Basic Pizza Dough

Dressed up as a Mushroom, Sage, Fontina, and Parmesan Pizza.

The search for a great pizza dough recipe is very similar to the one I just discussed regarding the ultimate chocolate chip cookie recipe. There always seem to be new recipes making the Internet circuit before fading out when another one comes along. Last year I tried a recipe that was all the rage; it was from, and I had blogged about it, but that post has mysteriously gone missing. No matter, I wasn’t much of a fan – I found it to be much too doughy. I then moved on to Cooking Light’s Thin and Crispy Pizza Crust, which, while not doughy, seemed to err too much in the other direction. Likely because it is a “light” recipe, the crust was paper thin. Tonight, I think I hit the jackpot. Yet another winner from my Baking Illustrated cookbook from Cook’s Illustrated magazine. This crust is the perfect combination of a wonderfully crisp outer crust and chewy interior.

What’s behind the perfect pizza crust and recipes after the break…

As I was saying, this pizza dough combines the perfect crisp outer crust and chewy interior that makes for a superb pizza crust. The key to this is using bread flour instead of all-purpose flour, which produces a crispier exterior crust. Additionally, the use of a significant amount of water makes the dough softer, which creates a dough that is easier to shape. I have to admit that I was more than skeptical about baking this pizza with all of the toppings and not pre-baking the crust, as I have found this typically makes for a soggy bottom crust. Wow, was I proven wrong. This crust couldn’t be more perfect, due to preheating the stone in a 500° oven for 30 minutes, thereby pretty much cooking the bottom crust as soon as it hits the stone. Check out that crust:

This recipe states that it makes three medium-size pizzas, but I just divided the dough into two and froze one half and made the other into a large pizza (8 generous slices). I have also included my own pizza sauce recipe at the end of this post, because I think it’s great 🙂

Basic Pizza Dough

Yield: 2 large pizzas

Prep Time: 3 hours 30 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 4 hours


1/2 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
1 envelope (about 2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast
1 1/4 cups water, at room temperature
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups (22 ounces) bread flour, plus more for dusting work surface and hands
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Olive oil or nonstick cooking spray for oiling the bowl


1. Measure the warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Sprinkle in the yeast and let stand until the yeast dissolves and swells, about 5 minutes. Add the room-temperature water and oil and stir to combine.

2. Process the flour and salt in a large food processor, pulsing to combine. Continue pulsing while pouring the liquid ingredients (holding back a few tablespoons) through the feed tube. If the dough does not readily form into a ball, add the remaining liquid and continue to pulse until a ball forms. Process until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 30 seconds longer.

3. The dough will be a bit tacky, so use a rubber spatula to turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead by hand for a few strokes to form a smooth, round ball. Put the dough into a deep oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Press the dough to deflate it.

4. Place a pizza stone on a rack in the lower third of the oven. Heat the oven to 500° for at least 30 minutes. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Use a chef's knife or dough scraper to divide the dough into two pieces. Form each piece of dough into a smooth, round ball and cover it with a damp cloth. Let the dough relax for at least 10 minutes but no more than 30 minutes.

5. While preparing the dough, make your sauce and get your toppings ready.

6. Working with one piece of dough at a time and keeping the other covered, shape the dough, then transfer it to a pizza peel that has been lightly dusted with semolina.

7. Top your pizza as desired and slide the dough onto the heated stone. Bake until the crust edges brown and the cheese is golden brown in spots, 8 to 12 minutes. Remove the pizza from the oven, cut into wedges, and serve immediately. Repeat with the remaining piece of dough (or you can freeze the second ball of dough for another time).

(Recipe adapted from Baking Illustrated)


87 Responses to “Basic Pizza Dough”

  1. susan on August 28, 2008 at 8:08 pm

    this looks delicious. i love your blog!


  2. Tag on February 25, 2009 at 8:56 pm

    Hi Michelle, I recently aquired a Kitchenaid stand mixer with the goal of learning to make pizza at home. I tried your reccommended recipe tonight but the dough wouldn’t form a “ball” in the mixer even after adding much extra flour and letting it mix much longer than called for. Is this normal for this recipe? I have the dough proofing right now but it certainly doesn’t look anything like I expected. What do you think I might have done wrong? And as you may have guessed I’m as new as a guy can be to your world of creating delicious foods in the kitchen. Thanks for any guidance you can share.


  3. Caroline on June 28, 2009 at 9:27 pm

    I tried this as written, but my dough never rose. (sad!) Are you sure that it takes instant yeast, and not regular active dry? Based on what I have read elsewhere, instant yeast does not need the 5 minutes in warm water.


  4. Michelle on June 29, 2009 at 9:39 pm

    Hi Caroline,

    The recipe definitely calls for instant yeast. I’m sorry that your yeast never rose – many things can cause that to happen, including yeast that is old (amazingly, it’s possible to open a new packet from the store and have it be bad!) or the water may have been too hot and killed the yeast. I hope you’ll give this another try and let me know how it turns out!


    • Christine Nelson on January 10th, 2012 at 10:44 pm

      I used active dry today, and it turned out WONDERFUL! By far the best pizza dough I have ever made. I made it this morning around 9 AM and let it rise all day until I made it at 5 PM. I used a 1/2 tsp. as you recommended to let it rise all day. I am still learning with the whole yeast world, and am such an ammateur. But this was awesome! And I used 3 c. bread flour and 1 c. whole wheat flour. It was so delicious, and everyone ate more than they should have!!!


  5. Leigh on July 6, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    Michelle, I can’t wait to try this recipe. Yo mentioned that you froze the “other half”. How far did you go in the process before freezing and what steps will you need to do when thawed out for cooking next time?


  6. Michelle on July 16, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    Leigh – I work the recipe the whole way through letting it rise and then when it says to deflate it, I take half and form it into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and put into a freezer bag. When you are ready to use it, I either put it in the refrigerator the morning I will use it to thaw or leave it out at room temperature for a few hours. Once it’s thawed you’re ready to go!


  7. Olivia on October 28, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    Followed the recipe to the letter, including the temperature of the water! Excellent results, even using a baking sheet rather than a pizza stone!


  8. Olivia on October 28, 2009 at 3:16 pm


    I assembled the pizza on a well-floured chopping board, as I don’t have one of the specific things and wanted my ‘stone’ to be hot… I did quietly curse you as I tried to get it onto my baking tray! But I took it back when I took the pizza out of the oven…


  9. Sana on February 24, 2010 at 5:51 am

    hi Michelle

    this may seem like a really stupid question but can I make this with All purpose flour? I dont want to buy a bag of bread flour just for this as i dont make any


  10. Michelle on February 24, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    Hi Sana!

    You can substitute all-purpose flour for the bread flour here, the crust just may not be as crisp. This is my all-time favorite pizza crust recipe, enjoy! 🙂


  11. Dina on March 21, 2010 at 6:19 am

    yummmm this looks fantastic , i am planning o do it after tom.


  12. Dina on April 11, 2010 at 1:55 am

    Dearest Micheall, i made this last week and i realy loved it , this week i tried the dough from Peter Reinhart it was good to , worth trying….i also made your browneis and wow thanks alot .
    i want to take your opinion ( if you dont mined) …do you have Julia child french cookbooks?? i know everybody rave about it but is it user friendly ? i am afraid to put all that money for the 2 set book and then not use it…
    and keep the goooood recepies comeing…


    • Rebecca on December 26th, 2012 at 6:43 pm

      Which one of the brownie recipes did you try?


  13. Mary Jackson on June 20, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    Help Michelle! I was trying to make this for Fathers day dinner as my hubs looooves pizza, but I could NOT get the dough to ever remotely resemble anything that could have been formed into a ball. I even tried adding more flour and mixing and mixing. I am pretty sure my yeast was ok, just couldnt get the dough to look like dough. Gave up and used a store bought. 🙁 I’m new to baking so any tups you’ve got are greatly appreciated. I love your recipes and blog!


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  15. Thomas Wallick on August 12, 2010 at 1:10 am

    Hey Michelle
    Excellent crust…I find you really can’t get go wrong with any Cook’s Illustrated recipe. If you want to try something a little different, check out the recipe on my blog for a sourdough whole wheat pizza crust. Great blog…going to add it to my blogroll.
    (By the way, I love Primanti Bros. sandwiches!).


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  17. Penny Wolf on September 21, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    I tried this recipe and this is what I will make until the DiCarlos demystified
    version happens. This was great! I added wheat gluten to my AP flour only because it’s what I had so that replaced the bread flour. I left it on the counter probably 6 hours in a covered plastic container. I prebaked 5 minutes before any toppings. There was something about this crust that my niece and I would say”I’m full but I love this crust,munch munch”Another plus was that it didn’t feel like it continued to rise after it had been eaten.I have had that terrible bloated belly with other recipes. Thank you Brown eyed baker!


    • Michelle on September 22nd, 2010 at 7:32 pm

      Penny – Thanks for the tip on subbing all-purpose flour and wheat gluten for the bread flour, very helpful! And thrilled you loved this, it’s a favorite of mine!


  18. alison on September 30, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    Any special instructions for adapting this to a bread machine? I’ve tried a bunch of pizza dough recipes, but haven’t been happy with any of them yet. So far they all have risen way too much and the crust is too thick and bread like. Yours looks wonderful, I just would like to make it in my bread machine (I don’t have a food processor!)


    • Michelle on September 30th, 2010 at 4:56 pm

      Hi Alison, I actually have never used a bread machine so I’m not sure how they work. Do you typically add all of the ingredients and it kneads it for you? Even without a food processor you could do this by hand or with a stand mixer – I included those instructions above.


  19. Erica Cronin on December 17, 2010 at 9:18 pm

    I made the pizza dough this evening and used active dry yeast with Great results! I made 2 calzone’s, 1 pizza margherita for my son and the remaining dough is in my fridge. First time making my own pizza dough (used the by hand method) and am thrilled with the results of this recipe!!


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  21. Melissa on January 15, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    I love this! First time ever making homemade pizza dough and it came out perfect! Used unbleached AP flour since it’s what I had on hand, and still crispy! Cooked on a cookie sheet as well, since I don’t have a pizza stone and it turned out crispy, light and wonderful! Thank you so much for a great recipe!


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  23. Sleepy on February 6, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    Um, I never thought I could make THE best, perfect pizza dough at home!!!


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  25. Amber on July 8, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    Hey! I’ve made this pizza dough many, many times and I love it every time! I recently made a batch for my Mom and Dad since I’m always raving about it and they wanted to know if there was a way to make it with whole wheat flour instead of regular bread flour. I figured that I could do that, but I was just wondering if you had ever done this and had good results? Thanks!


    • Michelle on July 14th, 2011 at 1:28 pm

      Hi Amber, I’ve never done it, but I’d love to hear about your results!


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  27. Kendra @Blendra on July 13, 2011 at 10:28 pm

    I just found you blog and LOVE it. The photography is amazing, right up my alley, since I’m a graphic designer. This crust look awesome, have you ever tried to do half white half yeast adding in vital wheat glueten? I may give this dough a shot while trying that.


    • Michelle on July 14th, 2011 at 2:03 pm

      I have not tried that, but would love to hear about your results if you do!


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  31. Alexandra on August 29, 2011 at 11:20 pm

    I don’t have a stone, do you think it will still turn out as delicious if I just use a pizza pan?


  32. lauramich on September 6, 2011 at 9:36 am

    You’ve done it again, Michelle—provided a recipe that allowed me to nail something that has always intimidated me, and on the first try. First, your pie crust; now, your pizza crust! Seriously, epic win!

    The only problem I encountered: Transferring the pizza, with toppings, to the heated pizza stone. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to price pizza paddles on!


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  37. Susan on November 6, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    Hands down the YUMMIEST pizza ever!!!


  38. Becki on December 15, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    I made your pizza dough a few weeks ago for my family and LOVED it! I was just wondering if you have ever completely prepared the dough and pizza and then refrigerated it to bake later in the day. I was thinking it would be nice to make this for company, without all rushing at the last minute to roll and top the pizza. Thanks for all your great recipes…I love your blog!


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  46. Becki on November 11, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    I have used this pizza dough recipe before, but this time I can’t seem to find the adaptations instructions for making it by hand or with a stand mixer. Did these get moved somewhere else, or am I just overlooking them? Thanks so much!


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  48. Laurie on February 25, 2013 at 11:33 am

    You stated that at the end of the post you added your pizza sauce recipe. I can’t seem to find it?


    • Michelle on February 26th, 2013 at 5:33 pm

      Hi Laurie, So sorry about that, I’ll work to get it back up as soon as possible!


  49. Maria on March 14, 2013 at 10:33 pm

    Hi! I have just discovered your site a few days ago and have not stopped reading all of your recipes! I love to bake and my primary source is the internet, I usually use, and even if it is a great site, there aren’t many original recipes. I think yours is really complete and love the fact you also have savoury recipes. So thank you.
    For the pizza dough, is it essential to have a pizza stone?? I live in Ecuador, we don’t get that much variety in terms of kitchen gadgets or tools, and I have never seen a pizza stone before (not one that can fit in a standard kitchen oven anyway)! You didn’t mention anything about it in your introduction so I’m guessing it’s very easy to find in North America. But do you think it can still work if I just use a pizza plate? Or maybe you have another solution??
    I hope you’ll see my comment soon, I would like to make this for a family gathering this week end!
    Thank you!


    • Maria on March 14th, 2013 at 11:27 pm

      Completely ignore the part about the pizza stone in my previous comment! Just found one online! Read even more on your blog, finally someone who takes into account high altitude baking!! Thank you!! Quito is 2800 mts above sea level.


  50. Maria on March 15, 2013 at 7:04 pm

    Hi again, all I could find was active dry yeast or fresh compressed yeast, which one should I use? Please help!


    • Michelle on March 21st, 2013 at 9:25 pm

      Maria, You can use active dry yeast, but you’ll need to dissolve it in the water first for about 5 minutes (make sure the water is warm). Then proceed with the recipe.


  51. Tracey on April 5, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    I think I have used the pizza sauce recipe you mention, but it doesn’t seem to be here any more. Can you repost it? Thanks!


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  53. Olivia J on June 10, 2013 at 3:08 am

    I really want to try this recipe but I don’t have a food processor. Any insight on how to make this without one?


    • Michelle on June 10th, 2013 at 2:06 pm

      Hi Olivia, You can easily make this without a food processor. You can use a stand mixer, or even your hands (I make it by hand quite often, actually).


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  55. Kari on September 3, 2013 at 9:26 pm

    I tried this recipe tonight and loved the dough – thank you! I knew an ATK recipe would be my best bet 🙂


  56. Susan Misch on September 11, 2013 at 7:50 pm

    We make out pizza often and I was using a King Arthur dough but am anxious to try yours because we love a crispy crust~~my question is, for the life of me I cannot see your sauce recipe 🙁 at the bottom of the post~I now it’s there and I am probably missing it somwhere~~~~~HELP, would like to try it!~~~Thanks Sue


  57. Neesha on October 16, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    I made this a few weeks ago for the first time and ever since then I have been making it every week. My family has now come to expect every Saturday to ne pizza Saturday and always with this recipe. I bought a stone but do not have a pizza peel so when I tried to transfer the piza to the stone it all collapsed and we ended up having calzone instead. Now I assemble it on a piece of foil and place the foil on the stone. Works really well. Thanks for this lovely recipe.


  58. Jess@pestosprouts on January 2, 2014 at 11:38 am

    Gahh!! Pizza for tea it is then. 2nd Jan… Carb light lasted well!


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  61. Eilish on April 16, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    Sooooo, using the bread machine for this recipe ONLY works if you omit the water that is used with the yeast, and use only 1.25 cups of water total. Unless you like bread soup. I did not enjoy my bread soup.


  62. Patricia on April 26, 2014 at 9:56 pm

    I’ve tried a lot of different pizza dough recipes and this was by far the best! I didn’t have bread flour on hand so used a mix of whole wheat and AP. The dough was very easy to work with. The crust was soft and fluffy in the middle and crispy on bottom. Amazing!


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  69. Heather on March 3, 2015 at 11:36 am

    Before I start this yummy-sounding recipe, I just want to double-check on the oven temp; do i leave it at 500 while I bake the pizza?


    • Michelle on March 3rd, 2015 at 3:05 pm

      Hi Heather, Yes, it bakes at 500 the entire time. Enjoy!


  70. Mark on March 13, 2015 at 3:37 am

    Hi: I understand why chefs don’t write down what specific high gluten flour to use. It’s because they’re not paid to endorse it. I myself like KA Sir Lancelot or All Trumps unbleached high gluten flour. I’ve found that Caputo is not that great. Also, no one ever lists the specific brand of tomatoes either or say the kind of pepperoni they use. Well I’ve said enough for one comment.


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  72. Mark on May 27, 2015 at 9:10 am

    I feel you should update your recipe and inform people not to use bread flour but use high gluten flour 14% protein. Plus tell them they have to get these supplies from internet sites not grocery store which has nothing except for dry yeast and cheese.


  73. Kerry on May 31, 2015 at 11:57 pm

    I’ve been using this recipe for months and can’t believe I haven’t left you a comment yet. Hands down the best pizza I’ve ever had! My husband and I love it! We follow the recipe exactly with no changes and it’s perfect every single time. We’ve made it for so many family and friends and everyone raves about it! Thank for sharing such a fantastic recipe – we want to try your thin crust recipes but are scared to mess with perfection haha!


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