Your local pizzeria has some advantages over you when it comes to making pizza: an oven that probably gets hotter than yours, an array of peels to get pizzas into and out of the oven, restaurant-style counters that let them prep pizzas quickly and cleanly, an industrial dough mixer that lets them make enough dough for a hundred pizzas at a time… the list goes on and on.
The good news is that you don’t need all of that to make truly amazing pizzas at home. With these five tools (plus a bonus item), you can make great pizza at home every time. You might even have some of them in your kitchen already!
If you don’t have all these items yet, there are alternatives. Check out my tutorial on how to make great pizza at home without any special tools, but consider investing in all of the items listed here if you’re serious about great pizza!
This post is step 1 in my Complete Guide to Making Pizza. Check out the link to learn about making dough, selecting toppings, finishing your pizza, and more!
1. A food scale.
Without this, you’ll have a difficult time getting your dough proportions right. Measuring in cups and tablespoons only gets you so far, and weight measurements are much more specific, leading to more predictable, reliable dough each time. Your scale will also help you divide your dough evenly. I personally use this one, but honestly any food scale will work, and you can find one that will work just as well for half the price.
2. A stand mixer.
You don’t technically need this one, and it can be a big investment, so don’t worry if you don’t have access to one now. I’s definitely possible to make great pizza dough by hand-kneading it, but it takes longer and the dough never quite achieves the gluten structure that I prefer. Both my 2-hour pizza dough recipe and my basic pizza dough recipe call for a longer knead time in a stand mixer to achieve this structure.
We actually have two KitchenAid stand mixers in our household: this 5-quart one and this 6-quart one. If you’re going to make dough regularly, I suggest going with the second one, which is better equipped for the project. (With that said, it is more expensive, and the 5-quart works fine for this purpose too.)
3. A pizza stone.
The difference this makes is amazing. Your pizza will bake more evenly, with the crust crisping up just as the cheese melts and the toppings soften. Without a pizza stone, it’s easy to end up with a raw crust and burnt toppings in a home oven, because (in contrast to a professional pizza oven) there isn’t enough heat coming from the bottom.
As with the food scale, the brand doesn’t matter much. Just read the reviews and make sure you get one that’s durable! With that said, I recommend this one, which is what I use at home.
4. A pizza peel. (Two, if you’re serious.)
One of the trickiest parts of making pizzas, especially in the early days of your pizza adventures, is getting the pizza into the oven in one nice, round, un-ripped piece. A wood pizza peel (like this one) makes this infinitely easier.
If you’re not familiar with the term, a pizza peel is that paddle-looking thing that people use to put pizzas into the oven, and take them out. A wood peel is typically used to put a pizza in, and a metal peel is used to remove the finished pizza.
So get a wood peel, sprinkle it with semolina, place your dough on top, add the toppings, and slide it onto your pizza stone. No more folded-over, oblong, torn pizzas!
If you make pizzas regularly, I’d also suggest investing in a metal pizza peel to take the pizza out of the oven when it’s done. It definitely makes things easier, but honestly I don’t think it’s as much of a need as other items on this list. (When I’m cooking somewhere that I don’t have access to a metal peel, I just use a fork to drag the finished pizza off the stone and onto a plate or cutting board. It’s not a big deal.)
5. A sharp, decent-quality knife.
This isn’t pizza-specific, but if you don’t already have one, you’ll be amazed at the difference it makes. When you’re prepping toppings, your life will be so much easier with a decent (and decently cared-for) knife.
In fact, I got so tired of dealing with mediocre or downright terrible knives at AirBNBs that I now carry my own everywhere. I bring my Henckels chef’s knife, Henckels paring knife, and Shun nakiri knife with me, and those are enough to do just about anything I need. (Since I’m mostly vegetarian, I don’t need to cut meat often, so you may want to add others to your collection if you do.)
If you just want one decent knife for now, I recommend a chef’s knife. If you’d prefer to limit your investment for now, the Victorniox Fibrox chef’s knife has a fantastic reputation as a great entry-level knife (although I haven’t tried it myself).
People often assemble their pizzas on a floured peel, then try to slide them into the oven from there. Just please don’t do this. If you use enough flour for the pizza not to stick, the leftover flour gets all gunky and gross on the bottom of the pizza. If you don’t use enough flour, the pizza sticks to the peel and gets twisted, tangled, deformed, or ripped as you try to put it in the oven.
Semolina is the solution. Unless you use way too much, it won’t get gross on the bottom of the pizza. It allows pizzas to slide easily. It even adds a nice little bit of texture to the crust. In short, it’s better in every way than using flour for this purpose, and definitely worth keeping in your pantry.
With these six things, you’re all set for making amazing, restaurant-worthy pizzas at home.
While you can technically make pizza without all (or any) of these things, it’s a lot more work for inferior results. If you invest in these six items, I promise your pizza-making sessions will be significantly easier, the end result will be better, and you’ll wonder how you ever made pizza without them.
If you don’t have some (or any) of these items yet, don’t despair! I’ve created a tutorial on how to make great pizza at home without any special tools. Check it out and learn how I make delicious pizzas in poorly equipped Airbnbs all over the world!
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