The major component of all pizza dough is, of course, the flour. Since there are so few ingredients that go into pizza dough—flour, water, yeast, salt, and maybe a little olive oil—the flour plays a pretty important role, and the type of flour you use can affect your end results.
Here are the most common varieties of flour that are used to make pizza dough and what each offers. Knowing which one best suits your needs will help you achieve your perfect pie!
Gluten: Why Flour Type Matters
Flour types have different textures and protein content, the latter of which translates to the amount of gluten in whatever you’re making.
Gluten is what gives pizza dough its stretchy consistency and, once baked, pizza crust its texture. Some flours create a crispier crust, while others give you a chewier crust.
The more gluten in the flour, the chewier the crust will be. All are delicious—it just depends on what kind of crust you’re after.
For Crispy Pizza Crust, Use All Purpose Flour
Most all-purpose flour contains anywhere from 9 to 11% protein, and therefore 9 to 11% gluten. This percentage falls somewhere in the middle of all flour types, which is why all-purpose flour can be used for pretty much anything.
Since it’s not too high in gluten, nor too low, dough made with all-purpose flour won’t be exceptionally stretchy and might risk tearing if you’re not careful.
The crust will be slightly chewy, but much more on the crispy side of things!
For Chewy Pizza Crust, Use Bread Flour
Bread flour is higher in protein than all-purpose, at around 11 to 13%. Higher protein content means higher gluten content, as we now know, so using bread flour in your pizza dough will result in a stretchy dough that’s less likely to tear.
You get a very chewier, more bread-like pizza crust when you make your dough with bread flour.
For Crispy and Chewy Pizza Crust, Use 00 Flour
00 flour is finely ground Italian flour that contains about 12% protein, or 12% gluten. It’s the traditional flour used to make Neapolitan-style pizza.
Since its gluten content is similar to bread flour, it also produces a pizza crust with chew. The major difference is it’s typically made with durum wheat, while bread flour and all-purpose flour are made with red winter wheat, and the gluten in these varieties of wheat act differently.
This means that 00 flour will produce a pizza dough that’s stronger than pizza dough made with all-purpose due to its higher gluten content but less elastic than dough made with bread flour due to the wheat variety.
The result? A nice balance of crisp and chew in the pizza crust.
For Nutty Pizza Crust, Use Whole Grain Flours
At around 14% protein content, whole grain flours, such as whole wheat and spelt, are denser in texture and higher in protein and gluten than the above three white flours.
If you use 100% whole wheat or whole grain flours for your pizza dough, the result will be a dense, overly chewy pizza crust.
But, used in combination with any of the above flours at about a ratio of 1/2 or 1 cup whole grain flour to 1 cup white flour, you’ll end up with a nutty, whole wheat flavor and pleasantly grainy texture.
For Thin, Gluten-Free Pizza Crust, Use Almond Flour
If you want a thin, cracker-like pizza crust, opt for almond flour which doesn’t contain gluten and isn’t formulated to mimic gluten-containing flours like gluten-free flour blends.
If you're looking for a gluten-free pizza crust that’s raised around the edges and chewy, try a gluten-free flour blend like King Arthur Measure for Measure Gluten-Free Flour or Caputo Gluten-Free Pizza Flour.
These gluten-free flours have been formulated to mimic the protein and gluten content of traditional, gluten-containing flours like all-purpose, bread and 00 flour, so you’ll end up with results that are similar to those flours.