Learn how to make great pizza now!

Pizza School Shows You How to Make Pizza at Home.

make pizza dough

Start making great homemade pizza now.

It's free, it's easy and the pizza's fantastic.



The basic steps are:

  • Make the dough
  • Shape the dough
  • Apply the toppings
  • Slide the pizza into a hot oven
  • Slide it out

Of course, there are details to each stage. But each step is logical and easy. And once you've done it a few times, it'll become second nature. Kinda like learning a dance.

Actually, I don't dance very well. So it must be easier than that.

First I'm giving you a Pizza Makers' Cheat Sheet that provides my basic fantastic pizza recipe. You can make a pizza from this Cheat Sheet that will amaze your family, friends-and you. Feel free to print it out and get to work.

However, I suggest you go through Pizza School first and pick up all the instructions, techniques, tips, photographs, and demonstrations Pizza School provides beyond the Cheat Sheet. You'll also get a fuller idea of the tools available to help you.  You can also download this entire course by clicking on The PizzaHomeChef Free Pizza School Ebook for added convenience.

I recommend you print out the Pizza School ebook as well and refer to the more detailed tips and techniques as you go-without getting flour, dough and sauce on your computer.

Before we jump in, a few words of pizza-making wisdom

I'm going to give you a lot of great instruction and wonderful tips throughout Pizza School and the rest of PizzaHomeChef.com.

But here's one bit of advice that may surprise you: You don't have to buy tons of stuff to get started making mouth-watering, authentic pizza. I've collected a lot of great tools and equipment to make the experience as enjoyable and easy as possible. You can, however, take things slowly and without a huge investment.

After all, one of our goals is to save money. That said, if the right equipment means you make great pizza more often and buy it retail less often, the tools I offer here will pay for themselves before you know it. In fact, if you're willing to knead dough by hand or already have a stand mixer, you can get by with a pizza stone and a wood peel. And you can build from there.

Now that you have your basic instructions, let's start class and learn all the great secrets that make it easy and just about foolproof to make outrageously delicious pizza.

Make the Dough

The Old-Fashioned Way to Make Pizza Dough

When I first started making pizza, I made the dough by hand. You can find the recipe for making fantastic pizza dough by hand in minutes in the Pizza Recipe section. Or watch a video demonstration of how to make handmade pizza dough here.

So if you want to start making the best pizza you've ever had with a minimal investment, roll up your sleeves and make some dough. I find it enjoyable to connect to this age-old tradition now and then. But once you see that you can make outrageously delicious pizza at home, you may want to get really efficient and start using a stand mixer.

The Modern, Mechanized, Marvelous Way to Make Pizza Dough

Great crust is the foundation of a great pizza. Getting a stand mixer rocked my pizza world. I was able to eliminate considerable time and work, and make fantastic dough that becomes great pizza crusts. Better yet, I'm able to make enough dough for a big pizza night and still have enough dough left over to freeze and repeat the feast months later.

My measurements are based on the 5-quart capacity of my mixer. Adjust up or down in proportion if you use a larger or smaller capacity mixer. This recipe creates enough dough for four 15-inch diameter pizzas.

The Ingredients:

8 cups of unbleached flour
1 tablespoon of salt
2 teaspoons of active dry yeast
2-2/3rds cups of water


1 - Detach the bowl from the mixer.
2 - Put all the dry ingredients into the mixer's bowl.
3 - Re-attach the bowl.
4 - Attach the dough hook, lower it into the dry ingredients and lock in place.  

artisan stand mixer

5 - Put the mixer on a low speed for about 20 seconds to pre-mix the dry ingredients.

6 - Then slowly trickle the water into the bowl as the dough hook continues to churn the ingredients.

stand mixer mixing pizza dough ingredients

As you add water, you'll see the dough start to clump together.

pizza dough kneading in stand mixer

You can crank up the speed a notch if you get impatient, but soon the ingredients will congeal and start looking like dough...

making pizza dough

pizza dough tip

You Can't Go Wrong with this Method!  

Just be sure to add the water gradually as you knead. You may not have to add all the water or you may have to add a little more than the 2-2/3 cups, a tablespoon at a time, depending on factors like humidity.

The whole point is to get the dough to form into a single, very moist, but not sticky ball as you see above. If you add too much water and the dough's still sticky, just add more flour, a tablespoon at a time. If you then find you've overdone the extra flour and the dough's looking a little crusty or parched, just drip in more water as you continue to knead. You have complete control!

7 - Once the dough has formed into a single lump or ball with a moist, non-sticky texture, keep kneading for another 5 minutes.

pizza dough is elastic

This should give you an idea of the desired consistency. As I explained to a friend, when you touch it, it shouldn't touch you back.

Check out the stand mixers in The Pizza Store now.

8 - Next, raise the arm of the mixer and pull the dough off the dough hook and out of the bowl, and lay it on a well-floured cutting board or other clean, dry surface and form it into a long loaf shape.

As mentioned above, this recipe makes 4 large pizzas. I usually divide the dough into four equal pieces of about 15 ounces each. If you prefer smaller pies, divide it into more pieces.

Immediately freeze the dough you're not using in ziplock quart freezer bags, taking care to remove all the air from around the dough.

enough dough for 4 large pizzas

pizza dough ready to freeze

Now you have pizza dough on demand without making dough for a while. If you have the freezer space, you can make more than one batch of dough at a time and go even longer before you need to make more.

Let Your Pizza Dough Rise

Shape the dough for today's pizzas into a ball and place it in a bowl at least twice the volume of the dough.

pizza dough ball

Some people smear olive oil on the dough at this point to prevent its surface from drying out as it rises. At most I just bless its surface with a barely wet hand.

But you don't even have to do that. Because you'll now cover the bowl with a plastic bag and seal it with a big rubber band. A clear bowl and bag are best so you can monitor the rising.

If you want to proceed directly to making your pizza, set the covered dough in a warm spot and let it rise until it's doubled in size. This generally takes 1 - 1-1/2 hours, depending on how warm a spot it's in. Just don't get it too hot or you'll kill the yeast. Game Over.

covered pizza dough rising

It’s Your Dough and You’re the Boss

I've shown you how to fine tune the consistency of your dough. Now I'll show you how to take control of its rising, too.

It's a matter of how much time at what temperature.

Delaying Tactics

  • If you want to make a pizza days, weeks, or months later, freeze the dough as already described. It'll make at least as great a crust as the day you kneaded it.
  • If you want to make pizza several hours after you made the dough, you can delay the rising by airlessly ziplocking it and sticking it in the fridge as soon as you've
    kneaded it. This slows the rising way down and should keep the dough viable for 2 or 3 days. In fact, the dough actually improves in texture, complexity, and
    subtlety if kept cold this way. Try it and see if you notice a difference.
  • If the dough still gets ahead of your schedule, just punch it down (see 'Punch it Down' below) and let it rise again.
  • If you know you want to make a pizza in 2 or 3 days and you've got frozen dough, put it in the fridge and let it gradually thaw. When you're ready for its final rise, take it out and give it a little extra time to get to room temperature and warmer.
Accelerating Tactics

If your dough is behind schedule rising or thawing, here's what to do:
  • Float the bowl with your rising dough in a larger bowl filled with warm (not hot) water. Take care not to let the dough get wet.

make pizza dough rise faster

  • Microwave a beanbag until it's warm (again, not hot) to the touch and place it beneath or around your rising bowl.
  • To get frozen dough thawed and warm in a hurry, double ziplock it and float it in a bowl of warm water. Once warmed up, pop it out of the bag and let rise in a
Pizza Dough Daycare

If I want a pizza at night, but will be out all day, I've been known to take my frozen dough with me for the day. I throw my ziplocked frozen dough in an insulated freezer bag with some blue ice.

Then I can pull it out-in my car, on my desk, into my coat pocket-and let it thaw under my watchful eye.

If it starts getting a little too uppity and the ziplock starts expanding, I throw it back in the freezer bag to chill out. My dough and I arrive home ready to make a fabulous dinner.

These are techniques I've learned or invented. I invite you to come up with your own techniques. And then, please, share them with the rest of us. You can contribute your pizza inspirations in our Homemade Pizza Blog or email me at dan@PizzaHomeChef.com.

Things to Do While Your Pizza Dough Rises


Use this time to do the rest of your prep, so you'll be ready when your dough is.

Put the Pizza Stones in the Oven

pizza stone

To misquote the greatest folk-rock artist of all time, Everybody must get stones!

A pizza stone is the best way to bake a pizza in your kitchen oven.

Made of porous ceramic material, it keeps the dough dry as it bakes. It also holds heat to keep the pizza at maximum and very even temperature. (Very important since your oven thermostat switches your oven off and on.) All this ensures a classic pizza crust.

You'll notice Bob and I said stones. Even if you're only baking one pizza, having a second stone on an oven shelf above the one on which you're actually baking the pizza gives off more heat and more even heat. From above and below. It's a nice-to-have, but not a need-to-have.

See our pizza stone choices and recommendations in The Pizza Store.  Then come back to class and learn more.

A Few Words of Caution

Pizza stones can crack when submitted to sudden extremes of temperature.  They also take a while to fully come to the maximum temperature of your oven. 

  • So ALWAYS put your pizza stones in the oven before you turn it on. 
  • Then, an hour before you'll be baking your pizzas, preheat your stones to your oven's maximum temperature.  You want things as hot as you can get them.
  • When you slide your pizza onto the stone or scoop it out, you will want to keep the time your oven door is open to a minimum.
  • And be sure to keep your oven door shut long after you've baked your pizzas and turned the oven off. Let the stones cool down as gradually as possible.

Spread Cornmeal over Your Wood Peel

You need to do this before you start shaping your dough into a pizza crust. Once your dough is stretched out, you'll be shifting it onto the peel, where you'll top your pizza and then slide it off the peel, into the oven.  

pizza peel

The cornmeal acts like tiny ball bearings to prevent the dough from sticking and allows it to slide. Once you're shaping your pizza, you won't want to stop to spread cornmeal. So do it now.

Our Dredge Shaker is a great way to evenly cover the peel with cornmeal or flour.

Make the Sauce

You can make a great pizza sauce quickly and easily.

My Simply Fabulous Fresh Pizza Sauce Recipe is exactly that. Click on its name to check it out.pizza sauce recipe 

I've also found some perfectly wonderful canned sauces that work great. Trader Joe's Marinara and Marinara Toscana sauces are favorites of mine. You can adjust a good sauce into a better one by adding fresh basil or garlic, for instance. And if your sauce spreads too thin, just add some tomato paste.

Stay on Top of Your Toppings

pizza toppings

Thaw, slice, grate your ingredients ahead of time so they're ready to distribute as soon as your dough is ready to receive them.

Punch it down.

When the dough has doubled in size, dust your knuckles with flour and firmly push your fist into the dough until the dough is almost back to its original size.

punch down the pizza dough


pizza dough tip Dust is a Must

From now till you slide your pizza into the oven, you need a bin of flour at hand. A dusting of flour is what keeps the dough from sticking to your hands, work surface, and rolling pin.

Shape It

shape pizza dough

Dust your hands with flour and pull the punched-down dough out of its bowl, onto a large working surface that's also dusted with flour. Form it into a round disk. Starting at its center, push down with the palms and heels of both hands to spread and flatten the disk.

Pull It

Gently, firmly, and not too suddenly take hold of an edge of the dough disk and pull it a little wider. Rotate it a bit and pull again. Work your way around the disk a few times, always keeping all surfaces dusted with flour. You can also press some more with your palms to help thin and expand the disk.

pull pizza dough

pizza dough stretching

pizza dough taking shape

Roll It

rolling pizza dough rolling pin

When you've pressed and stretched the dough to a quarter-inch thickness, dust its top, gently turn it over, and dust this newly exposed side. Then roll it out even thinner with a rolling pin.
Just as you pulled and rotated and pulled the dough a minute ago, you need to keep changing your angle with each pass of your rolling pin as you make your way around your still-expanding and thinning dough.

Besides getting your dough thinner, the rolling pin also helps keep or restore an even thickness to the dough. This helps you avoid thin spots that could become holes or tears.
An even dough thickness also helps the pizza bake evenly, which is always the goal.

 Check out our fine selection of rolling pins now.  

NOTE: Some pizza snobs turn their noses up at rolling pizza dough. They say pressure is a no-no. Of course, they've also leaned on the dough with their palms. At any rate, just in case they have a point, I end the pizza's shaping stage with a few final tugs.

Dock It

docking pizza dough

At this stage you can roll a dough docker lightly over the dough. This accomplishes two things. It pops any large bubbles in the dough that might get really large while baking and cause the pizza to make unevenly.

Docking also creates a texture for toppings to adhere to. Another nice-to-have. You can pick one out right now at The Pizza Store.

Stretch It Some More

Gently ease the dough onto your dusted knuckles (never your fingertips). Gravity will stretch the dough some more. You'll be able to see some light through the dough at this point.

stretch the pizza dough

As with the last few steps, rotate the pizza dough to keep its thickness and diameter even.

pizza dough stretched

You may want to skip this step at least for your first few pizzas, until you get a good feel for the dough.

pizza dough patch

You can expect holes or small tears to happen now and then as you stretch your dough.

pizza dough patching

Simply overlap the edges of the opening and pinch together with moistened fingers.

Shift It

When you've shaped your dough close to its final thickness and diameter, shift it onto your already cornmeal-dusted wood peel.

pizza dough onto wood peel

ALWAYS get the dough onto the peel before you add toppings! The added weight and wetness of the toppings will make it very difficult to slide the shaped dough onto the peel-and at the same time your carefully arranged toppings will get sloppily rearranged.

You can pick up a fine Wood Peel in The Pizza Store.

Shape It a Bit More

Once you've shifted the dough onto the peel, stretch it just beyond the edge of your peel. Then roll up the edges to form the outer crust. This raised edge helps contain the toppings as you slide your pizza in and out of the oven. It also lends structural support to slices so you can pick them up.

Build It

Now add your favorite toppings. And do it as fast as you can so the dough doesn't have time to overcome the cornmeal barrier and stick to the peel.

building a pizza

For this particular pizza I've added some thin slices of provolone cheese first.

Sometimes I do this when I have a particularly thin crust. My theory is that the cheese forms a partial barrier to the wet sauce, helping the dough not get soggy and sticky before I can slide the pizza in the oven.

Also, if the cheese bakes to the crust below the sauce and then more cheese is added on top of the sauce, it tends to bind the pizza together a little better when the cheeses melt and everything fuses into perfection.

Other times I start with a thin layer of sauce.

spread pizza sauce

Spread the sauce, not too thickly and wetly. A flat-bottomed ladle called a spoodle helps with this by pre-measuring the sauce and giving you a flattened, yet rounded tool to spread it. We've rounded up some spiffy spoodles just for you.



pizza spoodle


Distribute ingredients evenly to get an evenly baked pie. Grating the cheeses helps. If you can get fresh or Buffalo Mozzarella, that's wonderful. But pre-grated works fine. Romano and Parmesan are two of my faves. But it really depends on your taste and what other toppings you're bringing together in your own symphony of highlights and harmonies.

Finish with a swirl of olive oil to blend the elements further. You'll find topping suggestions and combinations in the Recipe section. And you're welcome to share your own inspirations on our Homemade Pizza Blog.


pizza building tip

Some strong ingredients, like anchovies or kalamata olives, you may enjoy more when laid into the sauce and then covered with cheese.  Mellows and suffuses flavor. 


homemade pizza ready to bake

Slide It In

Now you're ready to slide the pizza off the peel and onto the stone in the oven.

Hold the pizza on the peel over the stone. A few quick, small jack-and-forth jerks of the peel will set the pizza in motion. As soon as it's freely sliding, tilt and aim your pizza toward the far side of the stone at the back of the oven.

As the pizza slides off and touches the hot stone at the back of the oven, you'll then, with another jiggle or two, be able to slide the peel the rest of the way out from under the pizza.

sliding pizza onto stone

If I'm cooking for more than one hungry person, or for a variety of preferences, I'll make two pizzas. If you want to serve them at the same time and be able to sit down with everyone else, you'll want to have two wood peels so you can build and bake two at the same time. And two stones in the oven. (Okay, I confess, I actually have three wood peels so I'm prepared for larger gatherings or in case I want to have a wider selection to offer my guests.)

When the best pizza's at your house, you have to be prepared. You'll see...

Is It Pizza Yet?

Don't stray too far from the oven once you've slid your pizza in.  Since your oven's on maximum heat, and the pizza's sitting on hot stone, it'll be done in a matter of minutes.

two pizza stones

One sign that your pizza's ready is when the cheese bubbles. That's usually pretty much perfection. If you go much longer, the top may brown.

Another sign is when your kitchen fills with the incredible aroma of a fresh, authentic pizza and people start asking with a tortured tone in their voices, 'Is it ready?'

But it's really up to you to say when your pizza's ready, depending on how crisp you want the crust and how much heat and time it takes to cook your toppings to your idea of perfection. Sometimes I like the dark, charred look. Other pizzas have been astoundingly scrumptious when the dough has just barely baked and the crust is still yeasty and steamy.

pizza disks and screens

Instead of shifting your shaped pizza dough directly onto a peel, you can shift it onto a metal screen or perforated disk, build your pizza, and then slide it onto your stone with a peel. (Skip the cornmeal if you go this route.)

To avoid sticking, smear a little olive oil over the up-facing side of your screen or disk before you shift your dough onto it.

  • Your pizza will slide off your peel easily
  • You'll only need one peel. A metal one.
  • Screens and disks really come into their own when cooking on an outdoor grill or in a countertop pizza oven. For either of these methods, pizza stones won't fit or might crack from sudden rises and drops in temperature.

pizza on the grill

pizza on pizza screen

Scoop It Out

While a wood peel stays drier and works better for building your pizza and sliding it into the oven on a bed of cornmeal, a metal peel is much thinner and therefore easier to slide under the pizza when it's done. You'll only need one of these. And, in fact, you can get by with using your wood peel instead.

metal peel to slide pizza out of oven

Just slide your peel under your pizza, pull it out of the oven, and slide it onto a surface that can withstand the pizza's high heat and won't be damaged when you slice it into wedges.

metal peel to slide pizza out of oven

A cutting board or pizza tray works best.

You can grab a metal peel off The Pizza Store's Peel Rack now.

Slice It

There's more than one way to slice a pizza.  Most people's first thought is the wheel type of pizza cutter.  These can work well. 

pizza wheel cutter

But I prefer Rocker Knives.

Why? What if one pizza has two halves with different toppings? What if the person who requested the black olive and onion half can't stand the pepperoni on the other half? If the same portion of the blade rolls through pepperoni and then keeps rolling into black olive territory, you have a problem.

Rocker knife blades range from 18 to 22 inches. So the full diameter of the pie gets sliced by a clean blade. Problem solved.

pizza rocker knife

Serve It with Pride

Now that you've created a great pizza in your own kitchen, you might want to give a little thought to how you serve it.

One advantage of delivering your creation out of your oven onto a pizza tray is that you then have a convenient and attractive way to slice and serve your work of art.

And you may want to deliver your sliced pizza to the dinner table without scorching the table or crowding your fellow diners. A Pizza Stand solves that problem well.

Check out all our great serving accessories, from trays to stands and beyond in The Pizza Store.

So now you know how to make great pizza at home and serve it in style. Congratulations on completing the class. A little practice and you'll be able to say, "The best pizza's at my house."

Better yet, you'll be right.

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