Prepared pizza, whether from a pizza parlor or restaurant (or —not that we want to admit it—even from the freezer), is a taken-for-granted convenience of modern life. The traditional use of a pizza peel and pizza stone to make pies at home is too time-consuming for everyday and can be intimidating for the home cook.
When you’re ready to make that leap. However, for other times, foolproof, from-scratch, crisp-crust, bubbly-top pizza is eminently achievable without the need for a pizza peel or stone, using two kitchen stalwarts you may never have considered for this job: a 12-inch skillet and a stovetop burner. Our thin-crust skillet pizza is easy enough to make anytime the craving strikes and tastes head-and-shoulders better than any takeout version—even if you start with store-bought dough.
How does this technique work? First off, you can use any ovensafe skillet, whether cast-iron, stainless steel, or nonstick; if using nonstick, make sure it is ovensafe up to 500 degrees. Start your skillet pizza on the stovetop. Pressing room temperature dough into an unheated skillet and placing it over medium-high heat jump-starts browning the bottom crust while the skillet simultaneously heats up. Unlike with a baking sheet, the thickness of the skillet causes it to retain heat better once preheated. So once in the oven, the preheated skillet functions in a similar manner as a pizza stone, providing even, high heat that delivers a crispy, well-browned bottom crust. (But you haven’t had to wait an hour for a pizza stone to preheat!) Since pizza dough (just like bread dough) rises due to the heat that surrounds it during cooking, the sides of the skillet assist in this. Meanwhile, the direct heat from above evenly melts the mozzarella, creating those golden cheesy bubbles we all crave.
And as a bonus, the skillet method delivers a perfectly round pizza
that looks like it came from the pizza parlor—but tastes so much better.
1 Mix dough in food processor. Transfer to counter and knead by hand to form smooth, round ball.
2 Place dough in lightly greased large bowl, cover with greased plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in size.
3 Press and roll dough into 11-inch round. Arrange dough in greased skillet, pressing gently into the corners. Add toppings.
4 Set skillet over medium-high heat and cook until outside edge of dough is set, pizza is lightly puffed, and bottom is spotty brown when lifted with spatula.
5 Transfer skillet to 500-degree oven and bake until edge of pizza is golden brown and cheese is melted. Let pizza cool in skillet slightly, then use spatula to slide pizza onto wire rack before cutting into wedges.