Cooking the perfect pizza in the home oven can be a tricky thing. One question is whether pizza is supposed to go directly on the rack, a baking sheet, a pizza stone or pan. Especially when comparing the process to baking pizza in a pizza oven.
Can you cook pizza directly on the oven rack? Pizza should be cooked directly on the oven rack if it’s a frozen pizza, pizza with a pre-made crust, or a cooked pizza that you’re reheating. Raw pizza dough should not go directly on the oven rack because it will fall through the gaps.
Be sure to know which method to use by reading the instructions in this article. You don’t want to ruin your pizza and make a mess of your oven!
The following sections have some more detail on cooking pizza on the oven rack, and the different methods to cook pizza if you are using raw dough. I’ve given some tips on the best equipment to use for different scenarios.
How To Cook Frozen Or Pre-Made Pizza Properly
This pizza is fine to be cooked on the oven rack because of its rigidness. Usually these pizzas have already been par-baked so that the dough is no longer floppy.
Some frozen pizza is made with raw dough, and this needs to be placed on a pizza pan or baking sheet. Otherwise it will thaw out and then it will fall through! So pay attention to the instructions with the pizza you are cooking.
If you have a pizza stone then you can use this for the best results. When you preheat a pizza stone it adds an extra kick of heat from the bottom which crisps up the pizza. It drops the cooking time drastically. So keep an eye on the pizza in the oven so that it doesn’t burn.
Remember to heat up your oven fully, whichever method you are doing. A hot oven makes better pizza by browning the crust well and crisping the base.
This is a blog all about pizza so it would be criminal for me to not advise you on making your own pizza and own dough. The benefits of fresh dough over frozen pizza is just unquestionable in terms of taste and texture. If that seems out of your reach then you can always buy your dough. Which leads me to cooking fresh dough in the oven.
Why Shouldn’t Raw Pizza Dough Go On The Oven Rack?
There are a variety of pizza dough recipes out there. Essentially, pizza dough is a combination of four main ingredients: flour, water, yeast, salt and optionally, oil. Follow my pizza dough recipe which has all the instructions to produce perfect dough time after time.
Pizza is stretched until it is the thickness and size of your desired pizza. This creates a thin, malleable surface onto which you place your sauce and toppings.
While that light, air-filled dough makes a great pizza crust, it doesn’t exactly make for a stable surface right when you place it in the oven. So, you can imagine what would happen if you placed a pizza with raw dough directly onto your oven rack as you would for a frozen pizza. The weight of the toppings on the unsupported, air-filled dough would cause your pizza to sink right through the rack’s grates. Like what happened to this guy..!
How To Cook Raw Pizza Dough
So we need a flat surface to cook the pizza dough. In a pizza oven, this would usually go on the oven floor which could be brick or stone. This has been heating up for a long time, so when the dough hits the floor, it puffs and crisps up quickly. This quick cooking time ensures a nice light texture rather than drying out.
The heat from below the pizza is key. My best tip for making pizza in a home oven is using a pizza “steel”. This adds intense heat from below like a brick oven would – I have this steel from Amazon which is significantly lower priced than the original brand, but works perfectly. Steel is more conductive than stone so transfers more heat, they don’t shatter and they are easier to clean. If it’s out of your price range then the 2nd best option is a pizza stone made from cordierite. To see a round-up of the most important pizza equipment then see my essential pizza equipment list.
If you don’t have any of these, then a thick baking sheet, clean ceramic tile or anything with a bit of mass that can go into the oven and get really hot. Make sure that you heat it up before, because putting raw pizza on a cold surface won’t have it cook very well. With all these options, you either need a pizza peel, a wooden board, or use some parchment paper to transfer the pizza dough to the oven.
Another option is to cook the pizza in a frying pan. You heat the pan up on the top stove, stretch your dough and drop it in. The base starts to brown quickly, and you add your toppings. After a few minutes, transfer the pan to the broiler and cook it close to the cooking element to give it strong direct heat. This cooks the pizza really fast and gives it a very delicate texture, like a Neapolitan wood fired pizza.
Lastly, there is pizza cooked in a skillet or sheet pan. This makes for a thicker pizza and is also very easy. You can make large pizzas so can feed lots of people with ease. Transfer the dough to a well oiled pan, stretch it to the corners and allow it to rest to fill out right to the corners. Then top and bake – it’s as easy as that.
These are my main methods I use to cook pizza. Cooking pizza in the frying pan is really fast and hassle free because it doesn’t take long to heat up. The pizza stone/steel method makes really good crispy American style pizzas. The deeper pan methods are for when I have a crowd over, or when I want to cut my pizza into squares for the next day. They all make great pizza.
What Makes The Perfect Pizza?
The important thing to make sure is that by the time you remove it from the oven, your pizza should have its dough fully cooked through with a crisp exterior. No one wants to bite into a slice of pizza only to have sticky, still-raw dough take over the entire taste.
All pizza cooks agree on one thing: you need enough heat that your crust gets crisp and your dough gets thoroughly cooked. If you have the right amount of heat, your pizza won’t have to spend long in the oven, which reduces the risk of over-drying your crust, sauce and toppings.
Having your oven properly pre-heated will make your pizza bake perfectly, including making sure your crust gets the crisp edge that people love. That’s true whether you’re having homemade or premade pizza.
You should now know your pre-made crust from your raw dough – and the right way to cook it. No matter how you decide to make it, it’s the perfect pizza if it’s one you enjoy.
While making pizza from scratch might be intimidating, its worth the extra effort and is super fun to do. Check out my best pizza dough recipe.
Just make sure to remember the importance of having the right temperature and the right amount of cooking time. This ensures that your pizza crust cooks through fully. This is usually made possible with good heat from the bottom from a pizza stone or steel.