how to make fabulous pizza dough

The one thing everyone here in the merry gourmet home can agree on is that we love pizza. Even the picky 3 1/2 year old, Oliver. Now, we don’t always agree on toppings, but that’s really just a minor hurdle to overcome.

I’ve made pizza before, but I confess that I cheated a bit. When I made this deep dish pizza, I used this pizza dough mix from King Arthur Flour. I was nervous about making my own pizza dough from scratch. The idea of working with yeast sort of freaked me out. For no good reason, mind you. I just had never worked with it before, so I was certain – absolutely positive – I would screw it up somehow. But, life in the kitchen is about making mistakes, learning lessons, and moving on, right?

It took a lot of mental preparation for me to gear up for making pizza. I did a lot of reading. I reviewed the pizza section in my copy of Amy’s Bread. Deb of Smitten Kitchen wrote about some of her pizza making pointers. Jennifer has lots of experience making pizza, even on the grill, so I was sure to soak up what I could from her posts. I bought a pizza stone and a pizza peel.

And finally, I was ready.

And, like most of my new experiences in the kitchen, working with yeast was no big deal. None, whatsoever. The dough came together perfectly. I used my stand mixer with the dough hook attachment, so it made it really simple. I made the dough in advance, and I let it rise slowly in the refrigerator. It probably didn’t rise to it’s full height (i.e., double in size), but it worked great regardless.

Since the kids – and my picky husband – can never agree on what to put on top, I made two pizzas with completely different toppings. For both pizzas, I made a simple tomato sauce – no recipe involved – using sauteed onions and garlic, diced tomatoes, dried oregano and basil. The sauce simmered for about 45 minutes, thickening up nicely. And, because I have a husband who can’t stand chunks of tomato, I threw it in the blender and pureed it until smooth.

The kids’ pizza was simply mozzarella and pepperoni. Maddie and Oliver had a blast placing each pepperoni slice in just the right position, then watching it bake up in the oven. For the grown-up version, I used some chicken sausage flavored with sweet peppers, thinly sliced red onion, and broccoli florets. Just to see if my stone was worth the price, I baked one on the stone and one on a pan. The one baked on the stone had a perfectly crisp crust on the bottom. The stone? Totally worth it.

This may have been our first family dinner where everyone – even the 3 1/2 year old – was content with the food on the table. We’ll be doing this again, soon. Oh, yeah we are.

Pizza Dough


1/4 cup dry white wine *
3/4 cup warm water
1 package dry active yeast
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 cups (435 grams) all-purpose flour


Combine wine and water - both should be warm (110 degrees or so). [Note: I warmed up the wine & water together in the microwave until it was the right temp.] In a mixing bowl, combine the wine, water, and yeast - stir until dissolved. Add the honey, salt, and olive oil. Mix well until combined.

Add about 1 cup of flour to the mixing bowl and stir to make a wet paste. Add in the rest of the flour and incorporate [If you have a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, this is a great use for it.].

Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for 2 to 3 minutes. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and turn to coat dough ball with oil. Cover with a towel and let rise for 45 minutes. Alternatively, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

When dough has doubled in size, punch dough down gently with your fist. Cut the dough into two equal pieces for two 12-inch round pizzas. Now, go make your favorite pizza recipe!**

* Note: If you don't have any white wine on hand, or you prefer not to use wine, just use 1 cup of water and omit the wine. But, isn't everything better with a bit of wine?

** I stretched the dough gently into 12-inch rounds then topped with sauce, cheese, and toppings. I baked mine in a 500 degree F oven for about 10-12 minutes. The crust was divine.

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26 Responses to “how to make fabulous pizza dough”

  1. 1
    Brian @ A Thought For Food — July 15, 2010 @ 4:06 pm

    White Wine! What a wonderful idea (yes, wine makes everything better)!

    I need to make pizza dough again because the last time I made it, it was a 4 hour process. Can’t wait to try it!

  2. 2
    Magic of Spice — July 15, 2010 @ 4:32 pm

    I love this recipe…with white wine, perfect. And the pizza look fantastic!

  3. 3
    Kate — July 15, 2010 @ 5:47 pm

    This looks great! I just made a Bon AppΓ©tit recipe for Margherita pizza, but I bought my dough from a bakery and made the pizza on the grill. How do you think this dough would hold up to grilling?
    Great pictures too, and I agree wine makes everything better!

    • 3.1
      merrygourmet — July 15, 2010 @ 6:47 pm

      Kate – I would guess it would hold up just fine on the grill. I’ve not tried it, but I think that if you made smaller pizzas, they’d be easier to get on and off the grill. Here’s a great post that you may want to refer to by Heidi of 101 Cookbooks:

  4. 4
    Adrienne — July 15, 2010 @ 6:42 pm

    What I really struggle with is stretching my pizza dough out to form a pizza! I can never get it right. It always shrinks back or gets holes. Any tips on that?

    • 4.1
      merrygourmet — July 15, 2010 @ 6:48 pm

      Adrienne – What has worked for me is giving the dough some rest time. Stretch a little, let it rest, stretch a little more, let it rest…eventually I can get it the size it needs to be.

  5. 5
    Adelina — July 15, 2010 @ 7:01 pm

    Thank you for your post. I think I need help with my pizza dough and would like to try your recipe.

  6. 6
    Debs — July 16, 2010 @ 5:08 am

    I love making homemade pizza, never thought of adding wine (a firm favourite in this household) & honey.

    Brilliant. Will be making this base ASAP, thanks.

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  9. 7
    Tangled Noodle — July 16, 2010 @ 9:38 am

    Love this! I’m trying to wean myself away from parbaked crusts and store-bought pre-made dough. I’ve always been a bit intimidated by baking, even if it’s something as simple as a pizza crust. Thanks for this marvelous recipe!

    • 7.1
      merrygourmet — July 16, 2010 @ 11:26 am

      Tangled Noodle – Oh, if I can do it, you TOTALLY can. Go for it!

      Debra (Smith Bites) – Love the tip about buying an extra stone for the grill. That’s a great idea. Also, YOU rock. πŸ™‚

  10. 8
    SMITH BITES — July 16, 2010 @ 10:08 am

    White wine & Mario Batalli – how can you go wrong??? And if I may add my 2 cents about pizza on the grill – absolutely! we bought an extra pizza stone specifically for our grill; throw the stone on the grill at the same time you light/start your grill, allowing the stone to get blistering hot – makes for the perfect crust!

    You rock MJ!

  11. 9
    Kate — July 16, 2010 @ 2:30 pm

    Thanks for the tips about grilling! (to Debra, too)
    I definitely recommend the EASY pizza toppings I’ve just blogged, though your husband may not like the chunks of tomatoes πŸ™‚
    I’d appreciate any new ideas for what to top the pizza with when I try this great looking dough!

  12. 10
    Chef Dennis — July 17, 2010 @ 9:15 pm

    such beautiful images!!!! and that pizza looks so very very good! Thanks for working out that recipe for us!
    all the best

  13. 11

    LOVE a good homemade pizza! Whenever we make dough, we make enough for about 6 smaller pizzas, wrap them individually, and freeze the ones we don’t use right away. The day before you need them, throw them into the fridge to defrost, then roll out like you normally would. Makes it easy for the lazy folks here at the RGB. πŸ˜‰


  14. 12
    Gail — July 18, 2010 @ 2:42 pm

    What does one first do upon arriving home from a week’s holiday out of the country? Read blog posts, of course. Couldn’t wait to see what you were doing, pizza wise! This is a great recipe that I can’t wait to try!

  15. 13
    Jason Phelps — July 19, 2010 @ 9:43 pm

    Looks great!

    I have tried dough before and found it just wasn’t for me. A lot of work to get it just right. A good family run pizza joint or grocery store might have the best stuff to use anway!


  16. 14
    Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite — July 20, 2010 @ 10:16 am

    Looks fantastic! I recently made pizza dough really successfully for the first time (other attempts not so much) so I know the feeling of satisfaction! Love the toppings.

  17. 15
    Liren — July 21, 2010 @ 12:55 am

    Mmm! I am always looking for a new pizza dough recipe, and this one intrigues me! I love that it doesn’t look overly wet or sticky, and I am especially curious about the wine addition! If it’s not too hot this weekend, I think I’ll give this one a try πŸ™‚

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  21. 16
    Jeph — January 1, 2012 @ 6:03 pm

    Just came across your blog while looking for pressure cooker recipes, and then came across this – a pizza crust recipe with wine!!? OK, that’s a new one on me! I have a super easy, super fast to whip up fallback recipe for pizza crust I got from Cooks Illustrated years ago – throw the stuff in the food processor and in under five minutes you have two blobs relaxing and rising for about and hour – without dough stuck all over your hands. And as for recipes using alcohol in an interesting way, my dad got a pie crust recipe (also from Cooks Illustrated) that includes vodka!

    I may have to try your recipe as is, or sub in wine for water in the recipe I already love.

    Something for you try try on the grill when you’re feeling adventurous : bbq chicken or hot wing/buffalo chicken pizza. Yum!

    Thanks for providing such a great blog!!

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