Pizza has to be one of my favorite things when it comes to cheap, easy meals that can feed lots of people with minimal effort. With that said, I am generally a little underwhelmed by most chain pizzerias, and loathe dropping $20 on something I could make at home for $2 (-ish). Plus, your average delivery place has a rather limited selection when it comes to toppings, cheeses, and sauces. Craving red sauce, pre-grated mozzerella, and pepperoni? You’re probably good to go. Bacon, ricotta, and caramelized onions with white sauce is not so likely to be on the menu though (by the way, you should try this combination).
All the more reason to bake your own. It’s not as difficult as it sounds, and while rise and rest times for the dough add up to a decent bit of wait time, it actually takes very little time working in the kitchen to prepare. You’d probably spend more time waiting on delivery if you ordered a pizza than you will spend actively prepping anything for this dough. This particular recipe also requires no special equipment. Most of the recipes I’ve found are written assuming you have a mixer with a dough hook. While that does make kneading dough easier, sometimes I don’t want to drag my mixer out, and not that long ago I didn’t even have one. A mixing bowl and wood spoon will work fine for this recipe.
Easy Pizza Dough
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 4 1/2 tsps active dry yeast (2 packets if using individual packs)
- 2 tsps sugar
- 1/4 cup olive oil (plus some to coat bowl)
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 cups all purpose flour (plus some to dust work surface when kneading)
Pour water into a bowl, making sure it is warm, but not hot. Add sugar and yeast. Let this sit until yeast is bubbling and a little foam has accumulated on top of the water. This should only take about 5 minutes, but may happen faster or slower depending on room temperature.
Mix in oil, salt, and flour, stirring until a semi-wet dough forms.
Lightly coat the inside of another bowl with oil. Dump dough into oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Leave dough to rise for about 1 hour, until doubled in size.
If baking immediately, begin pre-heating oven to 450° F. If you have a pizza stone, preheat with the stone in the oven. If not, I strongly suggest placing a second, empty baking sheet or pizza pan on the oven rack above where you plan to bake your pizza and allowing it to preheat with the oven for around 1 hour to help get a nice golden crust and a pizza that is baked all the way through, even in the center.
After dough has risen, dust your work surface with flour and turn dough out onto the floured surface. Knead dough 2-3 times, working it into a round. Once kneaded, re-cover with the damp cloth and allow dough to rest for 15 minutes.
After dough has had time to rest, divide it into equal halves. If you want to freeze it, put each half in a separate ziploc bag, press all the air you can out of it as you seal it, and stash it in the freezer for up to 3 months.
If baking immediately, work with one half of the dough at a time. Flatten it into a round working from the center outwards. If using a pizza stone, doing this on a piece of baking parchment paper makes for easy transfer onto the stone. Otherwise, you can do this directly onto your pizza pan. Add sauce, cheese, and toppings (or just cheese to make great cheese sticks), then place in the pre-heated oven. Bake for 10 minutes.
If your pizza is baking up soggy in the middle, try loading the toppings on a bit more lightly to allow the dough to better cook through.
Want a pizza tonight (or tomorrow), and another next week? While this dough freezes well, it can also be stashed in the refrigerator for up to a week if you are planning to bake it sooner rather than later.
This recipe is written for two medium pizzas. It is most commonly a lunch at my house, so it works well to make the whole batch, stick half in the freezer for an even quicker meal another time, and then bake the other half. If you have more people to feed, you can also leave the whole batch together as one dough ball for a large pizza. You can break it into four or five equally sized balls for individual pizzas. This is my kids’ favorite way to do things. That way they get to make their own pizzas. If you do it this way, however, keep a watchful eye on it as it cooks. Anything less than half the batch in the oven at the same time may also take notably less time to cook.