Pizza Tips & Stories

11 Secrets to the Perfect Pizza at Home

Fresh original Italian perfect pizza preparation, close-up of hands in action

A life without pizza is life not worth living! If that sounds dramatic to you then please leave, because we don’t need that kind of negativity around here. Only kidding, you know we love you really. We’re all just here for a perfect pizza!

Pizza is a dish which is universally recognized and is the perfect comfort food. After a long and stressful day, there’s no finer feeling than slipping into your sweats, getting your feet up, pushing ‘play’ on your favourite Netflix series, and tucking into a freshly baked pizza pie. Straight from the box and still steaming from the oven. 

Ooni Pizza Ovens

As wonderful as pizza can be, finding perfect pizza is not always an easy process. In fact, in some areas, it’s harder than transporting the One Ring to Mordor and casting it into the fiery pit of Mount Doom. It’s also more stressful. 

So, what’s the solution when you’re craving a hot slice of Za, but don’t have any decent pizzerias nearby? Well, why not make your own? Making your own perfect pizza is more affordable. It’s an enjoyable experience. And at the end of the day, you get to tuck into cheesy, gooey, delicious pizza, so of course you’re winning.

To help you replicate the taste, texture, aroma, and look of a perfect pizzeria-style pizza, check out these handy tips and you’ll be a pro in no time. 

Active dry yeast in a wooden spoon for perfect pizza

1. Perfect pizza does not require too much yeast

Yeast is as important to pizza dough as Mike is to Ike. It is a critical component of any pizza dough. And for that reason people often make the mistake of assuming that more is the way to go. In reality however, you should adopt a ‘less is more’ approach when adding yeast to your perfect pizza dough. 

Search online for pizza dough recipes and you’ll come across countless recipes that are about as reliable as a politician’s word of honour. The problem with these recipes is the fact that a lot of them recommend using way too much yeast. 

One of the most common complaints that people have when baking pizza at home is the fact that their base tastes too yeasty. Hmm, we wonder why that may be? 

Making the perfect pizza is like finding that perfect someone, it takes time. Well maybe not as long… But when you find them, there’s nothing better. Good pizza dough takes time, yet most online recipes are all about speed. Which is exactly why they call for so much yeast. 

To make a delicious-tasting, perfect pizzeria-style pizza, you need to nail your dough. And in order to do so you must use less yeast. 

Most good quality pizzerias will proof their dough for 24 – 48 hours in advance. This means that they don’t need the yeast to act fast to provide air bubbles. Use less yeast and give the dough longer to proof and you’ll be amazed by what a difference that makes. 

Ooni Stack

2. Proof the pizza dough in the refrigerator

Speaking of proofing, another top tip for producing perfect pizza so delicious it would make the Ninja Turtles themselves cry with happiness, is to proof your dough slowly in the refrigerator. 

We’ve already spoke about why a slow proof and less yeast is the way forward. But we’ve not spoke about the temperature yet. When you lower the temperature, the fermentation process slows down greatly. This lets the dough take on the taste and texture it needs slowly, without the risk of over-proofing. 

A slow proof of the dough ensures that starches in the dough break down over time, and in greater volumes. This gives the dough a better texture, makes it lighter, and it gives more air bubbles. Leave in the fridge for 24 – 48 hours and you’ll be delighted by the results.

3. Use the right flour to achieve the perfect pizza

Some people claim that “flour is flour” and therefore assume that it doesn’t matter what kind of flour you use when making the perfect pizza dough. As the end product will taste the same no matter what. Well respectfully, these people may never have tasted good pizza, and they don’t deserve to enjoy it. Harsh? We don’t think so. 

The type of flour you use when making a pizza dough makes a big difference. Not only to the overall taste, but the texture of the pizza as well. So make sure you choose the right kind. 

Look for Italian “00” flour or some good quality bread flour. The “00” flour is one of the best as it is soft, fine, and has a wonderful texture. It’s perfect for pizza made in a wood-fired oven (we’ll get to that part next). Caputo blue or red “00” flours are a good choice here.

If you’re making pizza in a regular oven at home, good quality bread flours are ideal. Stay away from all purpose flours and cake flours, for obvious reasons. You’re not baking a cake, you’re baking a pizza, so why would you use a flour designed specifically for cake? You wouldn’t, so stop talking about it! 

As for the science-y reasons for this, cake flours and all-purpose flours contain less gluten. So they become denser and harder, and have a texture more like a biscuit or, surprise surprise, a cake.

If you really want to get fancy and create a truly perfect pizza, get hold of some artisan flour. It will cost you, but you get what you pay for. And a high-quality artisan flour makes one heck of a pizza. 

You may also try pre-made pizza dough. You wont have any control over the ingredients of the dough, however it’s a good alternative. And the results will still be amazing! Keep in mind if your making a Romana tonda or Pizza al Taglio, the pre-made dough will not achieve the expected results.

Rustic home-made perfect pizza with prosciutto in a wood fired pizza oven

4. Invest in a wood fired oven

Outdoor kitchens are all the rage these days. And if you long to experience true alfresco fine dining like you see on the TV, a pizza oven is a very wise purchase. 

If you have the space, materials, and funds, building a wood-fired pizza oven is strongly recommended for people who take their pizza seriously. Especially if you’re making a Neapolitan pizza like the Margherita.

These ovens are traditionally circular in shape and are fuelled by seasoned wood. The inside of the oven is insulated to retain heat, meaning that the inside gets intensely hot. The idea is to cook a pizza quickly, in a matter of seconds. Wood-fired pizza ovens are superior to everyday ovens in every single way when it comes to cooking perfect pizza. They provide a fantastic charred effect. They help the dough to rise quickly. And they give the pizza a subtle smoky flavour. 

Ooni Fyra

If a full-sized pizza oven is not suitable, smaller, compact pizza ovens like the Ooni frya 12 pizza oven are perfect. These portable pizza ovens are wood pellet-fired and give results almost identical to commercial pizza ovens. They’re small, compact, easy to use, and they provide perfect pizzeria-style pizza. What more could you ask for? 

5. Grab yourself a pizza stone

Don’t have the space for an outdoor brick pizza oven? Can’t face braving the pouring rain to fire up your portable pizza oven? No problem, we won’t hold it against you. What we will do however, is tell you to pick yourself up a pizza stone instead. 

For some bizarre reason, ovens at home weren’t designed for cooking pizzas. We know, we’re as upset and baffled by that decision as you are. But worry not, because there is a solution, and that solution is a pizza stone. 

Ooni Accessories

Authentic pizzeria-style pizzas are cooked in seconds, in extreme heat. Everyday kitchen ovens just don’t get hot enough. Pizza stones however, function just like pizza ovens by providing a surface hotter than the centre of a McDonald’s apple pie coated in Carolina Reaper chilli flakes. These stones get incredibly hot and cook the perfect pizza in seconds. While also helping to draw moisture from the dough to provide a crispy base. 

6. Source a perfect pizza steel

Don’t like pizza stones? Why not, what did they ever do to you? 

If you don’t feel like a pizza stone, how about a pizza steel instead? Pizza steels work on the same principles as pizza stones, except they’re made from steel. So they conduct even more heat, and get even hotter. 

Nothing more to say on that, really, other than they get insanely hot, and get even hotter than pizza stones. 

7. Use semolina on your base for the perfect pizza

Okay, so you’ve spent days making your dough. You’ve grabbed yourself your pizza oven/stone/steel, and you’re now ready to make your very first pizza. It looks great, you place it on your pizza peel (the utensil used to slide your perfect pizza in and out of your oven) and, disaster happens! It sticks! You panic and scrape it off, turning it into a charred mess of cheese, dough, and sauce. 

You don’t want the above to happen, and neither do we. The easiest way to prevent a pizza base from sticking to the pizza peel and base in the oven, is to give it a light dusting with semolina. 

Semolina acts like tiny ball bearings on the base of the pizza. This helps it to slide off the peel and into the oven, and vice versa. So you don’t have to worry about it sticking. It also gives the pizza base a perfect texture and subtle corn flavour. 

Ingredients for perfect pizza on a wooden background

8. Use quality ingredients

We know about using top quality flour, but what about other ingredients? Well, they should be the best quality you can afford as well. Remember, we want perfect pizzeria-style pizza here, not some bargain basement pizza. 

Always make your tomato base using high quality tomatoes, fresh garlic, and extra virgin olive oil. Plus whatever else you put in your sauce. 

9. Don’t use too much sauce

As delicious as your sauce is, avoid the temptation to put too much on your base. 

Too much sauce will have your pizza base wet and soggy. Plus it won’t give the sauce enough time to caramelize. 

Add a thin layer of sauce, work it towards the edges, and make sure it’s thick and not too watery. 

10. Use dry mozzarella for the perfect pizza

For the same reason as you shouldn’t add too much sauce, or make a wet sauce, you should avoid using a wet mozzarella. 

The only exception is if you’re making a Neapolitan pizza. This pizza needs a generous layer of sauce and a wet mozzarella. This is sloppy, gooey, delicious, and most definitely not easy to be eaten by hand. 

11. Use finishing toppings to complete your perfect pizza

A rookie mistake that people make when making a basic Margherita pizza is to go with the classic sauce, cheese, and fresh basil leaves combo. But they do this all before the pizza goes into the oven. As pizza ovens get so hot, the basil leaves quickly burn and turn crispier than Anakin Skywalker after his showdown with Obi-Wan Kenobi on the planet Mustafar. 

Instead, what you should do is add the basil leaves after the pizza comes out of the oven. The residual heat will cause them to wilt, without burning. 

Other finishing toppings for any type of perfect pizza you like include options such as: 

  • liberal amounts of grated parmesan cheese
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt
  • black pepper
  • fresh rocket leaves, or
  • a chilli and garlic-infused oil. Nice!

The perfect pizza conclusion

We hope you gained a little knowledge from this list. We know we put a lot out there, but these are secrets of the pros. If you’re looking for perfect pizzeria style pizza, then take a few of these tips and apply them to your next homemade pizza. You’re tastebuds will thank us.

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