With only four ingredients (flour, salt, yeast, and water), this Neapolitan pizza dough yields airy, perfectly flavored crusts that pizza dreams are made of.
[Excuse me while I step up on my bread flour box.] Yes, you can make cloud-like Naples-style pizza in your home oven—perfectly charred crust and all. All you need is this Neapolitan Pizza Dough recipe, a baking stone or steel, a pizza peel, and an oven with an overhead broiler. (Visit my Pizza Basics page for specific recommendations.) Once you get master the dough and baking method, you'll wow family, guests, and yourself with homemade pizzas that rival the wood-fired creations from authentic Italian pizzerias.
1. Start the pizza dough two days ahead
Many other doughs (including my Basic and Slow-Rise recipes) include olive oil and sugar to enhance flavor, texture, and browning of the crust. True Neapolitan pizza dough, which is made of only flour, salt, yeast, and water, gets its superior flavor and texture from a longer fermentation time (in my recipe, around 20 hours at room temperature, then 24 to 48 hours balled up in the fridge). During this time, gluten develops slowly and naturally (making for an easy-to-stretch dough and just-chewy-enough crust) and the yeast munches on the flour, producing carbon dioxide (which translates to future crust bubbles and a delicate, sour dough-esque flavor).
2. Get your oven as hot as possible
When the dough balls come out of the fridge to sit at room temperature, place your baking stone or steel on a rack in the bottom third of the oven and preheat the oven to 550°F or as high as it will go. Let it preheat for about an hour while you make or assemble sauce and toppings. Then, 10 or 15 minutes before you're ready to bake your pizza, turn the oven to Broil on high (if you have a high/low option).
3. Bake those beauties
Stretch out a dough ball, place it on your flour-dusted pizza peel, and top it with a spoonful or two of sauce, a handful of shredded or torn melty cheese, and just a few other toppings. (Use the Coco Chanel approach: Use one less topping—or a little less of a topping—than you originally planned for). As soon as the dough is topped to your liking, open the oven and shimmy it off the peel and onto the hot stone or steel. Bake for about 6 minutes or until the crust is golden and charred in spots.
If you have a pizza oven
All that being said, obviously it's great if you have your own pizza oven (I love my Ooni Pro*). When using Neapolitan Pizza Dough, let your oven preheat for half an hour or so at high heat, aiming for a stone temperature of around 800°F to 900°F. Just make sure that you don't stretch the dough too thin; it's nearly impossible to fix tears in the dough when the pizza threatens to burn after 60 seconds.
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Neapolitan Pizza Dough
- 461 grams bread flour (3 dipped and leveled cups)
- 13 grams fine sea salt (2 teaspoons)
- .9 grams instant dry yeast (scant ¼ teaspoon)
- 276 grams cool water (scant 1¼ cups)
- In a large bowl with an airtight lid, mix together the flour, salt, and yeast with a wooden spoon or dough whisk. Pour in the water and mix with the spoon or dough whisk until most of the dry flour in the bottom of the bowl has been absorbed by the dough, then use your hands to turn and knead the dough just until all the flour is incorporated. (I like to push my fingers in and out of the dough like a cat kneading with its paws. That way, I know the last bits of dry flour are fully incorporated, not just stuck to the surface.)
- Cover the bowl with its lid and let the dough rise at room temperature for 18 to 24 hours (20 hours is my sweet spot) or until it has doubled in volume.
- Scrape the dough onto a floured surface (it will be goopy with bubbles throughout). Divide it into two or three equal-size pieces—two if you like to make 12 to 14-inch pizzas, three if you like to make 10 to 12-inch pizzas. Form the dough pieces into balls, dusting your hands with flour if needed, and place each one in a separate airtight quart-size container. Cover and refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours (or up to 72 hours).
- Take the dough out of the refrigerator at least 1 hour (preferably 2 hours) before you plan to stretch it for pizza.