The ultimate homemade pizza,
delivered

The ultimate homemade pizza, delivered

Pizza.

Poll everyone the world over about their favorite foods, and this cheesy, saucy, crusty combination is likely to land at the top of many lists.

But how many of those people routinely make it at home? Not enough.

We're here to say that it’s worth the effort. After all, you can make your pizza any way you like. You can recruit your family and friends for a fun evening in. And the sense of accomplishment when you pull that gorgeous pie out of the oven: priceless. Heck, even if your pie comes out less than gorgeous, it's PIZZA. You're gonna eat it.

[Pineapple on pizza is easy to hate — at least in theory]

We understand the obstacles. Getting a pizza is as easy as placing a delivery order or swinging by your favorite neighborhood spot. The dough can be finicky, unpredictable and intimidating, especially for novices. Plus, you have to plan ahead. Then, your kitchen gets hot — even though your home oven doesn't come close to the temperature a restaurant one can reach to achieve crust perfection.

Thankfully, we have learned a few tips and tricks — and recipes — that will set you on your way to success. Sure, shaping dough takes practice, but the right recipe and technique make the job that much easier. We can also help if you would rather your pizza be whole-wheat or even gluten-free. No wood-burning oven? No problem. A super-hot cast-iron skillet and your broiler can do the job.

Once things are getting hot, move quickly. Have your ingredients prepped and ready to go. And don't forget the most important one: your best can-do attitude.

Now let's start slinging some pies.

The basics

Crank it up

Heat is crucial. It helps give your crust the right color, texture and rise. So preheat your oven — as hot as it can go — for at least 30 minutes. Cook the pies on a surface that has been preheated, ideally one that will retain and share the heat well, such as a pizza stone or cast-iron skillet. Heating your cast-iron pan on the stove top for a few minutes before baking works well. Just be sure to keep an eye on your pizza when it’s in the oven, because at such a high temperature, it can burn quickly.

Give it time

Up to a certain extent, more time means more flavor. The yeast needs time to work, consuming sugars and creating the byproducts that make pizza dough taste so good. Time is also crucial for providing structure and lift. You can extend the process, and therefore the flavor, by allowing dough to rest in the refrigerator for a few days. If your recipe calls for just a few hours (such as with the featured Whole-Wheat Pizza Dough), don’t cut it short. Your patience will be rewarded.

Stretch it out

Shaping the dough takes some getting used to. The Neapolitan-Style Pizza Dough uses bread flour, so it’s elastic and can stand up to more handling. Stretch it on the counter first and then drape the dough over your clenched fists. A less elastic dough, such as the Whole-Wheat Pizza Dough, requires more care, because it tears easily. For that one, start by enlarging the round with just your fingertips and then gently tug it out. Regardless of your dough, use enough flour to keep it from sticking to your hands or work surface, and frequently rotate.

When it’s gluten-free

As bakers with gluten-free expertise know, working with wheat-free pizza dough calls for different techniques and methods. Its consistency is spongy and damp; wet your hands to keep it from sticking. Resting times are in minutes, rather than hours. Because the dough is so wet, it’s best to parbake the crust before you add toppings. You can refrigerate the dough for a day, but freeze it only after it has been parbaked.

Top it right

Your standard delivery pizza may be loaded with toppings, but less is more when it comes to your homemade pies. An abundance can lead to a soggy, dense crust that isn’t cooked through. Precooking the toppings also cuts back on their moisture and ensures that they’re not still raw by the time the crust is done. You can always add freshly grated cheese, herbs, greens (such as arugula), honey and/or olive oil when the pizza comes out of the oven.

Don’t sweat it

It sounds cliche, but the adage “practice makes perfect” is particularly apt when it comes to pizza. Whether you’re a novice or a veteran, things can go wrong: The humidity affects the moisture of your dough, you tear a hole in the dough, your crust flops over when you try to transfer it to a skillet or pizza stone. (Been there!) So what? It takes time to learn your dough and your oven. It’s okay. Patch together the dough, call the flopped pie a calzone and eat up. More practice means more pizza, right?

Neapolitan-Style Pizza Dough

Neapolitan pizza is considered the OG of the worldwide staple, and this recipe lives up to the tradition with a flavorful, airy crust and puffed edges. The dough's cold, slow rise in the refrigerator is a major contributor to its success.

Pepperoni and Potato Pizza

You are promised a bit of pepperoni in every bite, because we’ve pureed the uber-pizza topping into an easy sauce. Its spiciness is offset by tender slices of potato, nutty Gruyere and mild goat cheese.

Baba Ghanouj Pizza
With Pepperoncini, Mint and Chile Oil

The roasted eggplant dip makes a surprisingly satisfying base for this cheese-free mixture of fresh and pickled topping ingredients. A shower of last-minute roasted pistachios gives it color and crunch.

Caramelized Onion and Fontina Pizza With Crispy Kale

When you put in the time to develop the burnished brown silkiness of those onions and pair them with the mushroomy funk of this melted Italian cheese and a nicely browned crust, you will be rewarded with a classic flavor combo for the ages.

Whole-Wheat Pizza Dough

While pizzas made with all whole-wheat flour can be dry and dense, this recipe yields a chewy crust with a lovely nutty flavor. You must knead the dough for longer and be gentler in shaping it, because whole-wheat flour is not as good at forming gluten as all-purpose flour.

Whipped Ricotta Pizza With Figs and Walnuts

Although the components skew sweet, this pizza’s base of olive-oil-enriched ricotta and its thatch of fresh arugula keep them in savory territory. The final flourish is a drizzle of honey, but who says that nectar can’t be something nice and spiced?

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce Pizza With Mushrooms and Smoked Mozz

The Middle Eastern spread known as muhammara makes a juicy base for the mix of toppings. We used a good store-bought brand to speed up the prep for this recipe, but you can make your own in about the time it takes for the shaped pizza dough to rest.

Gluten-Free Pizza Dough

This recipe is adapted from Michael Schwartz’s new “Genuine Pizza” cookbook, which is dedicated to making better pies at home. The dough bakes up into pizza crust with a tender chew, and our testers — gluten-free and not — gave it a thumbs up.

Tomato Pancetta Cheese Pizza

Mozzarella, move along: We like what provolone does for this pie with classic flavors. The sauce takes minutes because it is all-stir, no-cook. Fresh oregano does wonders for the aroma, as does the basil applied after the pizza’s pulled from the oven, cheeses bubbling.

All recipes

Neapolitan-Style Pizza Dough

Pepperoni and Potato Pizza

Baba Ghanouj Pizza
With Pepperoncini, Mint and Chile Oil

Caramelized Onion and Fontina Pizza With Crispy Kale

Whole-Wheat Pizza Dough

Whipped Ricotta Pizza With Figs and Walnuts

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce Pizza With Mushrooms and Smoked Mozz

Gluten-Free Pizza Dough

Tomato Pancetta Cheese Pizza

Swipe to see more recipes >>

About this story

Design and development by Madison Walls. Art direction by Amanda Soto. Photos by Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post. Food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post. Photo editing by Jennifer Beeson Gregory. Props by Limonata Creative for The Washington Post.

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