Making your own pizza dough can be a time-consuming process that not everyone has the patience for, especially when it comes to the frustrating situation of the pizza dough being too sticky to knead.
If you’re new to making pizza and find yourself struggling to knead your pizza dough, you might be wondering: Why is my pizza dough sticky?
In this article, I will cover some key information about sticky pizza dough, including the reasons why your dough could be sticky and how to fix it.
Keep reading to find out more.
Why Is My Pizza dough Too Sticky?
Making pizza dough that is the right consistency can be a challenging feat for many people, and all hope can feel lost when a sticky dough tries to ruin the fun of making your own pizza.
However, understanding why this can happen is the first step to learning how to fix it when this problem arises.
There are several reasons that your pizza dough is sticky. These include:
You’re Using The Wrong Flour
The dough for your pizza is likely sticky because you’re attempting to make it with the wrong flour.
This is a simple mistake to make, as a lot of dough recipes are left up to interpretation.
The majority of pizza dough recipes don’t tend to specify which type of flour to use when it comes to making pizza dough.
However, this is an incredibly important component to get right, as using the wrong type of flour and hydration combination can make your dough incredibly sticky and difficult to work with.
When choosing the flour to make your pizza dough, you will need to consider both the water absorption and the humidity of the environment that you’ll be making the dough in.
Generally speaking, a strong flour that has a higher gluten content tends to be more capable of absorbing more water.
Bearing this in mind, a stronger flour is generally a better choice for a pizza dough with a higher hydration percentage.
The W index is an indicator of a flour’s strength, however, it’s rarely on the package of the flour.
If you’re a beginner, the majority of Italian pizza flours have a strength of 200-300W, which works well for 60 to 75% hydration.
When making your pizza dough, you will also need to consider the humidity of your environment. In a humid environment, doughs tend to absorb more moisture, effectively increasing the hydration.
You can think of the flour almost as a sponge in this circumstance. When your kitchen is warmer, such as during the summer, it can absorb moisture from humid air during the summertime.
If you don’t take this into account when you’re deciding how much water to add to your dough, it can lead to a more sticky dough than you initially intended to make.
You Have Added Too Much Water To The Pizza Dough
A sure-fire way to make a sticky pizza dough that is almost impossible to work with is to add too much water.
Generally speaking, the more water you add to your dough, the stickier it is going to be, and the harder it is going to be to knead.
To put it simply, dough hydration is the amount of water you add to your pizza dough recipe and is referred to as a percentage. For instance, 1000g of flour and 500g of water equals 50% hydration.
If you don’t want to struggle to work with a sticky dough, then you should aim for a dough with a hydration of around 65%. If you go any higher, the dough will start to get stickier.
The great thing about making pizza at home is that you can experiment with the amount of water that you add as you become more experienced, and can increase it if you like softer, lighter doughs.
However, be aware that the more water you add, the more difficult it will be to work with if you’re a beginner and have never made homemade pizza dough before.
A Lack Of Gluten Development In The Pizza Dough
Another reason why your pizza dough might be sticky is that you haven’t kneaded it enough, and thus, there is a lack of gluten development.
Kneading takes longer than people might initially expect, and this is where people tend to make a mistake with their pizza dough.
They get tired of the kneading process before there is sufficient gluten development, and the pizza dough suffers as a result of this.
If you’re kneading your pizza dough by hand, expect to put some elbow grease into the process! Kneading by hand can take anywhere between 15 to 30 minutes.
As you continue to knead the dough with your hands, you will begin to notice that the dough reduces in stickiness the longer that you knead it.
For proper gluten to form as you knead the dough, you will need to make sure that you are using flour with high enough gluten (protein) content.
Stickiness is only one of the many problems that a lack of gluten can cause.
There’s no getting away from the fact that if you don’t knead your pizza dough for a significant period of time, the result will end up being a very tight and compact dough.
In addition, it will end up ripping when it comes to you attempting to roll out and stretch your dough.
The most important thing to remember is that you need high-quality pizza flour, and to put some elbow grease in during the kneading process!
How To Fix Sticky Pizza Dough
If your dough is too sticky for one or multiple of the reasons I’ve discussed above, your first thought might be to add a lot more flour.
However, you will need to hold off on this urge, as it’s easy to misjudge how much flour you actually need.
While the quickest way to fix pizza dough that has become sticky is to knead more flour into it, you will want to make sure that you are doing this in small batches.
If you add too much flour to the dough in one go, the dough can become too dry and very hard to work with.
It’s always the safest option to add the flour slowly to your pizza dough.
While you can add more flour, you can’t take it away once it’s been kneaded into the dough, and adding too much can result in a dough that’s too dense.
To save yourself from having to start again, always work slowly and knead the dough gently. You’d be surprised how quickly the dough will come together once you start kneading and adding a little flour.
How Do You Prevent Pizza Dough From Becoming Sticky?
There are a variety of different preventative measures that you can take in each step to minimize the risk of your dough becoming sticky.
Kneading For The Appropriate Amount Of Time
As I mentioned above, a common mistake people make when they’re making pizza dough is to not knead the dough for long enough.
This results in a sticky dough that is hard to work with, and you’ll be left feeling deflated with more dough on your hands than in the oven!
I cannot stress enough how important it is to knead your dough. Although it’s an arm workout, you’ll begin to feel the dough becoming less and less sticky the more that you knead it into a smooth dough.
This will not only make the process of making your pizzas more enjoyable, but you will also end up with a much more pliable pizza dough that you can easily shape if you spend the time kneading.
You will want to knead the dough for around 15 to 30 minutes, and you will be able to feel when it is coming together nicely and is easier to work with.
Allowing The Dough To Rise
Once you have spent the time kneading your dough until it is smooth, it should be less sticky.
However, if you find that it’s still stickier than you’d have liked, you can apply a little oil to a bowl before placing the dough in to rise.
However, if you have a dough scraper, you should find that this is sufficient enough to get the dough out of the bowl.
Stretching The Pizza Dough And Adding Toppings
Once the dough has risen, you’re ready to stretch and shape your pizza. To prevent it from sticking to your surface, coat it in flour and then shake off any excess flour that hasn’t stuck to the pizza dough.
You can always add a sprinkling of flour to your surface, too, but not too much, as this can change the texture of the dough if you’re not careful.
Once on your surface, you can stretch out your pizza dough.
You want to make sure that you move quickly, as the longer you leave the dough, the more likely it is to get stuck on the surface that you’re stretching it on.
If you find that your dough gets stuck to your kitchen countertop, you can always use your dough scraper to help you transfer the dough from the countertop to your pizza peel.
Transferring Your Pizza To The Pizza Peel
To stop your pizza from sticking to the pizza peel, make sure that you dust the pizza peel with semolina.
Semolina has a somewhat coarse texture and is best for dusting your pizza peel as the coarseness means that the dough will roll more easily.
As a result, dusting it decreases the chances of it getting stuck and makes it easier to place the pizza into the oven for baking.
There are special pizza peels, known as perforated pizza peels, that have super useful holes in them.
These holes get rid of any excess semolina used to prevent your pizza from sticking and means that there is less semolina that is going to cause your pizza to brown at a quicker rate.
Preventing Your Pizza From Sticking To Your Pizza Stone
If you’re worried about your pizza sticking at the final hurdle, such as on your pizza stone or pizza steel, you don’t need to worry.
Typically speaking, the oven is so hot that the heat will vaporize the moisture in the dough, resulting in a crispy pizza crust that your guests are sure to be impressed with!
As a result, you don’t need to fret about dusting your pizza stone with semolina to prevent your pizza from sticking. In fact, this can actually have the opposite effect.
Excess flour or semolina can end up browning your pizza too quickly, resulting in the bottom of your pizza becoming burned.
In addition to this, it also burns the bottom of your oven, which is not only inconvenient but makes the cleaning process much longer!
Pizza dough can be sticky for a variety of different reasons, such as using the wrong flour, adding too much water, or not enough gluten development due to a lack of kneading.
Mastering the art of making pizza dough can take time and practice. However, with these helpful tips, hopefully, you have a better understanding of why your pizza dough is sticky and how to fix it.
Once you’ve perfected how to fix your dough, you’ll be a pizza pro in no time!