Do you know homemade pizza is WAY better when you use cold fermented pizza dough!? It is! I’ll show you how to do it!
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Years ago, we got a Pampered Chef pizza stone and a pizza peel and we used that thing until it was black! When we moved, we started hosting Make Your Own Pizza Nights with our youth group. Since there were so many kids, we switched to a big rectangular stone and a pizza steel so that we could make 4 individual pizzas at a time on each rack.
We decided that we loved pizza so much that we needed to be able to perfect the homemade pizza dough. I think we finally did that! I’ll share my secrets with you today!
What is cold fermented pizza dough?
My friend Megan and I were talking about homemade pizza one day. She’s good friends with a guy who owns a small local pizza shop. He told her that he makes his Friday pizza dough on Wednesday. What?! He swears it’s better when it sits in the cooler for 2 days. He was right. It’s amazing.
I’ve done multiple trials with both sourdough pizza crust, and the regular yeasted pizza crust I’m sharing with you today. We tried baking it the same day it was made, and then days later after it had been cold fermented. Every time, the cold fermented crust was way better. Chewier, bubblier, more flavorful, and all around better.
When temperatures are warm, the yeast reacts quickly, forming bubbles and allowing the crust to rise. When you put that same dough in the refrigerator, it slows the process way down.
So the same thing that took just a few hours at 70 degrees takes days at 34-40 degrees. That gives the dough time to develop a more complex flavor. It also allows the gluten structure to improve. That’s what gives it light, beautiful bubbles in the crust.
Today, I’ll share my pizza dough recipe, along with our instructions for a perfectly bubbly, cold fermented pizza crust.
How to Make Cold Fermented Pizza Dough
There are 2 negatives when it comes to making cold fermented pizza dough –
- You need to think ahead a couple days.
- You need to have room in your refrigerator.
Honestly, those two negatives are small and are far outweighed by the benefits of that amazing pizza flavor and texture.
2 days before pizza making day:
Two days before you want to make your pizza, you’ll start making the pizza dough. I have always used a Kitchenaid Mixer for this with a dough hook.
Measure your cold fermented pizza dough ingredients
Combine the bread flour, salt, yeast and filtered water. I always weigh my ingredients for this just like all my sourdough recipes. Because each cup of flour can weigh drastically different amounts, the only way to get a super consistent product is to weigh them.
I invested under $20 in this waterproof digital scale and it has been an amazing investment. A bonus is that you don’t have measuring cups and measuring spoons to wash!
Mix pizza dough with the dough hook
Once the ingredients are weighed in the mixing bowl, attach the dough hook and turn the Kitchenaid to level 2. This will bring all the ingredients together.
Once the dough comes together, drizzle 2T of olive oil into the bowl. (I eyeball this step) Then, set the timer for 5 min and let the mixer do all the kneading work!
My brother in law owns a sourdough bakery and he says that for the best results, always mix the flour and water first and allow them to combine before you add the oil. He’s super smart and there’s something sciency that happens if you mix the flour and water together first and then add the oil. I don’t ask a lot of questions when it comes to things like that 🙂 I just do what he says!
Cover cold fermented pizza dough and refrigerate
At this point, you just cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator for 2 days. You can leave it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, but it gets more sour the longer it’s in the fridge. If I make it on Wednesday, I try to use it Friday, Saturday or Sunday. It’s great because you can be a bit flexible in when you pull it out. That way if your plans change a little, your dough isn’t ruined.
It should look like this when you take it out of the fridge.
This photo was taken on Friday after making the cold fermented pizza dough on Wednesday. I actually started to pull it out of the bowl before I remembered to take a picture, so that’s why it looks a little wonky.
I usually cover the dough at this point and leave it on the oven as it’s coming to temperature. This allows the dough to warm up and be ready to work with. Alternately, you can throw it in your handy dandy pizza dough proofing box! I explain in this post how to make a homemade pizza dough proofing box and it will work so well to get this dough warmed up!
How to bake the pizzas:
This is the biggest secret of making the most amazing pizza at home! You need to have a baking steel or a pizza stone. They hold the heat in and act a little more like a brick oven.
You won’t get the same results as a brick pizza oven since they reach temperatures of 700-800 degrees. They can cook a pizza in 90 seconds! We can’t quite recreate that at home, but we can get close!
Preheat the oven
I place my pizza stone or pizza steel in the oven and preheat it as high as it will go – 550 degrees on mine. It’s important that the stone or steel is in the oven when it begins to preheat. The stone will break if you put it in a super hot oven while it is cold. Additionally, the stone or steel need a long time to absorb all that heat. I try to heat mine for a minimum of 30 min. but I aim for an hour just to get it good and screaming hot.
Pat a circle of pizza dough out on parchment paper. You can use a little bit of flour if it seems sticky. We normally get two large pizzas out of one recipe. We also use these quite often as individual pizzas but I can’t remember how many per recipe! Maybe about 6?
You can also make your hands into fists and pull from the center to thin it out.
Then lay it down on the parchment paper and start at the middle and work toward the edges, creating a little ring around the outside.
Top with sauce and cheese and toppings. I’m going to be putting together a PDF cheat sheet of some of our favorite toppings and sauce combinations, along with the recipe for my favorite sauces, so be on the lookout for that!
Bake pizza 7-9 minutes
Using a pizza peel, slide the pizza and parchment paper onto the pizza stone or pizza steel. I use this parchment paper from Costco and sometimes it burns around the edges, but it seems to hold up well in the oven.
Set the timer for 7-9 minutes. Check at 7 minutes to see if it’s brown and bubbly, if not, give it a little more time.
The parchment paper gets pretty browned. What I like to do is halfway through the cooking time, slide the pizza peel between the pizza and the parchment. Swap the pizzas so the one on top moves to the bottom and the one on bottom moves to the top. When I do that, I remove the parchment from underneath them so it doesn’t get quite so burned.
This time I just cooked it the whole time with the parchment under it so you can see how dark it gets and it won’t freak you out! You will want to make sure you don’t put your stone on the bottom rack, though. If you have a gas oven and it’s too close to the fire on the bottom, it can ignite. So be careful.
Slide pizza onto wooden cutting board
After it’s done, you can slide it onto a wooden cutting board. I find that with the wood, it absorbs the steam and doesn’t make the bottom of the crust soggy.
I’ve tried to put it onto a metal pan in the past, but it holds all that steam in and makes the pizza really soggy on bottom.
Let it rest, then cut
I let it rest around 5 minutes to let the cheese coagulate, and then cut it with a pizza cutter.
Can I use my dough without cold fermenting it?
Yup! You can allow it to rise right after you knead it. Once it has doubled in size, you can use it right away. It works just fine and that’s actually how we ate this particular pizza dough for years. It wasn’t until my friend shared her secret with me that I realized that not only COULD you put the dough in the fridge, but it actually tastes way better that way!
Do I have to wait 2 days to use my cold fermented pizza dough?
Nope. You can pull it out and use it the next day. Just like using it the day it was made, the flavor just won’t be quite as good as if you leave it a little longer, but it will still be yummy!
If you do pull it out the day after it’s made, I’d allow it to rise on the counter for a little bit. Because it takes a few days to double in the fridge, you won’t have a full rise if you use it on the next day. Just allow it to rise in the bowl, or shape the pizza and let it rise before you top it and bake it.
Do I have to use bread flour for my crust?
No you don’t! Bread flour has a higher protein content, so it contains more gluten. That gluten will give it a chewier crust and make it a stretchy dough that’s easy to work with.
If you want a crispier crust, use all purpose flour. This crust won’t have as much stretch in it, so it does have a greater tendency to tear. But it will be less chewy and more crispy. I actually didn’t have any bread flour on hand when I made the recipe for these photos, so all the pictures are using King Arthur’s all purpose flour.
I have heard that the 00 flour is the be all, end all of pizza making. It has the higher protein content and is stretchy, but produces a crispy crust. I have been dragging my feet because I already have so many types of flour in my house that I don’t know if I can justifying purchasing yet another. What do you think? Have you tried it? Is it worth it?
Does cold fermented pizza dough work without a mixer?
I am sure it probably does work fine if you hand knead it. If you try that out, let me know! If you are hand kneading it, I’d add the olive oil when you put all the other ingredients in. I can’t figure out a way to hand knead the olive oil in. Before my brother in law told me that tidbit, I always made this recipe by adding all the wet ingredients at once and it was still really good. Mix it with a wooden spoon, then dump it onto the counter and knead it by hand for 8-10 min.
I hope you love this crust as much as our family does! If you try it, let me know how it turns out!
Cold Fermented Pizza Dough
Mix with Dough Hook until combined
- 650 grams bread flour
- 10 grams yeast
- 10 grams salt
- 380 grams filtered water
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- Combine bread flour, yeast, salt, and filtered water in bowl. Mix with dough hook until combined.
- Add olive oil and allow Kitchenaid to mix on 2 for 5-8 min.
- Cover and refrigerate for 24-72 hours.
- Remove from refrigerator and preheat oven to 550 degrees with pizza stone or pizza steel preheating as well. Preheat for 1 hour.
- Divide dough in half and on a piece of parchment, press from the center to create a flat center with a ring around the edge.
- Top with sauce, cheese and toppings.
- Using a pizza peel, slide pizza and parchment onto stone or steel and cook 7-9 min.
- Remove from the oven and slide pizza onto wooden cutting board.