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Pan Pizza: What is It and How to Make It?

Pan pizza is simply what the name suggests, pizza that was baked in a pan! It has a thick crust but a soft interior and a crunch that is almost to die for.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Pan pizza is simply what the name suggests, pizza that was baked in a pan! It has a thick crust but a soft interior and a crunch that is almost to die for.

This is a very popular way of making pizza at home and it has a few variations as well, such as Chicago-style pizza, or rather deep-dish pizza, and Detroit-style pizza that is made with the use of a cast-iron pan, and of course Sicilian pizza which is baked on a rectangular sheet tray.

The process for making this dough recipe requires some patience and planning but it is also possible to freeze this dough ahead of time. Be sure to check out all the tips and tricks for freezing your dough here!

  • Serves

    2 People

  • Cooking Time

    15-20 Minutes

  • Preparation Time

    4-5 hours

  • Difficulty

    Line Cook's Leap

One of the reasons why homemade pan pizza is so popular is because it has the ability to hold extra pizza sauce and pizza toppings without compromising the integrity of your slice and making it soggy.

This means that everyone can put on all their desired toppings without needing to worry if their pizza is going to fall apart or end up as a puddle of sauce.

Pan pizza is also a great way to feed a lot of people as you are able to prep a large amount at once and the leftovers will make excellent lunches for the whole family the next day.

Another great thing is that you are able to mix and match toppings so that everyone can have their own unique slice to experiment with and enjoy.

Why this homemade pan pizza recipe works

This pan pizza recipe is a good one to have in your arsenal as it can be prepared on the same day that you plan to use it or you can freeze it ahead of time for up to 3 months to save yourself some time during pizza night with the family.

This pizza recipe relies on allowing the dough to rise 2 separate times and that ensure that you have the perfect chewy texture and it also ensures that the flavors of the dough develop properly.

Baking your pizza at a high temperature in a preheated oven also ensures that you get a golden and crispy crust.

This pan pizza recipe also uses very simple ingredients that most people already have in their houses so it’s very likely that you won’t need to do a whole grocery shopping trip when you want to try this recipe!

Pan Pizza Recipe

Woman holding pan pizza - 1280x720

This homemade pan pizza recipe is perfect for 2x 10-inch cast iron skillets. You will get to enjoy your thick-crust pizza with that signature golden brown pizza crust topped with melted mozzarella cheese and a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Cooking and Preparation Times

  • Cooking time: 15-20 min
  • Prep time: 4-5 hours
    • Mixing the dough: 15 min
    • Rising of the dough: 2-3 hours
    • Sauce: 1,5 hours
    • Final preparation for baking: 15 min

Pizza Dough

Ingredients

  • 300g lukewarm water (not boiling, you must be able to touch it without burning)
  • 5g instant yeast
  • 5g white sugar
  • 11g salt
  • 28g olive oil (for dough)
  • 40g olive oil (extra for when the dough is rising)
  • 340g bread flour (for dough)
  • 68g bread flour (extra if the dough is too wet)
Pizza Dough in flour - 1280x720

Method

  1. Measure out all your ingredients beforehand using a scale to ensure accuracy.

  2. Combine the lukewarm water with the yeast and sugar and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Allow the yeast to activate for 5-7 min until the mixture is active and has started foaming.

  3. In a stand mixer, add the salt at the bottom of a medium-sized bowl, add the flour on top of that, and then add the olive oil as well as the yeast mixture.

  4. On a medium speed, mix the dough for 5 min until it starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl and is no longer sticking to your hands (add in some of the extra flour a little bit at a time if the mixture is too wet after everything has combined).

  5. In a large bowl, add a quarter of the extra olive oil and spread it around until the inside of the bowl is covered.

  6. Add the dough to the bowl and cover it with a damp cloth. Allow it to rise for 1-2 hours in a warm place or until the dough has doubled in size.

  7. Use half of the extra olive oil to coat the inside of each cast iron skillet as you did with the bowl.

  8. After the dough has doubled in size, turn it out onto a floured surface and divide your dough between each cast iron pan. Gently spread it in the pan but be careful not to knock out too much of the rise otherwise your dough will not rise properly the second time.

  9. Divide the remaining extra oil between each cast iron pan by gently spreading it on top of the dough.

  10. Let the dough rise for another hour or until it has spread out in the pan and doubled in size.

  11. After it has risen again, it is ready to be topped with your pizza sauce as well as your favorite toppings and of course some grated mozzarella cheese!

Pizza sauce

You are able to use any pizza sauce that you want and store-bought is perfectly fine but for those who want to experience making their own for their homemade pan pizza, this recipe is for you!

Ingredients

  • 30g extra virgin olive oil (normal oil will work just fine as well)
  • 170g onions, diced
  • 20g garlic, diced
  • 2500g tomatoes, room temperature
  • 50g basil, sliced thin
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Pizza sauce with tomatoes and basil - 1280x720

Method

  1. Place a big pot of water on the stove to heat up and add 2 pinches of salt.

  2. While the water heats up, take the eye out of all the tomatoes and cut an x on the bottom.

  3. Fill a large bowl halfway with water and ice.

  4. Once the water is boiling, place the tomatoes in the water for 10-40 seconds until the skin starts to peel off, and then transfer them to the bowl with the ice water.

  5. Allow the tomatoes to cool down for a few minutes and then peel off the skins. After the skins are taken off, cut the tomatoes in half and squeeze out the seeds into a separate bowl.

  6. Cut your tomatoes into small cubes and keep them with the rest of your ingredients.

  7. In a pot on medium heat, add your oil and allow it to heat up for a few seconds. Add your garlic to the pan and cook it until fragrant, for around 1 min, then add in your onions.

  8. Cook the onions and garlic until the onions go soft and start to caramelize for 5-10 min.

  9. Add your tomatoes to the mixture and switch to a low heat. Cook the mixture covered for 15-20 min and stir it every now and then to ensure that it does not burn.

  10. Cook the mixture uncovered for 10 min and stir it to ensure it does not burn. Add in the basil and simmer everything together for 2-3 min then take it off of the heat.

  11. Allow it to cool for a few minutes and then blend the sauce (be careful when blending the sauce as it may come out of the top of a stand blender, use a hand blender if you can).

  12. After the sauce has been blended, add in your salt and pepper to taste and then your sauce is ready to use.

Toppings

  • Tomato sauce
  • Proteins such as pepperoni, bacon, cooked chicken, etc.
  • Vegetables such as sliced onions, mushrooms, peppers, olives, etc.
  • Cheese such as grated mozzarella, white cheddar, parmesan cheese, etc.

Final preparation

Putting Pan Pizza in the oven - 1280x720
  1. Preheat oven to 290 degrees Celsius (550 degrees Fahrenheit).
  2. Add your pizza sauce to the top of your dough in the cast iron pans as well as your other toppings and end with your cheese (although the dough is able to handle a lot of extra toppings, ensure that the dough is not weighed down otherwise it will not rise properly).
  3. Ensure the oven temperature is where it needs to be and put your pizzas in the hot oven on a baking rack in the middle of the oven.
  4. Bake your pizza for 10-15 min or until the cheese is melted and bubbling, and you have a deep golden brown and crunchy crust.
  5. Ensure the entire pizza is cooked properly by using a palette knife or a butter knife to gently lift the size of the pizza and checking to see if the bottom is crispy (if the bottom still feels very soft or the middle of the pizza is still moving or doesn’t bounce back when you press it, put it back into the oven for another 5-10 min and keep an eye on it to ensure that it does not burn).
  6. Remove your pizza from the cast iron pan once it is cooked through and place it on a cooling rack for a few minutes before cutting it and then enjoy your homemade pan pizza!

Toppings

When you are adding your toppings to your pizza you start with the sauce followed by your cheese, protein and then your chosen vegetables. Cheese is added on top of the sauce under the toppings to ensure that excess moisture doesn’t seep into the dough as it cooks and it is best to use a low moisture cheese to ensure that the pizza doesn’t come out soggy.

The type of protein that you choose to add will dictate how and if it needs to be prepared beforehand. Protein such as sliced pepperoni, sliced ham, thinly sliced bacon and other deli meats don’t need to be prepared beforehand and can be added as is before you bake your pizza.

If you want to add something such as chicken, steak strips, sliced pork fillet or anything similar, they need to be cooked beforehand to ensure that they are not raw as the pizza does not bake long enough for these types of proteins to cook through.

If you want to add seafood such as shrimp or scallops to your pizza, they need to be cleaned beforehand but you can put them on raw if they are not very big and they will cook through in the oven. Be sure to check on them throughout the baking and ensure they are cooked when the pizza is done cooking before you serve your pizza.

Different Pizza toppings - 1280x720

When you add vegetables to your pizza, thinly sliced vegetables will cook on their own in the oven, but vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, butternut, etc. need to be at least boiled before you add them to pizza otherwise they will not cook properly.

The best cheese for any pizza is a low-moisture cheese such as grated mozzarella cheese but you can add fresh mozzarella as well as long as you don’t add too much and it sits on top of another cheese.

You can also add cheese such as burrata after your pizza is done cooking for a creamy element. Cheese such as grated parmesan or any other cheese with a very sharp flavor should be added in moderation and should not be the main cheese that is added.

Any fresh toppings such as fresh basil, rocket, prosciutto, marinated cheese, baby arugula, etc. needs to be added after your pizza has come out of the oven and it will add another layer of flavor, texture and some freshness to your already delicious pizza.

Tips and tricks

This is a very versatile recipe and you are able to use it to make a normal thin base pizza as well, you only need to remove the second rising of the dough from the recipe. You will then only let it rise once and then you will spread it out, add your toppings, and then bake it as normal.

You are also able to make this recipe a day ahead of when you need to use it. You will prepare the dough in the stand mixer, but instead of letting it rise like normal, you will add it to an oiled bowl, cover it in plastic wrap, and leave it in the fridge overnight. The next day you will proceed as normal by letting the dough come to room temperature, adding half the dough to each cast iron skillet, and then letting it rise and bake as normal.

As you are making pizza dough, ensure that your workspace is not too cold as the rising dough ball will be affected and not rise as it should and your pizza will have a very dense texture.

Also ensure that it is not overly hot as your dough will then rise very quickly and you will then run the risk of over proving the dough which will make the final product very tough, dry, and unpleasant to eat.

The whole process of making your pizza can be challenging for some people especially if you are not used to it but there is a way to ensure that it goes smoothly every time. All you need to do is weigh out all your ingredients before you start mixing and also prepare all your toppings and your sauce ahead of time.

By doing this you are setting yourself up for success and anyone will then be able to prepare this recipe, and others, no matter your skill level.

If you do not have a stand mixer, don’t worry, you are still able to make this recipe by hand! Just mix everything as instructed in a bowl with a wooden spoon and knead it by hand for 10-15 min and you will still get the same delicious result!

Woman kneading pizza dough - 1280x720

If you thought the fun with this recipe stopped at the toppings, and of course the eating of the pizza, you are wrong! This versatile recipe can even be used to make a delicious focaccia so be sure to check out how to do that.

This recipe will always be a showstopper in all its forms and with endless variations of toppings comes an endless amount of fun so be sure to keep experimenting.

Frequent Asked Questions

The most notable difference between pan pizza and regular pizza dough is that a regular pizza crust doesn’t rise as much or have as many air bubbles as a pan pizza which means that when it gets baked it comes out as a thin crust.

Pan pizza crust is thicker, chewier, and crunchier, and it is able to hold a lot of pizza sauce as well as toppings and has a similar texture and look to focaccia.

The preparation of the dough is also very similar but the way that the dough is cooked and treated during the process is what makes them different.

You are able to use all-purpose or plain flour for your dough and you should not have any problems but the best flour to use for this dough is bread flour. Bread flour ensures that there is enough gluten development in the dough which will contribute to the rise and texture of the crust.

The perfect pan pizza dough consists of high-gluten flour such as bread flour, instant yeast, salt, sugar, water and olive oil although normal oil is a good substitute if you do not have olive oil.

A characteristic of pan pizza is that is baked in something such as a cast iron skillet or even cake pans. It has a similar look and texture to focaccia with a thick crust and soft interior.

A cast iron pan makes some of the best pan pizza but you are able to use cake pans or baking sheets depending on how thick you want your pan pizza to be.

If you are baking a pan pizza you can simply place your cast iron pans or baking pans on an oven rack or a baking tray, but if you are baking a hand-tossed or normal thin-crust pizza it is best to use a pizza stone or even a greased baking tray if you don’t have one.

If you are using a pizza stone be sure to heat up before baking your pizza to ensure a crispy bottom to your pizza.

You are able to use either flour or oil when you are baking your pan pizza depending on what outcome you want. Using flour will keep your dough from sticking but if you use too much it can make your crust tough and dry.

When you use oil you will get a golden brown, semi-fried crust around the edges of the pan but if you use too much you will end up with an oily crust.

To keep pizza dough from sticking to a pan you need to apply either a thin layer of fat such as cooking spray or oil, or lightly dust it in flour.

To achieve a crispy crust when baking a pan pizza, oil is your best friend. You can coat the cast iron pan in a layer of oil and then bake the pizza at a high temperature in a hot oven.

Pan pizza is thicker than hand tossed pizza because of the way the dough is treated. Pan pizza is left to rise in the pan that it is baked and the end goal is to get as much rise as possible.

Hand tossed pizza dough is thinner because it is stretched out to create a thin and crispy crust which means that a lot of the air gets knocked out of dough in the process.

Pan pizza is made from a risen dough and it has a thick but crispy crust and crust pizza has a thinner crust that doesn’t have as much rise or air bubbles.

Pan pizza is also able to hold more toppings and tomato sauce without compromising the integrity of the slices whereas crust pizza has minimal toppings such olive oil, fresh mozzarella cheese, fresh basil and pizza sauce.

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