It’s no secret: my family loves pizza. It has been a family ritual to have pizza on Saturday nights for as long as I can remember, a tradition that continues to this day. We have tried way too many pizza recipes to count over the years, but of all of them, this is the clear winner. It truly tastes like crispy pizzeria pizza and is so simple to make anyone can do it!

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Pizza Crust Directions (enough for 2 pizzas):

1 cup        water
2 tsp.        instant yeast
2-1/2 cups    flour (all-purpose)
2 Tbsp.        cooking oil
1 tsp.        sugar
1 tsp.        salt

Mix the above ingredients in a large bowl until well blended. Mixture will look very wet and “soupy.” Cover bowl with plastic wrap or towel. Let sit for a few hours – or even overnight.

An hour or so before making pizza, add another 1-1/2 to 2 cups of flour to the above mixture. Blend the flour in with a spoon as much as possible.

Then knead the dough by forming it into a loose ball and pressing it between your hands. The more you squeeze the dough, the more you are activating the yeast.

If the dough seems way too dry (such as big crumbs of the flour mixture falling off), add a bit more water – if the dough is way too wet, add some additional flour.

The dough should end up being flexible and not very sticky. It takes time to get the dough to this point, so be patient.

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The above recipe can be used to make one very large, thick crust pizza. Or, you can divide the dough into two equal pieces and make two smaller pizzas–or divide the dough into one large chunk of dough and one smaller chunk of dough and then make a large pizza with a fairly thin crust and a smaller pizza with a thicker crust.  You can also divide the dough other ways, such as into fourths, and make smaller individual-serving size pizzas. The possibilities are endless!

When the dough is thoroughly mixed, and you’ve decided how many pizzas you’re going to make with it, you then place it in a lightly greased bowl (or bowls). Let the dough rise as little as five minutes, and the pizza will be delicious – or you can also allow it to rise for an hour or more, or even overnight in the refrigerator, and the crust is still scrumptious. It’s a very simple recipe that is truly easy to work with.

Preheat your oven to 425°(F).

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Pizzas can, of course, be made on many different types of pans. The pan that has given the best results for the above recipe is one that is cast iron.

So once the dough has risen, plop it on a greased cast iron pizza pan. It also makes delicious pan (thick) pizzas in a greased cast iron skillet.

Spread the dough out to the edges of the pan by used your greased fingers. If the dough is too springy, just let it sit a while and try again. Dough will “relax” if you just give it time.

When you have spread the dough onto your desired pan or pans, bake about 5 minutes in your preheated 425 degree oven. This is done to slightly dry out the dough before the toppings are added, and it helps to make a better crispy crust.

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Once the crust is prebaked, it’s time to add toppings.

Start by adding a sprinkling of shredded cheese, such as Monterey Jack, which is delicious and very creamy.

Next drizzle on pizza sauce (recipe follows).

Then add additional toppings of your choice.

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Return the pizza with toppings to your oven, and bake until the cheese on the pizza is bubbly and the crust is browned – 8 to 15 minutes – depending on how your oven heats. (To see if the crust has browned, simply pry up a corner of it with a fork.)

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Tip: Place your cooked “pepperoni” pizza under your oven’s broiler until the pepperoni starts to sizzle and pop. This results in super crisp pepperoni with a true pizza parlor taste – a proven crowd pleaser!

Basic Pizza Sauce Recipe

1 can         (6 oz.) Tomato Paste
2 cups        water
1 tsp.        garlic powder
1/2 tsp.    dried oregano
1 Tbsp.        cooking oil

Mix ingredients well. Bring to boil in a saucepan, and then lower the heat and simmer for at least 5 minutes. This sauce is even better if you can cook it early in the day, or a day ahead of time, since the flavors then blend better.

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