How to Make a Simple Italian Pizza Dough

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Ciao Friends,

Well, it’s finally happened.  We have a pizza dough recipe that is simple, easy, quick, and can be used for various types of pizza such as thin, thick or somewhere in between.

how to make Italian pizza dough

My goal is to help YOU make a wonderful easy pizza dough that tastes amazing and is simple to make and which you don’t need a bunch of special ingredients or unique cookware to make it come out amazing!

This recipes uses:

  • sugar
  • salt
  • water
  • oil
  • yeast
  • all purpose flour

It takes about an hour total from start to baking.  This time can vary depending on rising times.  Make sure to cover the dough with a damp cloth to help it rise and not dry out. 

Pizza dough has multiple uses besides homemade pizza however. You can make focaccia from pizza dough, as well as calzones. I’ve even used it for fried dough.

If it isn’t rising then you need a warmer area to help it rise, try heating the oven to 170 with a small pan of hot water, then place the bowl in there with the cloth (turn the oven OFF), and check on it to see how it’s rising. If it’s too moist remove the pan of hot water.

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Tips for Baking the Pizza Dough

To avoid sticking to the pan (a common issue), there are various methods which I’ve listed below.


One method is to use cornmeal on the bottom of the pan and press the dough onto that.  We’ve done in the past, sometimes it worked sometimes not.

Olive Oil in the pan

My favorite and recommended method is using olive oil in the pan.  I don’t measure how much I add but I liberally add it and spread it around.  

If I add too much I don’t mind b/c I love the flavor.  It’s much better than adding too little and having it stick to the pan.  Talk about annoying!!

You can also rub olive oil over the dough itself to add even more flavor.  

Baking the Dough


The default method for us has been to bake it for 15 min at 375F and then add the cheese for 5 minutes longer.

However, keep in mind that the times and temperature should be altered to accommodate thick or thinner pizzas.

Quantity of Pizzas

With this recipe, we were able to make 2 or 3 average thickness pizzas in 9×13 stainless steel pizza pans. Depends on thickness of pizza. 

If I were to make a thick airy pizza where I use a 9×13 baking dish, I would follow my instructions located here, but basically in summary, I let it rise in a bowl, then transfer to a the pan and let it rise a second time, then press it down, add the toppings and let it rise a third time and then bake at 350F for about 25 minutes until done. 

For super thin pizza, I’ve learned the trick is baking it at a very high temperature.   We bought a steel pizza tray that helps increase the temperature of the oven by putting the pizza on that, but also putting a pizza stone on the rack above it.

This traps the heat and increases it to above 500F.   

I won’t go into our experimenting with that because it’s not easy and it’s not quick and although the results on our last attempt were amazing, I can’t confidently repeat it enough to encourage others to do it without giving a full write-up on it.   But if you want to check it out you can here.

Pizza Dough Sauce

pizza dough sauce

For the sauce, we’ve used pizza sauce from a can (most convenient) but we’ve also used our regular pasta sauce and thickened it by cooking it down or adding more tomato paste and then adding in more oregano (this secret to a pizza sauce). 

We use about 7 oz of sauce at least per pizza.  

Other Toppings for Your Pizza

Quick note here, if you decide to use veggies that have high water content like mushrooms and onions or tomatoes, or ones that take a long time to cook, what we have started doing when we have the time is to cook them down on the stove to remove the excess moisture.  

Then we add it to the pizza and spread it around.

This won’t provide the crunchy texture of the onions you might enjoy, but it’s just another way to use toppings.   When using onions directly on the dough and not sautéing them in a pan, make sure to slice your onions very thinly so they can cook more quickly and not taste raw.

Here are some topping ideas that we’ve used (in no particular order):

  • Olives
  • Green peppers
  • Roasted Red peppers
  • Sweet peppers
  • Yellow Onions
  • Red Onions
  • Tomatoes (grape, cherry, regular,)
  • Mushrooms
  • Cheese (any of the following in any combo or individually – Romano, Parmesan, Mozz.)
  • Jalapenos
  • Banana Peppers

Freezing the Dough

So this part is really cool because you can freeze pizza dough in various forms to make it easier to cook later.   Here are ways you can freeze the dough:

  • In a ball before rising.  Take it out of the freezer the day before then let it rise at room temperature. 
  • In a ball after rising.  Same as above, you’ll need to take it out of the freezer so it has time to thaw and rise again at room temp. 
  • As a baked pizza without toppings.   Meaning, you bake just the dough in the oven initally for a few minutes less than usual, let cool and then store in the freezer.  When the time comes just take it out, add the sauce and toppings and bake.  I basically treat this like a store bought version and it’s very convenient!
  • As a baked pizza with raw toppings and sauce.   This is really convenient too. It requires more prep time but it’s so awesome when you’re hungry for a pizza and all the work is already done.  Simply take the pizza out and pop it in the oven frozen.  

There are so many ways to store your pizza dough so it’s handy when and how you need it.  We’ve used all of the above and have no favorite method.  All of them turn out great. 

pizza dough

Simple Italian Pizza Dough

We use this pizza dough recipe every time we want a homemade pizza. This is the best Italian pizza dough in my opinion and is easy and simple. It produces great results and we use it for both thin and thick pizza recipes.
5 from 3 votes
Print Rate
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Simple Italian Pizza Dough for Thin and Thick Pizzas
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Rising Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour


  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 1/2 TBSP sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 TBSP yeast
  • 3 cups flour all purpose is fine


  • In a large bowl dissolve the sugar and salt in the lukewarm water.
  • Once dissolved, add in the olive oil and yeast and set aside to ferment. This takes about 10 minutes and will begin to bubble letting you know it's ready.
  • When the yeast has begun to ferment after about 10 minutes, add in the flour 1 cup at a time. The amount of flour is typically 3- 3 1/2 cups.
  • Knead the dough until a smooth ball can be formed, about 5-8 minutes. If using a Kitchenaid, it would take about 2-3 minutes.
    pizza dough mixed
  • Next, oil a medium sized bowl and place the ball of dough inside the bowl. to the oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth and let it rise in a warm area such as a preheated (and turned off) oven of 170F or a warm area of the house.
  • Cover with a damp cloth and let the dough rise in a warm area until double in size. A quick tip is to use your oven as a warm place by preheating it to 170F. Make sure to turn off the oven before placing the dough inside to rise.
  • Meanwhile, liberally oil your pizza pans.
  • When dough is ready, press dough in the pan and push up on the sides to form a crust
    pizza dough in pan
  • Top with sauce and your toppings and bake for 15 minutes at 375F on a middle rack
  • Add cheese and bake for 5-7 minutes more then remove from oven. If dough is not baked enough, cook until the middle of the pizza is not wet. This can sometimes occur when a lot of toppings are used.



  1. See my notes in the post itself but you’ll basically want about 7 oz or more of sauce per pizza
  2. Cook down high water content toppings in a pan and then add to pizza prior to cooking. the vegetable texture will be different but still nice flavors. 
  3. Slice hard vegetables such as onions and peppers thinly to help cook quicker if not cooking them down ahead of time
  4. For a thick pizza check out my article here but basically you’d want it to rise three times – first in the bowl, then in the pizza pan and then after adding toppings.  
  5. For the cheese, use what you want. I prefer Romano, but if you like a stringy cheesy pizza then use mozzarella.   I also add it at the end even if using toppings so the cheese does not turn burn or get hard.  This most likely won’t be an issue if using Romano grated cheese.    
  6. Experiment and have fun
  7. You can freeze the dough in it’s ball form before rising, after rising, after being rolled out, or even after baking just the dough and store it for later when you can add toppings and pop in the oven.  
How to Make a Simple Italian Pizza Dough


  1. 5 stars
    Thank you,
    this is so simple, yet so easy to work with.
    i appreciate your recipes,
    i can’t wait to try the other recipes you have posted.

  2. 5 stars
    Crust was perfect. Tried making pizza couple of weeks ago and thought my yeast was not good. Turns out you need a bit of sugar to activate.😉 Am used to using my bread machine at home and haven’t made dough by hand in a bit. Great fun! Thanks!

  3. Recipe looks great, can I make dough day before and put in refrigerator overnight to cook next day.

  4. Hi Rose, yes you can. I usually lightly oil the ball of dough and wrap it in plastic wrap when storing in the refrigerator. Try to take it out 30 minutes or so before using so it can get to room temperature. Let it rise as usual and then use.

  5. I started to make my yeast mixture but was very confused if I should or should not mix the oil and yeast in the water sugar mixture. You did not say to mix the yeast/oil or just pour it in and let it sit without stirring. I already dumped the first batch not knowing if I should of stirred it which it did. Now starting over and not stirring, still confused because it is not bubbling and some yeast is still on top not dissolved.

  6. Hi Angie, yes you can mix the oil and yeast in the water sugar mixture. You can give it a stir when you add the yeast and oil in. The yeast should only start to bubble, it won’t do a major change but it will start to change in appearance. It’s okay if some of hte yeast is not fermented, does it look at all like my images? IF it’s 100% not dissolving at all then maybe your yeast is old?

    Let me know!

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