Perhaps there is no better-loved food in all the world than a piping hot, crispy, crunchy gooey cheesy perfect pizza.
Whether your favorite is Hawaiian with Canadian bacon and pineapple, a Gorgonzola extravaganza, Vegan ‘alt-cheese’ and fresh tomatoes, peppers and ripe olives, a white sauce specialty with chicken, or a spicy pepperoni – just thinking about it makes your mouth water.
The satisfaction of all those flavors and textures as you dive into a slice of pizza is undeniably one of life’s great pleasures.
Thanks to premade, ready-to-bake and frozen pizzas almost everyone has had the opportunity to try their hand at making this party staple – the adventurous have even created versions of their very own.
A Perfect Pizza is all about the Dough
There are a few choices. If you are a beginner, you might want to try store-bought dough first before jumping in and making your own.
Option 1: Keeping it Simple with a Store-bought Dough as your Base
Even if you buy a pre-made dough you can get a fantastic pizza using your own toppings and get as creative as you like. Here is how:
Option 2: Make Your Own!
Some of the best pizza dough in the world is the simplest. This basic pizza dough will get you started in the right direction.
Option 3: The Paleo Option
Because these days, everyone needs a Paleo option. But before you rush off and make your first cauliflower pizza crust, make sure you know this secret, because it WILL make all the difference.
We’ve arrived at the toppings. So many choices… Traditional tomato? 🍅 Gourmet white sauce? Or meat lovers over the top like no one’s ever seen? The world is your oyster… smoked oyster pizza anyone? It’s all up to you. 😊
Aaaah, but now it’s time to bake that pizza. Only a select few have mastered the baking of a perfect pizza like the ones at your favorite pizza joint. With the help of a laser infrared thermometer, you can take a crack at recreating the professional chef’s perfect pie.
The Tool of Choice for Making that Perfect Pizza
In addition to a professional pizza oven, pizza chefs rely on one tool to bake the perfect pizza every time—an infrared thermometer.
This easy-to-use tool lets the chef test the temperature of their pizza oven floor without ever coming into contact with the hot surface. Then it’s simply a matter of sliding the pizza in at just the right moment and at exactly the right placement for optimal baking.
Modifying Your Home Oven for Perfect Pizza Making
Before a pizza chef slides her pizza into the oven, she makes sure the temperature is exactly where she wants it. She checks for the distribution of the heat across the oven floor and picks the perfect spot to place her pizza.
Using a laser temp gun, she can simply scan across the pizza oven floor to know where the oven is hottest and where to slide her pizza into place for the perfect result.
But her oven is made of brick or stone and her oven floor sits over a hot fire which keeps those stones or bricks hot hot hot! 🔥 🔥 🔥 That combination of brick or stone and heat is the trick to perfect pizza. Hot air alone is not enough. And a hot baking sheet will actually produce a different result than what you want – so you’ve got to make a few adjustments.
Create Your Own Pizza Oven at Home
In a home oven, you don’t have a stone or brick floor in the oven. So, you’ll need to create one.
You can use half bricks (thinner than normal bricks), brick tiles, a large square of travertine tile (fairly inexpensive at a home supply store) or a store bought pizza stone (pricier but more stylish for those who want the perfect look). For the travertine tile or pizza stone be sure and measure your oven first. You have to bear in mind that you’ll need the single piece to fit across the bottom rack of the oven.
Next, place your chosen “oven floor” on the lower rack of the oven. The rack should be set at the lowest possible height. Voila! Instant pizza oven!
When you’re ready to bake your first pizza, preheat your oven to something like 450°F or 500°F. If you are familiar with your oven, you know if it tends to run too hot or too cool. If it does, then you can adjust accordingly. Your goal is to get that new pizza oven floor or stone to 485°F. This is the ideal temperature before you put your pizza on it.
🌡Getting that Pizza Stone to Reach the Target Temperature 🌡
Typically, an oven will reach the ambient air temperature for baking well before the pizza stone reaches that temperature. So simply hearing the oven beep that it has reached temperature does not indicate that the pizza stone has reached the target temperature.
Your pizza stone should reach the oven’s set temperature within a few minutes of when the oven sensor beeps. But different ovens behave differently. So, use the laser temp gun to check the temperature a few times after the oven beeps.
The stone will usually continue to heat to a higher temperature than the oven setting. Which is why, in my oven, I preheat to 450°F. And then, I measure the stone until it reaches my perfect pizza stone baking temperature – (see below).
To test the pizza stone temperature you will need to open the oven door. You cannot measure it through the glass of the oven door. To do this, open the oven and “shoot” the laser across the stone at an oblique (shallow) angle as shown in the photo below.
👉 Pro Tip: Move fairly quickly and hold the trigger down the entire time you are scanning the surface of the stone. Do this to get continuous readings of the temperature of the stone across its surface. Then you can see the temperature readings as they happen.
🎁 Bonus points: This will let you know how evenly your oven heats, too.
The Ideal Temperature and Baking Time
Great pizza starts with a pizza stone that is as close to 485°F as possible. It can get a little hotter as you prepare the pizza to go in. But remember, once the pizza is on the stone, it will cool slightly before regaining its original temperature. It won’t be baking for long.
So, you want to make sure you’re right on or slightly above the target temperature.
The further away you are from 485°F, the trickier it will be to get the perfect result you want. Too hot and the pizza bakes too fast, the insides may still be raw while the crust burns. Too cool and the crust will not crisp up properly.
You want the pizza to bake evenly, cook all the way through. You want it to have a nice crisp crunchy crust that is not burnt.
A pizza stone temperature of 485°F can be achieved in your home oven. Preheat the oven to 455°F. Then, wait an additional fifteen to twenty minutes after the oven beeps. Scan the stone with your infrared thermometer two or three times while you’re waiting. You’ll see the temperature rising and eventually stabilizing at around 485°F. It’s time to bake your pizza!
Sliding that Pizza In
Once the pizza stone is ready, use a pizza peel to place the pizza on the stone in one motion. Then close the oven door and bake for 8-10 minutes.
Bake time will depend on crust thickness and toppings. Bake a few minutes longer if you see the crust is not golden brown yet. Do the same if the cheese is not yet bubbling. When the crust is crispy and golden and the toppings are bubbly-hot, it’s time to get the pizza out of the oven.
Impress Your Family and Friends with that Perfect Pizza
Now you have given yourself the same advantage your favorite pizza place uses. How do we know? Because we sell a lot of temperature guns to pizza parlors!
And don’t worry about getting your oven too hot – many professional ovens bake quite a bit higher than the 485°F recommendation with no issues. Just remember that the consistent temperature across the pizza stone is the key to that awesome pizza.
With a little bit of practice, you’ll be on your way to that perfect pizza everyone will crave. They just might ask you to make it again! And that’s a good problem to have! 👩🍳👨🍳