Why make pizza in a cast iron skillet?

Homemade pizza always tastes best when made in a cast iron skillet. The best pizzerias make their pies in high-heat ovens that allow dough to quickly crisp to golden brown while cheese melts and toppings meld. At home, you need a cooking surface that will get hot and retain heat to create the same perfect crust.

Cast iron cookware is one of your best options for high-heat cooking at home, whether in the oven, on the stovetop, or outside on the grill. Cast iron’s naturally non-stick cooking surface will help avoid sticky spots and produce an even, golden crust with crispy spots around the edges.

Two Field Company Detroit-style pies (with extra cheese).

At the Field Company, we believe at-home cast iron pizza works best with styles that use a slightly thicker dough: Chicago-style deep dish is an obvious choice, but we especially love Detroit-style pizza in a cast iron skillet, because of its crispy, chewy crust. This is pizza for crust lovers. Truly nailing thin Neapolitan style pizza at home requires a pizza oven. We aim to give you a perfect, repeatable recipe that you can create with a cast iron pan and a conventional oven you can find in any home with no special equipment like pizza ovens or pizza peels.

How do you make pizza in a cast iron skillet?

Most home ovens reach a maximum temperature of about 500-550°F — unless of course you have a thousand-degree wood-fired pizza oven, in which case lucky you! Making pizza in a conventional oven means that you’ll be working with high heat, but not as hot as your local pizzeria.

To achieve the same fast bake and perfect crust, you need a cooking surface that gets hot, retains heat and transfers that heat efficiently. That’s why cast iron is one of the best options for making great pizza crust at home. Carefully spread your dough to the edge of the cooking surface to get an even crust that’s crispy on the bottom and at the edges. In a fully pre-heated oven, your skillet pizza should take about 15 minutes for a firm-not-floppy crust, and sometimes even less with thinner crust styles.

You can use a cast iron skillet to make pizza in just about any style, using store-bought or homemade dough and sauce, and whatever toppings you have on hand. For the best melty cheese, you’ll want low-moisture mozzarella. Feel free to add a little cheddar, caciocavallo, Brick cheese, or even a bit of ricotta for white pies.

Photo: Nettle Pesto Pizza by Elizabeth Tulis

How do you make homemade pizza crust crispy?

Let’s start with the dough: for every style, there are a few key ingredients for pizza dough. For Detroit-style pizza dough, we like to use this recipe from J. Kenji Lopez-Alt as a starting point. This recipe features a high-hydration dough, which will produce a slightly thicker, more bread-like crust. That moisture, plus a bit of cooking oil in the pan will deliver crispy, golden brown crust.

For other dough styles, it helps to start with a hot pan and a bit of oil. Pre-heat your skillet in a high-heat oven (475°F-550°F) for 20 minutes before you start to build your pie. The pan will come out very hot, so be careful as you add dough, spread it to the pan edges, and layer toppings. The very bottom of the dough will start to crisp up even before you add the skillet pizza to the oven.

If your skillet pizza toppings need cooking, you can re-use the same skillet for a similar pre-heating technique — especially with ingredients like onions, sausage, or peppers. When your sausage is browned, remove it from the skillet and set the pan down off-heat. Use a paper towel to wipe out some excess oil, but leave a bit behind. Carefully add dough to the pan and use a wooden utensil to spread it to the edges. By the time you’ve added all your pizza toppings, your dough will be well on its way to golden brown.

What is the best flour for homemade pizza crust?

Selecting a flour for your homemade pizza dough is all about the kind of crust you want to create.

For Detroit-style pizza and other thicker crust varieties, the dough just needs standard bread flour. Bread flour is a better option for pizza dough than standard all-purpose flour, and will create a more chewy texture. Exactly what you want for thicker-crust styles.

Some homemade pizza dough recipes will call for ‘00’ Flour, a special finely ground Italian variety that’s particularly suited to the thin-crust texture of Neapolitan-style pizza. For a classic margherita, this is your best bet.

For store-bought pizza dough, check the ingredients list before you buy — the fewer ingredients the better — in order to understand the type of crust it will produce. Store-bought frozen dough can be highly elastic, so it helps to portion the dough into smaller balls to make it easier to spread when you’re ready to start cooking.

If anyone in your family eats gluten-free, there are now a fair number of gluten-free pizza flour options from reputable producers like King Arthur Flour and Bob's Red Mill.

What are some tips for making homemade pizza?

Make your own dough! It’s easier than you think, and making homemade dough will help you find exactly the right recipe for your preferred pizza style.

Don’t crowd toppings! A pizza jam-packed with watery or oily toppings can create a soggy slice, even when your crust is fully cooked. Take it easy with the toppings, and make sure any wet ingredients are patted dry, or salted beforehand (zucchini, eggplant) to draw out moisture.

Pre-heat your skillet! A pre-heated skillet will give you a head start on crispy crust and cut down on the overall cook time so your toppings stay fresh.

Prep time
Dough: 2 hours.
Pizza: 20 minutes

Cast Iron Skillet Pizza

Detroit-style pizza in a cast iron skillet. Recommended toppings: pepperoni, white onion and red sauce — plus a whole boatload of shredded mozzarella and a pinch of chili flakes.

Makes enough dough for 2 pizzas in a Field No.8 and Field No.6 skillet. Or a single Field No.10 skillet with some dough left over. If you end up with extra dough, freeze or make garlic knots!

Ingredients

Dough

2 ¼ cups bread flour (substitute 00 flour or all-purpose flour if unavailable)
1 ½ teaspoon dry active yeast
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 cup warm water
Olive oil for bowl and pans

Red Pie Toppings

Sliced pepperoni, soppressata, or coppa
Sliced white onion, lightly sweated in a Field Skillet
Low-moisture mozzarella, shredded
Red chili flakes (optional)
Extra garlic, sliced (optional)

For the sauce, your favorite storebought marinara will be a huge timesaver. If you'd like to make your own, we recommend using Marcella Hazan's classic tomato sauce as a base. Butter and onion provide rich but not sharp texture, and optional additions like fresh oregano or chili flakes will make it your own.

Instructions

1.

Add all dry ingredients to a food processor and pulse a few times until mixed. Add warm water and process for about 1 minute. The dough should form into a ball.

2.

Coat the bottom of a large bowl with a splash of olive oil and transfer the dough to the bowl. Cover in plastic wrap and let rise for about 2 hours, until the dough has doubled.

3.

If using a No.8 and No.6, divide the dough into roughly ⅔ and ⅓ balls. On a clean, lightly floured surface, use your hands to work each ball into round shapes roughly matching the base of your pan and desired thickness. If the dough doesn't want to stretch enough, let it rest for about 10 minutes and then stretch it again.

4.

Preheat oven to 500°F or as high as it will go. Coat the bottom and sides of Field Skillets with olive oil. Heat the skillets over medium heat on the stove for about 5 minutes. Add pre-formed dough to skillet and use a wooden utensil to carefully spread dough to the edges of your cooking surface.

5.

Spread sauce in a thin layer over the surface of the dough using a spatula or the back of a spoon, leaving about ¼ inch along the sides. Add your toppings and then top the entire surface area with cheese.

Be generous with your cheese along the edge of the skillet as this will help you achieve a crispy, glistening browned crust.
6.

Bake for 15 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and starting to brown. Remove skillet and place on stovetop let cool for 5 minutes. Slide a metal spatula under the pie and transfer to a wood cutting board to cut and serve.

If the bottom crust isn't quite golden brown, continue to heat skillet on stovetop at medium heat for 3-5 minutes.

Remove skillet pizzas from pan before slicing. Top with grated cheese, chili flakes, dried oregano, sliced scallion, hot sauce, or any other favorite pizza toppings. Freeze leftover dough; fridge leftover pizza for a midnight snack!

Cast Iron Cookware that Makes Clean-up Easy


The key to reliable, use-it-every-day cast iron is seasoning: a smooth, well-seasoned skillet will clean up with just a quick wash, and produce natural non-stick performance that gets better every time you use it. Try the smooth Field Cast Iron Skillet.