Be honest. Are you eating your pizza crusts? Not just most of the time, but always? The truth is, I don’t always eat mine, either. It doesn’t matter how delicious the dough is (or how many hours I put into making it special) — sometimes a crust just can’t compete with sauce, cheese, and toppings. But we can fix that. With a few tricks and techniques, let’s make a crust that’s more than just a handle. Here’s how.
Stuff your crust like it’s 1995
The '90s kids out there will remember when Pizza Hut broke the culinary world with a cheese-stuffed crust. They claimed it’s so good “you’ll eat it the wrong way.” And they were right.
For a cheese-stuffed, “wrong way” crust, take your dough of choice — in my case, my weeknight favorite is our Grilled Pizza dough, which despite the name works great in an oven — and roll it out on a well-floured surface to about 15" in diameter. (Use a rolling pin here for an evenly thin crust.)
After rolling, move the dough to a sheet of parchment paper for easier loading, then place string cheese pieces (or small sticks of your favorite low-moisture mozzarella), cut into 2" lengths, in a ring 1" from the edge of the dough. (If you’re using cheese sticks, you’ll need about eight.) Next, moisten the edge with a little water, fold the dough over the cheese pieces, and press to seal. Top as usual with sauce, cheese, and toppings and bake until well colored.
Let the pie cool for a second then get ready for the magic show — the part where you tear open the edge crust to reveal a cheese-filled, molten interior. During baking the cheese pieces melt but remain in place, forming an oozing beltway tunnel of melted deliciousness for you to break open, stretch, and devour.
Seed it, says-a-me
Everything is better with a sesame crust. Bagels, barbari, baguettes, and yes, PIZZA. So try this on your next pizza: When shaping your dough, brush the edge crust with water at any point before loading. Then, sprinkle a generous coating of sesame seeds all the way around. As the pizza bakes, the seeds toast, and their nuttiness gets amplified by roughly 10,000%.
And if you really want to lean into the sesame crust, try this Sesame-Crusted Spicy Pizza, a thick, focaccia-like pan pizza that’s crispy, crunchy, and saucy.
Garlic butter makes everything better
The last tip to get everyone to hoover up their crust involves my favorite cologne, garlic butter, and a few other things.
While getting together pizza toppings, add one half stick of butter (salted or unsalted, doesn’t matter) to a saucepan and set over low heat. Add coarsely chopped garlic to taste (don’t skimp — I like three to four cloves) and allow the mixture to slowly gurgle for about 10 to 15 minutes, being careful not to take the color beyond golden. The mixture is ready when the garlic has softened. Add salt to taste and reserve until ready to use.
While your pizza is cooking, mince some of your favorite herbs — basil, flat leaf parsley, chives (even good quality dried herbs will work) — and grate some hard cheese (Parmesan, Grana Padano, or pecorino Romano). As soon as the pizza is baked, brush the edge crust generously with the garlic butter, add a sprinkling of herbs and cheese, and watch as the crust suddenly becomes everybody’s favorite part of the pie.
More pizza pointers:
- Watch my video on how to load pizza in the oven like a pro
- The secret to strong dough that stretches easily? '00' Pizza Flour
- This one addition adds so much more flavor to your weekly pizza
Cover photo and food styling by Martin Philip.