5 Steps to Perfect Pizza Dough

By Cook's Illustrated Published May 2017

The key to great pizza crust is to handle the dough as gently—and as little—as possible.

Good, chewy texture in pizza requires strong gluten development in the dough. But too much handling can cause the gluten to tighten up like a rubber band, making stretching the dough a real challenge and leading to tough, rather than chewy, results. The key is to give the dough plenty of time to relax and to handle it as gently—and as little—as possible.

1. Shape cold-fermented (refrigerator-proofed) pizza dough into balls 24 hours before stretching to give gluten ample time to relax.

2. Proof each ball in separate lightly oiled bowl; transfer to counter by inverting bowl. Flour top of dough.

3. Gently press down on dough with your fingertips. Lightly compress dough halfway toward counter, then lift your fingertips. Repeat across dough.

4. Once disk measures 6 to 8 inches across, gently lift it with both your hands, drape it over your closed fists, and use gravity and your knuckles to stretch it.

5. If dough tightens up at any point, lay it on floured counter and let it rest for 1 to 2 minutes to allow gluten to relax.