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Wednesday, May 5, 2021

My Cheap and Easy Way to Get a Crispy Crust on Homemade Pizza Without a Special Pan or Pizza Stone

I don't know if I've shown you this before. I make a scratch pizza every Friday night and was going through the usual process last Friday and thought to share my technique with you.

I admit it, I do have a lot of kitchen ware. However, I tend to not want to buy single-purpose kitchen gadgets. So, I've never bought a pizza stone or special pizza pan. Instead, I bake our scratch pizzas on my regular (but large) baking sheets. The problem with baking pizza dough on a regular baking sheet is the crust doesn't crisp up very well without over-baking the top of the pizza.

I stumbled upon this little technique that requires no extra equipment and little skill. I first bake the pizza on a greased baking sheet for all but the final 2 minutes. The crust edge is beginning to brown and the top of the cheese looks a little toasty. At this point, the dough has baked.

I remove the pizza and sheet from the oven, then using a metal spatula, I loosen the entire pizza from the baking sheet, but leaving it still on the sheet.

Next, I hold the baking sheet, with the loosened pizza still on it, just over the wire rack in the oven and shake the sheet until the pizza slides onto the oven rack. I then bake the pizza another 2 minutes.

To remove the pizza from the oven, I use the spatula to slide it back onto the baking sheet. Once the pizza is out, I slide a cake cooling rack between the sheet and the pizza so sweat doesn't form on the crust's bottom.

You can kind of see how toasty the underside of this pizza looks. Perfectly crisp pizza crust -- just how we like it, here.

It works. It's free. And I didn't need to buy or store anything extra.


  1. I needed that hint! Mine always gets too dark on top while not always being brown enough on the bottom. And I also dislike the moisture on the bottom once I remove the pizza from the oven. I'm going to try this soon! What are some toppings you use and in what order do you put them on?

    1. Hi Alice,
      All it takes is a minute or two just on the rack at the tail end of baking to crisp up the bottom crust. My family really likes pepperoni, black olives, green peppers, mushrooms, and cooked sausage -- but not all of that at once. I've found that too many toppings (especially watery ones, like fresh veggies) on homemade pizza keep the dough from cooking all the way. As for order, after pressing the dough onto the greased baking sheet, I spread the sauce, then add cheese, pepperoni, and any other toppings. The pepperoni is greasy and the melted fat drips down into the cheese and sauce. After the pepperoni, we add whatever else we want.
      My thinking on why too many veggie toppings create a soggy mess on homemade pizza is that I don't slice the veggies as thin as restaurants do.
      Anyway, good luck with this technique, Alice! If the pizza doesn't slide onto the oven rack right away, use a metal spatula to push it along.

  2. As always, you will figure out a better way of doing things. All I could think about while reading this is if I tried it, the toppings would slide off the top onto the heating element and make a big mess. Do you think it takes much practice to do all of the transferring?

    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      there are two real tricks, here. One, is to make sure the crust is completely baked, so that the whole thing moves in one solid piece. I once tried to rush making pizza,tried to transfer it too soon, and the dough of the crust began to sink between the oven rack bars. Two, at the end of the first baking (all but 2 minutes), taking the pizza and pan out of the oven, setting it on the stove while I use a spatula to loosen the whole thing away from the pan before then trying to slide it into the oven. This allows me to take my time in the loosening of the pizza and not rush the process. I've found when I rush, things don't turn out as well -- just in general.
      I don't think it took me much practice at all. I just have to make sure I'm paying attention and not rushing every step.
      An interesting thing -- sometimes a homemade pizza crust will puff up so much in the center that a bubble forms underneath, and then during baking some cheese and pepperoni will slide off the crust and onto the baking sheet. I use a metal spatula to just "scoop" this up and put it back onto the pizza. It's not a lot, I just found it interesting that pepperoni could "migrate" off the pizza during baking.

  3. I have a pizza pan with perforated holes in it to allow for air flow, and I also have a pizza stone. Frankly I like my 20 year old pizza pan better than the stone. To properly use a stone you are supposed to put it in the oven at a high temperature for a long time-I don't remember the exact amount of time but I think it's around an hour. I have a hard time with this concept. It seems wasteful to me to have the heat on for no reason than to heat a stone. Also, the stone is heavy and while I am reasonably strong, I dislike handling the awkward heavy thing around a very hot oven. What I do is to put the stone in when preheating the oven. I bake my first pizza while letting the stone heat at the same time. I then transfer pizza number two to the stone via a pizza peel that I bought on clearance years ago. I think the crust tastes as good on my pan as the crust from the stone.

    Recently I learned that you can use a baking pan upside down as a pizza pan. If you preheat the oven with the pan in it and slide your pizza on the hot pan it will crisp up your crust. I also use parchment paper which contains any mess as well as giving me an easy way to transfer the pizzas and their toppings without losing everything along the way. Coordination is not my outstanding characteristic.

    1. Kris (and Ruthie),
      I had a pampered chef pizza stone and did everything according to the directions (putting it in a cold oven) and that thing blew up in my oven breaking the stone in many places. Never again. I have cheap stones but I really dislike using them. I'm afraid of them breaking my oven. I have a pizza pan and just plain cookie sheets for my pizza. Better yet, I just make deep dish pizzas in my 9 x 13 pan!

    2. Hi Kris,
      So when you use the stone, you don't use a pan? Is that right? And that's the point of the peel, to get the large pizza onto the stone? That sounds so cool and professional. You could open a pizza take-out business out of your kitchen!

      I understand the feelings of wastefulness when heating the stone with nothing else in the oven. You could always cook other things during that time, like baked potatoes. But you'd have to plan ahead for that. Your way sounds like it works for you.

      In the very early years of marriage, I didn't have a baking sheet. I wanted to bake cookies at Christmas, so I used a metal, rectangular pan upside down. It worked well for baking. The only issue I had was it was slightly more difficult to get out out the oven when upside down (the "handles" were up against the oven rack and not raised).

    3. I am SO NOT cool with my pizza making. It's taken me a long time to get a procedure that feels fairly smooth. Anyway, I make 2 pizzas for my family (big eaters). I bake one on my perforated pizza pan and while that one is baking on the middle oven rack, I have the stone on the bottom rack of the oven to heat up. When pizza #1 is done, I take it out of the oven, move the pizza stone to the middle rack, and slide the second unbaked pizza (which is on parchment paper) onto the pizza stone using the pizza peel (which helps me from having the pizza fold up on me mid-process). The second pizza bakes on the stone, so we have one pan-baked and one stone-baked pizza for dinner. The only reason I have a peel is because it was on clearance at Target several years ago--I paid maybe $3 for it. It isn't strictly necessary. Both the pizza pan and the stone were gifts to me. I had originally intended on using the stone for rustic breads but I just don't care for working with it all that much.

      I like your cookie pan hack. There are a lot of ways to get things done in a kitchen and being inventive, especially if you don't have much space and/or money, is crucial. Alice, if I had your experience, I wouldn't go near a pizza stone ever again. That's scary. And Pampered Chef items were not inexpensive (does that company exist any longer?). We were given a hand vegetable chopper when we were newlyweds--it was a Pampered Chef item. You could use it for cutting up onions and so on. I thought it was more hassle to wash it and try to reassemble it than it was to learn to chop an onion in a short amount of time. To each their own.

  4. Such a great idea! I purchased a pizza stone years ago and although I do use it, I store it in the oven due to lack of space. But then, when using the oven for baking, I have to move it. It gets in the way and takes valuable real estate in my kitchen. I love those ideas.

    1. Hi Ruthie,
      I've used my oven to store large items, too. In our old place, our kitchen was tiny, with practically no storage space. So the oven was my turkey roaster storage. It was a bit of a hassle every time I needed to bake something, and if someone else was staying with us and helping me in the kitchen, there was the chance our guest would preheat the oven with the roaster inside. That actually did happen twice. Not a big deal, but sure was a surprise to my MIL when she went to put a casserole into our oven.

      I've never tried a pizza stone, but I've heard they do produce a great crust.

    2. My kids were dog sitting once and decided to make something in the oven so they preheated the oven and soon after there was a terrible smell. The couple used their oven to store plastic items like bowls, lids, etc. and didn't tell my kids. The kids ruined a lot of things but not their fault since they should have been told or even removed it from the oven.

  5. I had to look up what a pizza peel was. So that's what those things are called. :)

  6. Thanks for these ideas. I think I will try your method. I too have a pizza stone and a pizza pan (but not perforated). I've not been satisfied with the crispiness of my crusts with either. I'm kind of wary of my stone as well. For me, it's hard to manage when it is hot from the oven and I too worry about it cracking. Mine was a gift also. That's a good idea to put the crust on a cooling rack. I'll let you know how it works for me. Thanks!


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