Bread dough and pizza dough look very similar, and consist of the same essential ingredients as well; however, there are differences between the two, and once prepared and cooked, they do offer different results.
What is the difference between bread dough and pizza dough? Bread dough and pizza dough, in their basic forms, have the same essential ingredients (such as flour, yeast, water, and salt). The difference between the two is how the doughs are worked and proofed, giving two different results.
There are multiple bread dough and pizza dough recipes, but to understand the differences better between the two, we will go through the basic recipes for each so that you’ll easily be able to know the unique properties of either!
Bread Dough Vs Pizza Dough — Ingredients
Basic bread dough and pizza dough recipes call for the same ingredients, which are flour, water, salt, and a leavening agent (such as yeast or a sourdough starter).
Both can include oil, which helps to make the dough a little more chewy and help to soften it more.
Bread dough can have optional extras as well, depending on the recipe. Eggs, butter, milk, and more can all be added to a bread dough recipe to give it a different taste or texture.
These ingredients, however, are not typically added to pizza dough.
While the ingredients are similar, the quantities added to the recipes can differ. The biggest difference is that bread dough has a higher hydration content, which is the amount of water compared to flour.
Bread dough has a higher hydration level to make it more flexible, and to allow it to rise easier and faster. It also makes the bread develop more holes and be lighter, while crisp on the outside.
A higher hydration content can also allow for pizza dough to be crispier, but too much would make it difficult to shape the pizza dough.
Bread dough can have a hydration content of up to 90%, whereas pizza dough hydration levels sit between 50%–70%.
How much hydration is needed will also depend on how long the dough is to be cooked.
As bread dough cooks for longer, it would need more moisture to withstand the longer dehydration, whereas pizza dough cooks for a shorter time, and therefore does not need as much moisture.
Bread Dough Vs Pizza Dough — How They’re Made
Once all the ingredients have been combined, the preparation process does differ between bread dough and pizza dough.
Pizza dough requires less kneading time, only between 1–5 minutes.
This is enough time to create a smooth ball with the dough, but not too much that the dough becomes heavier and develops holes when it is cooked. The short kneading time creates a thin pizza base that is unlike bread.
Bread dough is kneaded for longer, which helps to stretch and develop the gluten. The protein strands line up and trap air, which helps the dough rise. The longer kneading process also creates denser bread that is still light and airy.
Once either dough has been kneaded for the correct amount of time, it is then left to ferment and rise. Fermenting the dough allows for more flavor, and it allows for pockets of gas to form which help the dough rise.
Once the pizza dough has been left to rise for a certain amount of time, it is shaped back into balls and is allowed to rise once more before being shaped into the pizza base.
Bread dough can be left to rise 2–3 times, being punched down between each rising time. This helps to even out the bubble size and to provide a more even distribution of the bubbles in the bread dough, making a lighter, more airy bread.
When the bread dough has risen enough, it is shaped and placed into the bread tin it will be cooked in, and left to have one final rise before being put in the oven.
Bread Dough Vs Pizza Dough — Cooking
There is a difference in how pizza dough and bread dough are cooked, and this is both the temperature and the cooking time.
Bread dough is cooked at a lower temperature than pizza dough, as the thicker bread dough doesn’t handle high temperatures well.
You don’t want the crust to burn before the middle of the bread cooks! At a lower temperature, the bread dough bakes slower — the outside still crisps up, but there will be no uncooked dough in the center.
Pizza dough is cooked at a higher temperature for a shorter time. If pizza dough is cooked in a wood-fired pizza oven, it is exposed to high temperatures so rapidly that it can cook in just 60 seconds.
When cooking pizza dough in a home oven, you cook it at a high temperature so that the thin dough forms a crisp crust on the outside with a fully cooked, moist dough on the inside.
Bread Dough Vs Pizza Dough — Taste
Bread dough and pizza dough taste very similar, but it is the texture and the thickness that is different between them.
If the bread dough and pizza dough are made with the same basic ingredients, then they will both taste essentially like bread — however, the pizza dough will obviously be thinner and crispier, whereas the bread will be thicker and airier.
As bread dough is left to rise for longer, it does have more of a fermented, yeasty flavor to it as well. Other ingredients added to bread dough can change the flavor slightly too, such as eggs, butter, and seasonings.
Pizza dough will also obviously take on the flavor of the toppings it is paired with, such as tomato sauce, cheese, and more.
Can Pizza Dough Be Used To Make Bread?
As they are made from similar ingredients, pizza dough can be used to make bread, and there won’t be much of a noticeable difference at all.
Pizza dough can be left to rise and proof for longer, and it can be shaped and baked just like bread dough would be.
You can use pizza dough to make a variety of different types of bread, such as burger buns, loaves of bread, and even focaccia.
You can even add various ingredients to the pizza dough to give it more flavor before baking it, which once again opens up a whole lot of options on what you can make.
Can Bread Dough Be Used To Make Pizza?
Bread dough can be used to make pizza in some cases, as long as the bread dough does not include ingredients other than the essentials.
If the bread dough contains anything like eggs, milk, butter, or quite a bit of sugar, these added ingredients can cause the pizza to burn instead of cook properly, so it isn’t worth using enriched bread dough to make pizza.
You should only use basic bread dough to make pizza — try not to let it rise for too long, and try not to have too high of a hydration content, which could make it difficult to shape and form into a pizza base.
Are Bread Dough And Pizza Dough The Same?
Bread dough and pizza dough are made with similar ingredients and are prepared in a similar way, but they are not the same thing.
Even though they are different, there are some cases where you can use them interchangeably, and achieve good results using one in place of the other.
The quantities of the basic ingredients differ as well, with bread dough having a higher hydration content compared to pizza dough, as it requires a longer cooking time.
Bread Dough Vs Pizza Dough — Final Thoughts
Understanding the differences between bread dough and pizza dough is definitely going to be helpful in the kitchen.
Making your own dough at home is such a rewarding process, and you would want to make sure you are making the dough correctly for what you are baking.
Take a read through all of the above to better understand the differences between bread dough and pizza dough, and whether they can be used in place of each other!
Now that we’ve learned all about pizza dough and bread dough, here are some additional questions that we thought you might have.
What is the difference between bread flour and pizza flour?
The main difference between bread flour and pizza flour is the gluten content. Gluten development happens when you knead and work with dough.
Pizza requires a higher gluten content than regular bread, which is where the difference in the flour comes in.
What flour is good for pizza?
There are many types of flour to use, but the best and most popular type used to make pizza is wheat flour type “00.” This has a protein content between 11%–12%, making it ideal to use to make pizza dough that is thin and crisp.