7 Simple Shortcuts for Better Homemade Pizza

You can fire up a great pizza in your kitchen with a few simple tweaks.

A white sheet pan pizza topped with broccoli and basil on a blue surface

Honing your pizza skills is a modest time investment and a lifelong gift: to your family, your friends, and yourself. Luckily, many tricks of the great pizzaioli (pizza makers) are accessible to home cooks. Though our ovens can't soar above 500 F like the wood-fired chambers of Naples, we have plenty of valuable cards in our deck. Next time you want some homemade pizza, try a few of these painless tips and upgrades.

01 of 07

Make Your Own Dough and Try Longer Fermentations

Dough seems tricky, but it's just a few ingredients: flour, water, yeast, salt, and sometimes olive oil. It can rise for anywhere from one hour to three or four days. You can also stash dough in your fridge (making for a slower rise) the night before you intend to bake pizza. You'll find that a longer-risen dough develops more flavor.

RELATED: Making Pizza Dough in Your Instant Pot Is the Perfect Weekend Cooking Project

02 of 07

Top With Cooked Marinara Sauce

Most pizzerias top red pies with uncooked sauce from the crushed tomato can. At home, you can build added layers of flavor by using a long-cooked Sunday sauce. This gives red pies a concentrated intensity, one that requires little active work to achieve, especially if you already happen to have leftover marinara in the fridge. And because the sauce has been cooked down, it will yield less moisture when baked. (If you use a cooked sauce, let it cool first.)

03 of 07

Embrace the Sheet Pan

You don't need a fancy, hard-to-clean stone to make great pizza–just a workhorse nonstick sheet pan. Rub the pan with a thin slicking of olive oil before you start to shape the dough on it. With a sheet pan, the crust develops a crisp exterior. Your pizza will also be easy to remove from the pan.

04 of 07

Add Toppings With a Light Hand

Many pizza toppings–like mushrooms, olives, artichokes, and tomatoes–give up their water as they bake. They can make your dough soggy and create a soupy situation on top, which can seep into the dough. If you're using, say, mushrooms, roast or sauté them first, to dry them out a bit Consider blotting wet ingredients like jarred peppers or artichokes dry with a paper towel before adding them.

RELATED: 4 Incredibly Delicious Pizzas from One Easy Dough Recipe

05 of 07

Go Small but Mighty With Toppings

When you go minimal with toppings, be sure you use the most flavorful ones you can. Chopped garlic is a wonder. So are thin slices of pickled chiles. And you probably don't need us to tell you about torn basil. With toppings, follow the seasons. If it's winter and potatoes are at their height, consider making a white pie with thin coins of potato, a cheese like Fontina, and a dusting of rosemary.

06 of 07

Revise Your Approach to Pizza Flour

Unlike canned corn or dry soba noodles, flour isn't a completely shelf-stable product. It's best on the fresh side. If you're spending the time to make homemade dough, grab a new bag of flour if yours has been open more than a few months. Finely milled Italian 00 flour is a solid bet, especially if you want to emulate Neapolitan-style pizza in a home oven, . AP flour also does the trick.

RELATED: We Tested All the Best Bread-Baking Products—Here Are Our Favorites

07 of 07

Finish With Good Olive Oil and Aged Cheese

Your pizza is finished, steaming, and ready to be cut. Guess what? You have one last chance to add flavor! Shaving Parmesan or even a cheese like aged gouda (for white pies) can add some last-minute depth. So can a final dousing of your favorite extra virgin olive oil.

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