If you want to make a quick and easy pizza, and you don’t have the time or energy to make dough at home, you have two options. You can use store-bought pizza dough, which you can stretch and shape yourself, or you can buy pre-made crust, topping it with the ingredients you want and putting it straight in a preheated oven.
Which is better? As with many other things in home cooking, the answer will depend on what you ultimately want to achieve.
Store-bought pizza dough yields an airy and fluffy pizza, but requires you to stretch it, shape it, and let it rest for 2-3 hours. Pre-made pizza crust is thin and crispy and you can top it straight out of the box, but it results in a dry and crumbly pizza.
Clearly, there are pros and cons to each. So I wrote this post to help you decide.
Store-Bought Pizza Dough
If you want restaurant-like pizza but you’re not in the mood for mixing, kneading, and leavening dough, store-bought pizza dough is your best bet.
Almost all supermarkets carry pizza dough, and it’s best to look for it in the frozen food aisle. But if you want a really good dough, ask the Italian pizzeria in town if they will sell you a bag.
Pizzerias will typically sell you refrigerated pizza dough, which you can use straight away. Supermarkets, on the other hand, sell frozen pizza dough that you’ll need to thaw before shaping into a pizza. To thaw frozen store-bought pizza dough, put it in the fridge for 24 hours before you plan to cook with it.
Before topping the pizza, you’ll need to shape the dough by hand or roll it out using a rolling pin (those of you who don’t have one handy can use a wine bottle instead).
How to Make Store-Bought Pizza Dough More Airy
Scott Wiener from Scott’s Pizza Tours, a group of pizza connoisseurs who give guided tours of NYC’s best pizza shops, explains how to make the most of a store-bought dough when you use it to make homemade pizza:
“Pizza dough,” Scott says, “is a bunch of gas trapped-in by flour, water, salt, and yeast.”
“The yeast has been feeding on the sugars in the flour and it has been producing gas, which makes the dough expand and rise. So that’s why you have to be really careful when you handle this stuff because it’s tender.”
Scott recommends handling the fresh pizza dough carefully from the moment you pick it up in your hands at the grocery store. Don’t squeeze the dough in your hand and make sure it sits on top of all the other ingredients in your shopping cart, or you’ll degas it. Less gas means fewer air bubbles, which yields a less fluffy pizza.
The same applies to your grocery bags. When you’re bagging groceries, put the pizza dough on top of all other foods and make sure that there’s nothing pressing down on it. If you’re shopping at a grocery store where the employee behind the counter is bagging the groceries for you, make sure to ask them on time to put the pizza dough last and on top of all other foods in your bag.
When you’re at home, don’t reach into the bag and never use force to pull out the pizza dough. That’s where you can degas it. Instead, dust the fingers on your hand lightly with dough, hold the pizza dough with it, and gently pull the bag off of the dough using your other hand. Scott demonstrates this trick in his video.
If you like your dough nice and smooth, shape it into a dough using your hands. Put the dough in a bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let it rise for 2-3 hours at room temperature. When you boke the dough with a finger and it doesn’t bounce back, you know that it’s ready to shape.
Scott’s method works really well, but I have a method of my own I’d like to share.
Make store-bought pizza dough more airy by leaving it in your fridge overnight. After 12-24 hours, the yeast will have puffed up your dough and developed its flavor.
This is by far my favorite method for using store-bought pizza dough—and I don’t make statements like this lightly. Here’s a photo of how this looks like:
Unless you give your store-bought dough enough time to rest (and the instructions on the package usually understate the time needed), it’s going to bounce back when you try to stretch and shape it. If you stretch it right out of the bag, you won’t get that good of a rise.
- Store-bought pizza dough is your best shortcut for making restaurant-grade pizza at home in less than 2-3 hours.
- As long as you handle the dough carefully and let it rest for enough time before topping it and putting it in the oven, your pizza will come out fluffy and airy.
- Most grocery store employees don’t know how to handle store-bought pizza dough. Which is why it’s often sold flat and degased.
- When you use store-bought pizza dough, you don’t get the same control over the ingredients, mixing, kneading, and rising process. Choose your dough carefully unless you want subpar pizza.
My Best Pizza Dough Picks
OTTO Pizza’s Organic 16-oz Pizza Dough Ball is arguably some of the best pizza dough that you can find.
It’s made with organic and high-quality wheat flour, extra virgin olive oil, cane sugar, sea salt, and yeast. No colors, flavors, preservatives, and low-quality ingredients that you’d otherwise find in most refrigerated store-bought doughs.
And it costs just $0.25/oz. All in all, a sweet deal.
My other favorites are Trader Joe’s Ready to Bake Pizza Dough and, for those of you with stricter dietary needs, Whole Foods’ Wholly Gluten-Free Pizza Dough.
Ready-made pizza crusts are a great option for when you don’t want to mix, knead, or even shape your own dough. They’re carried by almost all supermarkets, and you’ll usually find them at the frozen foods section or the bread aisle.
Pizza crust is dough that’s mixed, kneaded, leavened, then rolled into shape for you. All you need to do is pull it out of the bag, sauce it, top it with cheese, ham, and a few vegetables, and slide it in a 350°F (180°C) oven for 10 minutes.
If you like thin pizza with a crispy crust and don’t want anything to do with dough, ready-made pizza crust can be a pretty good option for you. But the added convenience comes at a cost that not everyone is willing to pay—the texture and taste of your homemade pizza.
- The only easier way to make pizza at home is to buy frozen pizza. Pre-made pizza crust gives you complete control over the quality and amount of toppings to use.
- There’s a big variety of pizza crusts online. You can find pizza crusts made of wheat flour, chickpea flour, cauliflower, and many, many others.
- Most pizza crusts sold in grocery stores is that they contain a plethora of ingredients, like gum and preservatives, which you wouldn’t normally put your pizza dough.
- Pizza crusts are rolled out very thin and have a small diameter (typically about 7 inches). Oftentimes, the end result looks, feels, and tastes more like an Italian burrito and less like a homemade pizza.
My Best Pizza Crust Picks
Cli’flour Foods Pizza Crust is the best pizza crust that you can buy online. Some of you are probably thinking, “Seriously, Jim?! Cauliflower pizza crust? You’ve got to be kidding here.” But I’m not.
Bear with me, folks. I know cauliflower pizza crust sounds hipster-ishly intimidating at first. But this pizza crust tastes surprisingly much like good ol’ wheat flour pizza crust. And they’re made of cauliflower, mozzarella cheese, egg whites, and spices.
Just take a look at the ingredients lists of other pizza crusts—and you won’t have a hard time to see why I’m recommending this healthier, frankly more delicious option. Try it out now, and you can thank me later.
Which one did you end up making your pizza with? Was it store-bought pizza dough or pre-made pizza crust? Share your experience with me—and the rest of this post’s readers—by leaving a comment below.