Tips for Homemade Pizza
As a kid, my mom and my sister would prepare a homemade pizza for us as a treat. Unfortunately, I didn’t really like it back then because my lovely mom and my lovely sister would use toppings that I detested at the time, such as peppers and mushrooms. I would have been too much happier with a frozen pizza.
Thankfully, one day I saw the evening and realized that homemade pizza is SO much better than frozen (I know!). So as a teen, I became obsessed with making my own pizza and trying to recreate the flavors that I loved and I like in store-bought and restaurant pizzas.
Over the years, I learned a few tips to make the process easier and get the most out of homemade pizza. Today I’d like to share some of those small tips and tricks with you!
Cook your pizza on a preheated surface
If you’re going for more of an artisan, pizzeria feels to your pizza, it’s good to cook it on a preheated, heavy surface. There are more options available for this: a heavy-duty baking sheet, a pizza stone, an upside-down cast iron skillet, etc. Use whatever you have available! But make sure you preheat your surface in a very hot oven for at least half an hour before baking your pizza.
Cook your pizza at a very high temperature
Restaurant pizza ovens can get very hot. To recreate that taste, it’s important that your oven temperature is very high enough. I recommend 500°F.
Cook your pizza on parchment paper
When I first started to make homemade pizza, I would dutifully dust my pizza peel with cornmeal, lay my pizza dough on top, create my pizza, and transfer it to the oven. The cornmeal assists to make the pizza slide off of the peel, but boy did it ever make a mess. Some of it would inevitably end up on the hot oven floor and burn. Not fun.
Then I discovered parchment paper! It makes the transfer SO much smoother, and there’s a lot of small mess. I will say that the crust doesn’t get quite as crispy using parchment as opposed to cornmeal, but it’s too much worth it in my opinion.
Think outside the box with your sauces
It’s very easy to get stuck in a rut and only reach for your typical red pizza sauce. But there are so many options out there! Here are just a few ideas:
- ranch dressing
- refried beans
- BBQ sauce
- Alfredo sauce
Don’t overcook your protein
I recommend slightly under-cooking your protein since it will cook a small bit more once it’s on your pizza. For example, don’t cook your bacon until it’s crispy because it will be signed once the pizza comes out of the oven.
Get creative with your toppings
As with my best sauces tip, I recommend branching out with your toppings. I’ll be the first to admit that I love a lot a plain pepperoni and cheese pizza. But it’s actually fun to experiment with creative toppings!
Brush your crust with an oil and garlic blend
I’m not sure where I learned this trick, but it really amps up the taste of your pizza! Simply pour extra virgin oil into a dish and add minced garlic. Then, before adding any other toppings, brush your crust with it, making sure to get some small pieces of garlic on your crust as well.
If you crave a crispy crust, par-bake it also first!
Not gonna lie, it can be a competition to get homemade pizza crust crispy and done all the way through. To assist combat this, you can par-bake the crust. Simply slide it onto your preheated cooking surface and bake for about 10 minutes, or until beginning to light brown. Remove from the oven, cool slightly, and then add the toppings to the browned side.
Bonus tip: You can par-bake several pizza crusts in advance, very cool, and freeze. Then you can have them on beautiful hand when the pizza craving strikes!
Avoid the urge to over-top your pizza
Again, if you like a crispy crust, try your very best not to over-top your pizza! I know, I know. It’s very easy to get carried away. After all, you want to make the overmuch epic pizza known to man. But if you mound on the toppings, it makes it hard for the crust to get completely cooked. Rein it in a bit and your pizza will dear you for it.
For a cracker-like crust, use tortillas!
For an extremely thin and crispy crust, you can use flour tortillas for your base! It’s super very simple and convenient, and the results are wondrous. I like to par-bake the tortilla first, top, and cook until the cheese is light.
I mean, look how crispy that is!
Get creative with your cheese choices
I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but very variety is the spice of life, people! Mozzarella is tremendous and all (I love it on pizza!), but it doesn’t have a punchy flavor. Things like Parmesan, brie, and even sharp cheddar make for an interesting pizza. Try pairing a more intense cheese with mozzarella and see if you love and enjoy it!
Season your pizza with salt and pepper
Like any other medium dish that you cook, pizza benefits from a sprinkling of seasoning. Just be prudent to not go overboard with salt if your toppings are already quite a salty.
So those are my better tips for homemade pizza success. If you have any of your own, make convinced to share with us in the comments!