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Should You Cook Pizza Dough Before Adding Toppings?

This time we will focus on just one key area, and that is should you cook the pizza dough before adding toppings. Adding some amazing toppings is one thing, but having a good pizza dough will either make or break the entire meal. Now, we could go through different ways to make pizza dough.

You see, we are so used to getting a pizza that is already made for us, that the idea of making our own is sometimes slightly alien to us. We may even purchase ready-made pizza bases, so all we need to do is follow the instructions on the packet and we are good to go.

But we are not always about that, even though there’s nothing wrong with buying read-made bases. So, we want to focus on discussing a pizza dough base that you have made all on your own.

With that in mind, what should you do? Well, the answer is a bit more complicated than most people are aware, but we are here to help.

raw pizza dough

Adding Toppings?

The answer is not as clear-cut as most people would expect. In fact, if you look at various recipes, then some will state you need to cook the dough while others say it’s not necessary at all.

So, we need to try to clear up this confusion to help you when it comes to making your own pizza at home. After all, you don’t want to go to the trouble of producing the toppings only for the base to be a flop and let you down?

Now, you may think that your local pizzeria uses fresh dough and that they don’t pre-bake it, but think about the equipment that they use. They have a pizza oven and pizza stones in place, and they do things using equipment that the average person does not have at home.

Also, they understand toppings and how much to use. They do tend to only make thin crusts as well, and that is where their knowledge and experience really does count for so much.

You don’t have the same sort of experience, and that is why we feel pre-baking your dough has the ability to make your life a whole lot easier in the process.

Using Something Moist as a Base?

If we can start things off by talking about what happens if you are putting something moist on the base of your pizza, such as the usual tomato sauce. Now, the difference in opinion as to whether or not you should cook pizza dough starts even here.

If you have a thicker base and plan on using a lot of pizza sauce, then you really should look at partially baking your pizza dough before you start dressing the pizza. It will just stop the sauce from soaking through and making the dough pretty horrible to be honest.

But if you have a very thin base, and we do mean thin, and only want to put the smallest of amounts of pizza sauce on the base, then it may be fine for you to then avoid pre-cooking the base.

So, in this situation, it all depends on what you plan on doing with the base. 

Should You Cook Pizza Dough Before Adding Toppings?

Using Something Dry as a Base

If you only plan on putting some olive oil on the base, which does appear in a number of recipes, then you will not be required to go ahead and pre-cook the pizza dough. Of course, you can still do so if you prefer, but it’s not as necessary as it is with the more usual pizza sauce base.

However, even with this, there can ultimately be a difference in the end result you are going to then be able to achieve with your pizza. But first, let’s look at the length of time you should be pre-baking the dough for before you even get to the stage of adding those amazing toppings.

The Time

So let’s say you have your pizza dough all rolled out to the size of the base you want, and don’t forget the thickness here either, so what do you do with the baking?

In general, you should be looking at cooking your pizza dough in the oven for 5 or 6 minutes. The key here is in getting the dough to firm up, but not to be fully cooked. This will then provide you with the perfect base to add your toppings. 

The Heat

Even when pre-baking, you should be doing so on fairly high heat. Trying to cook the dough on a low and slow heat will only result in you being rather disappointed in how it rises.

Now, even with a thin crust, you still want things to rise a certain amount, and if you have the oven basically warming up the dough, then it’s not going to end well.

Instead, you want to really sort of blast the dough on medium-high heat for those few minutes. It won’t completely cook the dough, but it will start the process of getting the dough to rise, and it will also begin to develop a nice crust for you to work with.

After Pre-Baking

As you are making the dough to then make the pizza immediately, you must look at adding the toppings as soon as you take the pre-baked base out of the oven. Dress your pizza, and then add it back to the oven for anywhere from 8 minutes up to 15 minutes.

This time all depends on what type of base you are dealing with. It makes sense that a thicker base requires more cooking time as the heat has to go through more dough.

But the key here is you want that crust on the base to stay risen. Taking it out of the oven, taking your time to dress it, and then putting it back in as quickly as you can does make a difference.

Should You Cook Pizza Dough Before Adding Toppings?

Why Pre-Baking Generally Makes a Difference

As we said, not every recipe talks about pre-baking pizza dough. However, we do generally recommend it just because it makes life so much easier, and we feel it does deliver better results.

The main issue is in trying to get the balance between the well-cooked dough and the toppings not being ruined. The toppings will generally take less time to cook than the dough.

Not pre-baking means the pizza needs to be in the oven for longer, and that could lead to a top that is more like charcoal rather than anything else.

This is especially true with thicker bases. The ability to get the base baked perfectly, and in line with the toppings, is just not going to be possible.

The only way it can work is if you have a pizza oven or pizza stone to make life easier. Even then, it’s still only going to be with a thin crust rather than a thick base.

We also just feel it will make the base less soggy. There is nothing worse than an undercooked base, and it also means you can put more toppings on and not have to worry about it falling through the base and making a mess.

So, unless you have a special pizza oven like an Italian restaurant, and you probably don’t have one like that, then pre-baking your pizza dough will make a huge difference to your life. 

Final Tip

Perhaps the final tip we need to mention here is to not roll out the pizza dough, but rather use your hand to work it and stretch it out to the size and shape you want.

This is the more traditional way of doing things, and it does lead to more authentic results as well.

It’s also true that you should not look at overworking the dough before you start to form the pizza base. Yes, you need to get air into the dough, as this helps it to rise, but there is a limit after which the dough will effectively become damaged. 

Even these actions can influence the end result you can achieve, but it still doesn’t change the fact that you should prefer to pre-bake your pizza dough.

Overall Conclusion

If you make your own pizza dough, then please do prepare the base and pre-cook the dough before you even think about putting one single topping. While some recipes state you do not have to do this, we just feel it makes life a whole lot easier as a result.

We actually recommend baking the base while you prepare the toppings. It should all work out perfectly fine from a time perspective, and it won’t delay getting that dinner on the table by too much.

Making your own pizza dough, and then choosing all of your own toppings, is a whole lot of fun. It’s something we recommend everyone tries at some point in their life.

Just bake the base correctly or your experience of a completely homemade pizza is not going to be the best experience you have ever had in your life.