Handling & Stretching Pizza Dough

After making your pizza dough, the fun part starts. Handling and stretching your pizza dough is a satisfying part of the pizza-making process. Once the dough is done with the final rising, it is ready to use. If you are not ready to make your pizzas immediately, it can be covered with plastic wrap and kept in the refrigerator for several hours until you are ready to go. In fact, you can put the dough into the refrigerator after the first rising and let it sit overnight. Dough left at room temperature will continue to rise, so it is important to chill it well if you will be using it later. These tips will help you get the best results:

  1. Let dough come to room temperature
    If you’ve put your dough into the refrigerator for a cold rise, it can be tough to stretch it out right after taking it out of the fridge. Dough at room temperature is easier to roll or stretch out than cold dough. It is not only harder to roll out, but it will tend to shrink back, which can be very frustrating. So, let your dough sit for about 30 minutes before trying to work it.
  2. Start with a dough disc
    Dust your work surface with some flour before starting to work your dough. Then press the dough into a large disc shape. Pushing it into a circular-ish shape is your goal at this point. It doesn’t have to be a perfect circle. The idea is to just get it started. At this point, let it rest on your work surface or countertop for a few minutes. This will keep it from shrinking.
  3. Roll or stretch the dough
    After a short rest, your pizza dough is ready to stretch out. You can use a rolling pin, working from the center of your disc out to the edges. Make sure that you dust your rolling pin with flour as well. Turn the dough about a quarter turn each time you roll it out. This will help it keep a circular shape. If you’d prefer, you can skip the rolling pin and just use your hands to stretch the dough out. Pick up the dough and stretch it while rotating it. If you’re really ambitious, you can try tossing your pizza dough in the air. This gives a great stretch and is lots of fun to boot.
  4. Put your dough on a peel and top
    After your pizza is your desired diameter and thickness, you can put it on a pizza peel to prepare it for the oven. Don’t worry if it is not a perfect circle. We rarely end up with a perfect round shape in our house, and everyone seems charmed by the unique shapes that occur when we make our own pizzas. Use some cornmeal to keep the pizza dough from sticking to the peel. Then it’s time to top!

Pizza Handling & Stretching FAQ

Thickness of pizza dough before baking it depends on personal preference. For thin crust pizza, stretch your dough to about 1/4 or less inches. Standard thickness is about 1/2 inch. And thick crust pizza can be as thick as 2 inches. 

Sometimes when you are stretching out your pizza dough, it can get a thin spot, resulting in a hole or tear. You can repair a hole in your pizza dough. Just pinch the edges of the hole back together and then continue with rolloing or stretching of the dough. 

You’ll want to coat your pizza peel well with flour or cornmeal. Make sure that once your dough is on the peel, you work quickly and don’t let the dough sit on the peel too long waiting to go in the oven. As you top your pizza, periodically shake your peel to make sure that the dough is still able to slide on the peel.