Overnight Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

So it’s Pizza Week Day #2 and if you didn’t see yesterday’s post you might be wondering what’s going on. I’m dedicating this week to giving you the ins and outs to make killer homemade pizza – the likes of which will completely wow you, your family and friends (plus, you need to stay tuned all week because there’s a giveaway coming up that you really, really don’t want to miss, got it?). You might be wondering why I’m posting another pizza dough recipe after my rave reviews for yesterday’s no-fuss, no-rise pizza dough

Well, here’s the dealio, I use both recipes equally; it all depends on a few factors:
1) If I’ve planned ahead. This overnight whole wheat pizza dough benefits from an overnight rise in the refrigerator (both for flavor and texture) and sometimes I either don’t think about homemade pizza in time or I’m not able to make the pizza dough the night before (not that I have a life, but if given the choice and it’s gotten too late, I will always choose sleep over making dough).
2) If we’re having company. I almost always make today’s recipe if we have friends over for homemade pizza. Why? Because the dough is made the night before, I don’t have to worry about that part of the homemade pizza process. It’s super simple to pull this already-made dough out of the refrigerator, let it come to room temperature and get crazy making pizza without worrying about washing a mixer, planning in the time it takes to make the dough, etc.
3) What I’m in the mood for. While I love the quick and easy pizza dough, the recipe I’m sharing today tastes a little better. It has more flavor thanks to the slow rise and the crust is slightly chewier and more authentic to what you’d get in a stellar pizza restaurant.

Overnight Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

Since each recipe has its merits, I’d suggest keeping both recipes close by. Neither one will fail you, and you’ll probably be like me and make and love each one for different reasons.

This overnight whole wheat pizza dough, if perfectly floured, is smooth and elastic, making the shaping/rolling part a total breeze. And it turns out a perfect pizza. Look at this beauty! My new favorite (I’ll talk toppings later this week but this lovey is loaded with sausage, crispy kale, Parmesan, and a white ricotta sauce). Plus, I just can’t say enough about having the dough all made and ready to go – seriously no-fuss!

Overnight Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

Tomorrow is an important day with all this talk of pizza. It’s the ins and outs (and lots of options) for baking the perfect pizza: with or without a pizza stone, notes on grilling pizzas, and lots of helpful pictures and tips. I hope you aren’t sick of pizza yet because there’s a lot more to come (including that stellar giveaway!)

One Year Ago: Garlic Shrimp in Coconut Lime Tomato Sauce {Quick and Healthy Dinner!}
Two Years Ago: Gooey Coconut Chocolate Bars
Three Years Ago: Oatmeal Butterscotch Bars

Overnight Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

Yield: Makes 2 large pizzas (more or less depending on how thick/thin you roll the crust)

Overnight Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

I always use white whole wheat flour which produces a lighter crust than red whole wheat flour but either can be used. This recipe can also be made with all white flour or half white/half wheat. Judge the dough by how it feels, not necessarily the exact amount of flour you've added. It should be soft and smooth after kneading and shouldn't leave any sticky residue on your fingers - but take care not to overflour so it is stiff. You should be able to easily stretch the dough without a lot of stickiness.

Update: Several of you have had issues with dough that is too sticky. Again, the flour amount in the recipe is just a guideline, I use more or less depending on lots of different factors each time I make it. Originally the amount read as 4-5 cups flour but as it seems most people are using a bit more, I've edited the ingredient list to reflect that.


  • 2 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 5 or more cups whole wheat flour (see note above - you may need to use upwards of 6 or so, depending on how sticky the dough is)


  1. In a large bowl or in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the water, yeast, honey, oil and salt. Gradually add the flour until a soft dough is formed. Knead for 5-7 minutes (about 10 minutes if kneading by hand).
  2. Transfer the dough to a large bowl lightly greased with cooking spray. Cover with lightly greased plastic wrap (or a lid, if the bowl has one) and refrigerate for 8-24 hours.
  3. Remove the bowl 2-3 hours before making pizza. The dough should be at room temperature (it is really hard to roll it out if it is still chilled).
  4. Lightly punch down the dough and shape it into pizzas, top with sauce and toppings and bake in a 475 or 500 degree oven on a preheated pizza stone or on a baking sheet (for an in-depth look at baking methods, here is a great tutorial).

Recipe Source: from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe (adapted over time from this recipe)

65 Responses to Perfect Homemade Pizza: Overnight Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

  1. Mel says:

    Man I know it’s like a million years after this was published but I just wanted to say this was the best recipe ever, thank you!!! I was terrified of making pizza, especially whole grain since everyone talks about dense crappy tasting flat crusts. HOWEVER this turned out absolutely perfect, the first time! I did end up using closer to 5.5 cups flour though.
    The pizza crust was so fluffy, so perfectly crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside, and had such amazing flavor!! Never had pizza crust better than this before, and it didn’t even come close to being too strong of a flavor that threatened to overpower the ingredients or anything. Normally I leave pizza crusts lol, but these ones I hoarded and munched on with leftover sauce. So amazing.
    I thought I was going to have to trial-and-error pizza dough recipes for a while, but I’m keeping this one forever as-is! Thank you!

  2. Kate Martin says:

    I have been making the same pizza dough for a few years and I like the taste but I always have trouble rolling it out. I want to try yours. I have a jar of Active Dry Yeast can I just that for this recipe? What would the exchange be?

    • Mel says:

      Just dissolve the active dry yeast in a couple tablespoons of water and a pinch of sugar until it is bubbly. Then use it in the recipe. 🙂

  3. FilipinaBreadLover says:

    Ever tried Pan de sal?
    It’s really good. But I honestly don’t know how to make it. (Ironic)

    You’re website is amazing.

  4. Mollie says:

    I still think the flour measurement is off. I added at least 7 cups of flour – truth be told, I didn’t keep count, I just kept adding till it pulled away from the sides of the bowl. Turned out delish, but I could see why people might still get a bit confused on this one. Do you really only need to add 5-6 cups at your house? My general rule of thumb is about 3 cups per cup of water.

    • Mel says:

      Yes, I only use 5-6 cups at my house (sometimes less even than that); so much of it depends on how people measure flour and where they live (altitude, humidity). If more flour works for you, that’s a good note to make. Ultimately, it’s the texture of the dough that’s most important and what I tell people to keep their eye on.

  5. Emilee says:

    Trying this crust out tonight for dinner tomorrow. I’m sure it won’t dissappoint. Love your recipes. Do you have a recipe for the white ricotta sauce that is on the pizza above? Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      It’s pretty simple: ricotta cheese mixed with a bit of milk to soften, 1 minced clove of garlic and salt and pepper to taste.

  6. Stephanie says:

    Hi Mel – I LOVE your blog! My family does too, we have had many of your recipes, the Greek being some of my favorite. I am making this pizza dough, but wonder, what does the 8-24 hours in fridge do? Enhance flavor? I forgot to do it last night so I made it this morning. I hope the lack of sitting in fridge will not harm it too much? Any thoughts? Have you ever made it the same day?

    Thank you so much!
    Have a blessed day,

    • Mel says:

      Hey Stephanie – the rise in the refrigerator helps the flavor and texture a bit but I’ve also made it without letting it rise overnight and it’s really good (doesn’t get some of those nice airy holes and the texture is slightly less chewy but it should be fine!).

  7. Rayanne says:

    Just made this tonight. So yummy. Thanks for another great recipe.

  8. Erin says:

    Hi Mel, I love your blog and make a ton of your recipes and they have all be wonderful! Thank you so much for all of your recipes – and I love your fun, family-loving style of writing too. I made this recipe and I’m wondering if the water measurement is right. I think, in the end, I ended up with 8 cups of flour (I lost count). I did use almost all white all-purpose flour as I was short on whole wheat. In the end, it was good, but I’ll bet it’s better with your listed flour, yeast, and honey proportions. Maybe just use less water?

    • Mel says:

      The water amount is correct although you could cut down the amount if you want. The flour amount is just a guideline. Sometimes I use more, too (especially if the temperature/humidity is different). I never measure the flour exactly – I just go for the right texture in the dough and using home ground whole wheat flour will make a difference (I use much less of that than I do if using the lighter/fluffier store bought white flour). I’ll add a note to the recipe to increase flour as needed, though, so it is less confusing.

  9. christie says:

    Made this as written (although I have no idea how much flour I ended up adding since I go by feel) and it turned out amazing. I couldn’t believe how light the crust was for being 100% whole wheat.

  10. Julie Hansen says:

    Why didn’t I try this recipe sooner????!!!!!

  11. Heidi H says:

    I, like Susan and Danielle in the comments above, have the same problem with the toooo sticky dough thing! Tonight I made two batches (one wheat, one white) and followed exactly the directions, but ended up adding 6 cups of flour and both recipes are still wayy too sticky! But I stopped adding flour because I’m afraid of it being too stiff. I’m using my Bosch stand mixer. Mel, I am very confused and discouraged with this issue. What could I be doing wrong and why is everyone else having success with the recipe as written?

    • Mel says:

      Hi Heidi – sorry this isn’t working out for you. The exact flour measurement will depend on many factors (elevation, humidity, temperature) so don’t be afraid to add flour until a soft, smooth dough is formed. The flour amount is just a guideline and the exact amount changes for me even when I make it in my same house on separate weekends. If your dough is really that sticky, try dropping the water down to just 2 cups and see how that goes.

  12. Marci says:

    I’m a little confused with the freezing technique. Do I let it rise overnight and then put it in a bag to freeze the next day, or do I put it in the freezer after I finish kneading it?

  13. Jessica says:

    hi mel, where do you get your white whole wheat flour?

    • Mel says:

      Jessica – I grind it from whole wheat berries with my wheat grinder but I’ve also used the King Arthur Brand before from my grocery store and really liked it, too.

  14. Nikki says:

    I have been making CI and and King Arthur pizza crusts for years. Very thin crust, but not much taste and always a little dry. I think the extra yeast and the use of parchment paper really differentiate your crust. I thought it was fantastic. My husband thought it had more oil not less. It was much more moist and very tasty. I did a 50/50 white wheat/bread flour. Also, my dough was in the fridge for two days or so, because I was busy and couldn’t get to pizza-making in a timely manner. I would just punch it down when it was looking too puffy. Delish

  15. IG says:

    I have made this twice, once for grilled pizza, the other for oven baked with a pizza stone. I also used bread flour. The dough tastes great, but as thin as I try to press it out to form the pizza, it really puffs up while baking and is thicker and breadier than I’d like. Any suggestions, thanks?

  16. Susan says:

    Mel, I am big fan of your recipes–have done a lot of them with great success. However the overnight whole wheat pizza dough as written was a total failure–way too wet. After much research on baker’s percentage of hydration level (58 percent) and many other recipes, I made it again using 11/2 cups of water. Perfection!! Chewey, tasty, the best whole wheat pizza dough! What do you think? Why the big discrepancy? Thanks so much and keep the great recipes coming! Your lasagna cordon bleu is on the menu for tomorrow!

    • Danielle says:

      I had the same issue! I’ve been making homemade pizzas for years and didn’t understand why this was happening. My dough was all ‘gloppy’ and it took about 7 cups of flour to get it to come together but it changed my water to 1 1/2 cups this time and it was successful. Thank you!

      I love all of your recipes, Mel! You have been a lifesaver these past few years and have helped make me a better cook.

  17. Lisa says:

    Could I substitute active dry yeast and proof it in the water first? If so, would you still use 1 tablespoon?
    Thanks! 🙂

    • Mel says:

      Hi Lisa – you absolutely could do that! I’d still use a tablespoon (maybe a heaping tablespoon; generally you use slightly less for instant yeast) and proof it in the water/honey until it is bubbling before adding the other ingredients.

  18. Becca says:

    How about agave nectar instead of honey?

  19. ava says:

    I think we will need you to make a tutorial on shaping the dough. I worked on the dough for an hour and it was full of holes and not working!

  20. Bri says:

    What oil do you use?

  21. Latasha says:

    Best pizza dough I’ve ever come across!…will be a regular in my home.

  22. Sharon KK says:

    Hi Mel,

    I made this overnight pizza dough and cooked the pizza last night.. one word – AMAZING!! the PERFECT wholewheat pizza dough recipe. Thank u sooo much!

  23. Melissa Hudson says:

    Are you able to freeze the dough? Or roll out the pizza and then freeze the dough? Or bake and freeze?? Thanks..

    • Mel says:

      Melissa Hudson – I freeze pizza dough by greasing the inside of a freezer safe ziploc bag and placing a ball of pizza dough (that’s already been kneaded and risen, if using the overnight recipe) in there. Press out the air and seal. Then take it out and put it in the fridge overnight to thaw (and then take it out an hour or so before making pizza).

  24. ellie says:

    In the above recipe – the flour is listed as 4-5 cups with a reference to “see note”. I am a dizzy blonde and cannot find the note! Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      ellie – Here is the note – (I always use white whole wheat flour which produces a lighter crust than red whole wheat flour but either can be used. This recipe can also be made with all white flour or half white/half wheat. Judge the dough by how it feels, not necessarily the exact amount of flour you’ve added. It should be soft and smooth after kneading and shouldn’t leave any sticky residue on your fingers – but take care not to overflour so it is stiff. You should be able to easily stretch the dough without a lot of stickiness.)

  25. Bessie Fielding says:

    Hi Mel,
    My whole wheat bread and rolls are marvellous since doing your ”fluffy whole wheat rolls recipe”. Is there a reason for not including the Vital Wheat Gluten Flour in this pizza recipe?

  26. Jan H. says:

    Lets talk yeast . Rapidrise is not Instant Right???
    Both of the recipes call for instant SO rapid rise can not be used ??I want to do it right and have it work correctly .

    • Mel says:

      Hi Jan – actually rapid rise yeast is usually another name for instant yeast so I’m pretty sure you can use them interchangeably!

  27. Andrea says:

    Can we get your white ricotta sauce recipe?

  28. Bri says:

    Do you like the better than your “best pizza” recipe? Please don’t confuse me;-).

    • Mel says:

      Hi Bri…that recipe is really good and you can’t go wrong using it but I wanted a 100% whole wheat dough and this recipe has replaced that one for me. I’m going to leave all the recipes up on my site though so if you want to keep using the other, it will be there! It’s a good one, too, but I really love this new version.

  29. MIchelle says:

    I have been making homemade pizza for years and had given up on whole wheat dough because it’s never as elastic and I always ended up frustrated with a crust full of patched holes. I am excited to try this! I don’t grind my own whole wheat flour so my bulk bin choices are: whole wheat bread flour, whole wheat baking flour, and (regular?) whole wheat flour. I’m guessing the bread flour (with more gluten) would work best–do you have a sense of that? Looking forward to the rest of the hints and tips this week. Thank you for all of it!!

    • Mel says:

      Michelle – Hmmm…good question. Any of them have the potential to work great but I’d probably go with the whole wheat bread flour (which probably has gluten added to it). Otherwise the baking flour would be a good choice – my guess is that it is ground pretty finely which would be good.

  30. nosh says:

    Loving your posts on pizza and going to try them all . Waiting for tips on toppings too !! Thank you so much.

  31. Meg says:

    Hi Mel, How can I quickly thaw the overnight refrigerator dough? Microwave? If I waited 2-3 hrs after taking it out of the fridge after work, we’d be eating at 9pm! Thanks for all the great recipes!

    • Mel says:

      Meg – If the dough is in an oven-safe bowl, you can preheat the oven to 175 degrees and turn it off – put the bowl of dough in there and let it warm up. I don’t know, maybe 15-20 minutes? Good luck.

  32. Love the idea of making overnight pizza dough, that would make it so much more convenient and easy! Whole wheat dough is awesome too–I personally think it tastes even richer and more flavorful than the traditional kind. 🙂

  33. Karen says:

    Mel, can you do this recipe in your Bosch mixer?

  34. Holly W says:

    I’ve always been nervous to try homemade pizza even though I know it’s a staple in many homes. I’m excited about all of your tutorials, tricks and tips!

  35. Christine says:

    Thanks for all the great recipes! I always tell people when they love something that I’ve made that it comes from you. You never let me down! I was just wondering if this recipe doubles well? I never know when to double the yeast and when to leave it. Thanks 🙂

  36. Louli says:

    Love yesterday quick and easy Pizza dough, made it right away. Delicious, did split just made it in one tray. Had a container of mushroom, sliced it on top, my husband was so empressed. Didn’t have any whole wheat flour I used regular. Can’t wait to try the overnight method as I wanted a dough that will freeze well. Love your site. Shared my pizza pictures and your recipe on my facebook, got so many compliments. Thanks a million.

  37. What a great idea to do a Pizza Week! It must be the week for themes, because I’m doing a Granola Week on my blog this week! 🙂

    I’m really excited to try your recipe for overnight pizza dough. I have a recipe for whole-wheat pizza dough that I love, but I haven’t ever tried an overnight rise in the refrigerator. I bet the flavors really develop with the extra rise time. Can’t wait to see what you have to share the rest of the week!

  38. Anne says:

    Mel, I love that you are doing this! You are awesome!!

    I just wanted to add that if people are after a slightly chewier crust, semolina is a great addition to any dough. We use the King Arthur Flour recipe for Now or Later Pizza with great results. You can also add mashed roasted garlic straight to your dough.

    For new pizza makers, don’t be nervous! Homemade pizza is cheap and easy, and world’s beyond any delivery options you might have.

    Finally, if you want to make it even easier, you can pre-cook the crusts and not have to shape or deal with floppy dough right at dinner time. This also ensures your dough is cooked through no matter how thick you like to roll it out. We roll ours thin, so we pre-cook for 4 minutes right on our pre-heated stone. Then I take the crusts out and cover with sauce and toppings, and cool off any extra pizza crusts and freeze. If you roll them out to about 10 inches or less, they will easily fit in a gallon ziploc bag for the freezer.

    • Mel says:

      Anne – Awesome tips – thanks for sharing them.

    • Thomas Parker says:

      Anne – love the freezing idea. When you pull out the frozen pizza does it have to thaw out first before putting on a heated pizza stone and finished off, or can it be put in frozen to finish it off. Looking for best practice here.

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