Fast and Easy Pizza Dough and Sauce

By Thursday Bram on 8 January 2008 (Updated 6 May 2010) 24 comments

Pizza delivery for just two people can quickly top $30, depending on where you live, not to mention the hour that you usually have to wait for that delivery. Buying frozen pizzas at the supermarket can halve the price and lessen the time commitment. Making your pizza from scratch, though, can make for a cheap meal with only a marginally higher time committment. The sauce to go with it isn't much better, costing dollars for the same amount of tomato product that you can get for cents. Here are some fairly quick recipes that can save you bucks at the checkout line without putting an end to hot pizza!

Pizza Dough (15 minutes for prep)

The foundation for my recipe came out of Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything, which has saved my bacon on numerous occasions. However, I've made some changes, just to make it a little faster and easier. This recipe works well on the East Coast — I can't make any promises for higher altitudes.

Pizza delivery for just two people can quickly top $30, depending on where you live, not to mention the hour that you usually have to wait for that delivery. Buying frozen pizzas at the supermarket can halve the price and lessen the time commitment. Making your pizza from scratch, though, can make for a cheap meal with only a marginally higher time committment. The sauce to go with it isn't much better, costing dollars for the same amount of tomato product that you can get for cents. Here are some fairly quick recipes that can save you bucks at the checkout line without putting an end to hot pizza!

Pizza Dough (15 minutes for prep)

The foundation for my recipe came out of Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything, which has saved my bacon on numerous occasions. However, I've made some changes, just to make it a little faster and easier. This recipe works well on the East Coast — I can't make any promises for higher altitudes.

  • 1 teaspoon rapid-rise yeast (if you use the kind that comes in packets, you need about 1/2 of a packet per batch of dough)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Your favorite pizza spices — I use about a teaspoon each of garlic, dried onion, basil and ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus an extra teaspoon
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (plus extra as needed)

In my largest mixing bowl, I combine the yeast, salt, and spices. I add the water and 2 tablespoons of olive oil and give it a quick stir. I add the flour a cup at a time. After the second cup, I usually can't stir in any more flour and have to switch to kneading it in. I knead until the dough is smooth. If the dough is too sticky I add flour in slowly until it smooths out. I pour the remaining olive oil into the bottom of the bowl and roll the dough around until the oil coats the outside of the dough. I cover with a damp cloth and stick the whole bowl out of the way to rise. It should double in about 2 hours.

For pizza, I preheat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. I form balls out of the dough and roll them flat on a floured surface. I place the pizzas on a lightly greased baking shet and pop in the oven for about 15 minutes. The cooking time entirely depends on the thickness of your crust and how many toppings you pile on — thin crust pizzas can take as little as 8 minutes.

For calzone, I preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Set up is essentially the same up to the point when I start adding toppings. Toppings go into the middle of the dough and the dough gets folded over them. I then pinch the edges shut. If they aren't staying closed, trying running your finger over the edge with a little water, then pinching. I then bake them for about 30 minutes.

A couple of notes:

  1. This recipe scales very well, but I tend to have to add about an extra 1/4 cup of water to get all of the flour mixed in.
  2. For both pizza toppings and calzone fillings, I either buy some sort of pre-cooked meat (turkey bacon or sausages) or cook it ahead of time (like grilled chicken). With pizza especially, meat just doesn't have a chance to cook properly.

Tomato Sauce (15 minutes)

  • 3 tablespoons oil or butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 1 can (28 ounces) chopped tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Any spices you wish

I place the oil, garlic and onion in a skillet on medium heat. I let them cook until the onion is translucent and then add the tomatoes, along with the salt, pepper and other seasonnings. I raise the heat to medium-high. Aside from stirring occasionally, I ignore it for around ten minutes, or until the mixture starts looking like sauce. If it seems to have too little liquid, I add a little more oil, leftover wine or a little water. Of course, there are plenty of other pizza sauce ideas if you're not such a fan of tomatoes.

A few more notes:

  1. For picky eaters, I recommend letting the sauce cool down a bit and then running it through a blender. If you're tryng to sneak in a few more vegetables into someone's diet, add them during the cooking process and blend very thoroughly. They can be practically unnoticeable.
  2. I used canned tomatoes because I can buy them in big lots, whenever they go on sale. Fresh tomatoes are definently an option, but I've found I often need to add more liquid during the cooking process.
  3. I often add odds and ends to my sauce: that last little bit of an onion or scallion, dried spices, whatever I have on hand and want to use up. The above recipe is only a starting point!

 

 

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Guest's picture
Lucille

Something else that really helps get a good pizza is to use a pizza stone. We use about six unglazed terra cotta tiles from the big box home improvement store. We also use them to bake breads, it helps with the texture and crust. We bought a wood pizza paddle for $9 at a kitchen gadget store, it helps get the pizza transferred.

On some advice we started using a really good quality bread flour for pizza dough and it did make a difference in texture.

Myscha Theriault's picture

That's a fabulous tip!

Guest's picture
Guest

$30.00 for pizza delivery for 2? While I can see this price for gourmet pizzas in certain locations, this is FAR from the norm. As for frozen pizza, I've never seen anything over $10.00 in any market. Unless you are including your "time" waiting, these prices are way overblown. I get the point you are trying to make, but at least use realistic prices.

Guest's picture
Jon

On a second note. The time you wait for delivery is not working for your argument. Your dough takes 15 minutes prep time, 2 hours to rise, plus 15 minutes to cook. That is more than double (almost triple) the time commitment of either delivery or frozen. That's a little more than "marginal". I get the money savings, but where does the time come in at, outside of planning ahead?

Guest's picture
FrugalZen

First go to a restaurant supply house and buy a bag of SAF Yeast...this is the yeast used by 95% of bakeries and it is CHEAP...last bag was $3.09 for a Half Kilo (17.5 ounces). Keeps forever in the fridge if kept dry.

Second make the Pizza Dough in large quantites..let rise once..then punch down and immediately package into pizza size balls and freeze fast...it will not kill the yeast just suspend its action.

You can do the same with Bread Dough as well forming it into loaves and freezing...just like the frozen ones you can buy in the store.

Now the trick...

24 hours before the time you need it remove a dough ball or bread loave from the freezer...place in a buttered or oiled bowl/bread pan turning to coat...cover with plastic wrap and place in the refridgerator.

Over the next 24 hours the dough will thaw and rise to the normal height for baking (bread) or to where you can punch down and roll out for pizza.

If I usually get home at 6:00 I take the loaf of bread out of the fridge then and put the next one in for the next day and bake the one I just took out...30 to 45 minutes and a loaf of bread is done..

Nothing like crisp fresh bread with whatever I'm having for dinner.

~ Roland

Guest's picture
Guest

Hey! I make homemade pizza all the time and I make it the way my family made it in Italy/Mediterranean area. It is a thin crust, we usually make a thick dough for focaccia type breads.

Here's the recipe:

7 oz(not quiet a cup) of good white bread flour
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 oz yeast(usually one of those packets)
3 oz milk (not quiet a 1/2 cup)
1/3 cup warn water

in bowl mix flour, sugar, salt, yeast. Add milk and water, stir mixture.

Place on floured surface and knead 5 min. or so. Add more flour if too sticky while kneading.

Form into a ball and place in a bowl lightly coated with olive oil. Let it rise for 1 hr.

After it rises, roll it out on a floured surface.

Bake at 400 degrees-I use a pizza stone and I also take olive oil and drizzle it on the dough before I add sauce.

It makes a medium pizza, but by some might say it is a small. It is perfect for 2 people.

Enjoy!

Deb

Guest's picture

This isn't one that I made up - it is in the Betty Crocker? cookbook. The red and white checked cookbook.

I've used this recipe tons of times - very easy.

3-4 cups flour
1 Tbls sugar
1 tsp salt
1 package of rapid-rise yeast
1 cup of water (between 120 and 130 degrees)
3 Tbls olive oil

Mix 1 cup of flour, the sugar, salt, and yeast. Start mixer and add hot water and oil. Mix on medium for a minute. Then start adding the flour and keep mixing until the dough no longer sticks to sides of bowl.

Place dough on floured surface and knead for 5 minutes. Since I use a stand mixer with a dough hook, I rarely need 5 minutes to knead.

Place dough in slightly oiled bowl and cover in a warm area. The 'proof' option on my oven is fantastic for this. Let rise for 30 minutes or until doubled in size.

Punch down dough and split into 2 for pizza or 6 for calzones.

For pizza, shape into a pizza pan and bake it without toppings for about 10 minutes at 375 degrees. Then add toppings and bake for 10 minutes.

For calzones, I just roll out the dough to 10 inch circles and fill and fold them over. This is easier and more time effective than pizzas, so I usually make calzones more than pizza. Bake at 375 for around 15 minutes.

For better presentation and crispier calzones, I put an egg wash on them and sprinkle with salt, Italian spices, parmesan cheese, and fresh ground pepper. It makes them all golden and delicious.

I will have to try the pizza sauce, I hate buying the expensive cans. I would also suggest buying your yeast in jars if you do a lot of baking. I think they keep better than the packets and are more economical.

Guest's picture
Mel

Just one tip... I would add a tsp of sugar to the sauce when cooking it.

Guest's picture
Brian

Anyone have a recipe for a wheat pizza dough?

Guest's picture
sylrayj

We had a Philly Cheesesteak pizza once, with green peppers and beef and cheese and a very nice white sauce. I'd love to make pizza at home, but my son is sensitive to tomato so it's not been a good option. A good white cheese sauce would make it possible, though. Does anyone have one that they've used successfully? :)

Guest's picture

Reading your post made me think of what I have done over the years for my two children. Take a cup of milk [any kind or an alternative type], heat slowly to a light boil, add sliced or shredded white cheese [your preference] slowly into milk base - stirring constantly until cheese is melted; add spices to your taste [ours:
dash of cayenne, thymeric, onion powder [dried or fresh can be smashed into fine particles], basil, oreango]. If sauce is too thin, use 2 Tlbspns of dry flour or cornstarch mixed till thin in a 1/4 c. of cold water, then slowly pour while mixing into cheese sauce. For a richer sauce you can melt a half stick of real butter prior to adding milk to your pan........you can also substitute lite-cream or philadelphia cream cheese instead of the milk. This recipe has always been
seen as an alternative to the tomato based sauces which
really have not taste. Enjoy and experiment !
Sheri

Myscha Theriault's picture

Actually, we just modified this recipe: http://webesharin.wordpress.com/2007/06/01/dry-mix-recipes-pizza-dough/ and substituted half the white flour for wheat. We've been quite pleased with the results. You can let it rise for up to a half hour, but if you are going for a thin crust, just go for it right away. It's still acceptable.

Also, Thursday, I'm so impressed you precook your pizza sauce. I'm usually lazy about it and just mix puree with Italan seasoning. But for a gourmet touch, yours sounds interesting.  

 

Guest's picture
Terri

If you don’t have two hours to wait for the dough to rise, several grocery stores now sell prepared pizza dough. It usually costs about a dollar. Trader Joe’s sells regular pizza dough as well as whole wheat. I like to make homemade pizzas with pesto sauce (so good).

Myscha Theriault's picture

That's exactly what we're doing tonight. Wheat crust, chicken, pesto, mushroom and parmesan pizza. Yeah, baby!

Thursday, I think you've started a pizza brainstorming avalanche here.

Thursday Bram's picture

Pizza is so adaptable to different eating styles. To change things up, sometimes I use alfredo sauce, rather than tomato sauce. Admittedly, though, I don't regularly make alfredo sauce from scratch.

Guest's picture
Dan

I had trouble with the pizza stone so I started using a 12" cast iron skillet. This helps keep the contents of the pizza on the pizza. Use a generous amount of canola oil to coat the skillet beforehand and you get a great crispy layer on the dough.

Guest's picture
AF

To "guest":

My husband and I order pizza a lot from three different popular chain delivery places, and it always costs over $30. This is the average price. . for a two or three topping large pizza, plus delivery ($2.75 or $3), plus tax. Actually, with tip it usually comes to $33 or $36, depending on the order and where we get it from.

This is in Canada. I wonder if prices are that much different in America. I'm assuming you're American.

Nora Dunn's picture
Nora Dunn

Geez - I've been living WAY off the grid lately and haven't had access to anything but the most basic of ingredients and cooking facilities (ie: no oven).

In so doing though, I've figured out a workable pizza dough - using nothing more than flour, water, and a little baking soda! (Then season with whatever spices desired). No need for taking time to rise, but it takes a bit of trial and error with kneading and exact quantities. 

We also used a cast iron skillet & olive oil (on the stove) to cook up the dough, and have had amazing results.  

As I said though, it was out of necessity that we devised this recipe. If you are patient and willing to experiment, ultimately it's the quintessential "poor man's" pizza. Enjoy! 

Guest's picture
Guest

Great recipes, and a great tip from frugalzen. A cheap pizza dinner in the inner burbs of L.A. is $25. And that's a "good deal".

Both flour quality and water quality count for a lot.

Guest's picture
Minimum Wage

There's a supermarket here that makes its own pizzas (refrigerated, uncooked) and sells them for $3.98. (Used to be $2.98 until recently when milk and cheese prices went up.)

When I'm too lazy to make my own pizza dough, I make mini-pizzas using sliced English muffins as the base.

Guest's picture
Kathryn

@Nora

If you're lucky enough to have a cast iron dutch oven, you can use it to--guess what!--bake with, including pizza (that's why they call it an oven, ya see :-). You can also make a Most Excellent Pizza on a covered grill; the trick in either case is to have something that reflects the heat back down onto the top. I can't get more specific, unfortunately, because my husband is the pizzaiolo of the family.

Guest's picture
Guest

Has anyone tried one of the pizza ovens (like Pizza Pizzazz)? They save energy, I know, and don't heat up the house as much in the summertime, but do they make good pizza? Thanks...

Guest's picture
Ginny

You can make your own grill pizza gadget and save the $50-$70. Get some fire brick. (Could probably also wrap regular brick in foil) Put enough on grill to support a pizza stone--probably 2 on each side. On the back side of the stone, stack 4 bricks (or the amount you need to go alongside the back part of the stone 2 deep--the idea is to make something to reflect the heat onto the pizza).
Turn the grill on high, heat up the stone and cook pizza on it.
Haven't tried this with a charcoal grill, but no reason it wouldn't work.
You can also cook the pizza directly on the grill, but I don't like my pizza that crispy.

Guest's picture
Guest

I did not have luck with this recipe; however, I have never attempted homemade pizza before, so it could be a user error! I found the dough was incredibly wet and I had to add a lot of extra flour. The result was thick and dense without much flavor.