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The best pizza dough, chewy thin crust with a puffy rim

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The best pizza dough is a bold claim. I know.

And it’s obviously highly subjective.

At any given time there is a heated argument on the Internet on the relative merits of New York style pizza versus Chicago style pizza, with some arguing the latter isn’t pizza at all.

Adding flour to bowl on scal

So, I’m here to say I get it. I will never please everyone. Nevertheless, my opinion here is absolutely correct.

This is, as of now, the best pizza you can make at home without installing a special high temperature oven or disabling the self-cleaning cycle lock on your oven.

Water added to flour

This dough results in a pizza with a thin crust and a puffy, chewy cornicione (which is the fancy Italian term for the edge of crust around the rim).

It’s simple to make. It’s just flour, water, salt, and yeast.

But there are a few tricks to getting it right.

One is a long fermentation. The dough should rest overnight, and I think it gets even better after two or three days of resting in the refrigerator.

Another is using bread flour for the extra gluten formation, which is so helpful for developing that pleasing chew. (I usually use King Arthur which has a protein content of 12.7%)

Pizza dough covered with plastic wrap for proofing

The other is using more salt than you think. Salt inhibits yeast, and it helps prevent the dough from over-rising during its long rest in the refrigerator. It also makes everything taste better.

And while you can use active dry yeast, your life will be easier and results more reliable if you use instant yeast, which you don’t have to proof in water and can just mix in with the flour.

Pizza Dough from Blossom to Stem | www.blossomtostem.net

The other tricks are not ingredient-based, they’re in the handling and cooking.

Step away from the rolling pin and gently stretch your dough into place.

This makes a very wet, sticky, slack dough that can take some practice to handle.

One trick to make handling easier is to wet your hands before touching the dough. Damp hands won’t stick to it so much.

When people ask me what temperature to cook pizza at, my answer is always as high as your oven will go. For most of us, that’s 500-550°F.

And preheat the oven with the pizza steel or pizza stone inside for a half-hour before you put your pizza in the oven.

Best Pizza Dough. From Blossom to Stem | www.blossomtostem.net

You can use a peel if you want. Or just build your pizza on a piece of parchment paper and slide it into the oven from the back of a baking sheet.

Also, don’t overtop your pizza.

Apply a very thin layer of simple sauce. Go easy on a layer of grated dry aged mozzarella and parmigiano reggiano. And apply your other toppings sparingly or you’re apt to wind up with a soggy mess.

Best Pizza Dough. From Blossom to Stem | www.blossomtostem.net

But keep this one bookmarked. Or print it out and laminate it.

You’ll be making it again and again.

Best Pizza Dough. From Blossom to Stem | www.blossomtostem.net
Best Pizza Dough. From Blossom to Stem | www.blossomtostem.net

[Edit 6/5/2019: I think I figured out where a few folks have run into trouble. This recipe is not designed for Italian-style 00 pizza flour, which is generally only available from specialty suppliers in the US and why I’ve opted for the much more widely available bread flour.

The tipo “00” (doppio zero) refers to the fineness of the milling and has nothing to do with the protein content of the flour.

It is much finer than American all-purpose or bread flours. Tipo “00” is less absorbent than bread flour, which means if you use the amount of water called for here, it will be too runny.

If you are using 00 flour, try reducing the water to 275 g or a 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons to get the hydration right. And note that the texture will be more delicate and crisp and less chewy than the bread flour version I’ve described.

I’ve tested this dough with bread flour hundreds of times and that’s still what I recommend for this recipe.

It also works pretty well with all-purpose flour (especially if you have a higher protein all-purpose flour like King Arthur). You can reduce the water to 350 g or 1 1/2 cups for an easier to handle dough.]

Yield: 2 14-inch pizzas

Best Pizza Dough (for thin crust pizza with a chewy, puffy rim)

Pizza Dough from Blossom to Stem | www.blossomtostem.net

This dough needs to be made a day ahead of time (though it can hang out in the refrigerator for another four days and in the freezer for a few months). The slow overnight rise in the refrigerator allows the dough to develop a complex flavor and improve its browning and crumb structure. Bread flour helps to give pizza that pleasing chewy texture, and instant yeast lets you skip the step you find in many recipes for proofing the yeast in water ahead of time. I strongly recommend applying your toppings with a light hand. I like baking pizzas on a baking steel, which is totally worth the investment, but you can also bake it on a baking sheet. This makes enough dough for two pizzas, which means you can have pizza again later in the week or you can tuck the extra dough in the freezer and let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight the next time you want pizza.

Prep Time 1 hour
Additional Time 1 days
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 1 days 1 hour 8 minutes

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Add the flour, salt, and yeast to a large mixing bowl and stir. Add the water and stir until you don't see any dry flour. Then stir with a metal or wooden spoon for about 50 strokes (your arm should be getting tired and the dough should be shaggy but starting to pull away from the sides of the bowl as you stir). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for about an hour.
  2. After about a 30 minutes of rising, gently stretch and fold the dough over itself a few times. The dough should start to feel stretchier and sturdier. Cover again and let rise for another 30 minutes. Stretch and fold the dough over itself two or three more times. The dough should no longer look shaggy, but have a smooth appearance when pulled into a taut ball. Divide the dough in half and stretch each half into a ball. Coat lightly in olive oil and place each dough ball into a quart-sized zip top bag and refrigerate overnight or for up to 4 days. (If there is any dough you don't plan to use in 4 days, put it in the freezer now. When ready to use, let thaw in the refrigerator overnight and continue as directed.) 
  3. On the day you plan to make the pizza, pull the dough out of the refrigerator about an hour before you want to eat. If you have a baking steel or baking stone, make sure it's in the oven on the top rack. Preheat the oven as high as your oven will go (500°F or 550°F) about a half hour before you want to eat.
  4. After the dough has been at room temperature for about an hour, gently stretch the dough into a circle about 14-inches in diameter and place on a sheet of parchment paper set on the back of a baking sheet (if you feel comfortable using a peel you can, of course skip the parchment paper and build your pizza on a floured peel). Top the pizza lightly with whatever toppings you want. Slide the parchment paper and pizza onto your baking steel or stone (or if you don't have either of those, slide the whole inverted baking sheet into the oven on the top rack).
  5. Bake for 7-8 minutes or until the dough is deeply browned in spots. Slide the pizza onto a wire cooling rack and let cool for a few minutes before transferring to a cutting board and slicing.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 190Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 602mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 3g
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Margaret Patterson

Monday 25th of May 2020

My husband and I loved this pizza! We have joined the national trend for baking bread while we are in self quarantine, and we have tried several pizza recipes. This one is by far our favorite and we want to thank you for posting it and providing us with some wholesome entertainment during these unprecedented times.

I do have some questions. When I followed the recipe, I used the weight and not the measurements. 390 grams of water was significantly more than 1&2/3 cups water, probably more like 2 cups. Did I do the right thing? As you mentioned in your post, our dough was very sticky.

Also, our pizza was not crisp on the bottom. I assume this is because we do not have a pizza stone and because our oven is inconsistent in maintaining temperature. Also, I may have put too much stuff on top, even though I tried to be light handed.

Either way, it was really delicious and we’re looking forward to making it again. In addition to making more pizzas, I plan to try to make a plain focaccia with this recipe. Thanks for a great post!

Mary Kasprzak

Tuesday 26th of May 2020

The weight and volume of water should be consistent. If you have a liquid measuring cup that has milliliters on one side, you could double check it that way. (1 ml of water weighs 1 gram.)

A pizza stone or steel definitely makes a difference on how the bottom of the crust cooks. If you find yourself making pizza more often, it's definitely worth investing in one of those tools (the steel is my favorite for the best bottom crust, but stones are less expensive and lighter weight and still make a big difference).

Andrew

Sunday 26th of April 2020

Hi from Bermuda!

Have made this dough at least 25-30 times, and having tried countless other recipes to perfect my NYC-style dough - in my opinion, the author's bold claim is warranted. My wife refuses to allow me to experiment with any other new recipe, and she's right.

I use a stand-mixer and a pizza steel, which I can't praise enough as essential (but yes, expensive) tools. I can say the stand-mixer is definitely a plus for this recipe in particular, as I had made this before using wooden spoons and my hands and the wetness was very difficult to get used to.

My oven goes to 550F. I've played around with rack height and found middle and top work best. Takes anywhere from 6-8 mins total. I like to broil on high for 30-35 seconds at the end to really brown the crust and cheese. (I know this recipe is just for dough, but once I was able to track down whole milk mozza, this was a game changer as well, FYI.)

I generally try to keep toppings light as suggested, but I've definitely tried overloading the toppings out of temptation and this crust will hold it up if done just as instructed. If your crust is floppy and you need a second hand to hold it up, you are doing something wrong. And I cut big slices.

Unbleached bread flour is also a must - I definitely noticed the difference between all-purpose and bread, the latter resulting in a chewier product, no question about it.

As stated many times above - yep - this is a super wet dough. Be patient and learn to love it and not over flour during the process, especially during the mixing stage, as I find it can result in a harder and less chewy dough once baked (and harder to stretch). The wet hands trick works (but I do use generous flour sprinklings, but only after the first proof to avoid sticking to my wooden cutting board and hands - though always end up sacrificing a little amount that inevitably clumps to my fingers.

I use Fleischmann's Instant Dry Yeast packets (each a 1/4 oz or 7.09 g). My scale (use a scale!) doesn't show fractions and I find the tsp conversion is not precise enough. I also like to make 1.5x the posted recipe (which gives me 4 nice sized pizzas) and lets me use almost all of the yeast packet in one go. But as I can't get 0.5 measurements, and until I get a micro-scale, is best that my estimates veer towards the lower end or the higher end of the yeast measurements. I've read elsewhere to use just enough yeast as needed and never more, so I tend to veer to the lower guesstimate range but wanted to check your thoughts? Also, how do you feel about cake yeast? Sometimes we get it out here but I've never tried. Just wondering if you think it's worth the hassle vs. instant in terms of flavor.

Apologies for the lengthy comments, but had to share as this is one great recipe. Thank you!

- how do you feel

Brian

Tuesday 14th of April 2020

(Sorry, the above two messages somehow got switched in sequence. Weird.)

Brian

Monday 13th of April 2020

Ok, I tried a second batch, this time attempting to first bloom the yeast in room temp water with a pinch of sugar. I confirmed that the yeast is alive (yet slow, as desired).

Anyway I added it to the flour/salt mixture, and after mixing, it was sticky/shaggy but this time workable enough that I COULD shape it with wet hands without a large portion of it sticking to my hands. Whereas with the previous batch, I’d have to keep re-wetting my hands throughout and even still it never formed a smooth ball, so think that means I must have used a tad too much water last time.

As for rising, this new batch indeed does seem to be rising the appropriate amount, and I was able to shape it perfectly. I checked up on the previous batch that’s been in the fridge for a couple days, and it’s still flat as a pancake. So it would seem that indeed, room temp water may be more appropriate for some situations, since the cool water method caused my yeast not to activate at all. Or maybe it was the act of pre-blooming with sugar, then adding to the salt/flour mixture afterwards. Heh... I guess it’s not what you’d call a controlled experiment, but at least I’m happy now that I’m getting the expected results so far.

Brian

Saturday 11th of April 2020

Hmm... this dough doesn’t appear to be rising at all. I’ve done everything the way specified, and I’m using instant yeast which I know is alive and kicking (tested a few days prior, and have kept refrigerated since). But the dough doesn’t appear to be rising at all, even after leaving it at room temp for 2 hours. Is it supposed to? It also remains very sticky to the touch.

So what might I be doing wrong? Could my water be too cold? I used room temp bottled water, but you said to use cool, so I added a bit of ice until it felt cool to the touch, before adding it to the mixture. Or maybe the yeast need to sit at room temp for a while after removal from the fridge, prior to using? Any other possibilities?

Mary Kasprzak

Sunday 12th of April 2020

It's a very sticky dough, so that part sounds right.

It should rise in that time, but because it continues to proof overnight in the refrigerator it uses less yeast than many other doughs and doesn't rise as dramatically for the first rise as you may be used to.

I use cool tap water when making this, but ice may have slowed down the rise a little. It should all work itself out if you divide it and let it rise overnight. Good luck!

(P.S. Use wet hands when handling the sticky dough!)