Introduction: Anyone Can Make an Authentic Pizza

About: Educator, designer, maker of things

I once worked as a chef and manager in mom & pop style pizzeria for many years outside of Philadelphia. There, I learned the ins and outs of making hundreds of Pizza's a day, along with all of the preparation needed to make it happen. After I left the business, I experimented in finding ways to recreate that authentic pizza taste, texture, and experience in my own kitchen.

What I learned from working in this industry, and experimenting with and changing the original pizzeria's recipes at home, is that there is no one way to make a great pizza, everyone has their preference. I also learned that the idea that in order to get an authentic pizza taste, you need to have a pizza oven at home is not true.

In this Instructable, I outline my methods for making authentic pizzeria style pizzas at home. This includes tools that you shouldn't skip out on and my own personal recipes as well as easy off-the-shelf supermarket alternatives that get the job done just as well. Happy making!

Step 1: Preparation: Tools of the Trade

As mentioned, I do not believe you need a fancy at home pizza oven to get the authentic taste. Sure, it helps achieve the pizzeria style but the nicest oven will still produce a bad pie if the ingredients or method is off.

Personally, I use my barbecue along with a pizza stone to get the authentic taste and texture. Now for those who are thinking "sure you can use a BBQ but it takes sooo long!" I find that it only takes 10-15 min per pizza on a BBQ. I have also used an oven, gas ovens seem to work quicker than electric. The biggest draw back with using an oven is that there can be smoke from burnt crust or toppings on the stone and this can be troublesome to vent indoors. I'll get more into using the BBQ and stone in the baking section of this Instructable.

Heres the tools you'll need to make your pizza the professional way:

  • Pizza Peel - This is your work surface and what the pizza is made on. Wood or metal peels both work. Wood is more authentic and easier to use but also more difficult to care for. I use this metal peel at home and it gets the job done well.
  • Pizza Paddle - What I am referring to as a paddle is really just a smaller peel that is used to move the pizza around in the stove while the peel is used to create the pizza on. You may not need both as a smaller metal peel like the one above can be used as a paddle, though it is nice to have two if you are trying to make many pizzas quickly. You can be prepping on the peel and tending to the oven with a smaller peel-paddle simultaneously.
  • Screen - A screen is a huge must, especially when making pizzas in BBQ's or ovens. As the bottom of the crust often bakes faster than the top of the pie, you can lift and move the pie onto the screen to bake evenly. I recommend everyone have two, this makes moving pizza in and out of the oven easier and if your stone gets too hot, you can double up the screens.
  • Stone - There are tons of stones out there, I use this one. I have experimented with baking pizzas in pans instead, but have not found the crust to have the authentic taste without using a stone.
  • Pizza Cutter - Don't cut a pizza with a knife, get a pizza cutter.

Step 2: Preparation: the Dough

The dough is really the most crucial part of the Pizza. As I said before, the nicest oven in the world will still put out a terrible pizza if the ingredients are wrong. I have included a recipe that I've experimented on and used over the past few years below that's cut down from my old pizzeria's original recipe designed to make 50 pizzas at a time. To make the dough, it takes a good mixer with a dough hook to get it just right. It is also crucial that you let the dough rise for the right amount of time but not too long.

I do not believe making the dough yourself is necessary, especially if you're only looking to make one or two pizzas. Most pizzeria's and even supermarkets sell raw dough that works really well as long as its fresh.

Recipe for Three Large Pizzas:

  • Ingredients:
    • 12 cups flour
    • 4 yeast packets
    • 1/2 cup of Vegetable oil
    • 1 tsp of salt
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 4 cups of warm water @ 110ºF
  • Instructions:
    • In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water, let sit for 5 minutes or until foamy.
    • Combine flour, salt, sugar in a large bowl
    • Add water / yeast mixture - mix SLOWLY with the dough hook until evenly mixed
    • Separate dough into three evenly size balls on a baking sheet with space between them
    • Allow time for dough to rise nearly double in size before using

Step 3: Preparation: the Sauce

Like the dough, I do not believe making the sauce yourself is necessary to get the authentic taste...especially if you're looking to only make one or two pies. I do not like all supermarket pizza sauces, some of them are too watery and add a lot of extra moisture in pie. Personally, I find that Weis' organic pizza sauce is good consistency and a nice flavor, especially with a little bit of fresh garlic added. A 12oz jar will be enough for three pizzas. If you want to make it yourself, here's a recipe I've put together:

Pizza sauce for three Large Pizzas:

  • Ingredients:
    • 12 oz can of tomato sauce (or crush them yourself if you feel extremely ambitious)
    • 3 Tbsp of tomato paste
    • 1/2 Tbsp of olive oil
    • 1 tsp of black pepper
    • 2 tsp of salt
    • 1 Tbsp of sugar
    • 1 Tbsp of minced garlic (or to taste)
    • Sprinkle garlic powder, oregano, basil, and parsley to tase
  • Instructions:
    • Add tomato sauce and paste in a medium sauce pan over medium heat
    • Mix in olive oil, salt, pepper, and sugar - stir regularly
    • When warm, add garlic and additional seasonings to taste
    • Let sauce cool and keep refrigerated before using on a pizza

Step 4: Making the Pizza: Working the Dough

Working the dough is really the fun part of the pizza making process....its also where everything can go very right or very very wrong. Dough should be at room temperature before working. A cold dough is more likely to tear.

Before working the dough, you need a medium to keep it from sticking to you and your peel. The worst thing is going to slide your pizza into your oven and then finding that it is stuck to your peel because there wasn't enough medium below it to keep it slippery. There are two options:

  1. Flour - The industry standard, used in pizzerias everywhere to keep the dough from sticking to peels
    • Pros: Authentic taste and flavor, works really well on wooden peels
    • Cons: Flour will not burn off in a low-temperature oven or BBQ, it is very easy to accidentally put too much flour on while working the dough and then be left with a floury pizza after baking
  2. Cornmeal - What I recommend for DIY and amateur pizza makers at home, and here's why:
    • Pros: Cornmeal burns at extremely low temperatures, you can liberally put cornmeal on your peel which gives you lots of time to work the dough without fear of it sticking to your paddle, then the cornmeal will burn off during baking
    • Cons: Less "authentic"

Dough is more likely to stick to a metal peel which makes using metal peels a little more difficult as you need to move quicker to keep the dough from sticking. Cornmeal is great for this situation because you can put tons of it on your peel to stop the dough from sticking and excess will burn off during baking under the screen. Nothing is worse than taking a bite into a finished pizza that's bottom is coated with excess raw flour. Personally, I prefer flour for wooden peels and cornmeal for metal ones.

There are many ways to work a dough. For beginners, see my video or use a rolling pin to work out the dough. Be mindful of how large your stone is before you make a pizza that hangs over the edge. You can lift and work the dough out with your fists, just be mindful of its thickness and make sure you work the dough out evenly.

If you do get a tear, you need to ensure it is sealed well or else your pizza will rip and stick to your stone (disaster). Don't try to add dough to as a patch, instead scrunch the dough up around around the tear, then pinch to seal it all back together and pound any air bubbles out.

I find that supermarket dough is more airy, so pounding the dough to work out the air pockets keeps your pizza more flat or thinner crust when baked. I also don't fold the crust area, instead just work a pressed in perimeter about 1/2 inch from the edge of the pie using my fingers. I find that leaving this perimeter topping-less allows a nice crust to puff up naturally.

Step 5: Making the Pizza: Seasoning and Sauce

Season your pizza to taste! I like to put all seasoning on the dough under the sauce and toppings as I find that it bakes more evenly into the crust this way. For each pizza, I add a bit of fresh garlic or garlic powder and oregano. Depending on the toppings, I may add parsley, salt, pepper, chopped onion, or crushed red pepper as well.

For the sauce, use a large spoon or ladle to take a spoon full of sauce. Then spill a little bit of sauce in the center of the dough and use the back of the spoon too evenly work it from the center out. Continue to spill and work more sauce until the dough is evenly covered without any excess deep spots up to your crust perimeter.

Step 6: Making the Pizza: Toppings

There are endless topping combinations, have fun with it! Personally, I prefer to put toppings on before the cheese. I find that it allows the pizza to bake together more evenly and makes the finished product a beautiful vessel of deliciousness. Your toppings should all be cool or room temperature before putting them on your pie. Hot toppings will cause uneven baking and mess up your authentic flavors. Here's some of my personal favorite topping combinations:

The Classic:

  • Oregano and fresh garlic seasoning
  • Sauce
  • Optional: Pepperoni (get it from a deli so it's less greasy)
  • Mozzarella cheese


  • Oregano, basil, chopped onion, and fresh garlic seasoning
  • Sauce
  • Diced bell peppers (pre-steamed to soften)
  • Diced white onion
  • Chopped broccoli
  • Chopped mushroom
  • Diced spinach
  • Evenly spaced dollops of ricotta cheese
  • Optional: pre cooked chopped chicken breast seasoned with salt and pepper
  • Mozzarella cheese

Greek Pizza:

  • Oregano and fresh garlic seasoning
  • Optional: Sauce with light drizzles of Tzatziki sauce
  • Pre cooked chopped chicken breast seasoned with salt and pepper
  • Diced spinach
  • Feta cheese crumbles
  • Mozzarella cheese

Sausage, Peppers, & Onion

  • Oregano, onion powder, crushed red pepper, and fresh garlic seasoning
  • Sauce
  • Pre cooked ground sausage seasoned with salt and pepper
  • Diced bell peppers (pre-steamed to soften)
  • Diced white onion
  • Mozzarella cheese

Calzone Style

  • Oregano, parsley, fresh basil, and fresh garlic seasoning
  • Chopped ham
  • Evenly spaced dollops of ricotta cheese
  • Mozzarella cheese

Step 7: Making the Pizza: Baking the Pie

Here's where it all comes together! As I mentioned earlier, it takes about 10-15 minutes to bake a pizza on a BBQ if all your temperatures are right. For a BBQ, here's what I recommend:

  1. Insert the stone centered on the BBQ
  2. Light the BBQ, all burners on high for 10 minutes
  3. Turn the burners under the stone down to low, turn the outer burners to medium
  4. Wait for the BBQ to reach about 350 degrees F

Using your peel, slide your pizza onto your stone carefully. If you find that the pizza is stuck to your peel, try putting a corner of the dough on the stone, then working the pizza onto the stone slowly by hand from front to back. Alternatively, lift a corner of the dough while its on the peel and blow air under your pizza. This will create a bubble that may allow you to slide the pizza onto the stone. Worst case scenario, fold the pizza and make a calzone.

Wait 4-7 minutes, then lift a corner of the pizza and look at the bottom of your crust. Depending on how hot your stone is, the bottom will most likely cook quicker than the top. If your pizza crust starts to brown, or if you can easily slide the pizza around on the stone, lift the pizza and transfer it to the screen. Then allow the pizza to finish baking on the screen placed on the stone. The screen will keep the crust from burning while the top cooks, it will also allow any excess flour or cornmeal to be separated from the dough. Check on the bottom of the crust regularly, it may be burning without you knowing! You can use multiple screens if your stone is too hot.

For my BBQ, I leave the center two burners (under the stone) on low and the outer two on high after preheating for 10 minutes. This keeps my stone hot enough to bake the crust in 5-7 minutes and the top of the pie in 12-15 minutes.

Step 8: Time to Eat...and Eventually Clean

After pulling your pizza out of the oven, let it sit and cool on the screen or a cooling tray for 3-5 minutes before cutting into it. Using your pizza cutter, cut your pie into even slices and enjoy!

To clean your stone, clean it while it is hot using a wire brush and or wet rag. Be careful! It's going to be hot for a couple of hours after use.

Step 9: Don't Forget the Knots!

Garlic knots are the perfect companion for your authentic at-home pizzeria experience! Using the dough cutoffs, loop and tie 5 inch strips of dough into garlic knots (see my quick video for guidance). My stone is large enough to cook a pizza and 5-10 knots around it. I usually put the knots on a few minutes after the pizza and transfer them to the screen together.

For a glaze, mix some fresh garlic and oregano into olive oil and use a brush to rub the mixture over hot garlic knots once you take them out of the oven.

For a marinara dipping sauce, take a cup of pizza sauce and add 1 Tbsp of sugar, fresh garlic, 1 tsp of olive oil, and fresh basil.

Step 10: Practice Makes Perfect ..... or Preference

I hope you have enjoyed this Instructable and it guides you to creating your own authentic pizzeria experience at home! I don't believe there is any perfect recipe or combination for creating a pizza and its ingredients, but definitely preference that can be perfected.

Keep practicing to make your pizzas a little more round, a little less puffy, and even more delicious to your own liking.

Thanks for reading, mangia mangia!

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