How to Bake Perfect Homemade Pizza {With and Without a Baking Stone}

Three methods, with picture tutorials, on how to bake the perfect homemade pizza with or without a pizza stone and without any fancy tools!

How to Bake Perfect Homemade Pizza

Baking perfect homemade pizza doesn’t have to be intimidating!

I used to be in that camp of people that baked homemade pizza on a greased baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for, like, 25 minutes, and while the pizzas were edible, they certainly weren’t anything to write home about.

The crust was usually a bit tough and sometimes even soggy.

My pizza-loving life was significantly changed when I learned, among other things, that cranking up the oven to 475 or 500 degrees would not burn the pizza or the house down.

You are going to have to trust me on this one and start gathering the courage to set the temp of your oven higher than it may have ever been.

It will make a lifechanging difference in the crispy, golden crust we want in perfect homemade pizza.

I’m going to share with you three methods for baking perfect homemade pizza – all extremely doable for the home cook (that’s you!).

One method is even specifically tailored to those of you without a pizza stone. Sweet!

My Favorite Pizza Stone:

I have the large pizza stone from King Arthur Flour – I’ve owned this one for years and considering we make homemade pizza usually once a week, it’s been worth the investment.

I had a circle stone years ago (I think it was Pampered Chef??) but it broke when someone who shall remain nameless dropped it on the tile floor; when I started using this large rectangular stone, I realized what I’d been missing.

The size of this is it’s greatest selling point.

When we make individual pizzas where everyone creates their own masterpiece, I can fit two or sometimes three smaller pizzas on here which makes the baking go much faster than cooking one at a time.

Love this pizza stone!

A Note About Grilling Pizza:

Before I start talking about baking methods, keep in mind, I’m not going to discuss grilling pizza in this post but only because I have a tutorial about it already.

Grilled pizza is a great way to beat heating up your house for perfect homemade pizza and we usually grill our pizza through the summer/warmer months (that’s only about 3 months were I live, seriously) and use the oven for the rest of the year (yep, basically winter for 9 months around here, or at least it feels that way!).

The only addendum I’d make to the grilling pizza tutorial is that instead of grilling right on the grates you can put your pizza stone, if you have one, onto the grill and it makes the process even easier!

Ok, let’s get started!

Method #1: Pizza Stone and Pizza Peel

Supplies needed: pizza stone, pizza paddle/peel (I’ve had mine for years, hence the stains, and picked it up at a kitchen supply store) – you can get by without one of these if needed, see details in method #3, parchment paper or cornmeal, nonstick cooking spray (if using parchment paper)

When I use this method: When it’s just our family and we want really stellar pizza (nothing quite compares to this traditional pizza stone method even though the others may come close) and especially when we are doing individual pizzas and everyone is creating their own since I can bake a couple at a time.

This method is hard when we have company over because it takes forever to cook everyone’s pizzas on just one stone.

Yes, I’ve considered getting another pizza stone and sticking it in the bottom 2/3 of my oven (I have one of those standard oven/range combos where the oven is split into a small oven on top and a larger oven on the bottom) but haven’t justified it yet and honestly don’t really want two heavy pizza stones hanging around, so if I need more baking power, I’ll use the pizza stone in the top part of my oven and an overturned baking sheet (method described below) in the bottom oven.

{Update: I finally splurged and bought another of my favorite pizza stones listed above; it makes this method of homemade pizza even faster now!}

How to Bake Perfect Homemade Pizza

1) About an hour before you want to bake your pizzas, stick the pizza stone on a rack in your oven placed in the lowest position. Preheat the oven to 475 or 500 degrees (some ovens only go to 475) and get that stone piping hot. Don’t let the high temp scare you! It’s the secret to great pizza.

2) Get out the pizza paddle and make sure if you’ve made the overnight whole wheat pizza dough that it is at room temperature and not chilled (it should come out of the refrigerator 2-3 hours before making pizza).

3) Here’s where you have a few options – I like to use parchment paper on top of the pizza paddle but you can forgo the parchment and instead sprinkle the paddle liberally with cornmeal. The parchment makes for much easier cleanup, both on the counter and in the oven (cornmeal gets everywhere). Cornmeal is economical and more traditional, though, so do whatever floats your boat. I know some people have had an experience where the parchment paper burned in such a hot oven but in lots of years of making pizza this way, it’s never happened to me (be aware, though). If using parchment, lightly grease with cooking spray – it helps the dough press out much easier.

4) Grab some pizza dough – the exact amount will depend on the size of your pizza stone.

5) Start to stretch the dough between your fingers, trying to get the middle evenly thick without any transparent thin spots.

6) The dough should be really elastic and if you let it kind of fall down while shaping, it will naturally stretch into an oblong shape.

7) When it is starting to take shape but not yet as thin as you want it, set it on the parchment (or cornmeal, if using) and gently press it into the shape you want. Homemade pizza on a stone doesn’t need to be perfectly round; it’s more important to get it uniformly thick or thin so it bakes evenly.

8) Top the pizza as desired (more info on this exciting topic later this week!).

9) Take the loaded pizza paddle to the oven, open up the door, and get ready to slide the pizza (parchment and all) onto the hot pizza stone.

10) All it takes is a little nudge – put the front of the pizza paddle about halfway onto the stone – and the pizza laden parchment will slide right off onto the stone. Close the oven and bake for 7-10 minutes.

11) To remove the pizza, use the paddle again and gently slide it underneath the parchment paper. I sometimes gently grab a corner of the parchment and help it back onto the paddle but that isn’t always necessary. It should be an easy process.

12) Pull that perfect homemade pizza out of the oven!

13) Look at that crust. Now if that doesn’t make your heart sing…well, you are probably not human.

Method #2: Baking Sheet on a Pizza Stone

Supplies needed: pizza stone, nonstick cooking spray (if using parchment paper), large rimmed baking sheet(s)

When I use this method: When I’m lazy and want to make a lot of pizza with minimal effort that still has a golden brown crust and is baked well – no surprise, this method is often used when I’m making the fast and easy pizza dough.

There’s a chance I may rename this The Slacker Method. I’ll let you know.

Although the pictures below don’t show it, usually I’m using enough dough to fill up the entire baking sheet, which is a lot more pizza in one baking session than throwing smaller pizzas in one at a time.

This is also a great method if you don’t have a pizza paddle.

How to Bake Perfect Homemade Pizza

1) Just as before, get that pizza stone preheating at 475 or 500 degrees F for about an hour before baking pizzas (shhh, don’t tell but sometimes I only plan ahead long enough to preheat for 30 minutes and it’s ok, although an hour is preferable).

2) Lightly grease a large aluminum baking sheet (don’t use a nonstick baking sheet or the bottom of the pizza will get waaaaay too dark!) and using the instructions described in the first method above, stretch the dough to the desired shape and then press it the rest of the way into the pan.

3) Although this picture doesn’t truly show it, I usually fill up the entire pan with pizza dough to really maximize the amount of pizza to cook at one time.

4) Top that pizza with your heart’s desire.

5) Set it on the hot pizza stone, close the oven, and let it work magic for about 9-10 minutes.

6) That perfect homemade pizza looks purty!

7) And that crust isn’t too shabby for being on a baking sheet.

Method #3: Mock Pizza Stone {Overturned Baking Sheet}

Supplies needed: one or two rimmed baking sheets, pizza paddle or peel (optional – I’ll describe details below), parchment paper or cornmeal, nonstick cooking spray (if using parchment paper)

When I use this method: When we have company over and I want a second or third “pizza stone” to cook more pizzas at a time. This is also a great option if you don’t have a pizza stone (and you can get by without a pizza paddle either – read below!)

How to Bake Perfect Homemade Pizza

1) Ok, so in this case, instead of a pizza stone, flip a rimmed baking sheet upside down and preheat it for about 30 minutes at 475 degrees before baking your pizza.

2) Get that pizza paddle ready. Now, if you don’t have a pizza paddle, don’t fret! Simply take another baking sheet (if rimmed, flip it upside down, if it’s one of those flat ones, you are good to go) and use it in place of the paddle.

3) Lightly grease a piece of parchment (or use cornmeal as described in method #1) and place it on the pizza paddle (or upside down baking sheet if using).

4) Shape the dough (again, refer to method #1 for details on this) and top with sauce and other yumminess.

5) And slide that beautiful pizza onto the hot baking sheet. If you are using a baking sheet to fill in for a paddle, you’ll have to get a little more oomph into scooting that pizza into the oven. Take care not to burn your little fingies!

6) Try to center the pizza right in the middle of the baking sheet.

7) Let it bake for about 7-10 minutes and then gently slide it out with the pizza paddle. If you used a baking sheet to slide it into the oven, this part is a bit trickier – I place the second baking sheet right in front of the hot baking sheet in the oven, carefully grab the two front corners of the parchment paper (having a little assistance at this point would not be a bad thing) and slide it onto the cool baking sheet to remove from the oven.

8) And look! Beautifully browned crust for perfect homemade pizza without an official pizza stone.

So there you have it! Three great methods for baking amazing homemade pizza right in your own oven.