When the craving for pizza strikes the family, it’s hard to deny the urge to eat melted cheese on a toasted crust. Cooking a pizza at home is a great way to save money, experiment with gluten-free recipes, or just get the perfect combination of toppings. There’s far more than just one way to cook pizzas at home. No matter what kind of appliances you have available, there’s likely a way to cook a fresh or frozen pizza with it.
Everyone knows about baking pizzas in the oven, from popping a frozen disc on a baking sheet to using a fancy aerated pan or pizza stone. But what about other types of ovens? Toaster ovens can make great pizzas, but you should stick to smaller sizes and make personal-size crusts if you’re cooking them from scratch. Convection ovens are great for thin crust and crispy pizzas in particular, but make sure to cook at 25 degrees below the recommended temperature to avoid drying out the toppings. In contrast, fresh-baked pizzas often turn out the best when cooked in your conventional oven at its highest possible heat setting.
If you don't have an oven, you can still cook pizza if there’s a stovetop or range. You just need a good pan that radiates plenty of heat and a lid. Cast iron pans are popular for cooking stovetop pizzas, but they’ll need to be well-greased with a high-heat oil to prevent sticking. Non-stick pans are a good choice for a lower-calorie pizza. If using fresh pizza dough, cook the crust on both sides before adding sauce and toppings. A lid that loosely fits the pan is recommended to let steam escape while reflecting heat down to cook toppings and melt the cheese. Using pre-cooked vegetables is recommended since the pizza will likely only spend a few minutes in the pan.
There’s no good way to cook a pizza from scratch with just a microwave. Yet that doesn’t mean you’re completely out of luck. Frozen and pre-cooked pizzas can heat up well in a microwave. Try using the pizza setting or cooking the frozen pizza on high for 2 to 3 minutes at a time, checking to see if it’s cooking evenly each time. Using a pre-cooked base like a piece of french bread or a bagel also allows you to make pizza-inspired snacks with just a microwave.
Specialty Pizza Oven
For the serious home pizza maker, only a specialty pizza oven will do. Countertop ovens are the entry point into real pizza-making at home. These units may look as small as toaster ovens, but they feature concentrated heating elements at the top and bottom to cook both the crust and toppings as quickly as possible. Quickly cooking the pizza at a high heat setting is the key to a crispy yet soft crust and bubbly cheese. For home cooks who find these small pizza ovens too limited in size, a brick pizza oven built from some mortar and fire bricks can produce dozens of pizzas from a single burn of firewood. You’ll need to practice building a fire and banking the coals, so expect some burnt pizzas along the way.
Grilling pizza is a great way to get color and flavor without having to build a brick oven in your backyard. Both propane and charcoal grills can work well for the process. Start with a grilling pan built for holding pizza over the grates. These pans will be thick, all-metal, and feature plenty of round or diamond-shaped openings to let heat and smoke through. Don’t just get a single pan as if you were cooking in an oven. You’ll need to flip the fresh dough to cook it evenly before topping, so invest in a set of two pans. You can hold the two pans together and just flip them over with barbecue tongs to speed up the cooking process without losing the dough.
Deep-fried pizza rarely means dropping a slice into the fat because the toppings and cheese react badly with the oil. Instead, most people using this method fry the disc of dough for the crust and then top it and finish it in the oven. This creates a puffy, crispy crust that can’t be beaten. It’s a simple process as long as you have a deep fryer large enough for the crust. Most home cooks are best off sticking to personal-sized pizzas for this method.
For cooking pizzas while out camping, choosing either the stovetop or grilled method. This means you’ll need to either pack a cast iron pan and lid or a set of matching grill pans. Grill pans can be used over coals if you prop them up with firewood around the edges, but it’s still easy to accidentally drop the pizza in the fire. Consider setting up a fire pit grilling grate or a tripod grill over the fire for more stability.
Finally, a few specialty appliances around the kitchen can cook a pizza in a pinch. A countertop grill or sandwich press can work if you oil it lightly and put the crust directly on the base of the grill. Use a metal chopstick or fork handle to keep the upper part of the grill from completely closing and touching the cheesy surface. It can take 15 minutes or more to cook the pizza this way. Finally, even an air fryer can cook a pizza. Simply press out a disc of dough and oil it, load it into the cooking basket, top, and cook at 375 degrees until the cheese is completely melted.
With so many options for cooking a pizza, there’s no reason not to enjoy it more often. Experiment with these methods to find new tricks for making your favorite dish even better.
While do-it-yourself projects can be fun and fulfilling, there is always a potential for personal injury or property damage. We strongly suggest that any project beyond your abilities be left to licensed professionals such as electricians, plumbers, and carpenters. Any action you take upon the information on this website is strictly at your own risk, and we assume no responsibility or liability for the contents of this article.