Who can resist a crispy crust topped with rich sauce and gooey cheese? You don't need to visit your favorite pizza restaurant or order delivery to enjoy a delicious pizza. You don't even need a pizza pan. Baking sheets, baking stones and even your trusty backyard grill work just as well to make a homemade pizza that rivals anything you can get in a box or dining out.
The Baking Sheet Method
Whether you call them baking sheets, sheet pans or cookie sheets, your kitchen likely has a few of these large pans with a lip around the edge, and they're great for baking much more than cookies. Try out your sheet pan the next time you make a homemade pizza. This method works well because all that contact with the pan produces a crisp, delicious crust.
To keep the dough from sticking to the pan, you can either put a light coating of olive oil on your crust or spritz the baking sheet with cooking spray. Spread the dough across the bottom of the pan until it's covered, pushing the edges of the dough towards all four corners. You can make the crust as thick or thin as you like. To create a traditional crust, press the dough up the sides of the sheet slightly around the edges.
You can either pre-bake your crust for a few minutes or start adding the toppings right away. This is where you can get creative. Add your choice of sauces, cheese, meat, veggies and any other toppings you love. Bake your pizza creation at 450 F for about 15 to 20 minutes. It's done when the crust is golden and the cheese is evenly melted. As temperatures on all ovens vary, you may need to add a few more minutes to the timer, especially if your pizza is extra thick or has lots of toppings.
The Baking Stone Method
Pull out that baking stone to feel like you're a gourmet pizza chef. Baking stones use unglazed clay to create a super hot surface that distributes heat evenly. The porous surface pulls moisture from the dough, which gives your crust a crispy finish. Think of it as a mini pizza oven you can use in your home.
Prepping the baking stone is an essential step, especially if you don't want to end up with a cracked stone. You should always put a cold baking stone into a cold oven. If you preheat the oven then add a cold stone, it can crumble into little pieces because of the thermal shock, so be sure to pop the stone into a cold oven at least 30 minutes before you want to start baking. Some chefs recommend giving the stone a full hour to heat before using. Crank up the oven to 500 F to get it as hot as possible.
Meanwhile, it's time to prep your pizza. If you have a pizza peel, use it to easily transfer the pizza onto the stone once you make it. Use a dusting of cornmeal or flour to keep the dough from sticking to the peel. Shape and stretch the dough then top it as desired. It's best to let the dough reach room temperature before working it. Not only is it easier to work with, but cold pizza dough hitting the hot pizza stone can cause cracking.
When you're ready to pop the pizza into the oven, open the door and work quickly to minimize heat loss. First, position the pizza peel near the back edge of the stone. Slide the peel toward the door carefully, letting the pizza slip off and onto the hot stone. Let your pizza bake for about 10 minutes. Since the stone gets so hot, your pizza doesn't need quite as much time in the oven.
The Grill Method
Rethink the way you use your grill. It's not just for brats, BBQ chicken and burgers. You can produce a crispy pizza crust reminiscent of fancy pizza ovens on the grates of your grill. Plus, your kitchen stays cool, making grilled pizza a great option for hot summer months.
You need to work quickly for the grilling method, so it's best to have all of your toppings prepped and ready to go. Roll out your dough. The thickness is up to you, but if you roll it too thin, the dough may sag through the grates. Brush one side with olive oil.
Heat your grill well before you add the crust. A temp of about 550 F is ideal and pizza usually cooks best on the grill over direct heat. Once everything's toasty hot, put the dough oil-side down on the grill grate. Brush a little oil on the top side. After two or three minutes, flip the dough, so both sides start cooking.
Top the pizza right on the grill once the crust has had a few minutes to cook. Work quickly and carefully. Grilled pizzas usually work best with minimal toppings, so they can cook evenly. Close the grill, and let the pizza cook for about three to five minutes. The actual cooking time depends on the temperature of your grill, which can vary significantly from one grill to the next. Don't wander too far away while the pizza is grilling, as the high heat can cause the pizza to burn easily.
Test out these different pizza cooking methods to decide on your favorite. You may find that you'll never need to use a pizza pan again!