How to make a pizza

My wife and I are pretty good cooks. We’ve tried making pizza twice- both times with store-bought dough (and following the instructions on the dough)- and both times, the pizza came out burnt hard on the edges and barely cooked in the middle. What are we doing wrong?

Can anyone give step-by-step, foolproof pizza-making instructions?

Off hand I’d say you’re overloading it with cold and/or excessively wet toppings.

Alton Brown has the best method for easy and tasty pizza crust I’ve found.

Food Network recipe link

Youtube link

That’s what I was gonna say, the toppings can kill it. Things like onions an peppers have a lot of moisture. As can too much sauce, even though it sounds like a good idea.

Trader Joe’s has good pre-made pizza dough, on that topic. I suck at making dough of any sort.

  1. Pizza stone (or generic equivalent)
  2. Light sauce
  3. Light toppings

We’ve had great success doing ours on the grill. Toast up one side, remove, sauce and cheese the toasted side, return to grill to finish.

It is the same problem as taking a steak out of the fridge and throwing it on the grill, it is too cold, let it warm to room temp.

When you build a pizza with fresh ingredients, pull your ingredients out of the fridge and build the pie, put the remaining ingredients back in the cooler and let the pie rest and assume room temp. Then bake it in a pre-heated oven.

Now, I know some people will ask; ‘but you can bake a frozen pizza’ without letting it come to room temp. And you are right.

Because all of the ingredients in a frozen pizza are the same temp (frozen) they all cook at the same rate.

Don’t put cold toppings on warm dough, is the basic message.

I’ve had good results using a big frying pan. Preheat the oven, then put the pan on a medium-high heat on the stove while you stretch out the dough. Put the dough in the hot pan while you prepare the sauce and toppings. By the time you spread the toppings on, the bottom of the base should be nicely crisping up. Now, leaving the pizza in the pan, whack the whole lot in the oven. The heat from the pan will cook the base much more thoroughly without burning the toppings.

Jamie Oliver even has a recipe to make the whole lot, dough and all, from scratch in 30 minutes (plus two other courses, which is wildly optimistic). It took me 45 minutes just for the pizza, but it’s pretty damn tasty - yes, even with no yeast in the base.

This is similar to what I do, except I mix the dough in the (cold) pan, then put it on the stove as I add the toppings. A sort of no-knead pizza.

Yep, this method works well, especially with a cast-iron pan. I actually use a cast-iron pizza pan these days instead of a stone, as it heats up quicker, and you can heat it up on the stovetop. And it retains heat almost as well as a stone or quarry tile.

Also, I’ve had good success (at least in my oven) with rolling out the dough on parchment paper, topping it, and cooking it in a preheated oven at around 450-500F on the oven floor. Cooks up real crisp and fast.

When we make pizza from dough for the buffet where I work, we stretch the dough out on the pan, bake it for around 10min (I think 10min, I don’t make the pizza), and then add the sauce, cheese and toppings.

You guys add the sauce and everything to the uncooked dough?

Yes, uncooked dough here. Parcooking is fine, but leads to a drier, more crackery dough, which may be fine if that’s what you’re going for.

I haven’t cooked any of them yet but I always throw out anything by America’s Test Kitchen. It takes months of testing for them to come out with a recipe, and they specialize in cooking at home. Here is the video for a relatively recent Chicago style pizza episode.

I saw that video a few weeks ago. For a Chicago style deep dish pizza, it’s pretty odd. While I’m sure what they are making is tasty, deep dish here is not made with a buttery, folded dough a la puff pastry or even a biscuit dough. Butter isn’t even a signature flavor in deep dish pizza doughs.

This recipe is pretty much on-the-money for Chicago style deep dish.

This is what you want:

Making pizza is not simple. Prepare to spend years perfecting it.

My tip in addition to the above recipe is this: if you have a gas oven, just cook the entire pizza under the broiler. I do this and get pretty decent pies in just 2.5 minutes of baking.

Yeah, that’s how I do it with a boxed pizza mix (Appian Way brand usually). The instructions on the box say to add the sauce and toppings to the dough and then cook it 18-20 mins, but it tends to work better if you put the crust in first for 5-10 mins, then add sauce & toppings and put it back in for the remainder of the time.

This method works well for us, too.

This is almost surely something you don’t want to hear, but the other day we made pizza using already-baked naan like this. We simply added sauce, cheese, various toppings and cooked it in a 450 degree oven. It was quite good, and way better than any frozen pizza I’ve tried, and I’ve tried them all. If nothing else, and you really like to have a decent pizza at home once in a while without the fuss of getting take-out instead or making your own, whip up a bunch of these and freeze 'em. Very cost-effective too!

First step is to get the dough right. Here is an easy to use professional level tool:
Lehmann Pizza Dough Calculator
You can play around with the recommended percentages to find what you like best.

As others have said, toppings should be simple, not too much of them, and they should be at room temperature. I recommend using a stone and setting your oven as high as it will go; it will take 45 minutes to an hour of preheating for the stone to be ready – and give it at least five or six minutes between pizzas to reheat.

If your dough is burned on the edges but uncooked in the middle:

It’s too thick in the middle, or

You put on too much sauce or too many toppings that give off water (onions, canned mushrooms, for example) or

You baked it on a cookie sheet instead of a stone.

or all three.

The most common mistake people make when they start making pizza is to use too much sauce. Start with just maybe 5 - 6 tablespoon for a 12 -15 inch pizza, swirl it around. The entire surface shouldn’t be coated in red, you should be able to see mostly dough.

Use a stone.

Turn your oven up as high as it will go.

Take the battery out of your smoke detector if you have one near the oven.