Based on Jim Lahey's No-Knead Pizza Dough, this overnight pizza dough recipe is super easy to make and creates a crust that's crispy, bubbly, chewy in the middle, and full of yeasty flavor.
Combine the dough ingredients in a big bowl about 21 hours before you'd like to slice and serve your pizza, let it do its thing while you go about your day, and then dump it onto the counter, shape it into balls, and stretch it out. (Or make it over the weekend and freeze the balls in separate zip-top bags for an easy dinner during the week ahead.) If you have the time and energy to plan ahead, it makes for one delicious, pillowy reward.
Overnight Pizza Dough, Step by Step
Time needed: 21 hours
Before you get started, grab a large bowl with a lid, a dough whisk or wooden/silicone mixing spoon, and a set of measuring cups and spoons.
- Mix the dough.
First, measure the flour, yeast, salt, and sugar into the large bowl. Stir well, and add the water and olive oil. Mix with a dough whisk or wooden/silicone spoon until the dough comes together, then use your hands to knead the rest of the flour into the dough.
- Let it ferment.
Seal the bowl tightly with the lid (or plastic wrap) and let the dough sit at room temperature for 18 to 20 hours, until it's bubbly and about double the original volume.
- Divide the overnight pizza dough into portions.
Dust your counter or a large cutting board generously with flour. Use a rubber/silicone spatula or your hands to scrape the dough onto the prepared surface. It will be really sticky. Turn the dough in the flour so it's easier to handle, then form it into a log and use a bench scraper or knife to divide it half (to make two 12- to 14-inch pizzas) or in more pieces to make smaller pizzas.
- Ball it up.
Roll each portion of dough in the flour, and form it into a ball by stretching the edges underneath and sealing them together with your fist.
- Let the dough balls rest.
Place the formed dough balls on the floured surface and cover them with an upside-down bowl. Let them rest for 30 minutes to 2 hours. This allows them to puff up and relax for optimal stretchability. While the dough balls rest, preheat your oven.
- Stretch out the dough.
Take one dough ball out from under the bowl. Pat it out to a 6- or 8-inch circle and gradually stretch it out to your desired size. Lay the dough on a prepared baking sheet or pizza peel, top, and bake.
Yes! If you can't find (or don't want to buy) instant yeast, use the same amount of active dry yeast. They can be used interchangeably, though if you use active dry yeast, the dough might take a little longer to get bubbly and double in size.
I love this dough because it's tender and airy, yet sturdy enough for just about any combo of toppings. Be creative!
With ease! Seriously: If you've had trouble stretching dough in the past, give this one a try. Start by patting it out into a thin circle. Then, pick it up and stretch it gently in all directions, holding it by the edge and rotating it like a steering wheel. Next, lay it on your two fists and slowly move your hands away from each other. Rotate the dough after each stretch until it reaches your desired size. Check out this video for more detailed instructions.
Slow-Rise Pizza Dough
- Large bowl with lid
- Sturdy wooden spoon or dough whisk
- Measuring cups and spoons
- 3¾ cups bread flour (scooped and leveled)
- ¼ teaspoon instant (rapid-rise) yeast
- 2½ teaspoons fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1½ cups cool water
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
To make the dough
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, yeast, salt, and sugar. Add the water and oil and mix with your hands or a wooden spoon until all of the flour is incorporated. The dough will be sticky. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise at room temperature for 18 to 20 hours or until it has more than doubled in volume.
- Scrape the dough out onto a floured work surface and use a knife or scraper to divide it in half*. Shape each piece of dough by folding its four sides under toward the center, then forming it into a ball. If the dough feels sticky, dust it with flour.
- Cover the formed dough balls with an inverted bowl and let them rest for 30 minutes or up to 2 hours before using. (Or, if you’re not making pizza right away, place the balls in separate zip-top bags or airtight containers and store them in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Just make sure you bring the dough back to room temperature before stretching and topping.)
To bake the pizza
- Preheat the oven to 500°F (if using a baking sheet) or as high as it will go (if using a baking stone/steel; place the stone in the top third or place the steel in the bottom third of the oven before you start preheating). Let the oven preheat for at least 30 minutes. Then, if you’re using a baking stone or steel, switch the oven to Broil on high.
- Stretch or roll out your dough to a 12- to 14-inch circle, then transfer it to a baking sheet / pizza pan or a lightly floured pizza peel (if using a baking stone/steel).
- Prick the dough with a fork (to prevent too many bubbles from forming in the oven), brush the edges with a little olive oil, and add your sauce and toppings.
- Transfer the pizza to the oven and bake, rotating it a few times, until the crust is evenly browned on the bottom and the cheese / toppings have charred in spots—8 to 10 minutes on the baking sheet, 5 to 8 minutes on the baking stone/steel.
- Remove the pizza from the oven and sprinkle it with chopped fresh herbs or any other desired seasonings. Slice and serve!
- If you’re planning to make focaccia or one large, thick-crust baking sheet pizza, simply stretch the dough to fit a heavy-duty, rimmed baking sheet/half sheet pan.
- If you want to make four 10- to 12-inch pizzas, divide the dough into four balls instead of two.
- Note: This dough is a great one to learn to stretch with. For detailed instructions, check out my pizza-dough-stretching video on YouTube.
Looking for more pizza dough recipes? Here are some of my other go-to recipes: