Over the last few years, we have started making pizza at home from time to time. It began with homemade dough and toppings, then stuffing the pie into the oven cranked up high. This isn’t the ideal way to make pizza, of course, but it did the job. We then moved over to the smoker once we bought one, leveraging its ability to crank up to super-high temperatures. The result? Absolutely delicious pizza pies with just the right amount of char on the crust. Of course, a dedicated pizza oven is the best way to go. But there are so many options, including small appliances, if you’re ready to replace take-out Fridays with personal pizzas at home.
Indoor appliances for making pizza at home
A convection oven is a good option for making pizza at home if you don’t have an outdoor pizza oven or smoker, or you live somewhere that’s extra-cold during the winter months. Crank it up as high as it will go, make your pizza as usual, and pop in the oven for a delicious pie that’s evenly cooked with a crispy crust exterior. You might have to play with timing and temperatures until you find the right combination, but it will yield a wonderful homemade pie.
Toaster ovens, including convection toaster ovens, are great for small-sized personal pizzas (though there are larger toaster ovens that can fit more as well). If you like modified options, like pita pizza, you can whip one up in a jiffy, pop it in the toaster oven simply to heat and melt the cheese, and have a quick lunch or dinner. You can also prep and freeze homemade pizza then reheat them in a toaster oven.
Indoor pizza oven
Yes, you can actually buy an indoor pizza oven to place on the countertop to make pizza at home. They provide the taste of an authentic wood-fired pizza (or at least close to one) using conductive, radiant, and convective heat that can reach temperatures as high as 750°. That’s ideal for getting a perfect crust and ooey, gooey toppings, and much higher than a traditional range can go.
Outdoor appliances for making pizza at home
You could theoretically make pizza on a barbecue, but ideally, you’d have a smoker that can reach the higher temperatures required to make the perfect pie. If you opt for the barbecue, grill the dough first on one side, flip it over, then dress and continue to cook so you don’t end up with doughy pizza and overcooked or burnt toppings.
Since we got a smoker, homemade pizza on the smoker has become a regular part of the dinner rotation. I make the dough inside then we pop it onto a pizza peel lined with wax paper and flour or cornmeal, then add toppings. Slide it into the smoker once it’s fully heated, and within about 10 minutes, you’ll have a lovely pizza with gorgeously charred ends on the crust. The taste and quality are far better on a smoker than in an indoor oven. But a pizza peel is a must to keep your precious hands safe from the 700°F temperature. (More on those in the accessories section below). Have a look at a pizza I made at home on the smoker last summer. Doesn’t it just get your mouth watering?
Outdoor pizza oven
The best option for making pizza outdoors is an outdoor pizza oven. These come in all shapes and sizes to suit different backyard types, from portable ones to place atop a flat surface to floorstanding ones if you’re really serious about the craft. They’ll typically use gas and can reach temperature as blazing hot as 900°F. Use real word or charcoal and operate it much like a gas barbecue or smoker.
What accessories do you need when making pizza at home?
There are a few pizza accessories and even other small appliances that can kick your pizza making skills up a notch and make the process easier.
Food processor with the proper attachment
You can use a grater to get perfect pieces of mozzarella, but this is a lot of work if you are making a large-sized pie or multiple personal pizzas for everyone in the family. You should never use pre-shredded cheese with homemade pizza: it has a waxy substance that impacts the way it melts, not to mention it won’t give you the fresh, pizza parlour taste. Always go with fresh mozzarella, and slice it for the pizza, or grate it to spread throughout. With a food processor that comes with a cheese grating attachment, you can simplify the process by simply inserting a chunk of cheese down the chute and watching it miraculously turn into grated pieces. The benefit here is you can use the same food processor to chop veggies for the pizza as well, from mushrooms to fresh garlic, pepperoni, and more.
If you’re using an outdoor pizza oven, barbecue, or smoker, a pizza peel, also called a pizza spatula, is a must. It’s essentially a round (sometimes square or rectangular) tray for the pizza attached to a long, flat handle so you can easily slide the pizza into the oven, pick it up, and bring it inside without having to put your hands (or face) too close to the extreme heat.
Pro tip: cover the peel with flour, corn meal, and/or waxed paper so the dough doesn’t stick. Using waved paper also makes it easy to lift the delicate, raw and fully dressed pizza and put it on the peel for cooking.
Any pro chef will tell you that pizza dough should be kneaded by hand, but you can get a bit of extra help by using a stand mixer and dough hook. I like to do a quick, initial mix of the dough with a stand mixer, then do a bit of kneading by hand to let those natural oils work themselves into the dough. Once done and left to rest, I use a dough scraper to cut the dough into equal pieces so each person has their own personal pie to twirl, stretch, dress, and cook.
I didn’t realize how much of a difference a pizza cutter, also referred to as a pizza wheel, makes until I got one. Rather than struggle with cutting the pizza with a knife, a pizza cutter simply rolls through the cooked pizza, back and forth, to make perfect slices. Pop the pizza atop a wooden cutting board and slice, just like you see them do in a professional pizza parlour.
For cooking pizza outside or even in the oven, a pizza stone is a simple yet useful accessory. Preheat it in the oven and it will absorb moisture from the pizza dough while cooking so you end up with a nice, crispy crust. Check the temperature limits for how hot it can get and use it accordingly.
Once you get the hang of it, start getting creative with your pizza. Consider adding some garlic and herbs to the dough, for example, for a more flavourful crust; maybe even add sesame needs. Try pesto-based pizza instead of tomato sauce or swap the mozzarella for feta for a Mediterranean style pizza. I love prosciutto and arugula pizza, with the toppings added right at the end for not only a stunning taste but also a restaurant-quality look.
If you are one for traditional North American pizza, stick with tomato sauce, mozzarella, and the meats and vegetables of your choice, and load the pie up with as much (or little) as you want. There’s no charge for extra toppings at home!
Making your own pizza at home can not only save you money in the long run, you’ll also get a better quality product versus frozen pizza. It’s more work but it can also be a fun family activity everyone does together. And you won’t have to worry that the kids don’t like mushrooms when you do or that your spouse is vegan while you love meat and gooey cheese. Everyone can make their own personal pie and dive right in.