The BEST Pan Pizza is made with handmade pizza dough, a perfectly seasoned crust, crispy cheese ring and a simple, flavorful pizza sauce.

My husband Kurt made this pizza every Friday night for over 18 months, testing and perfecting the recipe. Follow all of his tips and tricks to make the best pizza ever!

whole cooked pizza on marble serving tray

In the year 2020, my husband set out to make the best homemade pizza. Every time I looked up, there was a new YouTube video on the TV with someone making pizza. He studied different techniques and took notes from some of our favorite pizza spots across the country.

We both grew up eating Pizza Hut and as kids, we loved their pan pizza crust. It’s the perfect middle ground between thin crust and deep dish. There’s also no denying the deliciousness of Pizza Hut’s breadstick seasoning. After a tip from a previous Pizza Hut employee on a Reddit thread, we created the hut seasoning mix to season the crust.

Kurt then spent the next 18 months experimenting with making the dough, the sauce, the amount of cheese on the pizza, the type of cheese and how different toppings affected the pizza. He also made the clutch decision to add mozzarella cheese around the crust to make a crispy cheese ring around the pizza. This really takes this pizza from a great homemade pizza to the best pizza ever!

He made this pizza every Friday night for 18 months. And every Friday night I posted a video of the pizza on Instagram. And every week I was asked by dozens of people to share his secret recipe.

Well, today is the day! Allow me to introduce you to Kurt’s famous pan pizza!

two slices of pizza on a white plate

How to make the dough

The dough can be made in a bread machine, a stand mixer or in a bowl with an electric hand mixer. We have made it with all three, but prefer the bread machine as it does a lot of the work for you.

If you have a bread machine, it will normally have a pizza dough function. Simply add all of the ingredients to the bread machine, push the pizza dough button and let it do it’s thing. After the dough is made in the bread machine, remove it from the machine, place it in an oiled bowl and cover it with a towel. Let it sit covered for at least one hour, or up to 8 hours.

If using a stand mixer or electric hand mixer, follow the steps below.

  1. Add bread flour, salt, sugar, yeast, olive oil and 5 ounces of water to a stand mixer or large bowl.
  2. Use a dough hook on the stand mixer or an electric hand mixer to combine the dough for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the remaining 5 ounces of water and continue mixing the dough for 15 minutes on medium speed. (This essentially replaces kneading the dough by hand.)
  4. Cover the dough in the mixing bowl and allow it to rest for 1 hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.
  5. After an hour, punch the dough down and fold it in half, repeating this six times in a row.
  6. Cover the dough again for a minimum of one hour, or up to 8 hours. Leaving it in a warm place on the kitchen counter.

This recipe makes enough dough for two pizzas. When ready to cook the pizza, divide the dough in half. If you’re only making one pizza, store the other half of the dough in an airtight container, that’s been coated with olive oil.

The dough will stay good in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. We usually make the dough every other week, since we only eat one pizza per week on Friday night.

pizza sauce ingredients and homemade sauce in a glass bowl

How to make the sauce

The difference between pasta sauce and pizza sauce is that pasta sauce is cooked on the stove, while pizza sauce is not cooked before adding it to the pizza. The tomatoes and herbs are really highlighted in this simple sauce recipe, so I recommend using high-quality canned tomatoes and fresh herbs whenever possible.

For the canned tomatoes, I highly recommend using San Marzano tomatoes. This variety of plum tomato is from the San Marzano region in Italy. They are famous for their flavor, which is a balanced combination of juicy tomato flavor, sweetness and acidity.

It only takes two simple steps to make the sauce.

  1. Use your hands to crush the San Marzano tomatoes into a bowl.
  2. Add the fresh basil, oregano, salt, sugar and olive oil, combine all of the ingredients.

It’s super easy and I usually whip up the sauce in just a couple of minutes while Kurt is preparing the pan for the pizza dough.

mozzarella cheese in package and cut into cubes on cutting board

What kind of cheese to use

In the great pizza experiment of 2020, Kurt found that low moisture mozzarella cheese works best for making a delicious, even layer of melty cheese on the pizza without weighing it down. You can use whole milk or part-skim, just make sure it’s low moisture.

He cuts the cheese into small cubes for the top of the pizza and into slim strips to go around the edge of the pizza for the crispy cheese crust.

collage of images showing how to make seasoned pan pizza

How to make the pizza

If you have a favorite pizza dough or sauce recipe, feel free to use that, but don’t sleep on Kurt’s pizza preparation tips and tricks. This is where all the magic happens!

For this recipe, you’ll use both the stove and the oven to cook the pizza. Before beginning this process, preheat the oven broiler to high heat.

  1. Brush olive oil in the bottom and sides of a 12 inch skillet.
    • Note: we started out using a cast iron skillet, but found that a non-stick skillet works just as well and is much easier to clean! Feel free to use either a cast iron pan or non-stick skillet.
  2. Sprinkle cornmeal in the bottom and edges of the pan.
  3. Sprinkle salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, dried basil and dried oregano evenly in the bottom of the skillet.
  4. Use your hands to stretch the pizza dough out to about 12 inches wide. Place the pizza dough in the skillet. Cover with a clean towel and let rise for 20-30 minutes.
  5. Turn the stove to high heat and wait for the oil to start to bubble around the edges. Once the oil begins to bubble, turn the heat down to medium-high, add the mozzarella cheese around the edges and set a 10 minute timer.
  6. The cheese should start to brown around the edge of the pizza.
collage of images showing how to make pan pizza

Topping and cooking the pizza

  1. After the pizza has been on the stove for 8-9 minutes, add the sauce and parmesan cheese.
  2. After the 10 minute timer is up, turn the stove off and add the remaining mozzarella cheese.
  3. Add the toppings of your choice. We add diced red bell pepper, sliced jalapenos and diced red onion.
  4. Place the pizza under the broiler on the middle rack of the oven. Bake the pizza for 2 minutes, or until the cheese turns brown.
  5. Remove the pizza from the oven and lift the pizza out of the skillet immediately, or it will continue cooking in the hot skillet.
  6. Transfer the pizza to a cutting board, then wait 3-4 minutes before slicing the pizza to allow the cheese to cool slightly.
cooked pan pizza with crispy cheese crust and vegetable toppings

Check out that crispy cheese ring around the crust, OMG yum!

For the toppings

After making this pizza with a variety of toppings, we’ve found that veggies are our favorite way to top the pizza. Our normal Friday night pizza routine is adding a combination of diced red bell pepper, sliced jalapenos and diced red onions to the pizza. If we have mushrooms in the fridge, we’ll also add a few sliced mushrooms on top.

My parents have started making this pizza every Friday night also and they top their pizza with pepperoni and bell pepper. To prevent the pizza from getting greasy, my parents first cook the pepperonis for 3-4 minutes per side in a skillet on the stove over medium-high heat. This will release the grease from the pepperoni, so when you cook them on the pizza, it won’t get greasy.

Any of your favorite pizza toppings can be added to the pizza. But I do not recommend adding more than 1/2 cup of toppings or the toppings will weigh down the pizza and can make the crust in the middle soggy. I also recommend using ingredients with a low moisture content. Any ingredients with high moisture content can also weigh down the pizza and make it soggy.

If you’re looking for some ideas, try some of these popular topping combos. If adding any meats, I recommend cooking out as much of the grease as possible before adding them to the pizza.

  • Veggie: Red Bell Pepper + Jalapeno + Onion
  • The Bond fav: Pepperoni + Red Bell Pepper
  • Hawaiian: Diced Pineapple + Canadian Bacon
  • The Chicago: Italian Sausage + Green Bell Pepper + Onion
  • Supreme: Pepperoni + Canadian Bacon + Italian Sausage + Onions + Green Peppers + Mushrooms + Black Olives
  • Meat lovers: Sausage + Pepperoni + Ham + Beef + Bacon
  • Cheese lovers: Mozzarella + Parmesan + Herbed Ricotta
    • For the herbed ricotta, I add fresh basil, parsley and oregano to whole milk ricotta, then dollop the ricotta cheese on the pizza after it’s cooked in the oven.
two slices of pizza on white plate with fork

Tips and tricks

  • Never roll the pizza dough. You always want to use your hands to stretch the dough vs. rolling it with a rolling pin. Rolling the dough will push out all of the air in the dough, resulting in a tough texture vs. a light and airy texture.
  • Always use bread flour to make the pizza dough. Bread flour contains more protein than all-purpose flour, which helps it produce more gluten and will give the dough the elasticity it needs to be stretched into a pizza.
  • If you hand stretch the dough and end up with a small hole in the middle, simply pull off a small piece of dough from the outside edge and use it to fill in the hole.
  • To avoid a greasy pizza, immediately remove the pizza from the oven as soon as the cheese turns brown. Otherwise the cheese will release all of its oils and you’ll end up with a greasy pizza. Also, be sure to cook out any grease from meats like pepperoni and sausage, before adding them to the pizza.
  • Leftover pan pizza will stay good in the refrigerator for 5 days, stored in a sealed container.
  • The pizza dough will stay good in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Feel free to make a double batch and eat pizza 2 or 3 times throughout the week!

Frequently asked questions

  • How many slices of pizza does this recipe make? This recipe makes 8 slices of pizza. The slices are on the smaller side, so we usually plan for 3-4 slices per person.
  • Can you use store-bought pizza dough? Yes, most grocery stores will sell a 12 ounce ball of refrigerated pizza dough near the deli section of the store. You can use this to make the pizza. You will want to remove the dough from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before starting the recipe, so that it can come up to room temperature.
  • How do you reheat pan pizza? I prefer to reheat the pizza in the oven. It helps the crust maintain its delicious, crispy texture and allows the cheese to melt over the pizza. You can reheat it on a sheet pan under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, or preheat the oven to 350°F, wrap the pizza in foil and place it in the oven for 15 minutes. You can also reheat the pizza in the microwave for 2 minutes.
cooked pan pizza topped with veggies on marble serving tray

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Pan Pizza

The BEST Pan Pizza is made with handmade pizza dough, a perfectly seasoned crust, crispy cheese ring and a simple, flavorful pizza sauce. Follow these tips and tricks to make the best pizza ever!

Ingredients

Dough

  • 10 ounces room-temperature water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 3 cups + 5 tablespoons bread flour
  • ½ teaspoon active dry yeast

Sauce

  • 3 San Marzano peeled tomatoes
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried oregano

Pizza

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cornmeal
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 6-8 ounces low moisture mozzarella cheese, sliced into small cubes

Toppings

  • 2 tablespoons diced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons diced red bell pepper
  • ½ jalapeno, thinly sliced

Instructions

Dough

  • The dough can be made in a bread machine, a stand mixer or in a bowl with an electric hand mixer
  • If you have a bread machine, add all of the ingredients to the bread machine, push the pizza dough button and let it do it’s thing.
  • After the dough is made in the bread machine, remove it from the machine, place it in an oiled bowl and cover it with a towel. Let it sit covered for at least one hour, or up to 8 hours.
  • If using a stand mixer or electric hand mixer, follow the steps below.
  • Add the bread flour, salt, sugar, yeast, olive oil and 5 ounces of water to a stand mixer or large bowl.
  • Use a dough hook on the stand mixer or an electric hand mixer to combine the dough for 2 minutes.
  • Add the remaining 5 ounces of water and continue mixing the dough together for 15 minutes on medium speed.
  • Cover the dough in the mixing bowl and allow it to rest for 1 hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.
  • After an hour, punch the dough and fold it in half, repeating this process six times.
  • Cover the dough for a minimum of one hour, or up to 8 hours. Leaving it in a warm place on the counter.
  • This recipe makes enough dough for two pizzas. When ready to cook the pizza, divide the dough in half. If you’re only making one pizza, store the other half of dough in an airtight container, that’s been coated with olive oil.

Sauce

  • Remove three whole tomatoes from a can of San Marzano tomatoes. Use your hands to crush the tomatoes into a bowl.
  • Add the fresh basil, oregano, salt, sugar and olive oil, combine all of the ingredients. Set aside.

Pizza

  • Preheat the oven broiler to high.
  • Brush the olive oil in the bottom and sides of a 12 inch nonstick skillet, or cast iron skillet.
  • Sprinkle the cornmeal evenly over the olive oil, in the bottom and edges of the pan.
  • Sprinkle the salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, dried basil and dried oregano evenly in the bottom of the skillet.
  • Use your hands to stretch the pizza dough out to about 12 inches wide, then place the dough in the skillet.
  • Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for 20-30 minutes.
  • Place the skillet with the pizza dough on a burner on the stove.
  • Turn the stove to high heat and wait for the oil to start to bubble around the edges of the dough.
  • Once the oil begins to bubble, turn the heat down to medium-high, add about half of the mozzarella cheese around the edges and set a 10 minute timer.
  • Wait 8-9 minutes, then use a spoon to spread the sauce evenly over the pizza and sprinkle the parmesan cheese on top of the sauce.
  • After the 10 minute timer is up, turn the heat on the stove off and add the remaining cheese and toppings evenly across the pizza.
  • Place the pizza under the broiler on the middle rack of the oven for 2 minutes, or until the cheese turns brown.
  • Remove the pizza from the oven and lift the pizza out of the skillet immediately, or it will continue cooking in the hot skillet.
  • Transfer the pizza to a cutting board, then wait 3-4 minutes before slicing the pizza to allow the cheese to cool slightly.

Notes

  • The nutritional information provided is for one slice of pizza, calculated with one pizza dough, 6 ounces of mozzarella cheese, with onion, bell pepper and jalapenos as the toppings.
  • Feel free to add the toppings of your choice, but I do not recommend adding more than 1/2 cup of toppings or the toppings will weigh down the pizza and can make the crust in the middle soggy. 
  • Never roll the pizza dough. You always want to use your hands to stretch the dough vs. rolling it with a rolling pin. Rolling the dough will push out all of the air in the dough, resulting in a tough texture vs. a light and airy texture.
  • Always use bread flour to make the pizza dough. Bread flour contains more protein than all-purpose flour, which helps it produce more gluten and will give the dough the elasticity it needs to be stretched into a pizza.
  • If you hand stretch the dough and end up with a small hole in the middle, simply pull off a small piece of dough from the outside edge and use it to fill in the hole.
  • To avoid a greasy pizza, immediately remove the pizza from the oven as soon as the cheese turns brown. Otherwise the cheese will release all of its oils and you’ll end up with a greasy pizza. Also, be sure to cook out any grease from meats like pepperoni and sausage, before adding them to the pizza.
  • Leftover pan pizza will stay good in the refrigerator for 5 days, stored in a sealed container.
  • The pizza dough will stay good in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
  • You can use store-bought pizza dough. Most grocery stores will sell a 12 ounce ball of refrigerated pizza dough near the deli section of the store. You can use this to make the pizza. You will want to remove the dough from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before starting the recipe, so that it can come up to room temperature.
  • To reheat the pizza in the oven, place it on a sheet pan under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, or preheat the oven to 350°F, wrap the pizza in foil and place it in the oven for 15 minutes. 

Nutrition Facts

Calories 198kcal (10%)Carbohydrates 21g (7%)Protein 9g (18%)Fat 9g (14%)Saturated Fat 3g (15%)Cholesterol 11mg (4%)Sodium 583mg (24%)Potassium 114mg (3%)Fiber 1g (4%)Sugar 2g (2%)Vitamin A 334mg (7%)Vitamin C 11mg (13%)Calcium 177mg (18%)Iron 1mg (6%)
Did you make this recipe?Tag @WhitneyBond on Instagram and hashtag it #WBRecipes!

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