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Food & Recipes

Pizza Perfect: Bake Homemade Pizza Pies in a Cast Iron Skillet for the Crispiest Crust Ever

Take pizza night to the next level.

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Is there anything better than a cheesy, saucy, freshly baked pizza? Not only is it mouthwatering; it’s surprisingly easy to make at home. Just four ingredients — dough, sauce, cheese, and toppings — are required. That said, most home ovens aren’t equipped to reach the cook temperatures of commercial pizza ovens, which range from 800 to 900 degrees Fahrenheit. There is, however, a solution. Use a cast iron skillet! It holds in heat, easily resulting in a golden brown pie. Here’s how to use a cast iron skillet to make homemade pizza that’s even tastier and crunchier than your local pizzeria’s.

Why You Should Bake Pizza in a Cast Iron Skillet

If you’re aiming to get the crispiest pizza imaginable, don’t bake it on a baking sheet. These trays do a poor job of evenly distributing heat as the pie is cooking; resulting in a chewy crust rather than a crunchy one.

A cast iron skillet is a better choice, as it maintains a hot temperature during the baking process. Therefore, your crust will brown and harden to perfection. Before using the cast iron skillet, be sure to place it in the oven while it’s preheating — a heated pan allows the pie to cook more quickly. Additionally, pouring some olive oil in the pan beforehand will help prevent the dough from sticking.

How To Make Cast Iron Skillet Pizza

It doesn’t get simpler than Ree Drummond (a.k.a. The Pioneer Woman’s) recipe for Cast Iron Skillet Pizza. Why? Drummond uses store-bought dough to save time. So, get your cast iron skillet hot and ready to whip up a homemade pie in 45 minutes — which might be faster than the time it takes for Domino’s or Pizza Hut to deliver!

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound frozen pizza dough, thawed and risen
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup jarred pizza sauce 
  • ½ cup pepperoni 
  • 4 ounces fresh mozzarella pearls 
  • ¼ cup torn fresh basil

Directions:

  • Active: 15 mins
  • Total time: 30 mins
  • Yield: 2 to 4 servings 
  1. Place 12-inch cast iron skillet in oven and preheat to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Roll or stretch dough into 14-inch circle. Carefully remove skillet from oven. Drizzle ⅔ of olive oil into skillet, then carefully transfer dough to the skillet, pressing dough up edges. Spread sauce over dough, making sure to get all the way to edges. Shingle pepperoni over sauce and top with mozzarella pearls. Brush exposed dough with remaining olive oil. Bake on bottom rack until golden brown, about 12 to 14 minutes. Place pizza on wire rack to drain excess oil and cool 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Transfer to cutting board, top with torn basil, cut into slices, and serve.

My Taste Test

I felt like a kid waiting for the pizza to cool so it didn’t burn my mouth — and my patience paid off. I’d liken this cast iron skillet pizza to pan pizzas where the crust is slightly thicker than a Neapolitan-style pie. That could be due to the fact that I used a 22-ounce ball of dough instead of a one-pound (or 16-ounce) ball, as listed in the recipe. Regardless, I say the more dough the merrier — this crust’s soft, fluffy interior was like eating a cloud. Meanwhile, the crispy outer crust made a crackling sound with every bite; a tell-tale sign that the cast iron skillet did its job. 

The crust also provided a steady base for the sweet, mildly acidic sauce without getting soggy. I’d personally add another spoonful or two of sauce next time, just to test the limits of the ingredient ratios. (Cooking is a series of never-ending experiments!)

As for toppings, the mozzarella pearls definitely didn’t produce the iconic cheese pull found in Pizza Hut ads — but the tiny cheese balls added bursts of saltiness and milkiness throughout my pie. This recipe was definitely made for pepperoni lovers (like myself), who enjoy the spiced meat’s pungent flavor; but my next cast iron pizza will probably involve sprinkling some bell peppers or onions.

Ultimately, this pie reminded me of the ones I gobbled up at home on Pizza Fridays growing up — the meal I most looked forward to all week. You can eat it solo, or transform the experience into a more sophisticated pizza night with two additions:

  • For a refreshing drink: Enjoy a hard cider like Austin Eastciders’ Imperial Gold (Buy from TotalWine.com, $11.49) with your pizza. This drink packs a slightly tart punch without overshadowing the fresh and bright apple flavor. The cider’s smoothness also makes it easy to sip with pizza, brisket, tacos, or chili. Serve chilled, especially if you’re having an outdoor pizza party.
  • For side salad inspiration: Browse Salad Pizza Wine (Pre-order from Amazon, $32.50), a cookbook set to release on May 23. It features salad recipes from the chefs behind Elena, an acclaimed pizza restaurant in Montréal. Expect to learn how to make Elena’s famous Kale! Caesar! (so delicious it’s worth screaming over) and Cucumbers with Herby Yogurt Dressing and Sesame Seeds. Anyone else getting hungry?

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