Making pizza with kids is easy! Yes, it's also messy and it won't ever go perfectly as planned (you should see the outtakes from this post's photo shoot), but the rewards are way worth the effort and extra clean-up. Here are some basic tips and an easy-to-follow recipe for creating delicious homemade pizza memories with your kids (and the rest of the family, too).
First, you'll need to assemble some basic ingredients and supplies:
Dough and rolling pin(s)
Make the dough yourself (check out this video of my niece and I making 1-hour dough from scratch), or buy a ball of dough at your local grocery store or pizzeria. You'll need one 14- to 16-ounce ball for four personal-size pizzas. Most kids will do best rolling rather than stretching out their dough, so having one or two rolling pins nearby will be helpful.
Two large rimmed baking sheets
You could fit all four pizzas on one baking sheet, but that makes it harder for all four of you to top your dough at the same time. Note that I don't recommend using a baking steel or stone when you're making pizza with kids. Everyone can take their time because there's no fear of the dough sticking to the pizza peel. Plus, you can bake all four pizzas at once, which gives you more time to relax and enjoy the bonding time with your family.
Let your kids pick out their own topping ingredients at the store, or use pizza night as an opportunity to introduce them to something new. Look in your fridge: Do you have a half-empty jar of olives, sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, or roasted red peppers—maybe even pickles? What about a quarter head of cabbage or a bell pepper that's starting to wrinkle? Where's that leftover hunk of parm from last week's pasta night? Pizza is a great way to expand your kids' palates and use up odds and ends from the corners of your fridge and cabinets.
Safety and Serving Tools
The hardest part about making pizza with kids is waiting for their creations to bake and cool down enough to eat. Have all the tools you need at the ready to avoid pre-dinner crankiness.
TIPS FOR MAKING PIZZA WITH KIDS
Once you've assembled your ingredients and tools, clear off your counter or kitchen table and get ready for some family fun (and a healthy dose of chaos, too)!
1. Let the dough come to room temp so it's easy for little hands to handle.
If you're using refrigerated store-bought dough, let it sit on the counter for 1 to 2 hours before you're ready to get started. Ideally, especially when making pizza with kids, you want the dough to be at room temperature. As it rests on the counter, the gluten network in the dough relaxes, making the dough much more elastic and forgiving to little (playful/rough) hands. But don't worry if the dough rips! Just show your child how to pinch it back together, then move on to topping.
2. Choose a variety of toppings and prep them ahead of time.
The more colorful the better. For four personal-size pizzas, you'll need 4 to 6 ounces of grated or cubed cheese, a cup or two of sauce, and small bowls of thinly sliced veggies and cooked/cured meats. If your kids are older, or if you have kid-size safety knives*, let them help you prep the toppings while the oven preheats.
3. Encourage creativity (don't worry about the mess)
Remember: You're not doing this for Instagram. You're doing it to spend quality time with your little one(s) and teach them how to experiment in the kitchen. If you aim for perfection when making pizza with kids, you'll be disappointed. Instead, set out a spread of colorful toppings, help your child roll or stretch out their own ball of dough, and be a witness to their unique creativity. Maybe they'll try a new veggie or type of meat for the first time. Perhaps they'll wow you with a hilarious pizza face or inventive edible pattern. Or they'll throw a tantrum and shove a whole bowl of cheese in their mouth. No matter how it goes, you're creating memories and a foundation for more cooking adventures to come.
Before you slice and serve the pizzas, take a moment to appreciate everyone's creations. That doesn't mean you need to do a Pinterest-worthy photo shoot. Just have each person hold up their pizza—or make it competitive and vote for the prettiest/funniest/wackiest one. It's a big deal when your child unlocks a skill like making their own dinner. Don't forget to celebrate the milestone!
Make-Your-Own Personal Pizzas
- Cutting board and knife
- Cheese grater
- Prep bowls for toppings
- Rolling Pin
- Pizza pans or large rimmed baking sheet(s)
- Pizza Cutter
- Serving platter or board
- 1 (14- to 16-ounce) ball pizza dough
- 1½ cups super-easy marinara sauce (or your favorite pizza sauce)
- 6 ounces mozzarella, Jack, Colby, or cheddar cheese, grated or cut into ½-inch cubes
- Toppings of your choice (sliced bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, olives, roasted red peppers; blanched broccoli or cauliflower florets; chopped artichokes, cooked bacon, cooked chicken; cooked and crumbled sausage; sliced pepperoni or other cured meats; sun-dried tomatoes; etc.)
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Condiments for serving (ranch dressing, hot sauce, etc.)
- Preheat the oven to 500°F. Line two large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or grease them with a little olive oil.
- Prep your toppings while the oven preheats, and place them all in separate bowls on a counter or table within easy reach of each pizza maker.
- Cut the ball of dough into 4 equal-size pieces. Give one piece of dough to each person and let them roll, stretch, or press it out to a 6- to 8-inch circle. Try to avoid overworking the dough; encourage everyone to form their pieces into pizza-size circles and then get right to topping.
- Place two rounds of dough on each baking sheet and let each person top their pizzas however they like! No combination of ingredients is off limits (as long as there's enough for everyone). As a general rule, two or three spoonfuls of sauce is plenty for individual pizzas. As far as the other toppings go, however, there are no limits! (Just know that the crust might be flimsy and wet in the middle if you pile on too much. Encourage your fellow pizza makers to grab pinches or spoonfuls rather than handfuls of toppings.) Pro tip: Making pizza faces (see photo above) or other patterns with colorful toppings will prevent pizza makers from overloading their crusts.
- Transfer the baking sheets to the oven. Bake the pizzas for 10 to 15 minutes, rotating them halfway through, until the crust is golden and the cheese begins to brown in spots.
- Remove the pizzas from the oven. Drizzle the pizzas with a little olive oil and season with a pinch of salt and a grind or two of black pepper if desired. Let them cool for a few minutes before slicing.
- Serve the pizzas on their own or with ranch dressing, hot sauce, or other condiments for dipping/topping.
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