Perfect pan pizza, with an easy, homemade no-knead pizza crust, classic toppings, baked to perfection in a steel or cast iron skillet, or a baking pan.
What is pan pizza?
As the name implies, pan pizza is pizza made in a pan. That pan could be a cast-iron skillet, a seasoned steel skillet a metal cake pan or even a baking sheet.
Baking pizza in a pan results in a couple of distinctive features. First, the dough will rise and bake up, instead of out, due to the constraints of the sides of the pan, resulting in a bit thicker crust. Secondly, the crust will bake up chewy and golden, as opposed to crisp, also due to the pan baking.
Pan pizza is not the same as deep dish pizza. It is thinner than Detroit or Chicago-style deep dish pizzas, though it does tend to have a bit thicker, chewier crust than a hand-tossed, stone-baked pizza.
Why you'll love this easy pan pizza recipe!
My perfect pan pizza recipe uses a super easy, no-knead homemade pizza dough, that produces a lovely, light and bubbly crust with so little hands on time!
The dough timing can be adjusted based on the rising time you have available (anywhere from 8 hour to 18 hours!). The shorter rise option means you can mix the dough and enjoy it same day, with no overnight rise needed.
No time to make your own dough? No worries. Simply swap in your favourite store-bought pizza dough here.
You can make as much or as little dough as you need. As written, there is enough dough for one 12-inch pizza or two 8-10 inch pizzas. Double or triple the dough recipe to make more. If you have extra dough, you can freeze it to use later.
Yeast Regular Instant Yeast (such as SAF Brand) is recommended, as it can be mixed directly with the flour. If you only have Active Dry Yeast, slightly warm the water to lukewarm, then activate the yeast in it, before adding the flour and salt. Fast or quick-rising yeast is not recommended for the long-rising dough.
Flour - Bread flour or Italian 00 Pizza flour will give you the best results, but regular all purpose flour will also work here.
Pizza Dough - As noted above, I've included a super easy, no-knead pizza dough recipe. If you prefer, you can substitute store-bought pizza dough instead.
Pizza Sauce - I am a fan of Mutti™ pizza sauce and it is my choice for a good, store-bought pizza sauce. Any pizza sauce will work here. You will need about 3/4 cup or so. Alternately, if you like, break up some whole canned tomatoes and drain well in a strainer to remove excess liquid. Season with some salt and use that as your pizza sauce.
Cheese - For mozzarella cheese, look for low-moisture mozzarella cheese, made especially for pizza. I love the Mozzarellissima™ pizza mozzarella from Saputo. Freshly grated mozzarella is recommended. Beyond mozzarella, I love sliced Provolone cheese as a great alternative to mozzarella.
Pepperoni - Get the best pepperoni slices you can find. I'm a fan of the Marc Angelo™ brand, which cup up nicely as they cook!
How to Make Homemade Pan Pizza: Step by Step
Step 1: Make the easy, no-knead pizza dough - Simply stir together the dough ingredients in a large bowl (it will rise quite a bit, so use a larger bowl than you think you need). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, set on the counter and let rise for at least 7-8 hours or for up to 16-18 hours.
After rising, the dough will look quite moist and sticky. Scrape the dough onto a well-floured work surface and sprinkle the top of the dough with a bit more flour. Gently knead the dough, incorporating just enough extra flour as needed so that the dough isn't sticking to the counter or your hands. Form into a ball and place the dough into your greased baking pan. Cover the dough with tea towel and let rest for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 500F.
Once dough has rested, using only your fingertips, gently press down and stretch the dough towards the outside edges of the pan. It will want to shrink back a bit, but keep at it. You don't want to deflate the dough too much, so only use your fingertips. If it is stubborn, let it rest a couple of minutes, then try again.
Once the dough is stretched to the outside of the pan, top with pizza sauce, some red pepper flakes, if using, then top with grated cheese and pepperoni (if using).
Bake pizza in preheated 500F oven for 13-15 minutes, or until golden and bubbly. Let pizza rest in pan about 4-5 minutes, then loosen with a spatula and slide onto a cutting board, to slice and enjoy.
Pan Options for Pan Pizza
12-inch (bottom diameter) round steel pan, cast iron pan or cast iron skillet
The pan I used here is a 15-inch Lodge Seasoned Steel Skillet. It's bottom diameter is 12 inches, which is absolutely the perfect size for pan pizza.
Cast iron skillets are also great. If you have a 12-inch (bottom diameter) skillet, use about 2/3 of the dough and make an additional smaller pizza or freeze the extra dough. If your cast iron skillet is smaller than that, you can use it, alongside a similar sized round cake pan, to make two smaller pizzas.
9x13-inch baking pan or high-sided baking sheet
If you're good with a rectangular pizza instead of a round one, a 9x13 metal baking pan (the heavier, the better) or nice thick baking sheet with raised sides works perfectly here. In both cases, a darker coloured pan will give you the best crust browning, if you have options.
As this pizza bakes at very high temperature, glass pans are not suitable for pan pizza.
Pan Pizza Topping Ideas
Classic - freshly grated, low-moisture mozzarella cheese and pepperoni. A garnish of freshly grated Parmesan after baking would be nice here, too.
Italian Meat and Provolone - Provolone cheese slices, topped with Italian deli meats (prosciutto, salami etc.). Garnish with fresh basil after baking.
BBQ Chicken - substitute BBQ sauce for the pizza sauce. Top with sliced red onion, cooked chicken and chopped cilantro.
Hawaiian - top with chopped, cooked ham and pineapple, maybe with some red onion or red pepper added to the mix.
You can top your pizza any way you like, but keep in mind a couple of tips, for best results ...
- Don't over-load your pizza. Too many toppings will produce too much moisture and weight on top of the pizza, both of which will affect the quality of the baked crust.
- Stick with low-moisture toppings (avoid sliced tomatoes, zucchini, etc), to avoid excess moisture and a soggy crust. Pre-cooking things like mushrooms a bit is always a good way to cook off a little moisture before using them on the pizza.
- I like to spread the sauce and cheese right to the edges of the pizza dough, but you can leave a margin, if you prefer.
- Similarly, I like to sprinkle a little extra cheese around the outside edges of the pan, because cooked cheese bits are the best!
- Be careful not to under-bake your pizza, so that the crust will be well set.
Storing and Re-heating
Store left-over pan pizza well wrapped in the refrigerator for 2-3 days, or it can be frozen for up to 2 months.
Re-heating pan pizza is as simple as placing the left-overs bake into whatever pan you used to bake the pizza in originally, then popping into a 350F oven until warmed, 10-15 minutes approximately.
Longer Rise Option
If you have the time and remember to mix the dough earlier (the night before), you can mix it up and let it sit on the counter for 16-18 hours. Simply reduce the yeast by half (1/2 teaspoon for the base recipe). The extra time will give it more great flavour and texture!
Perfect Pan Pizza
For the No-Knead Pizza Dough (or substitute store-bought pizza dough):
- 2 1/2 cups bread flour, Italian "00" Pizza flour or all purpose flour, plus more, as needed
- 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon Instant yeast, such as SAF Brand *See Note 1 below for other yeast options
- 1 1/4 cups water, at room temperature
For the pizza toppings (or substitute your favourite toppings):
- 3/4 cup pizza sauce, store-bought or *See Note 2 below for a quick and easy homemade option
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
- 2 1/2 - 3 cups full-fat, low moisture pizza mozzarella cheese, grated
- 20 Pepperoni slices, or to taste
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil, for greasing the pan
- Timeline: Stir together the dough in the morning (before 9am is ideal) and allow to rise on the counter through the day (at least 7-8 hours is best). About 1 1/2 hours before you want to eat, form dough into a ball. It will rest for 1 hour after that. Preheat your oven during this rest time and gather your pizza topping ingredients. Finally, spread the dough into the your baking pan, top and bake!
- Make the pizza dough: Stir together the dough ingredients in a large bowl with a wooden spoon (dough will rise a lot at one point, so use a large enough bowl to allow it to triple in size). Dough will be shaggy and dry, but just stir as best you can to moisten the flour well. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set on the counter to rise for 7-8 hours (the longer the better!).
- Baking pan options: A 12-inch bottom diameter round cast-iron skillet or steel skillet is the perfect size for this dough. Alternately, you can use a metal, 9x13-inch baking pan, either a cake pan or a high-sided baking sheet. A heavier and darker pan is best, if you have options. You can also make two smaller 8-10-inch pizzas in smaller round skillets or cake pans.
- About 1 1/2 hours before you want to eat your pizza, remove the dough to a floured work surface. The dough will look very moist and sticky in the bowl. Use a silicone bowl scraper if you have one, to make easy work of getting it out of the bowl. Dust the top of the dough with a bit of flour, as well, then gently knead the dough a bit, working in a bit of additional flour, as needed, only if the dough is sticking to your work surface or hands. Form the dough into a ball. Brush the baking pan liberally with olive or vegetable oil and place your dough ball into the centre of your prepared baking pan. Cover with a clean tea towel and let the dough rest for 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 500F.
- Once dough has rested, using only your fingertips, gently press down and stretch the dough towards the outside edges of the pan. It will want to shrink back a bit, but keep at it. You don't want to deflate the dough too much, so only use your fingertips. If it is stubborn, let it rest a couple of minutes, then try again.
- Once the dough is stretched to the outside of the pan, top with pizza sauce. I like to spread the pizza sauce right to the edges of the dough, but you can leave a margin around the outside, if you like. Sprinkle with some red pepper flakes, if using, then top with grated cheese and pepperoni.
- Bake pizza in preheated 500F oven for 13-15 minutes, or until golden and bubbly. Let pizza rest in pan about 4-5 minutes, then loosen with a spatula and slide onto a cutting board, to slice and enjoy.
Nutritional information provided for general guidance only and should not be relied upon to make personal health decisions.