Making truly great pizza is really hard to do at home (which is why we built a wood-fired clay pizza oven in our courtyard!), but making really good pizza is straightforward if you’re willing to be a little patient. This California-style pizza dough recipe can be ready in as little as 5 hours, but benefits from a couple of days in the refrigerator to develop its flavor.
In a rush? Check out my slightly different 2-hour pizza dough recipe. I definitely recommend this (longer) recipe if you have time, but sometimes you’re in a hurry, guests are due soon, and you just need to have something on the table with less planning and preparation.
This is step 2 in my Complete Guide to Making Pizza! Click the link to learn about selecting and preparing toppings, how to stretch your dough, and much more!
California-Style Pizza Dough Recipe
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 1 teaspoon yeast
- 2 ½ teaspoons sugar (divided)
- 2 ½ cups flour (divided)
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil + more
Preparing the dough:
- In a small bowl, combine the water, yeast, and 1/2 teaspoon sugar. Whisk, then set aside for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, combine 2 cups flour, the salt, and the remaining sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir briefly to combine, then add the olive oil.
- When the yeast water is ready, add it to the bowl. Mix, using the dough hook, for about 5 minutes on your mixer’s lowest setting. Every minute or so, pause the mixer to stir in the dry ingredients around the edges.
- Once all of the dry ingredients are incorporated into the dough, add the remaining 1/2 cup flour. Mix for another 30 minutes on the lowest speed. Ideally, pause the mixer every 5 minutes or so to scrape the dough ball off the hook.
- The dough should be slightly sticky to the touch, but dry enough that it’s not sticking to the mixer bowl. If the dough feels too tacky or too dry after 30 minutes of mixing, add flour or water just 1 teaspoon at a time. Allow the mixer to incorporate the addition for 5 minutes before adding more.
Resting and rising:
- Transfer the dough to a clean bowl, cover, and place somewhere warm for an hour to rise.
- After an hour, remove the risen dough from the bowl and place it onto a clean, flat surface such as a cutting board or marble slab. Knead for about a minute to remove any large air bubbles.
- Divide the dough into 4 equal parts, optionally using a kitchen scale. Roll each part into a tight ball, ideally keeping an unbroken skin on the outside of the ball (pinch the bottom of the ball together to hold the skin shut).
- Lightly coat a flat surface that you can put into your refrigerator with olive oil. (Until I got my dough trays, I used a cutting board.) Coat each ball with olive oil, then set onto the oiled surface, pinched-skin-side down. Make sure the dough balls are several inches apart, as they’ll grow again.
- Refrigerate the dough for at least 4-6 hours, or up to 3-4 days.
- An hour before you’re ready to use it, take the dough out of the refrigerator and place it somewhere warm.