A golden brown crust. Perfectly melted mozzarella. The right ratio of sauce to toppings. Whipping up a homemade pizza that rivals the local takeout can be no small feat. From how hot to heat your oven to how long to mix your dough, making a perfect pizza comes down to the details. So ditch those delivery menus and read on for my top 10 tips to guarantee homemade pizza success in your kitchen.
1. Mix Less and Avoid a Mess
When it comes to pizza dough, less is more in the mixing department. If you’re going the homemade route, add your ingredients to the bowl of your KitchenAid® Stand Mixer and mix just until the ingredients are combined. Overmixing the flour causes the resulting dough to be tough and dry. And don’t forget to make the most of the dough hook attachment, which takes the mess (and stress) out of kneading the dough by hand.
2. Even Out Your Roll
Once you’re ready to roll out your dough, shape it first into a ball and then flatten it slightly. Starting with a round shape gives you the best shot at ending up with a perfectly round pie. Next, using a rolling pin, apply even pressure as you roll out the dough. An evenly rolled crust results in an evenly browned crust, as all areas of the crust will bake at the same rate.
3. Cornmeal = Crispy Crust
There are three cooking surfaces that yield a crispy pizza crust: a pizza stone, an inverted baking sheet or a KitchenAid® Nonstick Pizza Pan. All three options involve the same secret ingredient: cornmeal. Sprinkle your cooking surface liberally with cornmeal to prevent the dough from sticking and to give an added crunch to your crust.
4. Ingredient Size and Amount Counts
Chop your pizza toppings into bite-sized pieces so you get a bit of everything in each taste. Remember not to overload your pizza with toppings or you’ll end up with a soggy, weighed down crust. And while I’m a big fan of onions, I’m not a big fan of the tears that come with chopping them. The solution? I bypass my knife and use my KitchenAid® Pro Line® Series Food Processor to get thinly shaved onions in a fraction of the time (and absolutely zero tears).
5. Spread Out Your Sauce
The amount of sauce you add to your pizza depends entirely on your personal taste preferences. But keep in mind that too much sauce can lead to a wet, soggy pizza. And remember to always leave a 1/2- to 1-inch border around the outside of the crust to prevent a marinara swimming pool from popping up in the bottom of your oven.
6. Mix Up Your Marinara
Don’t be shy when it comes to the flavor of your pizza sauce. While classic marinara is always a homerun, a white pizza can also wow taste buds. Simply mix together ricotta cheese with fresh herbs, minced garlic and a pinch of salt and pepper, then spread it on the crust, top with your choice of meats and veggies, and bake to perfection.
7. Feel the Heat
Preheating your oven is critical to a crispy crust and to a pizza that cooks quickly and evenly. Depending on your cooking surface (pizza stone, inverted baking sheet or KitchenAid® Nonstick Pizza Pan), your oven should be preheated to anywhere between 425°F and 500°F. And there are as many theories as to what oven rack—top, middle or bottom—your cooking surface should be placed on as there are varieties of pizza. I opt for the middle rack so that the top and bottom of my pizza both cook quickly and at the same rate.
8. The Golden Rule
Craving a shiny, golden brown crust? Then don’t miss the important final step of brushing the outer edge of your pizza with olive oil before it goes in the oven. For added flavor, combine 3 tablespoons olive oil with 1 teaspoon minced garlic then brush, bake, slice and serve.
9. Wait for It…
Finding the perfect balance between melted cheese and a crispy crust may prompt you to remove the pizza from the oven before it reaches its peak. Don’t fear the appearance of darker bubbles of cheese, as the additional time in the oven will guarantee your crust will hold its crisped shape well after it’s been sliced.
10. Wheel & Deal
Your pizzeria-worthy pie is fresh out of the oven, and all that’s left to do is slice it into pieces and dig in. But before you reach for that dull knife, opt for a pizza wheel instead. The super-sharp blade and spinning wheel will cut cleanly through every last bit of bacon, piece of pepperoni and slice of soppressata.
*The Contributor of this post has been compensated by KitchenAid for this post, but this post represents the Contributor’s own opinion.*