It’s no secret that pizza is one of the most popular food types in the world. Originating in Naples, Italy, pizza has since dominated almost every continent, specifically North America.
People go mad for it – whether they’re eating a pizza from an authentic Italian restaurant, shoving a frozen pizza in the oven at 2am, or if they’ve taken the plunge to make their own pizza.
Making homemade pizza is a fairly straightforward process.
As long as you make the dough, allow enough time for the dough to prove, and smother the dough in your favorite toppings, you’re good to go.
However, the hard part is actually cooking the pizza in the oven.
Wood fired pizza ovens are undoubtedly the best ovens for cooking pizza, but not everybody has access to these appliances.
Instead, you’ll have to rely on a regular kitchen oven, which will need some modifications to mimic a wood-fired pizza oven.
Otherwise, you could be left with a sloppy mess of uncooked dough and burnt toppings.
It all comes down to the temperature of the oven. If you’re new to the world of homemade pizza, we’ve got you covered.
Here is everything you need to know about the best temperature to cook homemade pizza!
What Is The Best Temperature To Cook Homemade Pizza?
The secret to cooking a homemade pizza in an oven is to make the oven as hot as you possibly can.
Wood fired pizza ovens are notoriously hot throughout the oven, allowing for the dough to cook evenly without burning the toppings.
Standard kitchen ovens are slightly more complicated.
The heat comes from the top of regular ovens (rather than the bottom in a wood-fired oven), which means that there isn’t adequate heat circulation to reach the underside of the pizza.
This means that if you were to put your oven at a regular temperature (usually 392 °F or 200 °C), you’ll probably end up with an uncooked pizza dough with perfectly cooked toppings.
Everyone knows that different food types have to be cooked in the oven at specific temperatures.
Meat, for example, should not be cooked at high temperatures compared to baking bread. Homemade pizza, likewise, has its own requirements for being cooked in an oven.
If you think it’s easy to replicate the temperatures of a wood-fired pizza oven in your kitchen oven, think again.
Wood-fired pizza ovens can reach temperatures of 900 °F (or 500 °C), which a regular oven couldn’t ever accomplish.
This means that you won’t be able to mimic a homemade pizza as if it was cooked in a real wood-fired oven, but there are ways to get pretty close to a replication.
Here are the best temperatures to cook homemade pizza depending on what oven you have!
Fan-assisted ovens: Fan-assisted ovens are probably the best for cooking homemade pizza as long as you turn the fan on.
With the fan turned on, there is a more even circulation of heat, which ensures thorough cooking through the dough.
These ovens can be turned up to the highest temperature to cook a homemade pizza.
Traditional ovens: All you can do with traditional domestic ovens is to turn the temperature up to the highest setting, which is usually 500 °F (250 °C).
Gas mark ovens: The same rule applies to gas mark ovens – turn the temperature up to the highest setting. The gas mark equivalent of this is generally gas mark 9.
How To Cook The Perfect Homemade Pizza In An Oven
So, you don’t have a real wood-fired pizza oven, but you’re prepared to make your domestic oven work to properly cook your homemade pizza.
Here are our tips on how to cook the perfect homemade pizza in an oven!
Preheat The Oven
The hotter, the better. Preheating the oven before allowing the pizza to cook is vital to ensure even cooking throughout the dough.
Even if you just put in the pizza once the oven has indicated that the preheating period has finished, this can still result in an uneven bake.
Ideally, you’d want to leave the oven to preheat for at least 30 minutes before cooking the pizza.
This will allow the oven to be as hot as possible in every area – remember, the bottom of the oven is usually the coldest, but it needs to be the hottest part when cooking a pizza.
Our top tip is to avoid opening the oven door until you’re ready to put the pizza in.
If you open the oven door during the pre-heating time, even only once or twice, this will immediately lower the temperature.
Choose The Best Surface
If you’re thinking of cooking your homemade pizza directly on the oven rack, think again.
It’s fine to cook a frozen or pre-cooked pizza directly on the oven rack as the structure of the pizza is more rigid, but the floppiness of homemade pizza dough means that the dough will simply melt between the gaps in the rack.
This is because the dough will first melt before it cooks. Unless you want to be scraping bits of raw and burnt dough from the oven and the rack for the next few days, don’t cook the dough directly on the rack!
Instead, you’ve got to find a suitable solid surface to cook a homemade pizza.
There are no grates in a wood-fired pizza oven. Instead, the pizza is placed on a preheated pizza stone and left to cook at the bottom of the oven.
Now, you can’t leave a pizza at the bottom of a domestic oven, because this is where the oven is coldest.
Regardless of what surface you cook the pizza on, leaving it at the bottom of the oven will cook it very, very slowly. Plus, it’ll probably only cook the top of the pizza, rendering the rest entirely uncooked.
We recommend buying a pizza stone or slate if you’re keen to make a lot of homemade pizza.
Pizza slates are the best option in our opinion because they are far less likely to break compared to pizza stones.
Both of these options are used in real wood-fired pizza ovens due to how well they conduct heat.
The key to using a pizza stone or slate is to preheat the stone or slate for at least an hour before you cook the pizza.
The longer, the better, because these surfaces need enough time to conduct as much heat as possible.
As soon as the cool pizza dough touches the surface, it will immediately take away some of that heat if it wasn’t pre-heated long enough, which can contribute to a longer cooking time and potentially uncooked dough.
If you want to take it to the next level, we recommend pre-heating two pizza stones or slates.
Once you’ve put the homemade pizza on one surface, you can then transfer it to the other so the pizza gets an even amount of conducted heat.
However, if you don’t have a pizza stone or pizza slate, don’t fret! Not everybody can justify buying one of these if you’re not planning on frequently making homemade pizza.
Instead, you can use a large baking tray that is covered in a preheated thick baking sheet.
You can, in theory, cook the pizza directly on a preheated baking tray, but you can’t ensure that the pizza won’t stick to the surface.
A thick baking sheet will at least provide more of a smooth surface to easily remove the pizza without breaking it.
Our top tip is to sprinkle a light layer of flour over a baking tray to provide a bit of grip on the pizza to prevent it from sticking to the tray.
However, make sure to only use a light layer, otherwise, the flour can burn.
If you want to mimic a pizza slate or stone, you can also use a piece of ceramic tile.
Ceramic tiles conduct heat in the same way as pizza slates and stones, so as long as you clean and preheat the surface, this will work fine, too!
Where To Put The Pizza In The Oven
So, we’ve talked about how you shouldn’t cook homemade pizza at the bottom of the oven as it won’t get enough heat to thoroughly cook the dough.
As a result of this, you should cook your homemade pizza in the hottest part of the oven, which is generally the top.
Now, here’s where it gets a bit complicated.
When you cook a homemade pizza near the top of the oven, the first thing that will be cooked is the toppings, which often leaves the dough underneath only partially cooked.
This is why it’s so important to put your homemade pizza on an adequate base, such as a pre-heated stone or slate or baking tray, otherwise, the underside of the pizza won’t receive enough heat to cook.
Sure, you can keep the pizza in the oven for longer, but this will only burn the toppings.
To be honest, it all comes down to trial and error. Every domestic oven will work differently, so you’ve just gotta keep an eye on how well the pizza is cooking depending on where you put it.
You’re allowed to move the pizza up and down the racks if you think the toppings are cooking too quickly, so don’t feel like you have to commit to leaving the pizza in a particular place!
However, you’ve also got to keep in mind that the more you open up the oven door, the temperature will immediately drop inside the oven.
As pizza requires extreme heat to cook properly, you should try to limit doing this as much as possible.
How Long Does It Take To Cook A Homemade Pizza In The Oven?
In a real wood-fired pizza oven, pizzas can cook in as little as 3 minutes due to the extreme temperature and the even heat conduction.
However, pizzas take slightly longer in domestic ovens because of the lower temperatures.
Problem is, it’s not easy to say how long it will take a homemade pizza to cook in the oven. This is because there are a variety of factors that can change the length of the cooking process.
You should follow the guidelines given from the recipe you are following, but in most cases, you’ll have to play it by ear.
Here are the factors that can affect the cooking time of homemade pizza:
The thicker the dough, the longer it will take to cook!
It’s vital that you allow more time for thick dough to cook compared to thin dough because consuming uncooked pizza dough can be unsafe (not to mention disgusting).
The Placement Of The Pizza
Where you place the pizza in the oven will determine how long it will take to cook. For example, a pizza that is closer to the bottom of the oven will take longer to cook than a pizza at the top of the oven.
If you put other foods in the oven at the same time, this will block the circulation of heat, which can make the cooking process even longer.
The Type Of Oven You Have
The type of oven you have will determine how long it will take for the pizza to cook.
For example, a fan-assisted oven will cook a pizza faster than a domestic oven because there is a better circulation of heat.
Although, as fan-assisted ovens can cook pizzas pretty fast, you’ve got to make sure that you keep an eye on how quickly the pizza is being cooked. There is always a risk of burning!
What You Cook The Pizza On
Cooking a homemade pizza on a preheated pizza stone or slate will speed up the cooking process due to the amount of heat these surfaces conduct.
Baking trays and circular trays can still be used to efficiently cook a pizza (as long as they have been preheated), but these surfaces don’t conduct as much heat as stones or slates, which is why they take longer to cook a pizza.
The Maximum Temperature
The hotter the oven, the faster the pizza will cook! The maximum temperature of your oven will also determine how fast the pizza is cooked.
For example, most domestic ovens reach a maximum temperature of 500 °F (250 °C), which means that a homemade pizza could technically be fully cooked within 10-15 minutes.
However, some domestic ovens have a lower maximum temperature, which means the cooking time will be slightly longer.
So, there you have it! To put it simply – the best way to cook a pizza in a domestic oven is to preheat the living daylights out of it.
The hotter the oven is, the faster and more efficiently it will cook the pizza.
While it might seem like an impossible task to exactly mimic the temperatures inside a wood-fired pizza oven, there are ways to replicate these temperatures inside a domestic oven to create the same well-cooked pizza.
Just make sure to allow enough time for the oven to preheat, properly preheat the surface which you are going to cook the pizza on, and whatever you do – don’t cook a homemade pizza directly on the rack.