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The Ultimate Guide to Making Classic Cheese Pizza

The Ultimate Guide to Making Classic Cheese Pizza

The Ultimate Guide to Making Classic Cheese Pizza: One of life’s greatest pleasures is classic cheese pizza. Calling for delivery is fun, but making your own pizza is even better. This recipe involves kneading a simple dough, stretching it into a round, and heating your oven for perfect char. A crispy, airy crust with tangy tomato sauce and milky mozzarella is the reward.

The Ultimate Guide to Making Classic Cheese Pizza

A simple answer is pizza dough, tomato sauce, and cheese. Your handling of these ingredients makes all the difference!

Dough: We start with 90–100-degree water. Use a thermometer to check the temperature; cold water slows rising and hot water kills yeast.

Next, add some sugar (it won’t make it sweet; it feeds the yeast and speeds fermentation). Flour, oil, and salt are added to blooming yeast. It’s okay if the dough looks wet after mixing! This dough is more hydrated than other pizza dough, but it will work better after resting.

This recipe is flexible: if you don’t have time to make a pizza or want to save the dough for tomorrow, just cover and refrigerate it.

This fresh, tasty tomato sauce is almost as easy as opening a jar! The perfect pizza sauce is made by mixing a can of crushed tomatoes, olive oil, grated garlic, balsamic vinegar, and seasonings. Extra sauce can be added to pasta, Stromboli, or frozen for future pies.

Pizza cheese combinations: which is best?

This recipe uses three cheeses for a reason! Grated Parmesan protects the crust from the sauce and adds saltiness to the pie. Shredded low-moisture mozzarella and cubed fresh mozzarella top the sauce. Pizza needs a stretchy layer of cheese, and low-moisture mozzarella browns well in the oven.

Fresh mozzarella makes white pools of melted, gooey cheese that look great on top and contrast with chewier low-moisture mozzarella.

The best way to make pizza at home?

  • The most famous New York pizzerias bake their slice pizzas in coal or gas ovens over 600 degrees. It takes longer to bake in most home ovens because they only reach 500 degrees. This recipe uses a slightly wetter dough for a crispy outside and fluffy inside to avoid a dry crust.
  • Your oven setup matters: An assembled pizza on a room-temperature baking sheet will have an under baked bottom crust. Preheat the oven for 1 hour with a pizza stone, baking steel, or sturdy, upside-down baking sheet on the upper third rack. A pizza stone or baking steel is worth buying if your family makes pizza often.
  • All of these ingredients make the perfect homemade classic cheese pizza. Just brush the golden crust with olive oil and sprinkle with basil leaves, then slice and serve!


  • In a stand mixer bowl, sprinkle yeast and sugar over warm (90–100°) water. Mix and let sit for 5 minutes until bubbles form on top.
  • Mix the flour, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and salt with the dough hook on low speed for 2 minutes until the dough comes together. Scrub the bowl’s sides and bottom. Turn the speed up to medium-low for 2–3 minutes to incorporate everything and make the dough sticky.
  • Drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the dough and bowl sides. Flip the dough to coat in oil with a rubber spatula. Wrap the bowl in plastic and let it rise for 1 hour and 30 minutes to double.
  • Place a pizza stone, steel, or upside-down baking sheet on the oven’s upper third rack an hour before making pizza. Heat the oven to 500°.
  • Cut the dough in half and form tight rounds on a lightly floured surface. Flatten the dough in a circle on the counter and fold the edges into the center to make a round.
  • Flip it over and gently pull the round against the counter to form a taut ball. Place the rounds on a lightly floured baking sheet with room to rise and expand.
  • Place a 14-inch heavy-duty foil on an upside-down half-sheet pan. Lightly oil and flour the foil. While working with one dough round, wrap the other in plastic.
  • Form an 8-inch round with a 1-inch lip from 1 piece of dough on a well-floured surface. Avoid flattening the dough by lifting it with your hands and cupping the lip.
  • Rotating the dough edge clockwise through your hands quickly allows gravity to stretch it into a round shape. Return the dough to the flour and stretch it into a 12-inch circle. Place it on foil.
  • Sprinkle 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan on pizza. Spread 1/2 cup Homemade Pizza Sauce on Parmesan, leaving 1 inch border. Sprinkle 1 1/2 cups low-moisture mozzarella and 1/2 cup cubed fresh mozzarella on the pizza.
  • The pizza with foil should be transferred to the preheated baking stone using the upside-down baking sheet as a pizza peel. Bake 12–14 minutes until crust is browned and cheese is bubbling. Transfer pizza to cooling rack from foil. Brush olive oil on the crust, sprinkle basil, and serve hot.
  • Repeat with remaining dough, sauce, and cheese. Just before baking, assemble the pizza.


  • 1 1/4-oz. packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 2 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 c. warm water (90 to 100°)
  • 4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil, divided, plus more for brushing
  • 2 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 c. Homemade Pizza Sauce, divided
  • 3 c. shredded low-moisture mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1 c. cubed fresh mozzarella cheese, divided
  • Fresh basil, to serve.

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