My kids love pizza, so pepperoni pizza is usually a surefire dinner win. But if I’m being honest, I rarely make pizza for my kids. I view pizza as a cheat night for me, and I get delivery.
So when I decided to make pizza at home, I knew it needed to be better than your average delivery. It needed tons of pepperoni, a nice crust, great flavor, and maybe even a surprise or two to put it over the top.
THE BEST DOUGH FOR PIZZA
First, on the dough: Don’t get overwhelmed! If it’s your first time making pizza at home, just buy the dough. You can usually find pizza dough at the grocery store, or some pizza places will sell you a one-pound ball of dough for a few bucks.
If you want to try homemade pizza dough, start with a no-knead version. It’s very easy to make and practically failsafe.
TWO OPTIONS FOR A CRISPY CRUST
I don’t believe this pizza works well as a deep dish, Chicago-style pizza, but there are still two baking options I’d recommend. (There are more, but let’s keep it simple!)
- Use a pizza stone: This is my favorite way to get a great crust, but it does require some equipment. You need a pizza stone and a pizza peel (the thing you use to slide the pizza onto the stone). If you have those two things, though, you can open up a pizza joint in your kitchen! This is a reliable, low-stress method once you get the hang of it. The pizza ends up being a bit more freeform, and you can make the crust nice and thin, which I like. A large pizza cooks in 12-14 minutes on a hot stone.
- Use a cast iron skillet: If you don’t have a pizza stone, put your dough into a large cast iron skillet, and press it out and up the sides a bit. You’ll get a slightly thicker crust than you would with the pizza stone, but not deep-dish thickness. Set the skillet on your stovetop for two minutes over high heat (this helps form a crispy crust), then transfer it to your oven to finish baking.
ANOTHER TIP FOR A GREAT CRUST: A SUPER HOT OVEN!
When you get a really good pizza from a brick oven pizza place, the ovens are HOT—way hotter than you can realistically get from a home oven. But the rule still stands that the hotter your oven, the crispier and more delicious your crust will be.
So, crank up your oven to 500˚F or even 550˚F if your oven can handle it. If you are using a pizza stone, let the stone preheat for 20 minutes so it gets nice and hot as well.
THE SECRET FOR BEST PEPPERONI FLAVOR
There are so many different kinds of pepperoni in the store these days, and you can use any of those options for pizza. For my money, though, I prefer small, thinly sliced pepperoni so they get a nice char on top. If you go with thicker pepperoni slices, you’ll have a chewier texture. It’s personal preference!
I always find it lame when I get a pepperoni pizza that has, like, five pieces of pepperoni on it. But if you pile on a ton of pepperoni, you end up with a greasy mess.
So what to do? Chop up half the pepperoni and add it in a layer under the cheese with the sauce!
This gives the pizza amazing pepperoni flavor. I call it my “Bonus Pepperoni” layer!
THE BEST WAY TO REHEAT LEFTOVER PIZZA
Please, please—don’t microwave pizza! Eat it cold before you microwave it. If you microwave it, the crust becomes a soggy mess.
The best way to reheat pizza is in a skillet, cast iron or similar. Add a drizzle of oil over medium heat, and then add the pizza. Then cover the skillet, and cook the pizza until the cheese has melted and the crust is crispy again, about three to four minutes.
The DAD ADD: HONEY BUTTER
This is something I picked up from a local Colorado pizza spot. (Shout out Beau Jos Pizza!) They serve their pizza with honey butter on the side, which is great for dipping the crust. I made the honey butter for me, but my kids were happy to scarf it down, too.
THE REPORT CARD
I can always count on my kids to eat a pizza, but since they normally eat delivery, it was nice to show them that pizza can be made at home, too. And it turns out Dad makes a good pizza! I used my trick of hiding pepperoni under the cheese to tell my kids there was Bonus Pepperoni on the pizza, and could they find it?! (Yes, yes they could.)
When I served this to my kids, I half hoped they would reject it for some reason so that I’d have a curveball for the report card, but nope. Pizza is pizza. It’s always a winner.
MORE GREAT PIZZA RECIPES:
Homemade Pepperoni Pizza Recipe
To make this even easier, skip the homemade sauce and use your favorite jarred pizza sauce instead.
- 16 ounces pizza dough, store-bought or homemade (I like this no-knead version, though note that this recipe makes enough dough for 2 pizzas)
- 1/2 cup pizza sauce (see below)
- 18-20 slices pepperoni
- 12 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon fresh oregano, optional
- Flour for rolling and shaping dough
For the Quick Pizza Sauce:
- 1/2 cup tomato sauce (no salt)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon granulated onion
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
For the Honey Butter (Dad Add):
- 1/4 cup softened butter
- 2 tablespoons honey
1 Preheat the oven: Preheat oven to 500°F. If you are using a pizza stone, preheat it in the oven for at least 20 minutes so it is nice and hot as well.
2 Make the sauce: If you are using my sauce recipe, stir together the ingredients. The sauce recipe makes just enough for one large pizza. You can easily double it if you are making more than one pizza.
3 Roll out the dough: Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface. If it's hard to roll, let it rest for 5 minutes so it can come to room temperature. For a large pizza, I like to roll my dough into about a 14-inch diameter circle.
4 Add the toppings: Transfer the dough to a lightly dusted pizza peel. Alternatively, fit it into a large cast-iron.
Add sauce in a light layer all over the pizza, leaving about 1/4-inch crust around the edges. Chop half of the pepperoni and sprinkle it over the sauce. Top the pizza with grated cheese and the rest of the pepperoni. Season with black pepper.
5 Cook the pizza: If you're using a pizza stone, carefully slide pizza into the center of the preheated pizza stone. Cook for 6 minutes, then rotate the pizza halfway so it cooks evenly. Cook for another 6-8 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and charred in spots.
If you're using a skillet, press the dough into a cast iron skillet and add toppings. Place the skillet over a high heat burner for 2 minutes to get it preheated and get the crust cooking right away. Then transfer to a 500˚F oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.
6 Slice and serve! Use pizza peel to slide pizza out onto a cutting board. Let the pizza rest for a minute and slice into pieces. Season with fresh oregano (optional). Serve while warm with a side salad.
7 Make the honey butter (optional): Stir together the softened butter and honey, then serve alongside the pizza for crust dipping.
Store leftover pizza in the fridge for up to three days. Reheat pizza in a sturdy skillet over medium heat with a drizzle of oil. Cover skillet with a lid and cook until the cheese has melted and crust is crispy.
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