One of the most popular foods in the world (and rightfully so), pizza is a crowd-pleaser for busy weeknights and fun weekend dinners alike.
With an ever-increasing market in the US, you can very easily get a piping hot, delicious pizza delivered to your doorstep within minutes. Alternatively, you can grab your favorite from your go-to restaurant on your way home.
But what about making pizza at home? The satisfaction of making the perfect pizza your way is like no other and beats any takeout, any day.
However, one thing that most home cooks struggle with is making the crust crispy as they do at restaurants, with most of them ending up with a sad, soggy crust.
So, how do you make crispy pizza at home? The key to a crispy pizza is using the right type of dough, being careful when choosing the sauces and toppings, and using the right methods for different types of ovens.
Read our detailed guide that reveals the secret to perfectly thin and crispy pizza at home, the right way to bake it using the oven you have, tips for preparing the crust, and much more:
The Secret To Thin Crust Pizza
As mentioned above, the secret to thin crust pizza lies in three things: the dough, the sauces and toppings, and the baking technique. Let’s look at each one in detail.
Given the importance of the crust to the overall taste and experience of a pizza, it is crucial to get it right so that it is neither dry nor burnt, nor too soft or soggy.
To make the perfect dough for the perfect crust, you need to focus on:
- The quality of the ingredients
- The quantity of the ingredients
- Time and temperature (for fermentation)
- Kneading and stretching
Pizza dough is made with two main ingredients: flour and water (in addition to yeast), and the choice of flour is extremely important to how well the dough will turn out.
Water is another important factor in terms of purity and temperature, with warm water being the best option since it speeds up the leavening action.
The ratio of water to flour is one of the major parameters of pizza dough. If you use too much water, the dough will become wet and tacky, and if you use too little water, you won’t be able to get a well-incorporated dough.
Yeast, oil, and sugar are also important contributing ingredients to the taste, digestibility, and stretchiness of the pizza crust, which is why it is necessary to be extra careful when adding them to the mix.
Kneading and stretching are two other important steps since that’s what gives the dough strength and structure.
By working the dough, the proteins in them start to connect to form a strong gluten network that traps gas bubbles and makes the pizza lighter and more digestible.
A perfect, well-proofed dough will stretch without tearing, easily spring back, and be soft. On the contrary, if the gluten is over-developed, the dough will not stretch, and if it is under-developed, it will begin to tear.
The Sauces And Toppings
The sauces and toppings on a pizza are what gives it a unique flavor. You can play around with your favorites and experiment with different ingredients.
While you are free to put whatever you want on your pizza, you need to make sure the ingredients are not too watery since moisture from the toppings can be what stands between you and a perfectly crispy pizza.
The three rules to abide by for a crispy pizza at home are:
- Not going overboard with the pizza sauce and adding only a thin layer so that you can still see the dough through the sauce.
- Aiming for only a couple of extra ingredients since too many may add excess moisture, slow down the cooking time, and lead to a soggy, undercooked crust that will easily fall apart.
- Using the right type of cheese that turns golden and stretchy. If you wish to use fresh mozzarella, drain the cheese in advance, cut it, and let it dry in the fridge for 2-3 hours before using it.
When it comes to the quality of the pizza and its crispiness, there is a strong relationship between the dough and the oven in which it is baked.
The type of oven you use for baking a pizza at home is a very important factor which includes:
- The temperature
- The humidity
- Cooking time
- Fuel supply
- Quality of the oven
Different ovens can reach different temperatures and transfer heat differently while baking, and for a crispy pizza, you need a consistently high temperature.
The humidity plays an important role in the heat transfer into the food and the moisture evaporating from the oven, with the final goal of preventing the dough from over-drying.
The cooking time depends on the type of pizza you’re making and the type of oven you are using. Some reach higher temperatures and cook a pizza in 2 minutes, whereas others may take longer.
Methods To Use With Different Types Of Ovens
Making pizza is a process that involves a lot of factors such as the quality of the raw materials, the pizza maker’s skill and expertise, the dough and how it is prepared, and of course, the oven being used to bake it.
When it comes to the choice of the oven, there are a few options such as using a wood-fired oven, an electric oven, or a gas-fired oven. They all have different characteristics and require different methods to bake the perfect crispy pizza.
A wood-fired oven is a classic and the most authentic choice when it comes to pizza making. It can reach the highest temperature and gives food that unique smokey flavor that you cannot get in other ovens.
Though wood-fired ovens are on the pricier side and require some practice to use, once you get the hang of it, they are well worth the investment and effort.
Electric ovens are relatively cheap and easier to work with, but are not the best when it comes to pizza making since they don’t reach very high temperatures.
A gas-fired oven, on the other hand, is a good middle ground between wood-fired and electric ovens since they can reach higher temperatures and are easier to handle.
These 3 broad categories are further divided into a wide range of models that are all unique in their size, features, performance, style, and price.
As mentioned above, two of the key factors involved in getting a perfect pizza are the temperature and humidity of the oven.
A good oven provides a constant temperature, transfers heat in the best possible way, and is easy to use, maintain, and clean.
When using a wood-fired oven, you will get a lightly browned pizza that is crispy on the outside and slightly chewy on the inside.
A pizza baked in an electric or gas-fired oven will take longer and will require more hydration to prevent the crust from drying out.
Once you understand the features of your oven through trial and error and find out the best methods to use for the perfect results, you’ll be able to make crispy pizza at home, just like the pros.
To make a crispy Neapolitan pizza in a wood-fired oven, you will need to:
- Light the oven a few hours before using it to maintain the right temperature over time.
- Manage the temperature by adding firewood so that you have a consistently hot oven while cooking.
- Move the dying embers to the side of the oven and crank up the humidity by passing a damp cloth on the oven floor.
- Carefully slide the pizza onto the peel and into the oven.
- Rotate the pizza inside the oven so that it is cooked evenly.
- Make sure that both the bottom and top of the crust are brown and crisp.
To make a crispy Neapolitan pizza in an electric or gas-fired oven, you will need to:
- Preheat the oven so that you get a stabilized temperature when baking it.
- Use a good pizza stone that absorbs heat and releases it gradually.
- Avoid using a very thick baking pan that will heat up quickly on contact with the pizza stone or oven floor.
- Refrain from opening the oven door frequently and unnecessarily to avoid lowering the temperature.
- Move the pizza to different rack heights so that it is cooked properly.
That being said, making the perfect crispy pizza requires time, effort, and a lot of skill. Therefore, do not be disheartened if you don’t get it right the first time. Just keep at it and we’re sure you’ll get the hang of it!
Tips For Preparing The Crust
Here are a few useful tips for preparing the crust for a crispy pizza at home:
- Proof the dough in the refrigerator since it slows down the fermentation process and allows the flavors and textures to develop without over-proofing.
- Do not stretch cold dough since the coldness of the fridge contracts the gluten and tightens the dough. It is best to take the dough out of the fridge and leave it covered on the kitchen counter at room temperature for at least an hour.
- Do not stretch the dough too thin as it will not be able to support the sauce, cheese, and toppings.
- Do not over-knead your dough or you will end up with a bready crust. Aim for only 2 to 3 minutes of kneading and not more than that.
- Learn to stretch the dough by hand instead of rolling it out since rolling pushes out all the air from the dough and makes the crust dense.
- Use the right flour for the pizza and try to get your hands on some premium bread flour or Italian “00” bread flour.
- Get a pizza stone or a pizza steel that heats up faster and mimics the effects of a traditional pizza oven to give you a crispier crust.
- Use semolina on the base since it makes the dough easier to move around and also adds a nice flavor and texture to the pizza. Just make sure to add some flour to the mix as only semolina may be a bit coarse.
- Do not go overboard with the toppings since it will not only make it difficult to transfer the pizza into the oven but could also make the crust soggy.
Now that we’ve covered all the essential points in making the perfect crispy pizza at home, here are a few additional questions we thought you might have regarding pizza making!
What is the best temperature for cooking crispy pizza?
Commercial pizza ovens, especially wood-fired ones, reach temperatures as high as 500°C (over 900°F) and take hardly 1 1/2 minutes to cook a perfect thin crust pizza.
Most home ovens reach only about 250°C (around 500°F), which is why you need to make your oven as hot as possible. The higher the heat, the crunchier, crispier, and tastier the pizza will be.
For best results, you need to preheat your oven and pizza stone or pan for at least half an hour before cooking your pizza. This way, your oven will be as hot as possible and you will lose less heat when you open it to put the pizza in.
What is the purpose of a pizza stone?
The traditional way to cook thin crust pizza is on a hot concrete or brick surface of a pizza oven. This allows the heat to quickly transfer from the surface to the dough and gives the crust that amazing crispiness.
Pizzas stones are made of ceramic and are preheated to mimic the technique used by professionals, allowing you to make the crispiest pizzas using your home oven.
If you do not have a pizza stone, you can use a rimless or upturned baking tray, and preheat it like a pizza stone before placing your pizza on top of it and transferring it to the oven.
What is the best way to reheat leftover pizza so that it stays crispy?
There are 2 ways you can reheat leftover pizza so that it stays crispy: on a stovetop using a skillet or using the oven.
Reheating pizza on the stove using a skillet is one of the best and fastest techniques that allow you to retain the crispiness of the pizza along with perfectly melting the cheese. Here’s how:
- Heat the skillet over medium heat.
- Add the pizza slices and let them cook for a few minutes.
- Drizzle a few drops of water on the sides of the pan to ensure the toppings heat up too.
- Cover the pan immediately to trap the steam inside.
- Let the stovetop work its magic for a few minutes as it breathes new life into your leftover pizza.
Alternatively, you can reheat your pizza in the oven as well. You need to be very careful though since dong it improperly can turn a perfectly good pizza into a dry cracker.
It will also take relatively longer, but once you figure out exactly how to work it, your leftover pizza will come out perfectly crunchy and crispy. Here’s how:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Put the slices on a foil before placing them in the oven to ensure even distribution of heat. You can also use a preheated sheet pan.
- Bake it for 10 minutes or more, depending on how crispy you want the pizza to be.
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