This Neapolitan pizza crust is thin, crispy and has the most amazing flavor. My homemade pizza-making is forever changed!
Seriously, my homemade pizza game has been forever changed with this crust.
The idea of this pizza started months ago when my husband texted me a link to an article about a chef in New York City who lost a ridiculous amount of weight “eating pizza everyday”. Like most click bait, that wasn’t really the whole story… he ate super clean breakfast, dinner and snacks, and would eat a Neapolitan pizza for lunch every day. He said it was enough to feel like a splurge but with the super light crust, simple tomato sauce and minimal amount of cheese, it wasn’t that bad for him.
I had never made Neapolitan pizza, and I was bummed that the long article didn’t actually include a recipe, so I started researching Neapolitan pizza dough. I went down a rabbit hole and a couple of months later emerged with this recipe, which is now our favorite pizza dough!
Once I dove into research Neapolitan pizza recipes, I found that there was a massive consensus on the two keys to the perfect Neapolitan dough:
1. Using Italian “00” flour – it is a soft-milled bread flour and very fine in texture. I got mine from King Arthur Flour, and you can also order it from Amazon.
2. A long rest in the refrigerator. While you can technically shape and bake the pizzas after refrigerating the dough for 8 hours, the flavor gets even better if you can leave it in there for two or three days.
Traditional Neapolitan pizza is cooked in a wood oven, and I found that this recommended method (cooking in a cast iron skillet under the broiler) is the closest you can get to mimicking the wood-fired taste.
Just be sure to pop it back on the stove per the instructions to really crisp up that bottom crust – there is nothing worse than a soggy pizza crust! The crust rolls out quite thin, so it cooks up pretty quickly, but depending on the heat of your stove you may need a few more minutes after it comes out of the broiler.
I made these on the day that my husband and father-in-law went to pick up our new crib, and they both said it was some of the best pizza and tasted like it came from an authentic pizza shop. SOLD!
I topped mine with my favorite quick tomato pizza sauce (crushed tomatoes, olive oil and garlic), fresh mozzarella and a lot of fresh basil. It was absolute heaven! They topped their pizzas with regular mozzarella and pepperoni, so you can use this crust base for pretty much anything. In fact, I froze a few balls of extra dough I had and when I thawed them, I made quick calzones for dinner. Seriously amazing. The flavor is so much more complex than traditional pizza dough.
My husband and I immediately agreed – this Neapolitan pizza dough is absolutely the new favorite in our house!
Make the Pizza Dough: Place the flour, salt, yeast, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment; mix on low speed to combine. Add the water and knead on low speed until the mixture comes together in a rough dough and no dry flour remains. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes. Continue kneading on low speed for an additional 10 minutes. The dough should be soft, elastic and slightly tacky. If the dough is sticking to the bowl, add more flour 1 tablespoon at a time until it clears the sides and is barely sticking to the bottom. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 and up to 72 hours.
Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and dust the top with additional flour. Using a bench scraper, divide the dough into six even pieces (they should be about 6 ounces each). Shape each piece into a ball. Coat six small bowls with non-stick cooking spray and add one dough ball to each bowl. Turn to coat the ball, then cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise at room temperature for 2 hours.
Prepare the Sauce: Place the olive oil and garlic in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When the garlic begins to sizzle, add the tomatoes. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. (Note: You can simply mix the ingredients together in a bowl if you are short on time, but the sauce will not be as thick.)
Transfer 1 ball of dough to a bowl filled with flour and turn to coat. Dust off excess flour and transfer to a floured work surface. Gently stretch the ball of dough into a 10-inch circle, leaving the outer 1-inch edge slightly thicker than the center.
Bake the Pizzas: Preheat the broiler to high and arrange the oven rack so that a 12-inch cast iron skillet (or other heavy-bottomed 12-inch skillet) just fits underneath the broiler.
Dust the skillet with flour, tap out excess, then heat the skillet over high heat for 3 minutes. Transfer the 10-inch round of dough to the skillet (it should cover the entire bottom surface). Spread some sauce evenly over the dough, leaving the outer 1-inch border un-sauced. Top with slices of the cheese and sprinkle with fresh basil. Transfer the skillet to the oven and broil until the pizza is puffed and darkly charred in spots. Return the skillet to the stovetop and cook until the bottom is darkly charred in spots (depending on your pan, you may be able to skip this step if the bottom is already browned after removing from the oven). Transfer the pizza to a cutting board and serve. Repeat steps 4 through 6 to bake remaining pizzas.
Note #1: You can purchase Italian "00" flour from Amazon or King Arthur Flour. If you need to substitute, you can use bread flour or all-purpose flour, but the flavor and texture will not be the same.Note #2: If you don't have a cast iron skillet, I would probably recommend using a baking stone under the broiler so you could still get that crisp bottom crust.Note #3: I froze the unused portions of dough after step #2 (wrapped in plastic wrap and placed in a ziploc freezer bag), then thawed in the refrigerator overnight and allowed it to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before working with it.Nutritional values are based on one serving