Perfect pizza at home can and should be nothing short of sublime — and frankly, it all comes down to the dough. The best homemade pizza dough should be easy to make and shouldn’t require any special equipment.
More importantly, the rise times and baking times should be flexible enough to work with your schedule, while also delivering the best flavor and texture to the finished dough. And without a doubt the baked dough has to taste downright delicious and get tender-crisp and chewy in the oven.
I’ve spent the last several years looking for a dough that satisfies all of these requirements, and I’m happy to report that I’ve found the absolute best recipe for incredible pizza dough at home. To come to this conclusion, I pitted the four most popular pizza dough recipes against each other. Here’s how it all went down in my kitchen.
The Testing Methods
The dough: Because pizza dough is made from just a few common ingredients, the ratios of flour to water and yeast to salt make a big difference in the final dough. I mapped out these ingredients (as shown in the chart above) and found that doughs with a higher ratio of water to flour and longer rise times made for easier-to-shape, more-flavorful doughs. This chart also helped me plot out rise times for the doughs so they could be baked and tasted side by side.
The cooking method: I tested two cooking methods for each dough: a well-heated pizza stone in the lower rack of the oven, and an inverted baking sheet that was also preheated. For all tests the oven was set to 500°F (which is as hot as my oven goes).
The toppings: For each pizza round I used 2 ounces pizza sauce, 1 ounce part-skim mozzarella, 1 ounce Parmesan (I mixed the mozzarella and Parmesan together), and 1 ounce fresh mozzarella. In order to get the pizzas in the oven in quick succession (and taste them side by side while warm), I mixed the doughs with long lead times in advance and staggered shorter rises.
Meet Our 4 Pizza Dough Contenders
1. The Easy, in-a-Pinch Basic: Martha Stewart’s Pizza Dough
This one-bowl, no-fancy-flour dough seemed like a nice beginner’s recipe for homemade dough. However, Martha’s pizza dough never browned in the oven, and ended up tasting like bread, not pizza. The short rise time didn’t help this dough in the crisp or chew department. Would I make it again in a pinch? Sure. Would I lower my expectations considerably? Absolutely.
Difficulty to Make: 7/10
Overall Rating: 4.5/10
2. The Boring Basic You Can Skip: Bobby Flay’s Pizza Dough
I don’t personally associate Bobbly Flay with pizza dough, but fans of this dough like it for being basic and easy to make. But I found this dough to be hard to stretch out, and I was left with lots of questions about how to bake it.
While this dough could be spruced up with some seasoned salt (or honestly just more salt of any kind), it didn’t deliver on flavor or texture. This recipe proved to me that an “easy recipe” doesn’t always mean one I want to make regularly.
Difficulty to Make: 5/10
Overall Rating: 4.5/10
3. The Most Comprehensive: Alton Brown’s Pizza Dough
Alton’s pizza dough is very, very good. Alton takes an analytic approach to pizza dough and gives super-detailed instructions for every part of the process, including measurements for the size of the dough and the amount of sauce. His is the only recipe that included cooking directions, and I ended up using his pizza stone directions for all of the doughs I tested.
While I highly recommend this dough, the slow rise takes it out of the running for a go-to, back-pocket recipe. Alton’s dough requires a regimented routine, and might be too salty with certain toppings like pepperoni and sausage.
Difficulty to Make: 7/10
Overall Rating: 8/10
4. The Laidback Sophisticate: Roberta’s Pizza Dough
Roberta’s pizza dough is kind of like your friend who picks the best bottle of wine (or albums or clothes) and seems to do so with ease. The dough is the easiest of the whole bunch to mix up and, despite needing one special flour, doesn’t feel fussy.
This dough also has two time tables — a short three- to four-hour rise for last-minute pizza cravings, and a 24-hour rise for tons of extra flavor and a bubbly Neapolitan-like texture. You’ll have no trouble rolling or stretching it.
The baked crust is nearly perfect, with strong, almost-sourdough-like flavor, sweetness and deep caramelization from the 00 flour, and plenty of chew and crackle from that hearty bread flour.
Difficulty to Make: 10/10
Overall Rating: 10/10
This post was originally published on Kitchn. Read it there: We Tested 4 Famous Pizza Dough Recipes — And 1 Really Stood Out