Like a lot of families, we do “Pizza Night” once or twice a month. At $30 plus tip for delivery, Pizza Night was one of the first things to go when I said goodbye to my corporate paycheck. First we switched to frozen, but even the best frozen pizzas don’t taste as good as delivery. If the freezer was empty when Pizza Night rolled around, we’d end up ordering delivery anyway — with guilt as a topping for blowing our budget.
I love to cook, so I decided to try making pizza from scratch. By the third attempt, my homemade pizza tasted better than delivery! I was surprised at how easy it was to make pizza crust, and how amazing it tasted all hot, crispy and chewy from the oven. After four pizza nights using my original ingredients, I was even more surprised at how inexpensive it was. You can make homemade pizza for under a dollar per person.
Here’s what you’ll need:
two mixing bowls
a large spoon for stirring
a pizza stone or large cookie sheet
a spatula, preferably metal (try a hamburger turner from your grill set)
measuring cups and spoons
Here’s the pizza crust recipe:
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus or minus 1/2 a cup
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 packet active dry yeast (2 teaspoons)
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
enough butter to coat a bowl and your hands
1 jar of spaghetti sauce
1 – 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 oz sliced pepperoni, or other toppings to suit
1. Pour warm water into the mixing bowl. Sprinkle the yeast into the water, add sugar and salt, then stir to dissolve.
2. Add the flour a cup at a time, stirring until each cup is fully incorporated. The first cup will make a loose batter. The second cup will make a goopy mess (just keep stirring), and the third cup will form into recognizable pizza dough. Add the remaining flour a little at a time until dough is smooth, elastic and no longer sticky. If you have a stand mixer with a dough hook, a food processor or a bread machine with a dough cycle, you can use them instead of hand mixing.
3. Coat the inside of a clean mixing bowl with butter and set aside. Rub your hands with butter and knead the dough for about 5 minutes. Form the dough into a ball and place in the buttered mixing bowl. Turn the dough once to coat, then cover the bowl with a damp dishtowel. Leave in a warm place to rise until doubled in volume, about an hour.
4. If you are going to bake immediately, pre-heat the oven to 500 degrees. If using a pizza stone, pre-heat for at least half an hour.
5. Punch the dough down and re-knead for about 30 seconds. Divide dough in half, then divide each half in to 3-4 smaller balls. If you are freezing the dough, rub your hands with butter, coat each ball and freeze in a freezer bag. You can also store the bagged dough in the refrigerator for a day or two. This recipe makes six or seven 10-inch pizza crusts.
6. Dust your work surface and rolling pin lightly with flour. Flatten each ball of dough with your hands, then roll out to around 1/16th inch thickness. Drape the crust over the palm of your hand, then flip quickly onto the hot pizza stone in the oven. Pre-bake each pizza crust for 2-4 minutes until it is bubbly on top, browned on bottom and firm enough to remove with a spatula.
7. Remove homemade pizza crust from oven, add sauce, toppings and cheese, then return to the oven until the cheese is melted and the edges are browned, about 5 – 7 minutes. For softer, chewier pizza, use the shorter cooking times. For crispy, thin-style crust, bake for an additional minute or two. Repeat for each pizza.
8. To defrost frozen pizza dough, leave in the refrigerator while you’re at work or out on the counter for a few hours. If necessary, lightly knead cold dough until it reaches room temperature.
Tip: Make pizza dough on the weekend, then refrigerate or freeze to use during the week. With dough in the refrigerator, you’re never more than 15 minutes from hot, fresh pizza.
Here’s the cost breakdown for one pizza crust recipe:
Flour – $0.50
8 oz shredded mozzarella – $1.87
1 packet of yeast – $1.00 (yeast in a jar costs less per serving)
2 oz pepperoni – $1.22
Spaghetti sauce – $0.50 (I like Classico or Safeway Select)
Total: $5.09 for six 10-inch pizzas = $0.85 per pizza
Source for grocery prices: Amazon, Vons, Meijer. Prices were accurate as of publication date. Use store specials, bulk purchases and coupons to reduce your cost even more.