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Easy Overnight Pizza Dough

Making your own pizza dough is simple with this easy overnight pizza dough! Four ingredients plus time is all you need for the best homemade pizza of your life!

vegan cheese pizza made with easy overnight pizza dough on a cutting board cut into slices

There are hundreds (thousands?) of ways to make pizza dough, but this recipe is a favorite of mine. It has just 4 ingredients, and maybe 5 minutes of hands on time. It needs only 1 minute of kneading and can accommodate a relatively flexible schedule.

The only real downside to making this recipe (and your own pizza dough in general) is that it’s not great for instant gratification. If you want to make last minute pizza, you can get dough from grocery stores or some pizza shops.

But if you want the reward of making your own pizza dough, and you want it to taste as good as the crust from a nice pizza place, you should really try this recipe! It’s a perfect all purpose type pizza dough. It can be stretched thin and bakes up with a pillowy edge (technical term cornicione).

pizza dough balls shaped and sitting on a flour dusted plate, ready to be refrigerated

The method is quite simple, and you’ll see some similarities in the technique to my overnight artisan walnut bread (there’s a video over there where you can watch some of the techniques I describe in the recipe if you’d like. Specifically the pinching, folding, and shaping techniques).

The recipe is adapted from The Elements of Pizza by Ken Forkish, who, if you’ve been following me for awhile, you might have noticed I’m a big fan of. I love the more science-y approach he has to baking. There’s certainly an art to making your own bread and pizza, and a lot of it is done by feel and experience, but I find it helpful to understand the whys behind it.

The importance of the pizza baking temperature

Professional pizza ovens typically bake pizzas in just 1-3 minutes at 700 to over 1000ºF, while in my home oven it takes a minimum of 6 minutes for a smaller pizza on the hottest setting my oven goes to.

A typical 10-12″ pizza takes closer to 8-10 minutes in a well pre-heated oven at 550ºF. Because of this, the best doughs in a professional kitchen are not going to be the best dough in a home kitchen. More water will evaporate while baking at home due to the longer bake time. That’s why when you bake your pizzas at 425 ºF (which is what I see in a lot of recipes) for like 20 minutes, you’ll get a much stiffer and drier result.

shaping the pizza dough into dough balls by stretching and folding the dough into the center

To imitate a professional oven you want your home oven to get as hot as possible. That’s usually somewhere between 500 and 550 ºF. You also want to preheat your oven for an hour.

Your oven may say that it’s preheated well before an hour is up, but, you need the heat to absorb into the walls of the oven. That way, when you open your oven door to slip in your pizza, you won’t lose as much heat.

It doesn’t matter if you have a fancy Wolf or Viking oven or if you have an average oven, this is just a matter of heat transfer and it takes time. Luckily, an hour happens to be the time it takes for the pizza dough to come up to room temperature and for the gluten to relax before you shape and top your dough so it really works out nicely.

shaping the pizza dough into dough balls

The ingredients of the dough

As far as the dough itself is concerned, we use a slightly higher hydration (or a wetter) dough than most professional recipes to account for this additional evaporation. This recipe has a 70% hydration, which allows for a softer and doughier crust. The dough also uses a high percentage of salt.

Salt not only provides flavor in the final product, but it also acts to retard the growth of the yeast. And, as I’ve said before and I’m sure will say again, a slow and cold fermentation leads to a tastier result, as it gives the yeast time to create those delicious flavor molecules as it processes the carbohydrates in the flour.

Speaking of yeast, only a small amount is used to allow for the long and slow fermentation. I tend to use all purpose flour (and the recipe is written as such), but make sure to use a high quality (and higher protein one), like King Arthur Flour or Bob’s Red Mill.

I find my bread and pizzas are a lot better when I use these high quality flours. You can use Italian 00 flour instead in this recipe, but I am pretty happy with the way my all purpose flour doughs come out, so don’t usually bother to source the more expensive imported flour.

three shaped and floured dough balls on a marble counter

Using a baking stone or baking steel to bake

Lastly, I want to talk about how to bake your pizza. We’ve already talked temperature, but what you bake on is equally important. For years I used a pizza stone, and that makes pizza way better than using a thin metal pizza baking sheet.

But my pizza stone broke after 7 years and I switched over to a baking steel about 1 year ago and that took my pizza to the next level. Steel is a better conductor of heat than a ceramic pizza stone, so it is able to absorb more heat for a faster bake as well as more evenly for a more evenly baked result. It’s a bit of a pricey investment though, and a stone does work very well. Just make sure if you are using a ceramic pizza stone that it is safe to use at least to 550 ºF.

Tips for using a pizza peel

The other tool that’s useful for making pizzas is a pizza peel. To successfully use a peel, I’ve found a few helpful tips (out of a lot of trial and error).

  1. Dust the peel with flour, then brush the flour around to create a super thin layer over the entire peel. You’ll lose a lot of flour but that’s ok. The flour works as miniature ball bearings, so for a nice smooth roll you want a single layer of balls, not uneven layering.
  2. Top your pizza dough while it’s on the peel (unless you have great skills to transfer a topped dough, but I don’t recommend it unless it’s something you already do) BUT don’t prepare your pizza until you’re just a minute or two away from sticking it in the oven. If you leave the pizza dough on the peel it will absorb that thin layer of flour you just coated the peel with and then stick to the peel.
  3. Gently shake the peel and watch the pizza slide around the peel before opening the oven.
  4. If you end up leaving the pizza on the peel too long and it’s not able to slide around on the peel, lift the dough up in sections and add a little extra flour underneath, then blow air underneath the dough, essentially resettling the flour into a thin layer. Work in a round until you’ve loosened the dough from the peel.
  5. To transfer the pizza to the oven make sure the dough is loose and able to slide from your gentle shaking of the peel. Then open your oven and place the peel towards the back of your pizza steel or stone. Using short back-and-forth jerky movements slide the pizza towards the end of the peel and off of it, moving the peel out of the oven slowly as the pizza comes off of it and onto the steel/stone. Once the pizza is fully off the peel close the oven door and let it bake!

I hope you guys try this dough, and then one of my many pizza recipes! If you have any questions please feel free to ask, or if you try it, let me know how it turns out for you!

vegan cheese pizza on a cutting board being placed on a table

If you make this easy overnight pizza dough, leave a comment below and rate the recipe on the recipe card. And please share your photos with me on Instagram, tag @thecuriouschickpea and #thecuriouschickpea. I love seeing your recreations!

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vegan cheese pizza made with easy overnight pizza dough on a cutting board cut into slices

Easy Overnight Pizza Dough

Yield: 2 15 oz dough balls or 3 10oz dough balls
Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Additional Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 9 hours 30 minutes

An easy overnight pizza dough that requires almost no kneading, is easy to shape, and turns into a perfect pizza. For best results let rest in the fridge for at least 24 hours before using, but it can also be used after 2-3 days. The gluten will continue to relax and the flavor to develop over time.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups (350g) water, 95 ºF
  • 2 1/2 tsp (14g) salt
  • 1/4 tsp dried instant yeast
  • 4 cups (500g) all purpose flour

Instructions

  1. Measure out the warm water in a large mixing bowl. Add in the salt and stir to dissolve. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and let sit for a couple of minutes to hydrate and dissolve, then stir to distribute.
  2. Add the flour into the mixing bowl and stir with a wooden spoon until you form a shaggy dough. Switch to using your hands. Wet your hands to prevent the dough from sticking to them and pinch the dough into several segments between your first finger and thumb. Then reach under the edges of the dough and gently pull it up to stretch the dough until you hit resistance, then fold the section of dough over to rest of the dough. Turn the bowl 1/4 turn and repeat the pulling and folding until you've gone all around. This action brings the dough back into one piece. Repeat the pinching and folding process for about 1-2 minutes until your dough starts to turn into a cohesive, but sticky ball of dough. Re-wet your hands as necessary to prevent the dough from sticking to them. Cover the bowl and let rest for 20 minutes.
  3. After the 20 minutes of rest, turn the dough onto a clean and floured surface. Knead the dough for about 1 minute until you get a smooth ball of dough. Flour your hands and add flour to the counter as necessary to prevent sticking. Lightly coat the mixing bowl with oil and place the ball of dough mixing bowl, turning to coat in oil before leaving seam side down. Cover the mixing bowl and let the dough rise for about 1 hour, until it's doubled in size. You can let it rise for up to 2 hours before shaping.
  4. Turn the dough onto a clean, floured counter and stretch to make a large rectangle. You're going to divide the dough into 2 or 3 pieces (depending on the size you want your final pizza to be) by sprinkling flour over where you're going to cut (this prevents it from sticking) and cut into the sections with a bench scraper, or with a butter knife by pressing straight down into the dough.
  5. Shape the dough one piece at a time. To shape the dough, you will use the same folding technique as before (this time with dry or lightly floured hands). Take a section of the dough and gently stretch it up until you feel resistance, then fold over the middle. Take the next section and repeat, and move around the dough until you have created a tight ball. Then, turn the ball of dough and place seam side down on a clean, un-floured section of the counter. Cup the dough ball between your hands with your pinky fingers resting on the counter behind it. Pull the dough towards you, allowing the friction between the dough and counter to pull the dough underneath itself, and using your pinky fingers to prevent the dough from simply rolling. Turn the dough about a quarter turn and repeat. Do this until you've gone in a full circle and the skin around the dough ball is taught. Sprinkle flour over the dough and spread it around with your hands until the dough is not sticky to touch. Repeat with the remaining sections of dough, then place on a floured plate. Sprinkle more flour on top of the dough, then cover with plastic wrap and place the plate in the fridge for at least 6 hours, or up to 72 hours, before making pizza.
  6. Before shaping the dough and baking, let come to room temperature and relax for about 1 hour. If you try to shape the dough and it's not stretching out easily or quickly, let it rest for 10 minutes then try again.

Notes

Use in any pizza recipe, including the many pizza recipes I've shared! See some tips for baking pizza in the post.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 152Total Fat: 0gSodium: 1mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 4g

Nutrition is calculated automatically so should be used as an estimate.

Did you make this recipe?

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Phillip

Sunday 13th of June 2021

Hello and thank you for the recipe. Can I make a whole wheat version of this?

Eva Agha

Thursday 17th of June 2021

Hi Phillip, whole wheat flour behaves differently from all purpose, specifically it is higher in protein and absorbs more water than white flour. You can't swap in whole wheat flour with no changes and expect the dough to be as nice, you would need to add more water to compensate, the general rule is about 1 tablespoon additional water per cup of flour substituted, but I haven't made this dough with whole wheat to know how it would behave. I personally would start with replacing 50% whole wheat and experiment from there. Good luck!

May

Thursday 22nd of April 2021

I followed this recipe carefully yesterday and it turned out perfectly! I made a half recipe and let it sit in my fridge for the minimum 6 hours. My dough sat perfectly in my 12 inch pizza pan. It was simple, easy, and satisfying! I will definitely be making this again. Maybe for some calzones.. :) Thank you!

Meghan White

Friday 5th of March 2021

WHAT BIZZAR DIRECTION, I WISH I READ STEP TWO BEFORE STARTING THIS RECIPE. YOUR 'PINCHING' TECHNIQUE IS CONFUSING AND AN EXERCISE IN FRUSTRATION. IF YOU ARE GOING TO GIVE SUCH BIZAR DOUGH MAKING DIRECTIONS I RECOMMEND POSTING MORE PICTURES OF THE PROCESS...

Eva Agha

Saturday 6th of March 2021

Hi Meghan, there is a video in the post showing the technique that hopefully helps make it more clear how it works. It's a common technique in artisan bread making, but I understand it is a new one for many people! I'm sorry you felt frustrated and hope that your dough came out. Also don't worry your email is not shared publicly, no one can see it! It's just used to prevent spam.

Meghan White

Friday 5th of March 2021

@Meghan White, I did not mean to write this in caps!! also I am not comfortable having my email posted here publicly, can you please remove this?

Dustin

Monday 15th of February 2021

I just attempted this recipe. When I go to reach my hands into the bowl after first mixing with a wooden spoon, my hands get covered in dough - despite wetting them thoroughly first. I weighed out the flour according to your recipe and double checked the water amount but it seems insanely wet. I don't know how I'm going to be able to knead this without adding a bunch more flour in. What am I doing wrong?

Eva Agha

Tuesday 16th of February 2021

@Dustin, It's normal for this dough to be sticky, and some if it is just practice and getting used to handling wet dough. Quick and sure movements will help keep the dough from sticking to your hands. And dough that does stick you can just scrape off your hands and put it back into the bowl at the end (wet your hands as needed!).

After the dough has rested for 20 minutes it will be less sticky as the flour has a chance to hydrate. Use flour during kneading as needed, but you're only kneading it for a minute or so, and the dough doesn't have a chance to get too sticky in this time. Trust that by the time you go to use the dough it will be less sticky!

That being said, I don't know where you life and if you're at elevation or near the ocean or anything that may cause your dough to need to be adjusted slightly. If you need to adjust it so that you can work with it, this is something you should always feel like you can do! I hope that helps!

Bonnie

Thursday 11th of February 2021

This recipe was perfect! Thank you for explaining the importance of extra hydration for pizza going into a home oven as opposed to a high heat pizza or commercial oven. Also thanks for the tips on the pizza peel. I do. It have a peel but I applied the same principles to a flat baking sheet and it worked wonderfully. We divided the pizza dough in 2, made one large pizza for the 2 of us and froze the second for another time, and I can’t wait! Literally so excited over this recipe

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