Pizza crust is one of my favorite do-it-yourself recipes. It’s so simple and so much better than store bought brands. The best part about it is that you make two at a time so there is always an opportunity to have one waiting in your freezer.
As I’ve shared before, growing up we rarely made anything from-scratch but one of my memories is the excitement I would get over the Chef Boyardee’s pizza kit, similar to a box of pancake mix, it brought a lot of happiness to me because I was cooking something “homemade.” This recipe is much better than that box (no offense to my childhood self) and it’s so easy.
I understand that yeast and rising times can be intimidating – pizza crust is the best place to start when you’re trying it out for the first time. During my early days, I noticed that many recipes called for me to set my dough in a “warm place” to rise and I was always curious if my warm place of choice was too warm or not warm enough? Will my dough actually rise? Well, you’re in luck with this recipe, you can place your covered bowl on the counter or in the refrigerator and walk away without worry.
My favorite rise is in the refrigerator so I try to make this recipe at least 24 hours before I want to use the dough. Scientifically, the temperature of the refrigerator will slow down the production of carbon dioxide – which is the result of the yeast eating the sugars of the flour. The carbon dioxide’s bubbles are what cause the dough to double in size before baking- so with this method it’s important to wait at least 24 hours. I personally think the dough tastes better if made this way.
Homemade Classic Pizza Crust
This dough makes two crusts. It’s super simple to make ahead of time, it can be stored in the refrigerator up to 48 hours. It freezes well, so you can keep one crust for another day. See notes below for defrosting tips.
- 1 ¼ cup Warm Water
- 1 packets Instant or Active Dry Yeast (approximately 2 1/4 tsp of yeast)
- 1 tsp Sugar
- 4 cups All Purpose Flour
- 2 tsp Kosher Salt
- 1 TBSP Olive Oil + enough to coat the bowl
- You want to measure out 1 1/4 cup of warm water. I shoot for something around 110F in order to active the yeast. Yeast needs to be activated for it to have any chance in helping dough rise. If your water is not hot enough, it will not work and if your water is too hot (120F+) it will start to kill the yeast. If you don’t have a thermometer that’s okay, I usually just run the water until it’s luke-warm, not cold but also not hot enough to wash dishes, you want that annoying warm water that makes you think your water will never get hot.In your measuring cup, add in the sugar and yeast- just sprinkle on top of the water (see picture below)
- Let this sit for 5 minutes. The sugar will feed the yeast. Think of it this way, the warm water will wake up your yeast and the sugar is like it’s morning coffee, which is much needed before taking on the day of hard work (in this case, making pizza crust dough rise).
- Now it’s time to mix the ingredients together. I use a kitchen aid mixer with a dough hook. Kneading is an important step to the dough – scientifically, kneading helps the gluten strands grow making the dough rise. The benefit to a dough hook is that it helps to knead the dough, but this can also be by hand. I have step-by-step kneading pictures in another pizza crust recipe.In your bowl, add in the flour, salt and your water with the activated yeast.
- Start mixing it together, make sure to turn your mixer on slowly so that flour doesn’t pop out of your bowl, As it starts to come together you can turn the speed up faster.
- While the mixer is still running, add in the TBSP of olive oil.
- Let it mix for about 5 minutes. The high speed will also knead the dough for you. Sometimes it will form into a ball and other times it looks like this. If you get this, you can use your hands to form a ball, it should stick together pretty easily.
- Drizzle a little olive oil in your bowl, and coat the sides. I use my hand to smear the oil around. Then place the ball of dough back in the bowl.
- Cover it with a clean kitchen towel, place it is a warm area in your kitchen and let it rise.If you’re making this ahead of time and not using it today, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours. (This is my preferred method)
- It will take about an hour to double in size.
- At this point, you will want to punch the dough down and divide in half.If you plan on freezing one of the doughs, then shape it into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap or place in a large ziplock bag, try to remove as much air as possible – label and freeze.
- Preheat your oven to 425F and if you’re using a pizza stone, place it in the oven to warm up as the oven preheats. If you’re using a sheet pan, no need to preheat it.
- I sprinkle the counter with corn meal to help prevent it from sticking and it will help create a crispier crust. Roll it out, until it’s about 1/4 inch thick, you may want to turn it between rolls to make it a circle shape.
- Sprinkle corn meal on your pre-heated pizza stone or sheet pan. Place your rolled out dough on the stone or pan.Drizzle with a little of olive oil, this helps the crust from becoming soggy from the toppings.
- Add your toppings.For the pizza here, I sprinkled on about 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced onions, red peppers, and pepperoni.
- Bake at 425F for 10-12 minutes.
Corn Meal is the key to having a crust not stick to the pizza stone or pan, sprinkle corn meal on the stone or pan before placing your dough on it.
If you want to make this dough ahead of time you can mix together the ingredients and let it rise in the refrigerator 24-48 hours – when you’re ready to bake, let it sit out on the counter for 15-30 minutes to help take some of the chill off, it doesn’t need to come up to room temperature, keeping it slightly cool will help with rolling it out.
To defrost, place in the refrigerator a day or two before you want to use it and let it thaw out slowly. When you are ready to make the dough, remove from the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to to help take some of the chill off.
Pro tip: It is easier to roll out if the dough is a little chilled. Even if I have my dough rise on the counter I pop it in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes, just to have it slightly chilled before rolling out.