Pizza is not a special-occasion food — it’s an every occasion food. To help you embrace it, we've put together a four-point plan for designing the perfect pizza night, the one you can repeat week after week after week. This is Pizza Night, Perfected.
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Imagine a world without pizza — no, wait, don’t. It’s impossible! Both simple and straightforward, yet comforting and satisfying, pizza is beloved the world over for good reason. It holds such universal appeal, and yet comes in a dizzying array of variations and styles.
As bakers, we’re always encouraging people to try their hand making it at home. Yes, we urge everyone, you can make an exceptional pie in your home oven! And it’s true: A basic kitchen setup isn’t an obstacle. Wood-fired and brick ovens are great, and they allow professional pizzerias to turn out great pizza fast. But you can achieve similar results — and they’ll be your very own! Any food made from scratch with your own two hands will yield a particular satisfaction.
So this year, let’s make any night (or every night!) pizza night.
So this year, let’s make any night (or every night!) pizza night.
If you’re on board (we know you are — just think of the gooey cheese and chewy, crispy crust and saucy bites … ) the first, and most important, question is which pizza are you craving?
Here’s where we come in. Maybe you know that you love Neapolitan-style and nothing else, or you’re an avid Crispy Cheesy Pan Pizza convert — so you’re all set. But maybe you’re always looking for a good recipe and are confronted by the endless number of choices on the internet.
Our solution? In order to help you decide which pizza to make, we've broken down our recipes into four categories: oven type/equipment, flour, time, and crust style. Let’s find your perfect pizza!
Pizza categories to consider
- Oven type + equipment: Can you use a regular home oven and pan, or is specialty equipment recommended (a pizza oven and/or pizza steel or cast iron pan)?
- Flour: Can you use all-purpose flour or is a specialty flour required?
- Time: Can it be made in one day or does it require multiple days (overnight)?
- Crust style: Is it light and crisp, thick and fluffy, or chewy and puffy?
First, figure out what you have available (equipment and flour). Next, how much time do you have? Do you need pizza now or are you planning for later? Finally, consider your cravings! Are you in the mood for a light, cracker-thin crust minimally sauced and sprinkled with herbs? Does a thick, chewy crust with edges of deeply caramelized cheese sound ideal? It’s your pizza night — you decide.
Here are the top contenders that cover the range of pizza perfection, and a quick guide to helping you find yours.
Your mood + our pizza picks
The Mood: I’m a pizza traditionalist and I’ve got time to devote!
The Pick: Neapolitan-Style
A true classic, Neapolitan-style pizza boasts a photo-worthy appearance with its puffy, blistered crust. Traditionally it’s dotted with circles of mozzarella, rather than spread from rim to rim with a layer of cheese. The edges are thick and chewy while the center crust is thin: Some might say it’s the perfect balance of textures. The pillowy edges are part of the allure, but the real marker of great Neapolitan pizza is dark, charred spots on the crust (the leopard of pizzas!).
Although this dough takes time, yes, it's also one of the most flexible for your schedule. It requires a long, slow overnight rise, but this can be anywhere from 12 to 24 hours. So, if you're not ready to attend to it after 12 hours, you have a full 12 extra hours of wiggle room to find time for it.
While professional pizzerias use intensely high heat to cook those pies fast, you can get remarkably impressive results in a home oven with the right equipment. To mimic the high heat of a wood-fired or brick oven pizzeria, it’s best to use a steel in your home oven, which will capture and retain heat to help “blister” the crust. Or if you have a pizza oven, like the Ooni, this is the recipe for it.
Flour: Requires specialty flour (‘00’ Pizza Flour)
Time: Overnight/requires two days (Want it faster? You can try our shortcut Weeknight Neapolitan-Style Pizza, which approximates the style in just 3 hours.)
Crust Style: Chewy and crisy with pillowy edges and a thinner center
The Mood: I don't eat gluten, but man do I like pizza ... fast.
The Pick: Gluten-Free Pizza Crust
Yes, you read that correctly: Fantastic gluten-free pizza (at home, no less!) is within reach. This recipe is fast: There are only two brief rests, so you can go from “I’d like a slice” to tableside serving in just over an hour. One of the perks of this crust is its versatility: It can be crispy and thin or fluffier and softer, depending on how thick you roll it. The dough — which is friendly to work with — requires a lot of kneading, so you’ll need a mixer to bring it together.
Flour: Requires specialty flour (Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour)
Oven Type + Equipment: Regular oven, stand mixer, or electric mixer for the dough
Time: Single day (no rising; only a 30-minute rest)
Crust Style: Chewy; can be thin and crispy or thicker and softer, depending on how you roll it
The Mood: I want something substantial, I love cheese, and I’m willing to wait for it.
The Pick: Crispy Cheesy Pan Pizza
Our love for “CCPP” knows no bounds: It took the world by storm last year as our Recipe of the Year and has gained legions of fans. Why? It’s easy — there's an overnight rest, but it’s a very hands-off recipe. You mix it, then let it sit and do its thing, developing flavor over time. And it's not just the lack of active time required that makes this pizza a winner for busy bakers, it's also very flexible. Because the dough can sit for so long (12 to 72 hours), you can prep it a few days in advance and let it sit until you're ready. That ability to have an ultra-long rise makes it a recipe that's extremely adaptable to your life, schedule, and the unexpected busyness that can crop up for all of us.
The crust is an exceptional combination of soft, almost focaccia-like dough and chewy, golden, crispy cheese edges. What we love most is that, while the dough is thick, it manages to be light and airy, not dense or heavy. The classic cheese and sauce combination works beautifully, but we also have plenty of seasonal inspiration, too.
Flour: Uses all-purpose flour
Oven Type + Equipment: Regular oven, cast iron pan needed
Time: Overnight/requires two days
Crust Style: Thick, fluffy, and focaccia-like with crispy edges
The Mood: I love paper-thin pizza and I don’t have much time.
The Pick: Thin-Crust Pizza
Devotees of thin-crust pizza, rejoice. This is your recipe! We call this “thin-crust” but that doesn’t do it justice: It’s super thin. The trick to achieving this style is all in the flour choice: Italian-style flour, which is lower in protein and yields a mellower, more friendly dough that’s easy to roll out without shrinking or fighting back. Classic thin-crust pizza sports only cheese and sauce, and not much of either, because the crust can’t support heavier toppings. Feel free to add more than the basics, but be cautious not to increase the weight too much.
Flour: Requires specialty flour (Italian-Style Flour)
Oven Type + Equipment: Regular oven, can be made with or without a pizza stone
Time: Single day (can be made in about 1 hour)
Crust Style: Super thin, crispy, and almost cracker-like at the edges
The Mood: I’m craving a thick, deeply browned crust and I want pizza for dinner tonight!
The Pick: Detroit-Style Pizza
Though its origins are specific to Detroit, we’re very glad this pizza has become more than just a regional specialty. It’s unusual: The dough is pressed into a deep pan, which yields a very soft and chewy crust. (There are specific pans made just for this recipe, but a 9” x 13” pan works fine.) That would be pretty enticing on its own, but the best part is how the cheese is spread to the edges, allowing it to bake and crisp up and almost char. If you like your toast a little darker and your baked goods bien cuit (as the French say, meaning well done), then this is a pizza you’ll love.
Flour: Requires Bread Flour
Time: Single day (requires 4 to 5 hours, including resting and baking)
Crust Style: Thick, soft, and chewy crust with crispy, deeply caramelized edges
The Mood: I’m a beginner and I need pizza immediately!
The Pick: The Easiest Pizza You’ll Ever Make
In addition to being exceptionally easy to mix together, roll out, and bake, this pizza is a true crowd-pleaser: It’s a traditional pie (think delivery-style) with crust that’s neither thin nor thick, chewy nor crispy. You could call it basic, but that would be underselling it — the toppings can take it to creative heights, if you like. Consider it the perfect canvas for any pizza lover, and an ideal recipe to keep in your back pocket for a quick, I-need-pizza-now scenario.
Flour: Uses all-purpose flour
Oven Type + Equipment: Regular oven, flexible equipment
Time: Single day (can be made in under 3 hours)
Crust Style: Medium thickness with a subtle chew; easy to fold
The Mood: I basically want bread (and a flexible timeline), but can we call it pizza?
The Pick: Sicilian-Style Pizza
Big rectangles of soft, chewy bread topped from edge to edge with sauce and cheese: That’s the beauty of Sicilian-style pizza. We’d call the amount of dough “generous” (which coincidentally is the adjective we’d use to describe anyone who’d offer us a slice). This recipe is flexible: You can make it in a single day, but if you want to prep ahead, you can let it rise overnight. The longer the rise, the deeper the flavor in the crust.
Flour: Requires specialty flour (High-Gluten Flour)
Oven Type + Equipment: Regular oven, half-sheet pan
Time: Single day (optional overnight rise for flavor)
Crust Style: Soft and chewy, medium thickness, with a crispy bottom
With summer firmly behind us, we’re envisioning a fall of all pizza, all the time ahead. Find your recipe now (or pick a few to experiment with) and get ready to join us. Which recipe will you make first for pizza night?
Learn more pizza tips in our four-point plan for designing your best pizza night: Pizza Night, Perfected.
Cover photo by Rick Holbrook.