Perfect Thin Crust Pizza Dough

edge of baked thin crust pizza
Ah, pizza.

baked pepperoni thin crust pizza on baking sheet
Aw man. Jeez louise. Ain’t much better than pizza, amiright?!
Pizza is a, well, I mean, you already know it’s a, a thing in Chicago.  It’s a heated topic of discussion locally and nationally.  It’s an intensely divisive topic here in town.  Similar to arguments over who has the best Italian beef or the best hot dog but more so.

I’ll let you in on a little secret:  while we’re cool with it, deep dish pizza is not eaten by locals as much as you are led to believe.  I’d even go so far as to say that you’re more apt to find us chowing on pan or thin crust.

Everyone has their coveted favorite spots but if you ask Mike and I, and we are the authorities here, haha, there are only two places to get pizza.  Or, well, maybe three.  Granted, we haven’t hit up every single pizza joint but still, who needs to when you’ve got:
  • Pequod’s, their pan pizza.  Morton Grove is better.  Hands down, The Best Pizza.  The. Best.  Double pepperoni with a lil’ extra sauce?!  Yessssss.  I feel woozy.
  • Coalfire, Neapolitan thin in a coal-fired oven.  House-made pepperoni with fresh mozz….Obsession worthy. 
  • For a quick more fast food-y Tuesday night ah crap I didn’t plan dinner:  John’s Pizza.  Near cracker thin and cheesy, cut in squares….that, my friends, is quintessential Chicago.
Places to skip:  Lou Malnati’s and Giordano’s (Uh, oh boy.  Please don’t yell at me.)  Bleech.

Jeez louise, I need some pizza now.  And to chew loudly so I can’t hear the intense flack heading my way.

As far back as I can remember in my History of Baking as a Grown Up, I’ve been seeking the best, easiest homemade thin crust pizza.  Elusive bugger, that recipe.  And for such a simple thing, there are variations up the wazoo, right?  How do you ever know?

Well, you try them.  And we’ve tried a slew.  

One day I was randomly perusing recipes and came across this one shared by The New York Times called Roberta’s Pizza Dough.  It’s also on Epicurious’ site.

My goal is always to present foolproof recipes with easy to obtain ingredients.  Sooo, yeah, this one calls for 00 flour which, heh, yeah I know, it’s tricky to find, even in a big metropolis such as Chicago. I fiiinally found some at a Caputo’s Market though you can order it (yikes, expensively) online.*

weighing flours with scale
Heh, tiny tiny bag of 00 flour. Now I know to get the big bag. See, it has a slightly pale yellow color and it’s sooo fine, so fine, like the softest powder.
Or, you can leave it out as I have a few times.  If you locate some, buy it, it is very very worth it, the best homemade thin crust pizza I’ve ever made in my life.  If you are unable to find some, have no fear, this is still pass out worthy homemade thin crust pizza.

But I know, then bread flour, another you likely don’t have, don’t use; no worries, hang around us, you’ll have plenty of uses for it in time.  Just grab the small bag for now.

This recipe is a pre-planner, you’ll prep the dough and bake it next day as it needs a nice long slow resting rise in the fridge.  The chill and the slow give all that stuff time to develop deelicious flavor.

This recipe is simple as can be so banish any thought that you cannot do this, that homemade pizza is out of your reach.  I swear and promise up and down, back and forth, you can do this.

Begin by warming the water to 100°-110° F (38°-43° C) in the microwave which is easy to register when you’ve got a handy dandy kitchen thermometer* at the ready.  Seriously, it’s an inexpensive tool that saves you money, effort, wasted ingredients, and heartache.

Now, use a kitchen scale* so your measurements will be exact and true to the original.  If you’re sans scale, it’s ok, don’t panic, you can use cups but I am going to encourage you to spring for a scale.  You can get a good one for under twenty bucks, under fifteen even.

weighing water and testing its temperature
Gettin’ that water weighed and checked for temp.  Yeah I’m a little over water here.
This is mixable by hand or by stand mixer, the latter of which is my choice but if you don’t have one, noooo problem.

Add the warmed water to the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl, stir in the sugar then sprinkle on the yeast.  The sugar is yeast food and will get the, woot, party started.  Let that get puffy and fluffy and in the meantime measure out your flour and toss the salt into that.

(Conversely, and even easier, the original says to combine the warm water, yeast, and oil then pour it into the flour without blooming the yeast first.  I hadn’t tried that method until the dough I mixed specifically for this post froze and dried out before rising [raaarrgg, noooo!] so I remade it the faster way to see.  You can use either method, they both work.)

When the yeast is ready to go, add the oil then plop in the flour.  Flip the mixer to stir, let that incorporate, then pop the speed up a hair and let that knead for three minutes.  Or by hand, mix it all up and knead for three minutes.

first knead in mixer finished
After the first three minutes of kneading in the ol’ mixer.
Let the dough rest for fifteen minutes, knead again for another three minutes then into the fridge it goes inside a lightly greased, covered bowl until the next day.  The dough will likely be sticky but resist the urge to add more flour; instead, flour your hands to handle to the dough.

pizza dough after second knead
All set to go for it’s long slow rise in the fridge.  Mmm mmmm
The original says leave it room temp for three to four hours if you’re really jonesing hard for that-day but trust me, overnight will be far superior. 

Before baking, take the dough out of the fridge at least a half hour before, more like forty five minutes, an hour or more is better, let it come to mostly room temp.

pizza dough after chilling and rise
Wow.  Niiiice dough baby.
Place racks on the lowest and uppermost positions of the oven, flip it on to the highest heat you’ve got, 500° or 550° (260°-290° C), I know, scary hot, and while that’s heating, stretch out that lovely dough onto a lightly greased cookie sheet.  It will stretch so wonderfully with that 00 flour in it.  I stretch it to almost fill a cookie sheet, pretty thin.

stretching pizza dough out on baking sheet
Since it’s just Mike and I, I make one pizza out of all the dough but feel free to split it up. Stretch it thiiiin.
Par bake it on the lower rack….

parbaked pizza crust on baking sheet ready for toppings
Post par baking after eight minutes, ready to be topped, I know, I’m drooling too.
…..add your toppings (be judicious, avoid overloading otherwise it’ll be a mushy mess)…..

pizza dough topped ready to bake
Ready to bake!  I screwed up and didn’t have any of the good pepperoni nor the fresh mozzarella on hand but do pop for quality toppings, you’ll be glad you did.
….bake on the upper, and oooh, [I’m doubling over here] get ready for the best thin crust pizza you’ve ever had at home!

fully baked pizza ready to eat
Ooooh yessss.
Gratuitous pizza photos to follow….

side view of pizza slice to see dough
Look at how nice that crust is, omg!  Crispy crunchy edge there too!  Foolproof. I’m tellin’ ya, seriously foolproof.

close up of baked pizza edge

another close up of baked pepperoni thin crust pizza
Yep, that one gotcha, didn’t it?  Ok, have fun making homemade pizza!

slices of thin crust pizza

Note:  This content originally appeared on Flaky Bakers.

*The 00 flour, kitchen thermometers, and kitchen scales are Amazon affiliate links.  Happy baking, thanks!  Please see the "info" tab for more, well, info.

Share your thoughts :

  1. Thanks for sharing your ideas here I used to make this kind of a pizza dough. Now I"m using an ATK recipe which combines all of the dry ingredients in a mixer and then adds in the oil and the water. It works pretty well. After the initial rise, I cut the dough in half and put it into the frig for a long, cold rise.

    1. Oh sure, you're welcome! Thank you for the ATK suggestion and for your tips! A long cold rise sure brings out the flavor and now I need some pizza stat. Thank you!


Spam is not good for baking. Please don't leave any, thanks.

Follow @thebakedept on Instagram