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Perfect Pizza Crust: How to Make the Best Dough for a Tender Base

Updated on September 25, 2017
Athlyn Green profile image

Athlyn loves "all things bread" and shares her tips and recipes for homemade bread, quick breads, and all varieties in between.

Pizza to Die For

A thick, tender pizza smothered in Mozza, onions, red and yellow peppers and black olives.
A thick, tender pizza smothered in Mozza, onions, red and yellow peppers and black olives. | Source

Recipe for Perfect Crust

This recipe for pizza crust is the best I've come across. I searched for years for a decent crust, trying one recipe after another, and none were truly satisfactory. Either the crust was dense and very chewy (and you felt your jaw had just worked out at a gym) or, while the inside part fooled you and lured you in, the outer edges were hard enough to break a tooth on--or the whole darn thing just quit pretending to be nice and cooked up heavy as a hockey puck. And to add insult to injury, I found that even if the crust wasn't a "tough Nelly," it then didn't seem rise enough!

Now, some may feel a thin crust is the answer. (No! a good crust recipe is). I'm not a fan of thin crusts. Not only do you have to watch that your pizza ingredients don't slide off and end up in your lap, you have to "shore up" the crust by carefully supporting it with your hand because it's too floppy and bendable. You should never have to fashion a wobbly crust into the shape of a scoop to retain its toppings, nor should you have to fold it over like a taco to trap the toppings inside. Even if those pesky ingredients don't escape their confinement and you manage to actually get them into your mouth, eating a thin crust just isn't that same satisfying "sink your teeth into a real meal" experience. I don't know about you but when I crave pizza, I want to feel as if I've actually eaten instead of merely snacked.

If you like a thicker crust that is still wonderfully tender to bite into, this is the all-time perfect recipe.

You can use white flour (recommended) or a combo of white and whole wheat; however, white flour gives you the best crust, while whole wheat will result in a heavier, denser crust.

Hey, I Came for a Pizza, Not a Tortilla

Some crusts in restaurants are so thin, you feel like you are eating a pizza tortilla. It can be challenging not having the toppings sliding off a wobbly crust.

A Good Pizza Starts With a Good Crust

If you've got the right type of crust, ingredients won't slide off.
If you've got the right type of crust, ingredients won't slide off. | Source

Recipe Note

This recipe will give you enough dough for two pizzas.

Pizza Baking Tip

Double-pan to prevent overly-browned pizza bottoms. This can be done either by doubling up baking pans or placing a second pan on a lower oven rack.

Recipe

  • 2 tbsp. of yeast in
  • 1/2 cup of warm water.

Let rise.

In another bowl:

  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tbsp. of shortening
  • 2 tsp. salt

Add 2 cups of boiling water. Stir until fat and sugar dissolve. (You can use 1 cup of warm water followed by 1 cup of cold water if you want to save time, instead of waiting for liquid to cool down).

Add yeast mixture to liquid:

Stir in 3 cups of white flour. Continue stirring pizza dough with wooden spoon and add in 2 1/2 cups of flour. Make sure dough is moist and add just enough additional flour so that dough doesn't stick to hands. Knead until dough develops a velvety, elastic feel. Brush top with oil and let rise until dough is doubled and puffy.

Pre-Baking Tip

Sprinkle cornmeal over pans to prevent dough from sticking. This also adds a nice crunch to the crust.

Divide Dough Into Two Balls

Placing Dough in Pans

Drizzle some oil into two pizza pans and cut dough in half. Place dough in pans and push toward edges and keep pushing and working with fingers until dough covers pan and pan edges. If using rectangular pans, roll dough out into rectangle on a floured surface and slide into rectangular pans.

Pizza Baking Tip

Double-pan to prevent overly-browned pizza bottoms. This can be done either by doubling up baking pans or placing a second pan on a lower oven rack.

Smothered in Cheese and Ready for the Oven

Dough has puffed up beautifully.
Dough has puffed up beautifully. | Source

Cooking Instructions and Tips

  • Bake in a 350-325 degree oven until crust bottom is browned and cheese is bubbly and crispy. An underdone pizza will be runny, an overdone pizza will be dry. Keep checking pizza so that final results are spectacular.
  • Reduce heat towards end of baking time.
  • If desired, turn on broiler at a medium heat and crack open oven door. Watch closely so top of pizza doesn't burn. This will result in your cheese bubbling and becoming crispy.
  • Remove pizza from oven and let sit in pan for about 5-10 minutes so that everything sets up, prior to cutting.

Cutting Tip

For cutting, use a pizza wheel. If you slide your pizza onto a large pizza board or pizza peel this makes cutting the edges much easier.

A Pizza Wheel Makes Short Work of Cutting

Italian-Style

  • Sprinkle basil and oregano over your pizza sauce.
  • For an Italian-style crust, add basil and oregano to the pizza dough and top dough with olive oil before adding other toppings.

Herbed Dough

Italian herbs added to dough for a flavored crust.
Italian herbs added to dough for a flavored crust.

Crust That Puffs up and is so Tender

A close-up of crust after it's been cooked. Something you can sink your teeth into.
A close-up of crust after it's been cooked. Something you can sink your teeth into. | Source

How Do You Like Your Pizza Crust?

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Mmm...Mmm... Good

A real meal, not a promise of one.
A real meal, not a promise of one. | Source
Time-Saving tips
Grate your cheese ahead of time and freeze.
Buy sliced black olives. This way, they are already cut and you don't have to remove the pits.
If you like bacon, fry it ahead of time and break it into small pieces. Freeze. When pizza is nearly cooked, sprinkle crumbled bacon over the top and continue cooking until bacon is crisp.

A Pleasing Crisp to a Crust Makes Pizza Sublime

Image: Perfect Pizza Crust
Image: Perfect Pizza Crust | Source

Good Standard Flavor Combos

  • Bacon and mushroom
  • Ham and pineapple
  • Pepperoni, mushroom and olives
  • Spinach, dill, and feta cheese
  • Pepperoni, red pepper, and olive
  • Monterey Jack cheese, hot sausage, red pepper

Pizza has evolved from the early days and increasingly exotic combinations are being tried and offered at trendy restaurants. In modern times, there's truly a pizza for every taste.

Additionally, while Mozza, marble or Cheddar are good standbys, it's well worth trying some of the other cheeses or a combination for tempting flavor notes.

Pepperoni and Mushroom

Pepperoni is a favorite pizza topper. With its spicy flavor, it is hard to beat.
Pepperoni is a favorite pizza topper. With its spicy flavor, it is hard to beat.

Stuffed Pizza Crust

You may choose to stuff your pizza crust with extra cheese.

  • Roll dough into a thin circle and sprinkle on shredded cheese leaving a 1"-2" space at the edge.
  • Roll out a second thin dough circle on a large floured board, then flip the board to position the dough over the first circle.
  • Pinch edges firmly and top pizza dough with other ingredients.

One Slice or Two?

The hardest part when making this is, of course, staying out of it!
The hardest part when making this is, of course, staying out of it! | Source

Pizza Crust Edge Tip

For a fancy-looking crust in a deep-dish type of pizza, braid a thin dough edge and encircle pizza dough with it. This is especially helpful if you like to load your pizza with lots of ingredients or extra cheese. A braided edge prevents cheese from melting over the crust and dripping into the oven.

Deep-Dish Pizza

A braided edge holds ingredients nicely in this deep-dish pizza.
A braided edge holds ingredients nicely in this deep-dish pizza.

If You've Never Made Crust

For someone who has never made or handled a yeast dough, this process can seem somewhat confusing. Because of this, I've included the videos below to give you a better idea of how to work with pizza dough.

Making Pizza Dough

Whole Wheat Pizza

A whole wheat pizza crust can be filling and satisfying and it doesn't have to be overly heavy, if you do the following:

Replace 1/4 of the white flour with whole wheat, when making pizza dough. As can be seen, you want to go easy on the amount of whole wheat flour, so your crust doesn't end up overly dense and dry (whole wheat tends to suck up moisture).

For Evenly Baked Crust

Baking stones have become increasingly popular because of the great results achieved.

Pizza Baking

Many people use a pizza stone when making pizza. A stone can render flavor results similar to what is achieved using a stone oven.

  • A pizza baking stone absorbs heat and then transfers it to the dough.
  • Moisture disperses throughout the crust, making for a superior tender and crunchy crust.
  • Using a pizza baking stone along with a pizza cutter makes cutting your cooked pizza almost effortless. Edges are usually hard to cut through, as mentioned, but these two tools eliminate any difficulty.

Follow the Tips in This Article for Perfect Pizza

Image: Cheese Baked Golden Brown on Pizza
Image: Cheese Baked Golden Brown on Pizza

Have You Tried Making Your Own Pizza Crust?

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Now Take a Bite

All that's left to do is to start eating.
All that's left to do is to start eating. | Source

© 2008 Athlyn Green

What are your thoughts?

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    • Athlyn Green profile image
      Author

      Athlyn Green 4 years ago from West Kootenays

      Hi Claude, you'll love this crust. It puffs up wonderfully, yet is tender.

    • claudedog1234 profile image

      Jason Smith 4 years ago from Bastrop, Texas

      Great ideas here, My favorite flavor combo is pepperoni, black olives and lots of cheese. I love pizza and it is one of my favorite foods.

    • Athlyn Green profile image
      Author

      Athlyn Green 4 years ago from West Kootenays

      Hi Nurseleah,

      What good ideas about adding Parmesan and herbs to the crust and about preparing dough to cut down on preparation time.

    • nurseleah profile image

      Leah Wells-Marshburn 4 years ago from West Virginia

      Athlyn, this looks like a nice pizza crust. Good directions and tips. I like to add a couple of tablespoons of grated parmesan and Italian herbs to my dough for extra flavor. I also like to make large batches of pizza dough, parbake them (baked long enough to set the dough, but not brown) without any toppings on them, then freeze them. It's very helpful for busy days or for boyfriends/husbands/partners/teenagers who are home alone and have no idea how to fend for themselves. Just pull a crust out of the freezer, top it with whatever, and bake!

    • Athlyn Green profile image
      Author

      Athlyn Green 5 years ago from West Kootenays

      Both of these tips are great! You'll love this pizza crust recipe because it makes incredibly tender crust. Thanks for stopping by.

    • littlelulu67 profile image

      littlelulu67 6 years ago

      I have discovered that a clean pair of kithen scissors are the best thing ever to cut a pizza. works like a charm every time.

    • profile image

      Rob 7 years ago

      The Presto Pizzazz Pizza Oven actually does a great job making the topping brown, bubbly and crisp. I prefer using it for frozen pizzas because it gets rid of much of that freezer burnt taste.