As a kid, my mom would prepare homemade pizza for us as a treat. Unfortunately, I didn’t really like it back then because my mom would use toppings that I detested at the time, such as peppers and mushrooms. I would have been much happier with a frozen pizza.
Thankfully, one day I saw the light and realized that homemade pizza is SO much better than frozen (crazy concept, I know!). So as a teen, I became obsessed with making my own pizza and trying to recreate the flavors that I loved in store-bought and restaurant pizzas.
Over the years, I learned a few tips and tricks to make the process easier and get the most out of homemade pizza. Today I’d like to share some of those tips and tricks with you!
1 – Cook your pizza on a preheated surface
If you’re going for more of an artisan pizzeria feel to your pizza, it’s best to cook it on a preheated, heavy surface. There are many 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 hot oven for at least half an hour before baking your pizza.
2 – 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 high enough. I recommend 500°F.
3 – Cook your pizza on parchment paper
When I first started out making 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 helped 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 oven floor and burn. Not fun.
Then I discovered parchment paper! It makes the transfer SO much smoother, and there’s a lot less mess. I will say that the crust doesn’t get quite as crispy using parchment as opposed to cornmeal, but it’s very much worth it in my opinion.
4 – Think outside the box with your sauces
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut and only reach for your typical red pizza sauce. But there are so many more options out there! Here are just a few ideas:
- ranch dressing
- refried beans
- BBQ sauce
- Alfredo sauce
5 – Don’t overcook your protein
I recommend slightly under-cooking your protein since it will cook a little bit more once it’s on your pizza. For example, don’t cook your bacon until it’s crispy because it will be singed once the pizza comes out of the oven.
6 – Get creative with your toppings
As with my sauces tip, I recommend branching out with your toppings. I’ll be the first to admit that I love a plain pepperoni and cheese pizza. But it’s really fun to experiment with creative toppings!
7 – Brush your crust with an olive oil and garlic blend
I’m not sure where I learned this trick, but it really amps up the flavor of your pizza! Simply pour extra virgin olive oil into a dish and add minced garlic. Then, before adding any other toppings, brush your crust with it, making sure to get some pieces of garlic on your crust as well.
8 – If you crave a crispy crust, par-bake it first!
Not gonna lie, it can be a challenge to get homemade pizza crust crispy and done all the way through. To help combat this, you can par-bake the crust. Simply slide it onto your preheated cooking surface and bake for about 5–8 minutes, or until beginning to brown. Remove from the oven, cool slightly, and add the toppings to the browned side.
Bonus tip: You can par-bake several pizza crusts in advance, cool, and freeze. Then you can have them on hand when the pizza craving strikes!
9 – Avoid the urge to over-top your pizza
Again, if you like a crispy crust, try your best not to over-top your pizza! I know, I know. It’s easy to get carried away. After all, you want to make the most epic pizza known to man. But if you mound on the toppings, it makes it hard for the crust to get fully cooked. Rein it in a bit and your pizza will love you for it.
10 – 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 easy and convenient, and the results are wonderful. I like to par-bake the tortilla first, top, and cook until the cheese is melty.