How To Make Homemade Pizza Dough And Not Make the Local Pizza Guy Rich

Mushrooms, prosciutto, whole milk mozzarella pizza
my two aunts on the left and grandmother on the right, baking bread and pizza in a wood fired oven


Homemade pizza dough recipe

I’ll go out on a limb and posit that pizza may be the best food type on the planet. Pizza has everything: incredible texture, rich flavor, it’s cheap to prepare, it’s filling, and, in general, is one of the rare food types that contains both complexity and simplicity.

My beloved Aunt Giovanna (pictured on the left) owns a small wood fired bakery in Calabria and both the bread and pizza she bakes each day is the best I’ve tasted.  The bread is airy with incredible texture and flavor.  My favorite daily ritual, when in Calabria, is to head to the bakery early in the morning and enjoy a breakfast of fresh baked bread with extra virgin olive oil.  Aunt Giovanna’s pizza contains the same properties of her bread, but with traditional Calabrian toppings (including olives, sardines, sea salt, basil, grated Pecorino Romano, and coarsely chopped plum tomatoes).

One of my simple wishes is to reproduce my aunt’s pizza here in States, but it would be nearly impossible given that I lack the wood fired oven, high quality and ultra fine Italian flour, and the water from the region.  So, what’s a pizza loving guy to do?  Well,  adapt of course! 

that's me kneading some bread dough at nonna's house; as nonna would say, I really don't have the kneading touch

In turn, here’s my classic homemade pizza dough recipe adopted for us transplanted Europeans and Americans alike!  And please stop giving your hard earned cash to the local Pizza guy who drives the fancy imported car, you deserve better pizza!

Pizza Dough
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Bread
Serves: 4-6
  • 1 cup of warm water
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 3 cups of all-purpose (or unbleached) flour (you can also try Molino Caputo Tipo 00 Pizza Flour, imported from Naples, Italy)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  1. Mix the "wet ingredients", including the water and olive oil with the dry yeast (you're looking to dissolve the yeast). Thereafter thoroughly mix the remaining dry ingredients and combine with the wet ingredients.
  2. Place the mixture in a Kitchen Aid and mix for 2-3 minutes. Remove the dough and knead with your hands for 4-5 minutes; you're looking for a fluffy/not too dense dough. Remember to make sure your work space has plenty of flour so the dough does not stick when kneading. Form the dough into a ball and coat the exterior with a bit of olive oil and place in a large bowl, covering the bowl with a kitchen towel.
  3. The dough should sit (I like to place the bowl in my oven, with no heat of course) for 30-45 minutes or until it doubles in size.
  4. Next, add a tablespoon of olive oil to a 10 by 15 inch cookie sheet and thoroughly coat the bottom with the oil. Take your dough and cut it in half and stretch the dough on your cookie sheet. Add a bit more olive to the dough and spread it with your hands.
  5. You're now ready add your toppings and tomato sauce!
  6. Preheat your over to 400 degrees F. and bake your pizza for 20-25 minutes depending on how thin or thick your dough is. Once you're ready to remove the pizza lift one side of the dough and make sure you've got a nice brown color (the cheese should be bubbling as well). After removing the pizza, add the hand shredded basil and a bit of olive oil. If you have some Parmigiano-Reggiano you could also grate a bit on top of the pizza!
My favorite type of pizza is the "Pizza Margherita" which is comprised of tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil. Start with the sauce and then add shredded mozzarella.

Some of my other favorite toppings include:

  1. Sauteed red onions, black pepper, and Parmigiano-Reggiano
  2. Sauteed mushrooms and Parmigiano-Reggiano
  3. Dried rosemary, seal salt, red pepper flakes, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and extra olive oil

For a full list of our favorite pizza toppings click here and for our homemade pizza sauce recipe click here (there is a difference between tomato sauce and pizza sauce)

Here are some other pizza recipes on the web:


  1. Hi Vincent, I will have to agree 100% with you on your Aunt Giovanna’s Pizza’s and bread, as when I was in Calabria 2 years ago I too had fresh bread from there morning noon and night, there is nothing like it, and the pizza’s well they were to die for.I look forward to going to Calabria again if only for those pizza’s and fresh bread.
    Regards your Cousin Maria latella.

  2. In Defense of Making Your Own Food or Julia Childs Was Right

    How is it that we are so eager to watch other people browning beef cubes on screen but so much less eager to brown them ourselves? For the rise of Julia Child as a figure of cultural consequence — along…

  3. Another great article (and pictures)! I just made pizza dough yesterday, and although the results were certainly not up to Calabrian standards, they were well received! I really think the wood fired oven makes more difference than the flour and water. It’s just very hard to replicate that taste. But you are so right: much better than ‘pizza to go’!

  4. Why the sugar in the pizza dough?
    Another topping I use are potatoes sliced very thin. Other recipes include roasted peppers within the pizza, or sauted onions and some white raisins – both to die for.

  5. Recipe: Pizza Calabrese

    I categorize pizza in the United States into two tidy compartments; namely, 1. the thin style “NY Pizzeria” pizza comprised of tomato sauce and some variation of mozzarella (whether it be the real deal made from water buffalo milk, cow…

  6. On the Italian Life and Consumerism: My Take on Eataly

    (photo: the ideal Italian life represented in Pellegrina, Reggio Calabria) Italian Shopping on SteroidsYou’ll have to excuse me if I sound a bit crabby this morning, as I just finished reading a New York Times review of the mega…

  7. The Wine Press: On The Importance of Italian American Traditions

    With the passing of my grandparents, my father and his uncles have moved to sell the first Scordo home here in the United States.  The house is full of memories as I spent my first 5 years living in…

  8. Making the Perfect Pizza

    I recently had a wonderful email exchange with Dr. K, who’s an avid home cook and supporter of local foods.  Dr. K was moved by our article on cracked olive salad because of the strong suggestion that making food…

  9. Focaccia Recipe: Easy Rosemary and Sea Salt Focaccia

     (photo: rosemary and sea salt focaccia – notice the golden color)Making Bread “Under the Fire”The Italian word focaccia means “under the fire” and it shares many of the same traits as pizza.  However, focaccia is usually about 3/4 of an…

  10. How to Make Pizza Sauce

    (photo: Our pizza sauce is quickly cooked with dried oregano, extra virgin olive oil, Kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper).I’ve always stuck to the claim that you can make pretty good pizza at home.  My critics argue that…

  11. Recipe: Lavash Pizza

     (photo: left to right eggplant/feta/parsley, cheese and tomato sauce, red onion and mushroom lavash pizza)I love stumbling onto new food items. In fact, I encourage folks to pick up a few random items at their local market and try new…

  12. I would do just about anything to be in that room with your Aunt and with the bread coming out of the ovens Vince! We could make a billion dollars just to sell the aromas in there, thank you for these wonderful pictures………Chef Doogie.

  13. Making hamburgers and sauce

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.