No baking stone, no problem! In this post and video, you'll learn how to choose the best pizza pan for you — and some handy tips and tricks for making restaurant-quality pizza in your home oven.
Choosing the Best Pizza Pan for You
Shopping for a pizza pan can be overwhelming. What material should it be made of? Do you want a round pan or a rectangular baking sheet? Perforated or smooth? Shiny stainless steel or dark gray nonstick?
Thankfully, the best pizza pans are easy to find if you know what to look for.
Material and Color
Since you'll be baking your pizza at 500°F (more on that below), you'll want a pizza pan that can handle the heat without warping. Make sure you look at the full description before you purchase a new pan or baking sheet. If it is made of steel, carbon steel, or aluminized steel, then it's likely a great investment. Bonus points if you see the words "heavy gauge" or "heavy duty."
Unlike flimsy aluminum cookie sheets and pans, which tend to warp when they're heated above 400°F, heavier steel pans remain flat and distribute heat more evenly, allowing for a perfectly browned pizza crust bottom.
And yes, the color matters, too. Dark metal pans absorb more heat than lighter ones do, so stay away from shiny objects. Those brilliant silver pans might be pretty, but they won't help you achieve that golden brown pizza crust you're craving.
Want an extra-crispy crust? Go for a perforated pizza pan. These pans are less versatile than baking sheets and regular pizza pans (you can really only bake pizza or bread on them), but they don't take up much room in your kitchen and are also fantastic for reheating pizza leftovers in the oven the next day.
Shape and Size
Pizza pans and baking sheets come in all different shapes and sizes. If you like your pizzas on the smaller size, go for a 12-inch round pan or a small rectangular quarter sheet pan. Or, if you're like me and make pizzas that vary from 12 to 14 inches in diameter, look for a pan that can accommodate the largest size pizza you plan to make, preferably with space to spare. The crust will be crispier if there's a little space between the dough and the edge of the pan for air flow.
Also, if you have limited space in your kitchen, you might want to choose a dark-colored heavy duty rimmed baking sheet, which can be used for more than just baking pizza.
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How to Bake Homemade Pizza on any Baking Sheet or Steel Pan
- Make a batch of pizza dough (or get a ball of high-quality store-bought dough). My favorite is Overnight Dough, since the long fermentation time allows it to bubble up nicely around the edges, but any dough will work just fine.
- Preheat the oven to 500°F for at least 1 hour. While the oven heats up, prep your topping ingredients.
- Stretch or roll out the dough, place it on the pan, and add the toppings. If your pan is not nonstick, rub it with a little extra-virgin olive oil or line it with parchment paper before you add the dough.
- Transfer the pan to the oven. Bake until the crust is golden brown around the edges and evenly browned on the bottom, 10 to 15 minutes. (If your pan is light in color, you might need to add another 5 minutes to the baking time.)
- Enjoy! Remove the pizza from the oven. Let it cool for a few minutes, then transfer it to a cutting board, slice, and serve.
A Few Extra Tips
Bigger pans are more versatile. If you usually make 10- to 12-inch pizzas, you might assume that a 12-inch pizza pan is your best bet. However, if you size up to a 14-inch pan, you'll get a crisper crust on your pizzas (since the edges of dough will get more air flow in the oven), and you'll have room to bake two personal-size pizzas at once — or experiment with bigger pizzas.
Transfer the pizza to a cutting board after baking — don't slice it in a nonstick pan! If you pierce the nonstick coating, your pan will be susceptible to rust, and over time it won't cook as evenly.
Your pizza will need more baking time on a light-colored pan. If all you have is a light-colored baking sheet, you can absolutely use it to make pizza. Just increase the oven temperature to 510°F (or up to 550°F if possible) and bake your pizza for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, checking the underside every few minutes to make sure it's evenly browned but not burnt.