Chef’s Secret to Your Best-Ever Pizza: Bake It in Cast Iron for a Crispy Crust — Easy Recipe

We can all agree that there's nothing better than a cheesy, saucy, freshly baked pizza. Not only is it mouthwatering, but it's surprisingly easy to make at home. Just four ingredients — dough, sauce, cheese and toppings — are required. That said, most home ovens aren’t equipped to reach the cook temperatures of commercial pizza ovens, some of which can reach up to 1,000°F. There is, however, a solution: Use a cast iron skillet! It holds in heat, easily resulting in a golden brown pie. Here's how to use a cast iron skillet to make homemade pizza that’s even tastier and crunchier than your local pizzeria’s.

The basics of making pizza

Making a pizzeria-worthy pie is often thought to require making every ingredient from scratch and cooking it in a pizza oven. Sure, this traditional method produces a pizza with plenty of savory flavors. However, for busy weeknights, cooking the pizza in a cast iron skillet is a shortcut that creates a crispy pie that bakes in about 15 minutes.

Why you should bake pizza in a cast iron skillet

If you’re aiming to get an ultra crunchy pizza crust, a cast iron skillet is your best bet. The reason: It maintains a hot temperature during the baking process. Therefore, your crust will brown and harden to perfection. Before using the cast iron skillet, be sure to place it in the oven while it's preheating — a heated pan allows the pie to cook more quickly. Additionally, pouring some olive oil in the pan beforehand will help prevent the dough from sticking. (Click through to learn how to season a cast iron skillet so it's ready to use for any dish.)

How to make cast iron skillet pizza

It doesn't get simpler than Ree Drummond (aka The Pioneer Woman's) recipe for Cast Iron Skillet Pizza. Why? Drummond uses store-bought dough and jarred pizza sauce to save time. Plus, you can add other toppings like sliced bell peppers, olives or onions for extra flavor. Get your cast iron skillet hot and ready to whip up a homemade pie in 45 minutes!

Cast Iron Skillet Pizza

Cast iron skillet pizza
Reimphoto/Getty

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. frozen pizza dough, thawed and risen

  • ¼ cup olive oil

  • ½ cup jarred pizza sauce

  • ½ cup pepperoni

  • 4 oz. fresh mozzarella pearls

  • ¼ cup torn fresh basil

Directions:

  • Active: 15 mins

  • Total time: 30 mins

  • Yield: 2 to 4 servings

  1. Place 12-inch cast iron skillet in oven and preheat to 500°F.

  2. Roll or stretch dough into 14-inch circle. Carefully remove skillet from oven. Drizzle ⅔ of olive oil into skillet, then carefully transfer dough to the skillet, pressing dough up edges. Spread sauce over dough, making sure to get all the way to edges. Arrange pepperoni over sauce and top with mozzarella pearls. Brush exposed dough with remaining olive oil. Bake on bottom rack until golden brown, about 12 to 14 minutes. Place pizza on wire rack to drain excess oil and cool 5 to 10 minutes.

  3. Transfer to cutting board, top with torn basil and cut into slices. Serve.

My taste test

<span><span>Alexandria Brooks</span></span>
Alexandria Brooks

I felt like a kid waiting for the pizza to cool so it didn’t burn my mouth — and my patience paid off. I’d liken this cast iron skillet pizza to pan pizzas where the crust is slightly thicker than a Neapolitan-style pie. That could be due to the fact that I used a 22-oz. ball of dough instead of a one-pound (or 16-oz.) ball, as listed in the recipe. Regardless, I say the more dough the merrier — this crust’s soft, fluffy interior was like eating a cloud. Meanwhile, the crispy outer crust made a crackling sound with every bite; a tell-tale sign that the cast iron skillet did its job.

The crust also provided a steady base for the sweet, mildly acidic sauce without getting soggy. I'd personally add another spoonful or two of sauce next time, just to test the limits of the ingredient ratios. (Cooking is a series of never-ending experiments!)

As for toppings, the mozzarella pearls definitely didn’t produce the iconic cheese pull found in Pizza Hut ads — but the tiny cheese balls added bursts of saltiness and milkiness throughout my pie. This recipe was definitely made for pepperoni lovers (like myself), who enjoy the spiced meat’s pungent flavor; but my next cast iron pizza will probably involve sprinkling some bell peppers or onions.

Ultimately, this pie reminded me of the ones I gobbled up at home on Pizza Fridays growing up — the meal I most looked forward to all week. You can eat it solo, or transform the experience into a more sophisticated pizza night with two additions.

  • For a refreshing drink: Enjoy a hard cider like Austin Eastciders' Imperial Gold with your pizza. This drink packs a slightly tart punch without overshadowing the fresh and bright apple flavor. The cider's smoothness also makes it easy to sip with pizza, brisket, tacos, or chili. Serve chilled, especially if you're having an outdoor pizza party.

  • For side salad inspiration: Browse Salad Pizza Wine, a cookbook that features salad recipes from the chefs behind an acclaimed pizza restaurant in Montréal called Elena. Expect to learn how to make Elena's famous Kale! Caesar! (so delicious it's worth screaming over) and Cucumbers with Herby Yogurt Dressing and Sesame Seeds. Anyone else getting hungry?


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