Learn How to Make Great Pizza at Home

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Want to learn how to make great pizza at home? I have the secrets! After 20 years of trying, I can make great pizza myself! And you can, too.

How to Make Great Pizza at Home | Life as Mom

One of our family’s favorite weekend activities is Pizza Night with HOMEMADE PIZZA. Oh sure, sometimes pick up take and bake from Costco, but usually, making our own at home is the standard mode of operation. And that, my friends, is a dream come true!

For years I struggled to make a pizza that was even halfway decent. Ewww, in the early days some were really awful. But, I was persistent and eventually came across a system that works for me. I continue to refine the process, getting help and loads of feedback from my hobbits, but I must say we’ve got a pretty sweet system.

How to Make Great Pizza at Home

Here’s how it goes down on a regular Friday afternoon:

How to Make Great Pizza at Home | Life as Mom

1. Make the dough.

For years I had a bread machine to mix and rise the dough for me. After going through FOUR bread machines in about 12 years, I was done. Nowadays I use the KitchenAid. My mixer is circa 2004. It was getting a little feisty and obnoxiously loud, but FishPapa replaced a cracked gear and it’s as good as new. Love it.

I usually use one of these recipes for pizza dough:

Ingredients – I have been making homemade pizza dough for over 20 years. I vary the sweetener depending on what we have, sometimes honey, sometimes sugar, sometimes agave. I usually mix about 1/3 whole wheat flour into the dough, but if we’re feeling particularly decadent, I use all white. {gasp} I’ve attempted all wheat but it didn’t go over well. Using unbleached bread flour makes a killer pizza.

I stock up on flour when it’s on sale and buy yeast in bulk from Costco which makes this a very inexpensive recipe.

Preparation – Preparing the dough takes about 2 hours from the time I get the dough started to when they are formed into crusts. In the early years I mixed it by hand and hated every minute of it. My kitchen always seemed to be a mess. Buying a bread machine or a stand mixer made pizza much more doable for me. But, if you love to knead dough, this works great as a hand-kneaded dough.

Equipment – I have a small arsenal of pizza tools that I love. If you can get your hands on some pizza screens, do so, PRONTO.

How to Make Great Pizza at Home | Life as Mom
2. Make the sauce.

Great Sauce – If I want a great sauce, then I use my easy crockpot red sauce. It’s versatile for pasta, lasagnas, and pizza. Making a huge batch and freezing in 2-cup portions makes it easy to have on hand.

Exceptional Sauce – If I want “out of this world sauce” on my pizza, then I make prepare this homemade pizza sauce recipe. It’s a little thicker than I would use on pasta and has amazing  flavor.

Quick Fix Sauce – Sometimes I just don’t have anything in the freezer or don’t want to spend the time thawing or making it from fresh. I make a batch of my Last-Minute Pizza Sauce. So quick and easy and super delicious.

3. Add the toppings.

Most of my kids prefer Easy Cheese Pizza or cheese and pepperoni to top their pizza.s I’ve substituted shredded chicken as well as cooked and thinly sliced Italian Sausage as well. During our sugar fast, we used prosciutto and that was tasty as well.

Some of us, however, have expanded our pizza topping horizons. Some of the best nights are when I simply use up the little bits of meat, veg, and cheese from the fridge. For instance, we had some Snacky Dinner leftovers that the kids weren’t super crazy about as snacks: highly peppered salami (I mean, thickly coated!) and Dill Havarti Cheese. These made such a great pizza, so good, I will now buy those ingredients on purpose just for pizza night!

How to Make Great Pizza at Home | Life as Mom

We also love these pizzas:

4. Get baking!

Once you’ve assembled your pizzas, it’s all a matter of baking it. I’ve found that it’s crucial to make sure the oven is hot! Usually I preheat to 475 degrees for at least 30 minutes to insure a great pizza.

I don’t use a special stone, though I’m sure pizza purists would say I need it. We’ve been able to cook beautiful pizzas on the aforementioned pizza screens and I will never go back.

My oven is not huge, and we regularly cook seven pizzas each week: 2 personal (for the girls), 2 small, 1 medium, and 2 large. I’ve found that cooking two pizzas at a time doesn’t work in our oven — except for the personal pizzas, of course. To cook evenly and get the right amount of melty cheese and crunchy crust, we need to bake them one at a time. This is a process, so we don’t all eat at the same time. We basically graze on pizzas for a few hours on a Friday night while watching movies and playing games.

And I wouldn’t change a thing.

If you’ve struggled with pizza making in the past, don’t despair! You can totally do this! If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. If you are persistent, do some troubleshooting, and keep trying, you will find success. I promise.

When you’re sitting down munching a slice of great pizza you made with yourself, the effort will be well worth it!

Do you make great pizza at home?

How to Make Great Pizza at Home | Life as Mom

Originally posted September 3, 2010. Updated October 14, 2017.

About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

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  1. Stephenie says

    We’re making pizzas tonight and I’m wanting to try your dough recipe. Quick question, though, when you say it makes 3 or 4 large pizzas, are these ‘pan’ style or thin crust. We don’t like thin crusts at our house. Thanks!

  2. Angi says

    We also make our own pizza but we use this recipe. We also have switched from red sauce to white sauce (1/4 cup ranch mixed with 1/2 heaping tbsp of garlic per pizza) when we make our pizzas. We usually make two pizzas because it reheats fabulously in the oven.

  3. Yummo!!!

  4. Christine says

    We do homemade pizza too, almost every Friday for dinner. I triple the recipe, and freeze them in amounts for 1 pizza.
    I modified the recipe in the Joy of Cooking. I use all white whole wheat flour, and soak it (w/apple cider vinegar and the yeast/water mixture the recipe calls for) overnight.
    I prebake the crust for 5-7 minutes before putting the toppings on.
    Sometimes we do a taco pizza or Greek pizza (feta, spinach, olives and fresh spinach on top of the regular marinara and mozzarella).
    To get an organic sauce at a lower cost (and avoid the bpa in most cans) I’ve been using ragu’s organic pasta sauce. It’s already seasoned, and it ends up being cheaper than making our own organic pizza sauce, especially with a coupon (with a coupon, I can get this sauce for 1.99…enough for 3 pizzas).
    Also, I’ve found that a good place to get mozzarella cheese that comes from milk without hormones is Target! You can get it the market pantry brand on sale there and with coupons for 1.50 for 8 ounces sometimes. (They sell some cheese in regular Targets too, not just SuperTargets)

  5. Christine says

    *garlic instead of the second spinach on the Greek pizza 🙂

  6. Pamela says

    We LOVE homemade pizza too! Here are a few of my tips:

    Get your oven extremely hot: 450 – 500 degrees. Then there is no need to pre-bake the dough. It will thoroughly bake with your toppings in a very short time. No more half-baked dough with burnt toppings!

    Don’t have sauce? Don’t use any! My favorite pizza EVER is a recipe from the Pioneer Woman Cookbook. It has no sauce, and you’d never know it. It’s just potatoes (sliced paper thin), cheese, crumbled bacon, and leeks (sauteed in a tiny bit of bacon grease).

  7. I have been making homemade pizza lately thanks to your pizza dough recipe! I tried making my own pizza in the past but they turned out just ok (and some very bad). After trying your dough recipe, we crave homemade pizza instead of store bought. I tried freezing the dough but it didn’t rise well when I took it out of the freezer. Last time I made it, I made 2 big pizzas and a big tray of cheese sticks for my girls. We invited my parents over and they were super impressed with the pizza. I definitely like the monterey jack and mozzarella blend of cheese. I am currently using store bought pizza sauce but will venture out to make my own soon. I use pepperoni, homegrown sliced tomatoes, olives, green peppers, and whatever else I can find for our usual toppings. The fresh tomatoes really make a difference too! Thanks for the great recipe!

  8. Jori says

    This is a great post that rounds up all your previous pizza posts! I love it! I have several of your previous posts bookmarked, but now all I need is this one…perfect…thanks!

  9. Jenny says

    We love homemade pizza, esp on the grill! BBQ chicken is our fav, or fresh mozzarella/tomato. YUMMO!!

  10. Shaunta' says

    I use your dough recipe all the time! My fam and friends love it. Thx so much. Would you consider making a vlog on how you press out the dough…mine never come out as pretty as yours?!

    • Jessica Fisher says

      @Shaunta’, yes, it’s on my list. The problem is that I usually do it for dinner time and so either the light is bad or my house is noisy. But, I am going to try to get to it in the next month.

  11. we like homemade pizza alot too! i have a recipe for cornmeal pizza dough & an easy homemade sauce (no cooking required) on my blog. 🙂

  12. Anne says

    My DH loves my homemade pizza. He can’t have tomato sauce, so I usually do a white sauce (either Ranch or alfredo or something like that) or occasionally just olive oil and garlic or herbs. Oh, and BBQ sauce is a big favorite, too. Chicken Bacon Ranch is one we like, as well as Chicken BBQ. I’ve used different pizza crusts over the years, but right now I’m just using the artisan bread in 5 minutes a day master recipe for a lot of my different breads, and so far so good!

    I also use partial white whole wheat flour – half and half or less – and it turns out great. Whole wheat by itself does not go over well around here, either!

  13. I have a couple of pizza’s that I want to try. I love the idea of making multiple crusts and freezing them! Thanks!

  14. Kerry D. says

    Wow, do we ever make our own pizza…it began as a money saving activity when I lost my job, using “The Prudent Homemaker’s” recipe… but, it’s become a family event every Friday night. No matter how clean or dirty (mostly disheveled and chaotic) our house is, family members (our sibs, adult cousins etc) have an open invitation and usually all come, ten to fifteen people! They often bring something they had around, or drinks, or wine 🙂 and so we have an instant party. It’s been going several months now, and we are having a blast. (We’re making a triple batch of her recipe, relatives help knead, prep, etc so it’s just a fun event). Our pizzas come out to a little over a dollar each.

  15. I used to make homemade pizza when I was a newlywed—that’s back when I thought cooking was fun 🙂

    We used to get two large Little Caeser’s $5 pizzas every Friday night. Now I’ve found that I like Tombstone frozen pizzas just as well and they are $2.98 each at Wal-Mart and two is enough for us.

    But, I had the best frozen pizza EVER last night, thanks to a “meal deal” at my grocery store—Home Run Inn pizza! All natural, no preservatives. Oh, it was delicious!

  16. Oh, I love this 🙂 We have a tradition of making our own pizza from scratch every Friday night. I always make a double batch of pizza dough and then freeze half, so that I’m only having to pull out my bread maker every other week!

  17. cheryl says

    Thanks for rounding up all your posts on pizza. we have gotten WAY too much in the habit of the little caesars $5 pizza.

    I’m wondering is there a way to make a whole pizza & freeze it & just be able to take it out & bake it? THAT would really save time

    • Jessica Fisher says

      @cheryl, yes, I have done that back in the old days when there were lots of leftovers. Don’t cut it. Cool, wrap, and freeze. I did it with smaller pizzas so that I could put them in gallon sized bags.

  18. We do! Every week!

    We also do a lot of english muffin pizzas, so easy!!

  19. I added a pizza night to our menu plan acouple months ago and it has been a HUGE hit with my family. Not only is it easy to throw together, but my girls love to help put on the toppings and even make their own mini pizza creations.

    I have a dough recipe that I double and I also use 1/3 whole wheat flour. It gives the crust such a great flavor. I usually make the dough a day in advance and park it in the fridge which cuts down on my time in the kitchen!!!

  20. Judy says

    I have made homemade pizza. Alfredo pizza and California BLT pizza (pampered chef recipe) both come out great. But for the life of me, I can’t make a descent cheese pizza! : (
    It always comes out way too soggy. Any suggestions?

    • Jessica Fisher says

      @Judy, how much cheese are you putting on?

      • Judy says

        @Jessica Fisher, Uh, oh…..will too much cheese make it soggy? I bet that is the problem. I think I will make pizza this weekend and try less cheese. Do you cook your crust ahead of time?

        • Jessica Fisher says

          I don’t cook my crust ahead of time. But, I’m guessing you just have too much moisture on your pizza. I would try a VERY hot oven (475) preheated for at least 20-30 minutes. Then, use a thin layer of sauce and enough cheese to cover. Try that and see how it turns out. I always had best luck starting with small pizzas. That might be another route to try.

          • Brandette W. says


            Once the pizza goes into the oven, how long do you bake it for?

          • Sorry for the delay in replying. It depends on the size of the pizza. Personal size about 8 minutes. Large and mediums about 9 to 10.

  21. Dana says

    When we lived closer to the “city” we had 1 child and the “pizza man” was a regular visitor to our door step. My oldest loved paying the “pizza man” when he delivered pizza, that was his special job. Then we had another child and we moved away from the “city” and away from any decent delivery pizza. So we got creative and started making our own. Primarily because there was no decent delivery out here and because with another child and the move we were trying to pinch pennies. We have experimented with a couple different recipes but the one we have stuck with is one I got on line from Wolfgang Puck, my pizza sauce was another experiment where we tried several different recipes and then just ended up coming up with our own. We have lived in the “country” now, for almost 6 yrs we’ve had another baby and in 6 yrs there still isn’t any decent delivery pizza that delivers here, and we are still pinching pennies probably more so now than ever, so we enjoy making hm pizza about 2-3 times a month usually on Fridays. My boys are almost 9 and almost 5 and love to help me assemble the pizzas, baby girl on the other hand is 8mos old and she just enjoys the cheesy finished product!!
    The only downside to making your favorites at home and getting away from eating out is that you never get a break from cooking and even when you do I for one can’t enjoy being out. We’ve been a 1 income family for over 9yrs so we have always had to watch what we do with money, and my husband and kids are so used to eating our own hm versions of out to eat faves that when we go out no one is ever really happy with what we get to eat then afterwards dh and I have buyers remorse because we sit and think that wow we could have made that meal for much less and it would have been alot better. Especially Pizza, my dh won’t eat pizza out, period, he prefers our hm version. My kids are used to eating at home too and prefer what mom makes. My oldest has recently become a lover of Taco’s, one day while out he wanted to know if he could get and try Taco Bell to take home for our lunch that day, ok sure, so I pulled through the drive thru and ordered some tacos, we got home and he took one bite and that was it, I asked him what was wrong with his lunch and he says it isn’t good, it doesn’t taste like the tacos I like (mom’s tacos 🙂 ). I gotta tell ya that made this mama proud. We are just so used to eating at home now.

    • Becky says

      @Dana, That is exactly what has happened to our family! Eating out is no longer the same. My oldest daughter and I sit there and think of how much better ours tastes. Isn’t it just the funniest thing how that happens? Thank you for sharing. It blessed me and lifted my spirits so much.

    • Jessica Fisher says

      @Dana, we have the same problem, esp with canned soups. LOL

  22. Melissa says

    How large a crockpot do you use when making your red sauce? I’m guessing my 4 qt crockpot isn’t going to be big enough to hold a 10# can worth of tomatoes!

    (And for others looking for good organic sauce Trader Joes has a fantastic one for $2.29 a jar.)

    • Jessica Fisher says

      @Melissa, it is a larger size, about 5 – 6 QT, I think?

  23. rose says

    Your pizza posts have been an inspiration for our own pizza nights. We love your dough recipe and find it so easy to take 3 minutes to pop the ingredients into the bread machine and 1-1/2 hours later start making pizza. I know you’re working on it but please, Please, PLEASE do a vlog on how you roll out your dough to look so uniform on the pan! Thanks for all you do for us out here in internet-land.

    • Jessica Fisher says

      @rose, it’s my pleasure! Thanks for listening to me ramble all the time!

  24. Becky says

    Pizza was one of my first culinary successes as a new wife. It has continued to be our favorite go-to meal six children and 19+ years later. Our tastes run to the extremely simple, and our pizzas reflect this tendency. After using numerous crust recipes, convenience finally won out resulting in a super basic crust recipe using water, flour, yeast, and salt only. Whether we are craving thick or thin crust our recipe does the trick. Tomato sauce(homemade or other) with italian seasoning, garlic pwd, onion pwd, and a sprinkling of parmesan topped with browned ground beef, pepperoni, and mozarella cheese make up our standard pizza. We really enjoy a taco version made using refried beans, taco-flavored ground beef, and shredded cheddar cheese too. I have also made a delicious pizza with a fresh taste by substituting chopped fresh tomatoes for the sauce and decreasing the cheese. What a welcome treat this pizza was when I was dieting. Amazingly, even though we use the same recipe and ingredients every time, our pizzas never seem to turn out the same. Some nights are tastier than others, and the last pizza to come out of the oven always tastes best:)

  25. We make pizza a lot. Here’s a tip if you’re unprepared and don’t have time: use tortillas as the crust. I have planned this for quick dinners when we are getting home at dinner time from traveling or have to go out because it comes together in 15 min. That’s from the time I get out all the ingredients until dinner is on the table! You can also make them individually so people can all have what they want. My oldest doesn’t like anything tomato so we make her a “pizza” with no sauce. Works fine when I’m doing the individual ones. 🙂

  26. Courtaney says

    Mmmmm. Love, love, LOVE homemade pizza! Our favorite of the moment is a recreation of the Corn pizza from a local pizza place: Dove Vivi in Portland, Oregon. The original recipe has a thick, cornmeal crust… I make it with a honey whole-wheat crust. Brush the crust with olive oil and add a mixture of mozzarella and smoked mozzarella cheeses. Then sprinkle frozen corn kernels and caramelized onions. Top off with another sprinkle of cheese and voila! Delicious!

  27. My kids love homemade pizza night! In fact, for the last two parties the kids had we had the guests make their own pizza.

    We always make wheat crust for our pizzas. We started out using the recipe in the book for my bread maker but I found a great recipe a few years ago that we have used since then. It’s so flavorful and YUMMY!

    Here’s a link to the recipe we use. http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/Pizza-with-Wheat-Crust

  28. Racheal says

    We make homemade pizzas now because we’re gluten-free. And I just can’t go anywhere to eat, it isn’t worth it for my boys and myself to get sick. And prior to gluten-free my homemade pizzas were TERRIBLE but I LOVE the gluten-free pizza it is delish! I am actually making pizza for my son for school lunch today. Pizza day at school and I want him to still feel like he fits in even though we’re gf, not always an easy task!

  29. heidi says

    Friday night is movie night and pizza night. All time summer favorite is mexican pizza in the dutch oven.
    Line dutch oven with alum. foil.
    Place 1 tortilla in the bottom of a dutch oven. Drizzle a small amount of pizza sauce on the tortilla. Spread refried beans over sauce. Spoon cooked ground beef over refried beans. Sprinkle with cheese. Repeat layers.
    Cook about 20-30 mins with 15 coals on top and 10 coals on bottom.
    Serve with shredded lettuce, avacado, and sour cream.
    Great way to get our kids to eat lettuce.

  30. Becky says

    My family loves homemade pizza. When I make my menu plan for the week I’ll often ask them “Do you have any special requests for a meal this week?”. They usual quickly reply “Pizza!!!!”. Here’s a link to the recipe I use: http://beckyson25.wordpress.com/2008/09/16/homemade-pizza-uses-bread-machine/

  31. harmony says

    The. Best. Pizza. Ever. !!

  32. Jodi says

    I have been making my own pizza for several years. I recently started using King Arthur brand flour, because I had heard such good things about it. It really has made a difference–the flavor is much better than the store brands I used to buy. My kids enjoy my pizza much more than that from the pizzeria now!

  33. Pizza Night with the family, be that nuclear, extended or “of choice” is the best. I use your quick sauce recipe and my kids rave about it. I make about 6-7 large pizzas each Sunday night and we nibble on pizza while we hunker down in front of a movie together. It’s a great way to end (or begin) the week. I do love my pizza stones, but whatever works for your family is awesome. Thanks for sharing, Jessica, I always know where to look for a good recipe, some mom motivation or some tips to making my life run more smoothly. You’re a treasure.
    Blessings, Mama K

    • So good to hear how things work at your house! I’ll be honest, I’m too tired on Sunday night to cook pizza. LOL!

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