Best Sourdough Pizza Crust (No Steel or Stone!)

No pizza stone? No problem! Learn how to make THE BEST sourdough pizza crust with bubbly, active sourdough starter in a rectangular baking pan instead. Tips shared for make-ahead options, plus a quick “no-cook” pizza sauce” recipe that takes 1 minute to make!

Best Sourdough Pizza Crust

When I first started with sourdough pizza, I was hesitant. Did I really need a baking steel, pizza stone or pizza peel for artisan results? At the time, I thought so. And truth be told, these tools work incredibly well. But for me, at least in the beginning anyway, I wasn’t sure if I’d love pizza the way I love sourdough bread. I wasn’t ready to make the investment. The work around? Pan pizza.

Chances are you already have a rectangular baking pan at home and luckily, it’s not a single use item (brownies or lasagna anyone?). You’ll get THE BEST golden sourdough pizza crust, a light and airy interior crumb, and to-die-for crispy, cheesy edges the whole table will fight over!

Now, before we begin: for my eagle-eyed bakers, this sourdough pizza recipe is very similar to my sourdough focaccia in Artisan Sourdough Made Simple with a few tweaks to make it stand out. First, I reduced the quantity of flour from 500 g to 360 g for a thinner “Sicilian-style” crust, about 1 1/2- 2 inches in height. It’s easier to eat this way. Second, I used a slightly different dimpling technique to even out the crust (watch the video!). Finally, I used bread flour instead of all purpose flour for added strength and texture.

Sourdough pizza
Sourdough pizza slice, with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and crispy, cheesy edges

What To Expect

In this post, you’ll learn how to make sourdough “pan pizza” with simple step-by-step instructions & video. No baking steel. No pizza stone. No nonsense. You’ll have enough to feed up to 6 people with my best tips and tricks to streamline the process.

I’ve also included 3 key points to elevate your game: a par-bake step for make-ahead pizza night, a quick “no-cook” pizza sauce that takes 1 minute to make (yes: you read that correctly and it’s amazing), and my sample baking schedule so you can make sourdough pizza anytime, anywhere, regardless of schedule.

Sourdough pizza

What is Sourdough Pizza? And Why Make It?

We all know pizza by definition: a baked, yeasted “flatbread” with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese loved by everyone on planet Earth. But sourdough pizza, and I’m referring strictly to the dough itself, is different. It does not require commercial yeast in order to rise. 

Sourdough pizza is made with bubbly, active sourdough starter which naturally leavens the dough. The benefit? More flavor, better texture and it’s better for you- just like sourdough bread. The long, overnight rise paired with gut-friendly sourdough breaks down the hard-to-digest glutenous enzymes which means, in theory, you can eat more pizza and nap less.

Sourdough Pizza Ingredients

For the dough:

For the pizza toppings:

  • Pizza sauce
  • Whole-milk mozzarella block cheese (not bagged shredded)
  • Olive oil
  • Fine sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh basil

About The Baking Pan

I use this non-stick baking pan for sourdough pizza and sourdough focaccia. It’s truly non-stick. Because it’s made with dark, heavy gauge aluminum you will nail a perfect, golden pizza crust every time. Unfortunately, the price has gone up since my initial purchase (as with everything these days). But trust me when I tell you: it’s worth the investment. Remember, it’s not a single use item.

What About Other Baking Pans? Any non-stick pan will do. However, some pans will conduct heat better than others, depending on the material its made from. This will ultimately determine the color of your pizza crust (dark pans are best). Experiment as you see fit, moving the pan closer to the heat source if necessary during baking.

My Best Pizza Tips

  • Grate your own cheese. I’m all for shortcuts, but bagged shredded cheese isn’t one of them. Packed with anti-caking agents and other questionable ingredients, you’ll end up with gloppy, plasticky cheese that will slide right off your pizza, even the organic brands. Use whole-milk block mozzarella cheese (not fresh mozzarella in a ball) and grate it yourself. When you near the end of the block, and it’s too small to grate, cut the cheese into small cubes and tuck them into the corners of the pan for extra crispy edges.
  • Use room temperature ingredients! No cold sauce! This will ensure a crisp, pizza crust. It will also keep the oven temperature hot and stable, not steamy.
  • Try “no-cook” pizza sauce. In my recipe research, I learned most pizzerias do not cook their sauce. Why? Because the sauce cooks in the oven while the pizza bakes at high heat. You don’t want tomato paste! More details here: quick “no-cook” pizza sauce.
  • Embrace the par-bake. This is an essential step to this recipe. Use it to your advantage. Par-baked pizza crust can be stored at room temperature for up to 6 hours. Or, it can be frozen for up to 3 months.

How To Make Sourdough Pizza Step-by-Step

Sourdough pizza dough in a large mixing bowl

Make The Dough

  • Combine the sourdough starter and water in a large mixing bowl. Add the flour and salt. Mix with a fork, and then finish by hand to fully incorporate the flour. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and let rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.
  • After resting, return to the bowl and fold the dough over itself several times, similar to the stretch and fold method, to create a rough ball. The dough is now ready to rise.
Sourdough pizza dough rising in a high-sided oiled dough tub

Bulk Rise

  • Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled high-sided 2 qt. dough tub. Cover and let rise overnight at room temperature, about 68 F for 10-12+ hrs. The dough is ready when it has almost doubled in size.
  • Note: if your ambient temperature is warmer /colder than 68 F, the dough will take shorter/longer to rise, respectively. Watch the dough and not the clock. Rise times will be different for every baker.

Get Ahead Tip: During the bulk rise, use this time to make the pizza sauce, grate the cheese and gather any additional toppings you will need.

Dimple The Pizza Dough 2 Times

  • Coat a non-stick 9×13-inch baking pan with olive oil. Use your hands to rub the bottom and sides of the pan.
  • Remove the dough directly into the pan. With oiled fingertips, gently dimple and stretch the dough to reach the corners and sides of the pan- that’s the end goal. If the dough is relaxed, it will naturally spread out. If it’s tight, which is normal after a long rise, the dough will resist. Simply take note of your dough at this stage. Don’t force it. Watch my video for visual instruction.
  • Cover the pan with an inverted baking sheet and rest in a warm spot for 30 minutes.
  • After 30 minutes has elapsed: return to the pan and dimple the dough again, just like you did before, gently lifting and stretching it as you go. Cover and rest for another 30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 425 F now.
  • After the second 30 minutes has elapsed, you’re ready to par-bake the pizza dough.

Best Warm Spot to Rise Pizza Dough? Sourdough pizza dough benefits from a warm rise during the dimpling stage, about 78 F. It really aerates the finished dough when baked. To create your own “warm spot” which is necessary when the ambient temperature is cold, you can do two things: set a proofing box to 78 F OR keep the dough (covered) in a switched off oven with the light turned on for heat. Both tips work like a charm in my drafty kitchen.

Par-Bake the Pizza Crust

  • Place the baking pan on the bottom rack.
  • Bake the dough @ 450 F for 15-18 minutes, or until the surface is set and the bottom crust is golden brown. Use tongs to peek underneath the dough to double check.
  • Remove the pan from the oven; you are now ready to assemble and bake pizza.

Understanding the Par-Bake: Par-baked pizza crust is essential to pan pizza. First, it supports the weight of heavy toppings like sausage, mushrooms, olives, caramelized onions etc. Second, because the dough is baked prior to adding the sauce and cheese, it ensures the dough is fully cooked before the cheese melts (a common problem, fyi). Finally, par-baked pizza crust allows you to make pizza in advance- this is key for timing. Store wrapped par-baked pizza crust at room temperature for up to 6 hours. Or keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Assemble & Bake Pizza Choose Your Timeline Below

  • To Make Sourdough Pizza (now): Top the par-baked pizza crust with tomato sauce. I spread it all over the surface including the crust. Season with salt and pepper. Add the basil leaves, a fresh grating of Parmesan cheese and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese taking it to the corners and sides for crispy edges. Bake @ 450 F, middle or top rack this time, until the cheese is melted and broiled in some spots, about 12-15 minutes. You can even stick it under the broiler to really crisp it up.
  • To Make Sourdough Pizza (later): Transfer the par-baked pizza crust to a wire rack to cool. You want to aerate the underside so the crust doesn’t get soggy. Once completely cool, cover tightly in plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to 6 hours. When ready to bake, return the pizza to the same baking pan (don’t bother cleaning it; any leftover oil is fine), assemble and bake as directed above.
Sourdough pizza slices with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and fresh basil

My Pizza Baking Schedule

There are SO many ways to do this. My schedule below uses an overnight rise followed by a par-bake the next day. The pizza is then assembled and baked around dinner time. Feel free to adjust the timeframes to suit what works best for you. The general idea of how it can be done is what you really need to digest.

  • Day 1 (PM): Make dough in the late evening and let rise overnight @ 68 F. Note: in warmer summer weather, I don’t do overnight rises (they usually over proof). Make the dough during the day instead. Please use this option if it applies to you. I also prepare the no-cook pizza sauce and grate the cheese on the same day, after the dough is mixed.
  • Day 2 (AM): Par-bake the dough. Store at room temperature (or freeze it).
  • Day 2 (PM): Assemble and bake pizza.

More Sourdough Recipes to Try!

Homemade Pizza Sauce Recipes:

Print

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Best Sourdough Pizza Crust

Best Sourdough Pizza Crust (No Steel or Stone!)


  • Author:
    Emilie Raffa

  • Prep Time:
    14 Hours

  • Cook Time:
    30 minutes

  • Total Time:
    14 hours 30 minutes

  • Yield:
    Serves 6

  • Category:
    Sourdough Pizza

  • Method:
    Oven-Baked

  • Cuisine:
    Italian

  • Diet:
    Vegetarian


For the Sourdough Pizza Dough:

For the Pizza Toppings:

Notes & Tips:

  • Please watch my video for visual instructions. It’s really helpful when dimpling the dough!
  • This is the non-stick baking pan I use. You’ll get perfect, golden pizza crust every time. If using a different pan, especially if it’s not non-stick, line the bottom with parchment paper to fit the inside dimensions of the pan (no overhang). Dark pans are best for heat conduction and crust color.
  • I bake my sourdough pizza @ 450 F. I know my oven. However, if you prefer to bake at a lower temperature, approximately 425 F, you can. Increase the bake times to 18-20 minutes, for both the par-bake and actual pizza bake.
  • Please use quality whole-milk mozzarella cheese (block cheese, not bagged shredded). Bagged shredded cheese contains too many anti-caking agents which will wreck your pizza. The cheese will taste dry and plasticky. Cube any small chunks that are too small to grate, and stick in the corners of the pan for extra crispy edges.
  • Use room temperature ingredients. No cold sauce! This will ensure a crisp, pizza crust crust. It will also keep the oven temperature hot and stable, not steamy.

Instructions

Make the Dough

Before you begin: refer to my pizza baking schedule in the blog post above. This will give you an idea of when to start the dough. Below, I do a long, overnight rise @ 68F.

  • In the evening, combine the sourdough starter and water in a large mixing bowl (I use a fork to mix). Add the flour and salt.
  • Continue mixing, and then finish by hand to fully incorporate the flour. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and let rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.
  • After resting, return to the bowl and fold the dough over itself several times, similar to the stretch and fold method, to create a rough ball. The dough is now ready to rise.

Bulk Rise

  • Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled high-sided 2 qt. dough tub.
  • Cover and let rise overnight at room temperature, about 68 F for 10-12+ hrs. The dough is ready when it has almost doubled in size. If your ambient temperature is warmer /colder than 68 F, the dough will take shorter/longer to rise, respectively. Watch the dough and not the clock. Rise times will be different for every baker. (see Note #1).

Get Ahead Tip: While the dough is rising, use this resting time to make the pizza sauce, grate the cheese and gather any additional toppings for your pizza.

Dimple the Dough 2 Times

  • Coat a non-stick 9×13-inch baking pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Use your hands to rub the bottom and sides of the pan.
  • Remove the dough directly into the pan. With oiled fingertips, gently dimple and stretch the dough to reach the corners and sides of the pan- that’s the end goal. If the dough is relaxed, it will naturally spread out. If it’s tight, which is normal after a long rise, the dough will resist. Simply take note of your dough at this stage. Don’t force it. Watch my video for visual instructions. 
  • Cover the pan with an inverted baking sheet and rest in a warm spot, such as a proofing box set to 78F or a turned off oven with the light on, for 30 minutes.
  • After 30 minutes has elapsed: return to the pan and dimple the dough again, just like you did before, gently lifting and stretching it as you go. Cover and rest for another 30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 450 F now. 
  • After the second 30 minutes has elapsed, you’re ready to par-bake the pizza crust.

ParBake Pizza Crust

  • Place the baking pan on the bottom rack. Bake the dough @ 450 F for 15-18 minutes, or until the surface is set and the bottom crust is light golden brown. Use tongs to peek underneath the dough to double check. The bottom crust color depends on the type of pan you’re using; adjust the time or oven rack as needed. 
  • Remove the pan from the oven. You are now ready to assemble and bake pizza (see Note #2).

Assemble & Bake Pizza

  • To Make Sourdough Pizza (now): Top the par-baked pizza crust with tomato sauce. I spread it all over the surface including the crust. Season with salt and pepper. Add the basil leaves, a fresh grating of Parmesan cheese and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese taking it to the corners and sides for crispy edges. Tuck any remaining cheese cubes into the corners. Bake @ 450 F, middle or top rack this time, until the cheese is melted and broiled in some spots, about 12-15 minutes. You can even stick it under the broiler to really crisp it up.
  • To Make Sourdough Pizza (later): Transfer the par-baked pizza crust to a wire rack to cool. You want to aerate the underside so the crust doesn’t get soggy. Once completely cool, cover tightly in plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to 6 hours. When ready to bake, return the pizza to the same baking pan (don’t bother cleaning it; any leftover oil is fine), assemble and bake as directed above.

Notes

Note #1: Refrigeration Option. after the bulk rise is complete, the pizza dough can be stored in the fridge for up to 1 day if you run out of time. This is optional. To do so: shape the dough into a ball and place into an oiled, non-stick 9×13-inch baking pan. Cover tightly with lightly oiled plastic wrap and chill overnight. When ready to continue, the dough must rest in a warm spot (I use a proofing box set to 78 F OR a switched off oven with the light on) until it comes to temperature and no longer looks dense- this will take a few hours. Then dimple the dough following the directions in the next step.

Note #2: How to Store Par baked Pizza Crust: Wrap cooled par-baked pizza crust at room temperature for up to 6 hours. Or keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost at room temperature.

Keywords: sourdough, pizza, crust, simple, easy, recipe, Italian, mozzarella, cheese, Parmesan, olive oil, tomatoes, authentic, pan

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