Whole-Wheat Pizza Dough 6.000

Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

May 1, 2019

While pizzas made with all whole-wheat flour can skew gritty, dry and dense, this recipe yields a chewy crust with a lovely nutty flavor.

A high proportion of water will make the dough stickier than most pizza doughs you've probably worked with, but the hydration here is key for the right texture (it also means the best way to knead the dough is in a stand mixer). 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. The dough calls for both sugar and honey; the sugar activates the yeast and the honey is there for flavor and browning.

The cooking starts in a cast-iron skillet on the stove top and finishes under the broiler. This ensures the bottom of the crust crisps up by the time the toppings and rest of the pie are done. Because the broiler runs so hot, certain toppings, especially soft cheeses such as mozzarella, can overcook, so you might want to add them partway through baking.

A kitchen scale is helpful for weighing the main ingredients. We like using a bench scraper or large chef's knife to divide the dough. Be sure to use a new/fresh batch of yeast, or test the efficacy of what you have on hand.

See the related recipe links for topping suggestions, or pick your own.

Make Ahead: The dough needs to rest/rise twice for about 2 hours, and then for at least 20 minutes. The finished dough can be portioned, coated lightly in cooking oil spray or olive oil, sealed in zip-top bags and frozen for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator and then let it come to room temperature for 30 minutes before shaping and baking.

6 - 12

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 6-12 servings; makes enough dough for three 10-inch pizzas

  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups (354 grams) warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for greasing and brushing
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • About 3 cups (407 grams) whole-wheat flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (optional)

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Combine the sugar, yeast, warm water, the tablespoon of oil, the honey and salt in a stand mixer fitted with a dough-hook attachment. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds. Add all but about 1/3 cup of the whole-wheat flour; mix on low speed until a dough starts to come together.

Increase the speed to medium-low; continue to mix for about 5 minutes. If your dough is looking very wet and almost pourable, add some of the reserved 1/3 cup of flour, a tablespoon or two at a time. Continue to mix, adding more flour as needed, until the dough begins to gather around the dough hook and looks stretchy as it pulls away from the sides of the bowl; this may take as long as 15 minutes. It will not form a ball or pull away from the bowl completely. The dough may look very wet, but all will be well.

To test whether your dough is ready, pinch a small piece of dough away with your fingertips. If it breaks immediately as you stretch it, keep kneading. If it seems elastic and comes away from the rest of the dough in a stretchy, almost translucent sheet, that means the gluten has sufficiently formed.

Lightly grease a separate mixing bowl with oil. Shape the wet, sticky dough into a ball as best you can, then transfer it to the bowl, turning the dough over to coat it on all sides. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise in a warm environment for about 2 hours, or until it has approximately doubled in size. (A closed microwave where you have just heated some water for a minute or two works well.)

About 90 minutes into the rise, position a rack 4 to 6 inches from the broiler element of the oven; preheat the oven to 500 degrees or whatever its highest numbered temperature setting is. The oven should preheat for at least 30 minutes.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper then generously dust it with flour.

Gently deflate the dough to release trapped air. Divide the dough into three portions, about 250 grams each. Roll each portion into a ball and then place them on baking sheet. Loosely cover with lightly greased plastic wrap and let the dough rest for at least 20 minutes, and up to 1 hour.

(After this rest, you may freeze the dough portions for up to 3 months.)

Generously flour your work surface. Transfer one ball of dough there and sprinkle more flour on top of the dough. (If you plan to use all the portions of dough right away, keep them covered.) Use your fingertips to start flattening the dough into a round. Continue to gently stretch the dough until you have a round about 10 inches in diameter, frequently rotating it and flouring the counter or dough as needed so nothing sticks.

Open the oven door for 10 seconds if you have an electric oven (this lets some heat escape to make sure the broiler will actually turn on even though the oven has reached its maximum temperature) and then turn on the broiler (to high, if that is an option). Have your pizza toppings ready to go nearby.

Preheat a 12-inch cast-iron skillet on the stove top, over medium heat, for 3 to 5 minutes. Carefully transfer the dough to the skillet, smoothing it into place with your hands or by sliding and shaking the skillet (use a folded towel or oven mitt since it will be very hot). Allow the dough to start to cook and dry out on bottom (a minute or less; you'll see it looking less wet and starting to puff).

Add your toppings, leaving a 1/2- to 3/4-inch border around the edges. Brush the edges of the crust with oil, then sprinkle them with the Parmigiano-Reggiano, if using. Give the dough an additional 30 seconds to 1 minute to cook; this will help ensure the bottom of the crust will be crisped.

Use oven mitts to transfer the skillet to the oven. Broil the pizza for 3 to 5 minutes, rotating front to back halfway through, until the crust looks puffed and browned. Don't walk away. A little charring on the crust or toppings is okay, but even a few seconds too much will burn the pizza. Remove the skillet from the oven, then use tongs to transfer the pizza to a wire rack to cool for a few minutes. Transfer the pizza to a cutting board. Cut into slices and serve right away.

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Recipe Source

Dough recipe adapted from Sally McKenney at sallysbakingaddiction.com; baking method adapted from "Mastering Pizza: The Art and Practice of Handmade Pizza, Focaccia, and Calzone," by Marc Vetri and David Joachim (Ten Speed Press, 2018).

Tested by Becky Krystal.

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