrets: Here are a few things I swear by when making homemade pizza:
1) use a baking stone if at all possible (and a pizza paddle works wonders – I just have a really cheap wood one and it works great for sliding the pizza in and out) – it really produces better pizza than using a metal pan – but if you don’t have a stone and are using a metal pan, still cook the pizza at a high temperature (maybe 25-50 degrees less than if using a stone)
2) about 45 minutes before making the pizza, I stick my pizza stone in the oven and crank the oven up to 500 degrees and let the stone get nice and piping hot – I bake the pizzas at either 475 or 500 degrees, depending on how thick I am doing the crust that night (higher temp for thinner crust)
3) finally, I never use pre-grated cheese. As I mentioned in an earlier post, most pre-grated cheese is coated with a substance that prevents it from clumping, but it also prevents it melting into yummy gooey-ness like cheese you grate yourself (I always use mozzarella for pizza).

Slow-Rise Pizza Dough
Printable Version
Printable Version with Picture

2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
1 1/3 cup water
3 1/2 to 4 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt.

The beauty about making this recipe the night before is you can just throw all the ingredients together cold (no warming the water) and stick it covered in the refrigerator. That is all I do – mix the dough to the desired consistency (I like my dough pretty soft) and really try not to overflour it and then place it in a greased bowl covered with saran wrap in the refrigerator. Be sure to take it out of the refrigerator a few hours before you make the pizza so the dough has time to warm and relax. This recipe makes 2 medium-sized pizzas. (It feeds our family of two adults and two children and we eat a lot of pizza.)

Directions for baking pizza:
Preheat oven to 475 degrees. (If using a pizza stone, let stone heat for at least 30 minutes in the oven before baking pizza.) If baking in a sheet pan, press dough onto sheet pan and top with sauce and toppings. Bake for about 12 minutes (checking often) until crust is browned and cheese is golden and bubbly. If baking on the preheated pizza stone, slide pizza onto stone and bake for about 8 minutes. Makes 1 large pizza.

Fast and Easy Pizza Dough
This recipe was given to me by my Aunt who got it from a woman named Linda who I have never met – but in the event she miraculously stumbles across this blog, I’ll give a big thanks, Linda!

3 cups flour, more or less
1 tablespoon honey, heaping
1 tablespoon oil, heaping
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon yeast
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. (If using a pizza stone, let stone heat for at least 30 minutes in the oven before baking pizza.) Mix all pizza dough ingredients together, except the flour. Add flour and knead for a bit then put into pan (or use a pizza peel and pizza stone). If baking in a sheet pan, bake for about 12 minutes (checking often) until crust is browned and cheese is golden and bubbly. If baking on the preheated pizza stone, slide pizza onto stone and bake for about 8 minutes. Makes 1 large pizza.

Homemade Pizza Sauce
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
1 tablespoon sugar
Oregano
Garlic powder
Italian seasoning
Crushed red pepper (optional)
Combine all ingredients in food processor or blender and blend until desired consistency. I leave mine slightly chunky. On the seasonings, I just sprinkle them in to taste. If I use crushed red pepper, I only use a few flakes because my kids don’t like spicy things, but it definitely adds a nice kick to the sauce to use it. I also substitute for whatever I don’t have: basil leaves for oregano, garlic salt for garlic powder, etc. This recipe is open to interpretation. Use what you like and it will be delicious.

61 Responses to Ode to Pizza

  1. Melanie says:

    Hey Tannis – thanks for your high praise on the pizza dough. I make it every Saturday night and it has yet to fail me. Thanks, again!

  2. Tannis says:

    I made the fast and easy pizza dough for lunch yesterday and it was the best dough I have ever made (I too have made countless pizza dough recipes). I didn’t have garlic salt so that was the only thing different for me. Can’t wait to make it again with the garlic salt to see how it is. This will be my one and only pizza dough recipe I will use from now one (unless I try the slow rize). Thank you!

  3. Melanie says:

    Breanne – thanks for your comment! Your baby is so, so cute and it was fun to see you and everyone else at book group. I sure miss it!

    I’m glad you liked this pizza. We make it at least weekly because it is so easy! Thanks for checking in.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Melanie,
    I made this pizza for dinner tonight, and we all loved it!!! I will never by frozen pizza again for a quick meal!! It was fun to talk to you at book club through the computer! Hope you are doing well!! Again, I love your website!!

    Breanne

  5. jen says:

    Hi – I am trying your slow-rise pizza dough and I was wondering if you knead it? Thank you so much! I love your recipes.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Hi! I don’t know you personally, but this is a fantastic blog and I steal your recipes all the time. Thank you! Would you please post some tips on the best cooking times for the crust, etc. for the novices like myself? thank you

  7. Anonymous says:

    I love your recipes! I just made pizza (quick crust) and the sauce. We loved it! Thank you so much for sharing.
    I also made the Vanilla Pudding Cinnamon Rolls and they are FAB!
    Traci

  8. Kathy says:

    Hi, Melanie,Kathy Bowen, Sarah’s mom, saying hello and telling you that I love BOTH of your blogs! I’m a faithful reader (daily!) and I’ve tried many of your recipes – and they’re all delicious! Can hardly wait to try the pizza – but the sauce you talked about…will you post that, too? Your family is delightful – so fun to hear about your many adventures!Kathy

  9. Kristin says:

    Okay, I just made my first homemade pizza ever. Shockingly, it turned out pretty good. I didn’t use enough cheese, but that can be easily remedied next time. I kept saying, “Abram, is this right?! I don’t know what to do.” He had no clue, but it all worked out in the end. Even the sauce which I had NO IDEA where to start with the spices. So I’m all about the pizza now. Thanks!

  10. Kristin says:

    Mel, I made the sweet and sour chicken yesterday and now I’m going to have to make your pizza this week. At this rate I’m going to have new meals to make every week. I love your blog!

  11. Melanie says:

    Anonymous – my sister actually mentioned I needed to add cooking times to this post, too, so I’ll edit the recipe right now. Thanks!

  12. Melanie says:

    Kathy, hello! I hope you check this comment section again because I don’t have your email address – but what fun to get your comment! Thanks for making my day (and I am so relieved that the recipes have turned out ok for you!)…I love seeing your picture on Sarah’s blog – little Hannah is so cute. I bet you are loving that little grandbaby to death. Can you believe we are all moms now? Never would have thought that when we were noisy-ing up your house back in the good ol’ high school days! Glad to hear from you!

  13. Melanie says:

    amisparky – I make the Fast and Easy pizza dough recipe at least weekly and I’m so glad you liked it, too! Thanks for letting me know. I appreciate your comment (and the others you’ve left on other posts) – it makes this blog worthwhile!

  14. Melanie says:

    Hey Traci – thanks for your sweet comment. It made my day. I’m glad you’ve liked these recipes!

  15. Melanie says:

    Hey Jen – you don’t need to knead the slow-rise pizza dough. Just mix everything together and let it sit in the fridge overnight until you need it (be sure to take it out a few hours before you make your pizza). Let me know if you have any other questions!

  16. amisparky says:

    This is going to be another family favorite. We tried the Fast and Easy recipe and everyone loved it. I also made the sauce and it was fabulous as well. Thank you so much for sharing your recipes. With the excellent directions I have really been branching out with what I am willing to try to make.

  17. bebemamakalei says:

    I made this this afternoon after my morning walk. I didn’t want to wait for the bread machine to make my dough like I normally do, and in the time it took to preheat the oven, I made your sauce, the fast and easy dough, shredded the cheese, shaped the dough and put on the fixins, and then let it bake!! I loved the crust it was yummy! So was the sauce… I really really really enjoy all the recipes I have tried on your site…

  18. Melanie says:

    bebemamakalei – thanks for all the comments you leave, I love to read them. I’m really glad this pizza worked out for you and that it ended up being a no-hassle meal!

  19. Chris and Janeil says:

    Melanie,
    I wanted to try your homemade pizza dough and needed a little bit more direction. Does the yeast not need to sit in the warm water? I am not very good at making any kind of dough and wanted to give myself the best chance at getting it right. And then after the dough is done mixing you put it strait onto the pizza pan you don’t have to let the dough rise is that right? It just seems a little different I hope that is right it will sure cut down on the time it takes to make dinner. Thanks for helping me out.
    janeil

  20. Melanie says:

    Janeil – are you referring to the fast and easy pizza dough recipe? (I assume you are if you are wanting an easy dinner option.) I need to be more specific in the recipe but if you are using instant yeast then you do not need to dissolve the yeast in water first – you can throw it in with all the other ingredients. If you are using active dry yeast, then dissolve it first in the water and honey. After the dough is done mixing you can put it straight into the pan – no rising. I know it sounds crazy but it doesn’t need to rise – it will puff up a bit in the oven.

  21. Mikey and Reagan says:

    Does the fast and easy recipe make one pizza?? I love the blog looks like LOTS of yummy recipes!!!

  22. Melanie says:

    Mikey and Reagan – yes, the fast and easy pizza dough makes one LARGE pizza. I usually one and a half it for my family and make three medium sized pizzas. Hope that helps!

  23. fierygiraffe says:

    Hi Melanie! I’ve been cyber stalking your blog for a while now and this is my first comment. I love your recipes and the time and love you put into writing about them! And the pictures you take of your dishes! I love to cook and dream up recipes myself, but I find myself coming to your blog weekly for inspiration :-)

    I tried the fast and easy pizza dough and it came out great, especially for my first ever homemade pizza. I was wondering if you have any recipes for thin crust pizza? My husband is a New Yorker and prefers thin over a doughy crust.

  24. Melanie says:

    fierygiraffe – thanks for your comment! I’m glad that you liked the fast and easy pizza dough. I actually do have a recipe for thin crust pizza that my friend gave me and swears is the best pizza ever. I’ll warn you, I haven’t tried it, but you are welcome to the recipe:

    Osamu’s Gourmet Pizza

    Air bake pan or pizza stone
    1 cup very warm water
    1 tsp. sugar
    1 pkg. Yeast (or 2 ¼ tsp.)
    2 tsp. salt
    ½ tsp. pepper
    3 cups flour
    garlic powder
    onion powder
    salt
    pepper
    rosemary
    basil
    thyme
    oregano
    mozzarella cheese
    tomato sauce
    pepperonies
    olive oil
    Any other toppings

    Gently combine warm water, sugar & yeast. Let stand until you can see a separation on the top, or until mixture is foamy, about 5 minutes. Add flour, salt & pepper. Mix/knead together until dough forms. Form into a ball, coat with oil, place in bowl and cover with kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm area until doubled in volume, 30-60 minutes.

    Place oven rack on top shelf. Preheat oven to 475. Prepare pans: spray air bake pan with non-stick spray or douse stone with olive oil. Punch dough down, get all the air out. Divide dough into 3 or 4 equal balls. I usually get 4 pizzas out of this much dough (we like ‘em really thin). Flour counter surface and roll one ball out at a time with rolling pin. Fold rolled out dough in half to place on pan. Trim around edge of pan with pizza cutter, and drizzle dough with olive oil. This prevents dough from becoming soggy. Spread plain tomato sauce (or barbeque sauce, or alfredo sauce) all over crust. Season with pizza seasonings: garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, rosemary, basil, thyme, oregano. Layer with mozzarella cheese, then pepperoni, and any other topping you want. Top it off with another layer of seasonings and another drizzle of olive oil. Bake for 9 minutes. Add fresh cilantro after cooking. Enjoy!

  25. mrsnic says:

    I was in the grocery store looking for a pizza crust this week and was shocked to see the one I wanted was almost $5. After a quick search on Google Reader, I came across this entry and was relieved to see that I could still make pizza quickly. I made the fast and easy pizza crust, and was amazed at how great it turned out. I baked it for about 10 minutes, pulled it out and topped it with 4 diced tomatoes (with salt and pepper), 1 1/2 cup shredded mozerella, 1/2 cup grated parmesean, and basil. I then baked it until the cheese was brown and bubbly. Perfection! Thanks for the recipe.

  26. Melanie says:

    Hi mrsnic – glad the pizza worked out for you – especially in light of your alternate choice of spending that much on storebought pizza crust! Thanks for letting me know!

  27. Jill says:

    Hi Melanie…thanks so much for all of your delicious recipes. I just wanted to let you know before I ask my question that at least 3 of my weeknight meals come from you…honey lime enchiladas have to be one of our most favorite meals of all time! (Something really yummy that I do is use the rotisserie chicken from Costco…if you didn’t know aleady, you can buy the white meat already pulled off the breast and shredded…it really bumps up the flavor on those enchiladas…not to mention they come together in no time at all!!!) Anyway, I was wondering if you think it would work to use the fast and easy pizza dough recipe for calzones? Thanks so much!

    • Mel says:

      Jill – I didn’t know that about the rotisserie chicken…awesome tip. And in answer to your question, yes, you could definitely use the fast and easy pizza dough for calzones. I do it all the time! Thanks for your comment!

  28. Jill S says:

    I love your blog so much, I do not know you but I linked from a friends blog. I have made so many of your recipes and I love them all. This one has been life changing :) I stole your idea and we make pizza every Saturday. My husband, and kids love this pizza more than any take out pizza, and so I do. Thanks for sharing!!!!

  29. Ashlee says:

    I love how fast this goes together! I decided late afternoon that I wanted homemade pizza with leftover taco chicken and this was so perfect! I loved it thanks for great recipes!

  30. Sheila says:

    Your blog has turned me into quite the “kitchen nerd” as family calls me. I now make almost everything from scratch and use most of your recipes as a guide.
    This pizza dough is awesome! I tried the slow rise and like it but this is truly fast and incredible. My 3 boys were asking for another pizza.

  31. Lisa McLeod says:

    I am so looking forward to trying this tonight! I have to be everywhere at once tonight and was looking for something fast, and boy, does this fit the bill! I, too, have made many a pizza dough, with varying results. It’s great to know that I can come here and know it will work. On behalf of busy moms and families everywhere, thanks for this awesome site! :-)

  32. Lisa Mcleod says:

    My kids have officially dubbed this “The BEST pizza I have EVER had!” :-)

  33. Nathalie says:

    So I tried the slow rising pizza dough last night and this morning I don’t think anything changed from putting it in the fridge last night as far as rising. I’ve never made bread so I wonder if I missed a step that would just be a common sense thing to do or not? I mixed all the ingredients together in one bowl…I did use instant yeast, would that be why my recipe didn’t really work? I also didn’t put the yeast in water I just as the recipe stated put everything in one bowl and mixed it. Just wondering if you have any tips, I still can’t beleive I couldn’t do this suppose to be easy recipe! LOL :)

    • Mel says:

      Nathalie – did it puff or rise at all – even a little? Instant yeast is the kind you want to use for the slow-rise because you don’t need to proof it in water first. Did you use cool/room temp water? It doesn’t necessarily have to produce a lot of volume over night but it should puff or rise slightly. Try taking it out and putting it on your counter to see if after coming to room temperature it will rise in the warmer air. If not, it maybe an issue with your yeast (expired or it didn’t activate). It might turn out just fine with a little bit of warmth to help it rise.

  34. Nathalie says:

    Well it didn’t seem to have puffed at all to me, but who knows? I’ll try putting it out to room temp and see what happens :) I used water from the tap (cold) perhaps that could of been why? I just bought my yeast this week and expiry is in 2012. I’ll give it a try and hope for the best- thanks! :)

  35. [...] Pizza Dough adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe Spinach Pizza a Putzing in the Pantry [...]

  36. Mandy says:

    Used the quick and easy dough for stromboli. Amazing!!!!

  37. Marie says:

    Hi Mel,
    What Yeast do you use for this fast pizza dough recipe? Do you use the rapid rise highly active yeast? The directions just say “yeast” but there are many options. Rapid Rise, pizza yeast, regular, etc. Some guidance would be great so my dough turns out right and as delicious looking as yours!
    Also… do you cook the dough at all before you put the toppings on? I know some use this practice to help it “cook all of the way through”.
    Thanks!

  38. Mel says:

    Marie – I always use instant yeast, especially because in this recipe all the ingredients are being added together and the yeast isn’t proofed separately (like you would need to do with active dry yeast). I don’t cook my dough before adding toppings. I bake it in a very hot oven and press the crust on the thinner side so it bakes all the way through. Hope that helps!

  39. Denise says:

    How thin do u roll out the pizza crust? I know u mentioned u like to roll the crust on the thinner side so it cooks all the way through (I’ve always had problems with getting the dough to not be soggy with other doughs). 1/4 inch thick? Or is that too thin?

    • Mel says:

      Denise – I roll it about 1/4-inch thick but it really is up to personal preference. If you have a baking stone and heat it piping hot, that also helps to cook the dough all the way through.

  40. Sarah says:

    Mel – I just wanted you to know that tonight I made the fast and east pizza and it was FABULOUS!! I can’t believe that it was that easy to make. My husband was very impressed :) This recipe is a true keeper. Thank you

  41. Heather says:

    Hey Mel. I tried your slow rise dough and it was great, the fam loved it. Just one problem, there were a few spots where it got a bit soggy on the bottom. Do you have any tips of how to keep that from happening?

  42. amy says:

    We’ve been using the fast and easy dough for probably about a year now! We love it and never buy take out anymore. Thank you!!! I do sometimes have problems with the pizza sticking to the pan though and can’t figure out why. Sometimes it’s fine and sometimes it gets stuck and is hard to get off the cookie sheet. Any ideas? Thanks!

  43. Mel says:

    Amy – I think either greasing your pans or adding a bit more flour to the dough may help it not to stick quite as badly. Glad you love the recipe!

  44. TLittle says:

    I’ve only tried the fast and easy recipe, but it is by far the best pizza crust recipe I’ve ever made. (Plus I never seem to plan ahead with pizza, so it’s perfect!)

  45. Truth says:

    That pizza look like crap

  46. Nathalie says:

    Just made the fast and easy pizza dough, was a bit worried since last tried I tried to make home made dough it didn’t quite turnout right, but I had great success with this one and was pleased with the results. It really is fast and easy!

  47. Megan says:

    the fast recipe is great! i’ve tried a lot of ‘quick’ doughs and this is by far the best with a NICE crunch! i use active dry yeast- would you recommend using more or less for either of these dough recipes? i have been dissolving the yeast – just wanted to check the amount needed. thanks! im excited to try the slow rise method next.

    • Mel says:

      Hi Megan, the general rule of thumb is to use slightly more active dry yeast if the recipe calls for instant yeast…so 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast = 1 tablespoon active dry yeast.

  48. Jessica says:

    I wanted to add mine to the list of praises for the quick pizza crust and pizza sauce. I am a mom new to cooking and I couldn’t beleive how easy it was to make homemade pizza. I don’t think my husband ever praised me so much for a meal as this pizza I made last night. I have tried several recipes from your collection and everyone has been a hit. Thanks Mel for helping me learn how to cook. :)

  49. Jessica says:

    I wanted to add mine to the list of praises for the quick pizza crust and pizza sauce. I am a mom new to cooking and I couldn’t beleive how easy it was to make homemade pizza. I don’t think my husband ever praised me so much for a meal as this pizza I made last night! I have tried several recipes from your collection and everyone has been a hit. Thanks Mel for helping me learn how to cook. :)

  50. Ellen says:

    Well this was a lot of effort..and a big flop! I ran out to buy the stone, and everything for the pizza. My girls had fun making it..however you forgot to mention the paper for the stone. And it stuck. They didn’t like the fast dough..and used almost all the pizza sauce which was way too much. The dough was too breads. Ended up throwing most of it away. Oh we’ll..

  51. Marissa says:

    Thanks for the awesome recipe. We were eating this yummy pizza tonight long before we could have grabbed one from the pizza place and it was more delicious too! Any tips on how to keep the pizza from sticking to the paddle? My dough doesn’t stick once I’ve got it into a pizza shape, but then I add all the toppings and it somehow is too weighed down to slide onto the stone? It comes off with a bit of encouragement, but I’d love to know your tricks.

    P.S. I have yet to make a bad recipe from your blog and am so happy I found you a couple years ago. You have saved me from many weeknight cold cereal moments and made me the star when we have guests. Thank you a million times over!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Marissa – do you use cornmeal on the pizza paddle? That helps. Also, lately, I’ve pressed my pizza into shape on a piece of parchment, topped it and then slid the entire piece of parchment onto the pizza paddle. Once baked, the pizza comes off the parchment beautifully. Thanks for the sweet comment – so happy you are enjoying the recipes!

  52. Jackie says:

    OMG this is 1st time finding your site and making anything from it. I am not exaggerating but this pizza crust recipe was as good as what others said. Tastes better or as good as any other pizza restaurant. It doesn’t taste homemade at all!! I love cooking and am skeptical finding new recipes in case they fail but this is a keeper. Love it

  53. Jackie says:

    I forgot to add I subs and used 3c of King Arthur bread flour since I had not enough AP or whole wheat flour on hand

  54. angel says:

    what type of flour do I use ? white four, self rising non self rising or is there a pizza flour ? I’m confused.

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